The case of the winter blues often means symptoms of prolonged stress and fatigue and for millions of adults in America, the winter blues can be clinically severe. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs in the winter, caused by the lack of sunlight.
As someone with SAD, I all too well understand the lethargy and feelings of hopelessness that start to sink in after daylight savings. I have come to find that incorporating yoga in all aspects of my day helps to manage SAD symptoms and promotes self-awareness, acceptance, and contentment. I even use yoga tools to signal to my body what time of day it is.
This image features Halfmoon's Cylindrical Bolster.
Here are my yoga tips for managing Seasonal Affective Disorder:
1) Start the day with yoga. When I wake up confused because it's still dark outside, I find it helpful to get the blood flowing to ease into the day. Even doing a single sun salutation offers an extra boost in the morning that goes really well with my coffee.
2) Move in lit spaces. If there is a room in the house that gets a bit of light during the day, try to do your practice in that room during that time. Or practice near a sun lamp if you have one.
3) Make yoga a routine. Remember, getting on your mat is half the work. Come up with ways to motivate yourself to commit to your practice - especially when those darker days settle in. Sign up for a yoga membership or have a yoga buddy to do online classes with.
Read 5 Steps to Creating a Daily Yoga Habit.
4) Add inversions to your routine. Choose asanas that focus on bringing energy to the crown of your head with inversions. Doing this will help promote balance in your pineal gland, encourage healthy blood flow, and soothe an overactive mind.
Change your perspective in these inverted poses.
5) Care for your physical heart space. With depression, it may sometimes feel like there is a physical weight onyour heart space. Find relief by incorporating backbends and other heart opening postures.
6) A little goes a long way. There may be days that you don’t feel like moving at all. Honor your body on those days. Choose gentle restorative poses for a tender cozy practice that meets you where you are at. Here is a sample sequence for those slower days:
Cat>Cow>Child>Thread the Needle
Bridge supported by a block
Legs up the wall or supported Savasana
While taking a few minutes to engage in a practice that consists mostly of sitting may not seem like a lot, don't underestimate the power of you showing up for yourself. Take this measure of self-care even just 15 minutes a day.