5-Minute Yoga for Depression Relief
Welcome to Five Minute Yoga
The Breath is the Most Important Aspect
Yoga isn't just about stretching and flexibility, and it's not just about strength and balance. Sure, those are important components, but they aren't the only focus, and they shouldn't be the main focus of a yoga practice.
The most important aspect of yoga and the essence of yoga is the breath. Breathing deeply is the most important part of yoga, and if you are breathing deeply, then you are doing yoga. We breathe deeply to get in touch with how we feel and to quiet the mind. Focusing on the breath gives the "monkey mind" something to do.
The next most important part of yoga is to feel something. We focus on breath and sensation. We get connected to how we are feeling. Where do you feel the stretch? Does it feel good or uncomfortable? How does your body feel?
Before you begin, remember that yoga should never hurt. If something hurts, back out of the pose until you feel a gentle stretch. If it hurts, stop immediately. There is a difference between being slightly uncomfortable in a new stretch and pain. Do not move into a painful place. Move into awareness and sensation.
There is no such thing as a perfect pose. The perfect pose is the one that works for where you are today. It doesn't matter how your pose looks. What matters is how it feels. You are beginning a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect.
5-Minute Yoga for Depression
5-Minute Yoga for Depression
- Begin on all fours.
- Sit hips back toward heels, into Childs Pose. Arms reach forward or rest alongside the body. Use a pillow across the calves, to make the pose more comfortable.
- Inhale, saying the mantra, "I am safe." Exhale, saying, "All is well."
- Hold this pose for as long as you'd like.
- Move back to all fours, for a Cat-Cow series, with Lions Breath.
- Inhale into Cat, arching the spine, dropping the head and the tailbone. Notice the stretch in your back.
- Exhale, into Cow. Tummy drops toward the mat. Chin lifts, neck is long. Take a deep inhale, then perform Lion's Breath: Open the eyes and mouth wide, stick out the tongue and exhale loudly, growling.
- Lion's Breath expels excess energy from the body, invigorates the throat chakra and stimulates the Vagus Nerve. These all help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you feel calm and safe.
- Repeat the Cow/Cat/Lion's Breath two or three times.
- Coming back to all fours, prepare for Spinal Balance. Left leg extends behind the body, heel pressing toward the wall behind you, right arm lengthens forward, reaching away.
- As you inhale, lift and extend the opposite arm and leg, saying the mantra, "I am strong."
- On the exhale, contract the arm and leg, touching your right elbow to your left knee, saying, "I am safe." Repeat three times and switch sides.
- Come slowly onto your back, using a pillow under your head for comfort, if you'd like.
- Bring both Knees into Chest and rock side to side. The rocking motion not only stretches the low back, but also stimulates the Vagus Nerve, again activating the parasympathetic nervous system (The rest, digest and relax nerves.)
- Lower the left foot to the floor. Cross the right ankle over the left knee for Reclining Pigeon Pose. Pull the left knee in toward the chest, stretching the right hip and low back.
- Lower the left foot back to the mat, keeping the right ankle on the knee. Gently drop the left knee open to the left, bringing the right foot to the floor. You will feel a stretch in the hips and low back.
- Bring the left knee back to center and bring both Knees into Chest. Rock side to side again several times.
- Lower right foot to the floor. Cross the left ankle over the right knee for Reclining Pigeon Pose. Repeat the series on the left side, stretching the left hip and low back.
- Knees to chest and rock side to side again.
- Extend legs overhead for Reclining Staff Pose. Point and flex the feet a few times, keep legs extended overhead for a few breaths, allowing blood to flow out of the legs.
- Bend the knees and bring feet to the mat.
- Roll gently onto the left side of the body, into Baby Pose. Legs are pulled into the chest, head is resting comfortable on the left arm.
- Close your eyes and tune in to your breath and your body. Notice how your physical body feels and notice any emotions you may feel.
- When you are ready, come back to a comfortable seated pose.
The Benefits of a Regular Yoga Practice
A regular yoga practice can be a great addition to any exercise regimen. Not only will you find your recovery time better, but you will be faster and stronger as a result of regular yoga.
In addition, flexibility and balance are leading indicators for healthy aging, As we get older, these are two aspects of our physical fitness that can rapidly decline. Lack of flexibility and balance can lead to falls, broken bones and overall poor health. A regular yoga practice can help improve your balance and flexibility, and your confidence as you grow older.
Finally, yoga emphasizes deep breathing. Deep breathing helps relax the body and reduces stress. A regular practice of deep, mindful breathing releases endorphins into the body, counteracting the negative effects of cortisone. When you breathe deeply, your bring the body out of "fight or flight" mode, and into "restore and relax" mode. In this calm place, the body feels safe and is able to function at a higher level.
And don't let the excuse, "I'm too stiff," to keep you from trying yoga. The point of doing yoga is to increase flexibility, not to begin by being flexible. You can start today, exactly where you are. Breathe deeply, tune in to how your body feels, and move slowly. You can do this. You can try yoga. It only takes five minutes!
More Information on the Science of Yoga and Depression
If you'd like more information on the benefits of yoga for helping depression, please enjoy the following article:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 Deborah Demander Reno