Above: Alex Ivetic, Elixr Yoga Teacher
Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide and according to beyondblue, 45 percent of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. What’s more, in any given year, around one million Aussie adults suffer from depression, while over two million are affected by anxiety.
Yoga has been shown to help alleviate symptoms in people who have experienced depression or anxiety over the long- and short-term. If you need help to lift your mood, try this 10–15-minute personal home practice. The postures in the sequence have been chosen to open the body, energise it, and bring new blood flow to its sluggish and stagnant areas.
If you would like to discuss more about yoga for depression, contact Alex on 0414 638 680 or sign up for her course Yoga for Anxiety and Depression at elixr.com.au/yogawellbeing starting October 29.
Ready? Let’s get started…
Before you begin, take time to get settled and start your transition into relaxation by creating a sacred space that is free from everyday stressors and triggers. If space is an issue, another symbolic gesture – playing specific music, lighting a candle or burning incense – can subconsciously let your senses know that your yoga practice is beginning and that it’s time for your mind and body to unwind.
1. Woodchopper technique with lion's tongue and exhale sound
Inhale, clasp your hands together and poke your tongue out. Next, exhale (lion’s breath sound), fold forward and sweep your hands through your thighs. This posture brings fresh energy into the throat area and respiratory system and boosts vitality.
2. Spinal rolls
Do six full inhales and exhales up. Chin to chest, curling spine vertebrae by vertebrae, shoulders relaxed, holding opposite elbows. Hold for five to seven full breaths. Allow the head to be soft, mouth and brow relaxed.
Spinal rolls assist in connecting to the parasympathetic part of the body (the non-flight self). You’ll experience a calming effect which prepares the body to rest.
Stand feet width to hips. Allow the knees to be soft and gradually inhale the arms up, lengthen knees and exhale hands down. Bend knees. Squatting brings energy up through the body to feel vibrancy and clarity.
4. Sun Salutation A
Start in Mountain Pose. Inhale, arms up, exhale, hands to floor. Inhale, look up, exhale to plank position then drop knees, chest, chin to floor. Inhale, look up, exhale into Downward Dog. Hold for five long soft breaths, gazing at the navel. Inhale, bend knees and step forward to standing. Exhale, head to knees. Inhale, come to standing, arms wide. Exhale back to Mountain Pose. Repeat twice more. Sun Salutation brings life to the cells while the body is moved through a sequence generating heat and vitality.
5. Warrior I to Warrior II
Arms wide, holding for four to eight breaths on each side. Repeat. Warrior I and Warrior II improve focus, balance and stability. Encourages good circulation and respiration.
6. Camel Pose
Keep hands on lower back for support. Look forward or up. Hold for four to seven breaths. Camel pose is good for lifting moods as the pose connects to the heart space.
7. Bridge Pose and Shoulderstand
Do three easy backbends, peeling the spine off the floor, holding the posture for three to five breaths. Repeat three times.Follow with Shoulderstand. Allow the posture to be steady and comfortable. Hold eight to 15 breaths.
Sit cross-legged.Have the thumb/index finger touching with palms facing downwards. Sit quietly with eyes closed and place your attention in your heart space. Create an inner smile to radiate your body. Sit for five minutes.
9. Corpse Pose
Do your Savasana with a bolster under knees. It's important to feel the earth supporting you. Allow the earth to take away all of your negative energy.
Poses modelled by Martine Allars