We have deadlines to meet, a difficult boss to deal with, competition from peers, expectations from family members, and sometimes, broken relationships. It does not come as a surprise that stress levels have increased and people are falling prey to mental health problems like acute anxiety and depression.
It is always good to begin addressing early signs of anxiety and mild depression before it becomes a serious concern. While medication and counselling are important, adding yoga to your daily schedule can do wonders in keeping anxiety and depression away. Yoga postures stimulate our nervous connections and help boost our basic nervous and immune systems.
When we operate out of a strong nervous system we can deal with the challenges that life throws at us, from a place of strength. Having said that, let us do the following yoga poses to ensure sound mental health.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose instantly energizes our limbs, reduces fatigue and insomnia and increases blood flow to the brain. So, it leaves us rejuvenated.
How To Do It:
- Form a table position by getting down on the floor on your hands and knees, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart, and slightly forward of the shoulders.
- Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, straightening your knees and elbows. Ensure that your body has formed an inverted V-shape. Balance your weight on your palms and the soles of your feet, keeping equal weight on both.
- Keep your feet parallel to each other and about 4 to 6 inches apart. The head should be held between the arms, such that the ears touch the inner arms.
- Hold this pose for 5-7 breaths. Exhale and return to table pose and relax.
- Repeat the above and then to go deeper into the stretch, relax the back muscles, exaggerate the lumbar curve of the back and pressing the palms strongly into the floor, stretching the arms, ease the head down, below the arms, to the floor or towards the floor. Exactly like a dog that is stretching. Don’t allow the shoulders to hunch into the ears.
You can also read- Downward Facing Dog: Exploration, Anatomy, and Alignment
Standing Balanced (Samasthithi/Tadasana)
This pose gives us a feeling of connectedness to the Earth, which helps us feel grounded. We learn to stand tall and proud.
How to do it:
- Stand with your spine erect, a small gap between your feet, and equal weight on both feet.
- Keep your chest lifted and shoulders drawn back and down. This will keep the arms also drawn back slightly.
- Don’t allow the lower back to sway, by keeping the tailbone lengthening downwards and strongly tucked under.
- Keep the chin pulled in towards the chest so that the head is correctly balanced on the neck.
- Keep your thighs rotated inwards and calf muscles rotated outwards.
- Check again for equal weight on both legs and both feet.
- Breathe slowly and deeply enjoying the sense of complete balance and poise.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Balasana brings the spine over the heart. This position offers deep rest to the heart.
How to do it:
- Start by kneeling on the floor.
- Keep your knees together and bring your hips down between your heels.
- Inhale deeply, lengthening your spine and on the exhale bend forward so that your torso rests on your thighs. While doing so, lengthen the back of the neck till the forehead touches the floor. Or rest the forehead on a cushion.
- You can keep your arms lengthened forwards on either side of your head or then circle them back next to your hips, keeping the palms facing up.
- Stretch your feet with the toes pointing back and soles facing up.
- Breathe with deep relaxing exhales and stay in this position for 5-7 breaths.
- Inhaling, sit up slowly.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
The cobra pose stretches and stimulates spinal nerves which lead to every part of the body, so the cobra releases built up stress and tension.
How to do it:
- Lie face-down on the floor. Keep your feet together or hip-width apart. The tops of your feet should press into the floor.
- Rest your forehead on the floor and relax your shoulders. Bend your elbows and place your palms, pressed downwards, under the shoulders.
- Inhaling, press your palms into the floor and stretching forward, lift your head and chest off the floor. Keep your gaze forward. The top front part of your pelvis should touch the surface of the floor. Keep your elbows bent and close to your body.
- Hold the pose for 5-7 breaths.
- Exhaling slowly lower your chest then forehead and come back to the initial position.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Bridge pose reduces anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia. It calms your nervous system and relaxes your mind. It also strengthens your spine, hips, and neck.
How to do it:
- Lie on your back, with knees, bent, sole of your feet flat on the floor, and arms placed next to your sides.The palms of your hands should be flat on the floor. Ensure that your knees are above the ankles.
- Inhaling, press your hands and shoulders on the floor, and lift up your hips and chest towards the ceiling, arching the full spine as much as you can.
- Place your hands under the lower back with the fingers pointing in towards the spine and the thumbs towards the abdomen. Roll left and right to push the elbows completely under the body. Use your hands to push the hips up further.
- Hold the position for 3 to 5 deep breaths. As you progress you can increase the length of time according to your comfort.
- Exhale and slowly lower the back to the floor.
Stress, anxiety and depression can sap our life force and leave us incapable of going through our daily tasks and routine. Yoga involves the manipulation of the breath and body and is a natural way to relieve the mind from stress and worry.
These 5 yoga poses are simple and can easily be made a part of your life. Just remember to keep aside 10 minutes from your daily routine to feel more energized and more in control.
We need a strong mind and body to engage with life to the fullest.