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In everyone’s life, there may come a time where sadness will hit you. With unexpected events that arise, emotions may be lurking under the surface. Yoga teaches us to build self-awareness. When you find yourself sad, it is important to acknowledge it and find ways to cope with this feeling.
Your body and mind can go through many changes because of sadness. One person lack an appetite, while another may indulge in food. One may need to keep super busy, while another may not feel like getting out of bed. Whatever the reason, yoga assists in combating sadness through exercise and meditation; the toughest part is setting your mind to do it.
Doctors all around are becoming more educated on the benefits of yoga. The University of Maryland has studied yoga and its benefits and found that while it does not cure certain diseases, it assists in depression, stress, and anxiety (umm.edu, 2015, para. 6). In yoga, the biggest thing you can do for yourself is breathe or pranayama. Breath cannot be underestimated. When stress hits, you will often hear the term “Just Breathe”. This applies in yoga practice. The science behind pranayama is when you inhale and exhale through your nose, you are increasing your blood flow and reducing your oxygen consumption which in turn brings more oxygen to your brain. As you breathe in, you are expanding your chest cavity and allowing more air to enter your lungs. This speeds up your heart rate and allows blood flow to increase through your arteries. As you exhale, your diaphragm will relax, your heart rate will slow, and you will feel the relaxing moment of calm.
Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed, you cannot maintain a balancing pose very well? Well, this is because you are not allowing yourself the breath that comes in to relax your body in a balancing pose. Instead you are most likely, holding your breath which stores the CO2 levels that need to be exhaled so your body can rebalance.
Here is a list of breathing exercises that assist in calming the mind and allowing your body to receive the oxygen that it desperately craves:
Breathe in a relaxation pose such as the shavasana. You will become more in-tune to your breath. Lie on your back on a flat surface. Stay here and feel the rise and fall of your chest cavity and diaphragm. Raise your arms over your head to increase the feel of your abdomen.
Alternating nostrils or Nadi Shodhan aids in controlling your breath. Sit however feels comfortable for you. Spine is erect and shoulders are relaxed. Place the left hand on your knee, the other hand you will place your index finger and middle finger in between your eyebrows, take your ring finger and little finger on the side of your left nostril. The thumb will be on the right nostril. Press your thumb down on the nostril and breathe in gently with the right nostril. Now breathe in from that nostril and, lift your thumb off your left nostril while closing your right nostril. Alternate. Make sure you breathe in fully and exhale fully.
Meditation may be easy for some, while difficult for others. Whether you take a 5 minute break to meditate or twenty, you will still feel better than not having done it. It is important when you are sad to take the time to clear your head. In quieting the mind, meditation assists in relaxing your body and your mind. Whether it is focused attention or mindful meditation, when a person meditates the brain slows down its processing. Meditation has been shown to increase alertness, creativity, and compassion for others.
The postures and sequences that you are going to do will depend on you and how you are feeling at the present moment. If you are angry and sad, you may feel like doing a more intense workout (just remember to practice on your breath while doing an intense workout), whereas another person may need a more calming sequence. Some yoga poses that combat sadness are: Easy pose, corpse pose, legs-up-on-the-wall, forward bend, upward facing dog, and child’s pose.
Whatever the sadness, it is important to get out of bed and try to do something. Take baby steps if need be but get moving. Do not stay dormant. Not adhering to your body’s needs while under the emotional sadness, may lead to greater problems in the future, such as depression. It is important to talk with your doctor if you feel hopeless.