Seasonal affective disorder: Practice yoga to ward off symptoms of SAD in winter

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Today, depression is a widespread problem. There are several sub-types of depression, one of which is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is characterised by symptoms that appear during a specific season and linger for four to five months each year. The causes could include stressful situations, bad lifestyles, hormonal imbalances, stress and an inability to cope with traumatic events.

Depressive symptoms might change depending on the person and their level of severity. These include a gloomy mood, lack of interest in hobbies, a sense of guilt or worthlessness, suicidal thoughts, trouble concentrating or making decisions, weariness, a jittery or slow feeling, changes in body weight, and changes in sleep patterns. One of the best ways to cope with SAD is yoga.

Ways to deal with seasonal affective disorder. Image courtesy: Freepik

Yoga for seasonal affective disorder

Yoga is a popular kind of complementary medicine that integrates mind-body techniques. It helps enhance physical and mental wellness, and it brings the body and mind together through the spirit. When the body-mind complex lacks insufficient prana, also known as life force energy, depression is said to ensue. Enthusiasm, joy, and peace are qualities of prana. Regular yoga and meditation practice help to raise prana levels, which eliminates the symptoms of depression.

When yoga is used as a therapy for SAD, it can be used to treat through 5 different sheaths of being that bring about positive changes.

Annamaya Kosha (the physical body)

Practising yoga asanas such as Shirsasana, Halasana, Adhomukha swanasana, Shashankasana, Setu bandhasana, Balasana, Pavanamuktasana, Vakrasana, Gomukhasana, Bhujangasana, Ardhakati chakrasana, Trikonasana, Ardhachakrasana, Tadasana, Shavasana and Surya Namaskara are essential for fighting depression and its symptoms.

These asanas assist in lowering stress, anxiety, exhaustion, headaches, and insomnia while also calming the neurological system. It makes it possible to relax deeply and meditate while letting tension, a major factor in sadness, go. It also improves blood flow to the brain, which helps to revitalise, renew, and refresh the body and mind. It also decreases thyroid issues, which bring in mood swings and despair, and opens up the lungs.

Pranamaya Kosha (the sheath of vital energy)

The Pranayama practices are particularly effective techniques to help overcome depression. Brahmari, Nadishodhana, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika, Suryabhedana, Suryanulomaviloma Pranayama – all these help calm the agitated mind and build confidence, bring the mind to the present, discarding unwanted thoughts of the past and future, purifies the Nadis (energy channels), ensuring smooth flow of prana, releases accumulated stress, and remove depression.

Yoga can help you deal with seasonal affective disorder. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Manomaya Kosha (the mental sheath)

It mainly focuses on taming the mind towards the path of desired results. Some practices include MSRT (Mind sound resonance technique) and Omkara Chantings, which help to increase energy and calm the mind. Mindfulness is a very effective practice to influence Manomaya kosha.

Vijnanamaya Kosha (the sheath of intellect)

Counselling the individual is the basic and most required yogic way of igniting the intellect of a person that gives him clarity and brings a sense of acceptance towards life.

Aanandamaya Kosha (the bliss sheath)

All the suppressed emotions are transcended into a state of yogic bliss in the path of Bhakti yoga. Karma Yoga teaches one to work without expecting fruits out of it, thus reducing expectations which would lead to sorrow when not fulfilled. Happiness analysis is another technique to analyse and overcome depression.

Here’s how to deal with SAD. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Be mindful of what you eat

The meals you eat are also important to restore a person’s mental health. Healthy, high-prana foods are easier on the body and mind. Making Satvik food choices and eating mindfully can help you get over SAD. It’s crucial to consume a healthy amount of foods that specifically boost the body’s production of serotonin, the happy hormone. It is possible to eat fresh fruits and vegetables like carrots, dark leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, cucumber, apples, bananas, grapefruit, other citrus fruits, fresh berries, and kiwifruit.

Some relaxation techniques such as Yoga Nidra, cyclic meditation, and deep relaxation techniques help reduce and overcome stress-induced depression.

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