Yoga Pranayama Exercises for Seasonal Affective Disorder

500 hour yoga instructor certification intensive courseBy Gopi Rao

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that fluctuates with the seasons. It is most prevalent in areas of the world that receive little or no sunlight during the fall and winter seasons. The sun’s rays and Vitamin D production from sunlight helps to keep our brain chemistry optimally balanced. When we don’t get enough sunlight, serotonin and dopamine levels begin to fall. These are two critical neurotransmitters in the brain that keep our moods positive and healthy. Low levels of serotonin, dopamine and Vitamin D are some of the main causes of depression. Taking walks in the brief periods of winter sunshine is a great way to help boost your serotonin and Vitimin D levels. A walk of even ten minutes will help your body to produce enough Vitamin D for the day.


Although SAD is most frequently experienced on a seasonal basis, it is a serious form of depression. The symptoms of SAD include body aches, decreased levels of social engagement and physical activity, trouble focusing, poor sleep, little or no sex drive, crying spells and irritability. All of these symptoms are the same for major depressive disorder. People who are prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder may become so despondent, suicidal thoughts may arise. It is important to take care of yourself well during the fall and winter months if you know that you are prone to this disorder. Make sure that you exercise regularly, eat well and get enough rest. If you have a tendency to get depressed during the wintertime, be careful not to isolate yourself. Plan some activities with friends and family that lift your spirits.


Maintaining a regular Yoga practice during the fall and winter months will also help to prevent SAD. If possible, practicing Yoga for an hour a day is a great way to keep yourself physically and mentally balanced and healthy. There are many Yoga asanas that help to enhance your physical well-being. A solid, well-rounded practice of Yoga asanas will keep you strong and flexible. Incorporating pranayama or Yogic breathing exercises into your practice will help greatly to keep your brain chemistry balanced during the winter months. There are pranayama exercises that are relaxing and others that are invigorating. Bastrika Breathing is a pranayama exercise that is very cleansing and invigorating. It will help to energize you, circulate fresh oxygen and blood throughout your body and help you release any negativity you may be holding onto.


Bastrika Breathing

Begin by sitting comfortably on your Yoga mat or on a chair. Take a full deep breaths. This Yogic breathing (pranayama) exercise is also known as Bellow’s Breath because it is similar to the movement of an old-fashioned bellow that fans the flames of a fire. To begin, inhale half-way through your nose and expel the air forcefully as you pull in your diaphragm. Continue to breath in this way, pulling in and expelling the air forcefully through your nose. You may wish to do three rounds of ten, twenty or thirty breaths in this way. Rest between each round by taking some long, slow breaths. Do not do more than three rounds at a time. After you have completed three rounds, sit quietly for a few minutes to feel the peace and energy pervading your entire body and mind.

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