Thursday, February 25, 2016

Celebrating Life with Yoga: Sun Salutations

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

This evening it is a cold, misty, rainy February night in the Catskill Mountains of New York. As I sit down to write this article about celebrating life with Yoga, I am reminded of a conversation that I had with some friends a few nights ago. One of these friends is a certified Yoga teacher at the 500-hour level and the other friend is a professional musician, who specializing in playing sacred chants from India. Although both of these individuals are well versed in how to cultivate a positive mental outlook through the practice of Yoga postures, breathing exercises, chanting and meditating, they are both struggling with a degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of mild to moderate depression that often occurs during the dark, winter months, particularly in areas of the world that have a limited amount of natural sunlight during the winter time. When we do not get enough natural sunlight to sustain adequate levels of serotonin, many of us often feel a bit dysphoric or mildly depressed. For some individuals, this depression may be serious enough to necessitate ongoing support from a mental health professional and/or health care provider. There are also many ways of naturally boosting serotonin levels during the winter months, so that you are not susceptible to seasonal depression and the attendant inertia that can result from a chronic low mood. 

By continuing to stay physically active and socially engaged during the wintertime, you will be less likely to be impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder. In addition, by practicing vigorous Yoga postures, warming breathing exercises and replenishing relaxation techniques, you will be more likely to offset symptoms of dysphoria or mild depression. Romancing the sun energy during your Yoga practice will naturally help you to revitalize your body and mind. One way to “court sun energy” during a Yoga practice, is by grounding your practice within the context of a flowing series of Sun Salutations. 

The Sun Salutations are a series of flowing Yoga postures that are linked together by the breath. This series of Yoga poses warms up the entire body, as it moves the spine through a complete set of complementary movements. It is also very strengthening and helps the mind to quiet and come to a one pointed focus. If you are currently living in an area that is quite warm all year long, you may be able to practice Yoga outside in the direct sunlight. By practicing the Sun Salutations in an outdoor setting while you are facing the sun, the warming and energizing aspect of the series will be enhanced. If you live in a geographical area that is cold during the winter months, you may be able to practice Yoga in a studio or room that has large picture windows, so that you can place your mat in such a way that you are facing the sun, while you flow through the Sun Salutations.

Practicing the Sun Salutations while facing the sun, either through a large window or in an outdoor setting, will help you body’s bio-rhythms to come into alignment with the natural rhythms of the earth, which will help to create more harmony and balance in your body and mind. You may also want to consider heating up the room where you are practicing Yoga, so that you can benefit from an increased level of detoxification through heat. Of course, you will have to decide how much energy and money it will take to heat up the room where you are practicing, before attempting to replicate a Hot Yoga class in your own home studio! 

Still, during the cold winter months, heating a small room up even moderately will help your muscles to relax, which will help to increase your level of flexibility and the flow of energy throughout your subtle body. If you teach a Yoga class, and are able to lead a class in an environment outdoors, that is wonderful. If you are not able to teach a Yoga class outside, heating up your studio to a comfortably warm level will help your students to dispel the damp coldness of the winter months. In addition, by guiding them through a strong series of Sun Salutations, you will further support your students in the process of embodying the life giving essence of the sun. 

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she specializes in writing customized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at:
© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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1 comment:

parvezbdjsr said...

Romancing the sun energy during our Yoga practice will naturally help us to revitalize our body and mind. Thanks for posting this nice article.