Yoga benefits for ‘Blue Monday’ – Wheel (and other backbends)

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Tomorrow’s ‘Blue Monday’ – that day of the year where, in this part of the world, we’re apparently most likely to feel down or even depressed.

If you’re in need of a lift, you might want to boost yourself by using your body. Just as forward folds are typically calming (not for everyone – the more you practice, the better you’ll get to know your own body and what works best for you), backbends help energise us and can improve our mood.

You’ll want to do this towards the end of your practice when you’re warmed up (injuring yourself is unlikely to improve your mood). Sun Salutations to warm the whole body (especially in this weather) can be helpful along with poses like Chair, Equestrian and Pigeon to warm up the larger muscles in the legs.

Starting with Bridge pose, a great backbend on it’s own, once your spine feels warmed up and if you feel like continuing into Wheel (it may be that the idea doesn’t boost your mood in which case, listen to your own body’s wisdom!), lie back down onto your back and bring the hands over your shoulders and into position for Wheel.

You may want to stay there (check in with yourself at every step and if you’re not familiar with yoga or have any injuries or hesitations, don’t do this without support or supervision). If you want to continue, lift the hips and come onto the crown of your head, pausing. If it feels good for your body, come up into the full pose.

Notice what’s happening with your breath, aiming to continue breathing fully and deeply for as long as feels comfortable (maybe one complete breath, maybe five. You know yourself best).

When you come back down, notice what’s happening with your mouth. Are you smiling? Notice however it is you’re feeling.

It may be that coming out of the pose is what lifts your mood but it’s a great one to play with if Wheel appeals. It’s also wonderful for helping us retrain our nervous systems over time, increasing our allostatic load which, in turn, helps us better manage bigger stresses off the yoga mat.

You can get many of the benefits by coming into the pose over a Swiss ball. This way, you’re opening the body in the same way but don’t have to support all of your weight with your arms and legs.

If Wheel doesn’t appeal, Sphinx, Cobra, Bow, Up Dog or even Mountain pose with a small backbend can all help you work with your body to help change the way you feel.

Does ‘Blue Monday’ have an impact on your mood?

What helps you cheer yourself up?

What are your favourite backbends?

Maybe you know deeper issues are at play. What changes could you make to your life, work and/or relationships so you enjoyed this day of the year more?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

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IF YOU’RE NEW TO YOGA AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THESE POSES, GO TO A YOGA THERAPIST OR INSTRUCTOR. IF YOU’RE NEW TO EXERCISE, CONSULT YOUR GP BEFOREHAND. ALWAYS HONOUR YOUR BODY’S OWN WISDOM

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