Transforming Fear to Joy

Invert Your Way Out of Depression & Anxiety: Part II

A growing body of research continues to illustrate the benefits of yoga postures that turn us upside down. These inversions affect the central nervous systems in such a way that not only is our mood elevated but the muscle tone in our neck, trunk and limbs is strengthened. The overall result improves our posture, which mightily affects how we feel and vice versa.

Mood is enhanced during and after inverted postures, Ann Brownstone, M.S., O.T.R. speculates, partly because an inversion challenges the sufferer’s posture and muscle tone — think of the slumped shoulders of chronic depression. Our feelings show up in our posture, so addressing the “muscular” can have a profound effect on mood. … the increased extensor tone in the spine has a positive effect on the limbic cortex (emotional centers) and frontal cortical functioning in the brain. Rose Kress

If standing on your head, hands or shoulders is contrary to medical advice based on your physical capacity, then try other inversions where your head is below your heart to realize both elevated mood and improved posture.

In the sequence below, Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog), Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-legged Forward Bend) and Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) are all worthwhile inversions.

1. Activate Ujjayi Breathing and maintain this gentle pranayama breath throughout the illustrated practice below.
2. Once you establish Ujjayi breathing, draw each INHALED breath into the space between the upper inner edges of the shoulder blades in the back body. Notice the impacts.

To centre and ground yourself in the practice below, you may want to begin in Virasana and practice the Yoga Actions above for 3 to 5 minutes.

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA (Down Dog) 10 Breaths (Bs)

PLANK 10 Breaths
– actively press heels away
– heels may be into or away from wall

VASISTHASANA (Side Plank) 5 Breaths each side

PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA (Wide-legged Forward Bend) 5-10 Breaths each
– begin in the half-forward bend, then move into full pose
– heels of palms & heels of feet align

SIRSASANA (Headstand) 10-20 Breaths
– begin in Prasarita Padottanasana, then lift into Sirsasana
– take walk-up, kick-up or headless Sirsasana variations

SALAMBA SARVANGASANA (Supported Shoulderstand) 20-40 Breaths

CHAIR SAVASANA 5-10 minutes
– lower leg rests on chair seat

May you be happy. Namaste.

Picture of Author: Helen Maupin

Author: Helen Maupin

Helen is passionate about transforming fear into love — from her, for her, for all. She expresses her commitment to transformation through writing poetry, self-awareness and yoga books, co-designing organizations into adaptive enterprises and deepening her daily meditation and yoga practices.


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