I want to talk about depression, black dog days and all things shadowy.
The reason I want to talk about it because not a enough people do, and black dog days are nothing to feel ashamed about.
Even when you are a rocking Maven, there will be dark days. Life is full of shadows and light and it wouldn't be the adventure it is without all the shades.
I have quite a controversial stance on depression. Those of you who know my story or have ready my book will know that I have been in a dark haze many times, even having reached a place of contemplating suicide. So, whilst I realise that what I am saying may sound dismissive to some, my intention is quite the opposite.
There are two main causes for depression (there might be a million reasons, but two parts at play,) the first is psychological, and the second is biochemical.
Knowing this means that there are times when western medicine is the best option. There are also times when changing our mental and physical states can shift what's going on.
For me, it is often that I need some contemplation time. I need to slow down and it is a time for me to either digest all the work that I have been doing, or it is time for a new chapter and a new adventure to begin.
My belief is that depression is not a disease like diabetes or even alcoholism, but instead I see it more like a cold or flu. Which means that if you are prone to bouts of depression, you may continue to experience them even when all other areas of your life are great and you can't understand 'why' you are feeling this way.
Whether it's a chemical imbalance OR to do with a psychological conflict, one of the best aids (a bit like a hot honey and lemon for a cold) is tadasana.
(yep, I'm prescribing yoga.) Gentle and restorative yoga is one of the best tips I have for relieving the symptoms of depression, in particular Mountain Pose —Tadasana (tah-DAHS-uh-nuh) — is an active yet restful pose that helps improve posture, balance, and calm focus.
Its name comes from the Sanskrit words "tada" (meaning "mountain") and "asana" (meaning "pose"). Tadasana is the foundational pose for all standing yoga postures and full inversions, such as Handstand and Headstand.
It is the pose from which every other standing pose in your practice is born! The alignment, muscle movements, and mindset you learn in Tadasana are applied every time you do a standing yoga pose and more importantly is a place you can easily come back to time and time again when you need to feel grounded, yet suspended.
Practiced well it is the perfect yoga pose, the balance between force and release. A great metaphor for life.
A correctly executed Tadasana will use every muscle in the body. It improves posture and, when practiced regularly, can help reduce back pain. This pose strengthens the thighs, knees, ankles, abdomen, and buttocks. It is also helpful for relieving sciatica and for reducing the affects of flat feet.
Tadasana steadies the mind and body, bringing a calm focus and practicing the pose with steady and smooth breath will help relieve stress and improve concentration.
Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Spread your weight evenly across the balls and heels of your feet, notice if you are putting more weight to the left or to the right of each foot. Breathe steadily and rhythmically. Draw your awareness inward. Focus on the present moment, notice your inhale and your exhale.
Lift your toes and spread them apart. Then, place them back down on the mat, one at a time. (If you have trouble balancing, stand with your feet six inches apart or wider).
Draw down through your heels and straighten your legs. Ground your feet firmly into the earth, pressing evenly across all four corners of both feet.
Then, lift your ankles and the arches of your feet. Squeeze your outer shins toward each other.
Draw the top of your thighs up and back, engaging the quadriceps. Rotate your thighs slightly inward, widening your sit bones.
Tuck in your tailbone slightly, but don't round your lower back. Lift the back of your thighs, but keep your buttocks soft. Keep your hips even like you had a bowl of water in your pelvic bowl that you don't want to spill. Bring your pelvis to its neutral position. Do not let your front hip bones point down or up; instead, point them straight forward. Draw your belly in slightly, engaging your core.
As you inhale, elongate through your torso. Exhale and release your shoulder blades down your back towards your waist.
Broaden across your collarbones, imagine them extending horizontality out, on and on.
Keep your arms straight, fingers extended, and triceps engaged but soft. Allow your inner arms to rotate slightly outward. Wiggle your fingers and then let them go.
Elongate your neck. Your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles should all be in one line.
Keep your breathing smooth and even. With each exhalation, feel your spine elongating. Softly gaze forward toward the horizon line. Hold the pose for up to one minute.
I'd love to know how you get on with this practice and if it shifts anything for you. Focus on your breath and expanding and growing the tiniest piece of calm and space within you, can you get it to increase even just a fraction?
Let me know - come share your tips on black dog days in the Facebook Group...
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