Healthy Bodies
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • February 2015
Written by 

Fight the winter blues with yoga!

The holidays have come and gone. The days are cold and dreary. It’s the heart of a Wisconsin winter. For some, this time of year can bring on a case of the “winter blues,” and in more serious cases, seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

The so-called winter blues are more common in residents of northern states like Wisconsin, where there is a lack of sunlight during the winter months. The winter blues can cause people to sleep more, feel less energetic, experience mood swings and fall prey to food cravings resulting in weight gain, according to the Mayo Clinic.

While it would be great if we could control the weather or migrate to sunnier locales for the entire winter, there are easier steps you can take to fight off the winter blues. An easy, affordable and readily accessible option is yoga. The connection of the mind, body and spirit through the practice of yoga not only helps beat the winter blues, but it just makes you feel better — physically and mentally.

Yoga, in its many forms, can be a very beneficial approach to counteracting the winter blues because it stimulates all systems in the body and helps to keep the body and mind in balance. The long list of benefits of yoga include:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Improved balance
  • Improved metabolism and weight loss
  • Protection from injury
  • Improved respiration
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • Decreased stress hormones
  • A boosted immune system
  • Improved cardiovascular and circulatory health
  • Improved mental well-being

One of the best aspects of yoga is the way it helps with stress management. According to the Mayo Clinic, both stress and anxiety can increase symptoms of SAD, or the winter blues. A yoga practice that incorporates deep breathing during poses can help you feel more relaxed. For example, when you are focused on connecting deep breathing to a yoga pose, your concentration is on your breath and body, not on other distracting thoughts like your to-do list. By using deep breathing during yoga, you will take in a lot more oxygen than the shallower breathing you do on an everyday basis. The extra oxygen helps to detoxify the body as well as give your brain a boost to increase alertness, prevent negativity and battle the winter blues.

Within a yoga practice, there are yoga poses specifically designed to help relieve tension and aid in relaxation. Other yoga poses help to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, to help improve your mood and keep the winter blues at bay. Inversions, poses that involve elevating your feet above your head, help to cleanse the body and give the immune system a boost by reversing your blood flow. Likewise, a twist pose aids in digestion and cleanses the organs by flushing out the bad and flushing in the good.

Are you ready to experience the many benefits of yoga? It’s simple to get started! With the wide variety of yoga practices in the Fox Valley, there’s a class for everyone, no matter your age or fitness level. There are modifications for every pose as well as beginner classes. Yoga classes vary from gentle stretching and lengthening to strenuous and challenging; they even vary in temperature from 75 degrees to over 100 degrees. The type of yoga practice you select depends on your physical ability and personal preference.

The wonderful thing about yoga is that you can choose to attend a class at a studio or you can practice poses at home or at work. It’s important to remember to give it more than one try. Find the class or instructor that speaks to you and don’t be afraid or intimidated to try something new. The more you do yoga, the faster you’ll see and feel the benefits. Adding even a little yoga into your weekly routine during the winter months can help boost your mood, fight the winter blues and make the season feel like it’s going by faster.

If you are dealing with depression, stress or anxiety, yoga may provide a better way to manage your symptoms. However, you should always consult a doctor before making any changes to your exercise routine.


Reference: “Diseases and Conditions: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).” Mayo Clinic. http://mayocl.in/1tL7IuH.

 

Lauren Quella and Jayne Lang

Lauren Quella teaches yoga at Advanced Movement Studio in the new Yoga Loft. Lauren holds a 200-hour Yoga Instructor certification and is a NETA-certified Personal Trainer. Jayne Lang is the Studio’s marketing director. Advanced Movement Studio is locally-owned and located along the Fox River in Appleton’s historic Edison Center. The Studio’s mission is to bring every aspect of health and fitness together for every client. The Yoga Loft is an extension of this mission. It is an inspirational space where the benefits of yoga can be integrated with other important aspects of health and wellness. For more information, call (920) 209-1662 or visit www.AdvancedMovementStudio.com or www.YogaLoftatAMS.com.

Website: www.YogaLoftatAMS.com
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