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Dealing with Winter Blues Through Yoga

Winter can be a beautiful season with freshly fallen snow, outdoor activities and, of course, the holiday season and spending time with loved ones. But for many who at dealing with winter blues, it can be an emotionally and physically draining time of year as dark and dreary days take their toll on the mind and body. Fortunately, there is hope for those that suffer with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression. In particular, yoga has been shown to breathe new life into those suffering from SAD.

While there hasn’t been a great deal of research on the direct correlation between yoga and SAD, there have been a number of studies on how yoga can benefit those with other types of depression and can help ease the effects of PMS.

Why Are So Many People SAD?

There are many unknowns when it comes to sad, but researchers believe that the cause has something to do with peoples’ bodies producing an increased amount of melatonin (a hormone that lets your body know that it’s time to go to sleep) or a decreased amount of serotonin (a hormone that helps to produce feelings of well-being).

According to Timothy McCall, MD, yoga may help fend off the winter blues by promoting the production of serotonin. In his book, Yoga as Medicine McCall cites research which demonstrates how yoga can help increase serotonin and also help people to become more sociable.

Another explanation as to why yoga seems to be an effective treatment for people with SAD is its effect on the pineal gland which helps regulate circadian and seasonal rhythms by converting serotonin to melatonin. Some believe that this gland is what the ancient yogis called the crown chakra.

Psychiatrist Eric Leskowitz suggests that certain breathwork practiced during yoga may go a long way toward restoring rhythms that are out of synch.

Lightening Dark Moods

In addition to actual chemical changes that may result in the body as an effect of practicing yoga, conditioning the mind can also help those dealing with winter depression. By connecting mind and body, yoga helps practitioners deal with thoughts and emotions which they might otherwise feel are overwhelming.

What Should SAD Sufferers Do?

There are a number of self-help steps that those with seasonal depression can take, but it needs to be stressed that those with severe symptoms should not try to do it on their own – but rather consult a trained therapist or physician.

Practicing yoga – even as little as five to ten minutes per day – can help to build new pathways in the brain which can help a person to be better able to deal with stress and depression that often accompany winter days.

Other methods for dealing with SAD include light therapy, as well as various vitamins and supplements such as St. John’s wort and Vitamin D. Be sure to talk to your doctor however before beginning any new supplement regimen.

So if the winter blues have got you feeling down, it may be time to take action. Your daily yoga practice may be just the spirit booster you need to see you through the season.

Check out Heron Creek's latest Yoga Class Schedule and see if there is a class that works for you.