- Undoing the Armor
- Sequence for Depression
- About Urdhva Dhanurasana – Wheel Pose
Undoing the Armor:
- Restorative Chest Opener: Begin with a restorative chest opener. Lay over blocks, a blanket or a bolster.
- The Skin and the Nervous System: Let the forehead skin soften from the hairline downward and feel the resounding effect on the nervous system, a quietening and a softening, and a surrendering into the present moment. Let the eyebrows drift apart, feeling the space between them become broad and wide. We can directly access and soothe the nervous system through the skin. When the nervous system is in distress the skin is often the first place to express the distress. It can express through creases in the face, acne, or different types of skin rashes.
- The Eyes: Let the eyes soften back into the sockets. Let the inner corner of the eye sink deeper and let the outer corner of the eye elongate towards the temple. When we are stressed, the eyes actually push forward and bulge. Many people with chronic stress receive headaches paired with eye strain. We can often reduce the pain of a headache by softening and learning to relax the eyes. B.K.S. Iyengar says that many people with depression hold tension in the outer portion of their eyes. He asks students to allow the edge of the eyes to move towards the temple and the ears.
- The Sutures of the Skull: Then begin to release the sutures of the skull through relaxing the jaw. Release the jaw by relaxing the ears and all the muscles around the ears as well as releasing the grip of the gums around the teeth. Let it feel as if the teeth are floating in the gums. When we are about to fall there is an automatic tightening of the sutures of the skull through the jaw muscles. This automatic tightening is there to protect the brain from harmful impact. This tightening can also happen if we are being emotionally attacked, such as in a stressful relationship where we feel we are being attacked or that we are being threatened.
- The Abdomen: Relax the abdomen, we often hold or clench the abdomen when experiencing fear or anxiety. This is one of the first places to tighten. Which can cause troubles with digestion and feelings of things not moving through or getting caught in a knot. This physical sensation can become an emotional reality as well. Start by softening the skin of the abdomen, letting the pores of the skin open and close with the breath. Then, layer by layer, soften the muscles of the abdomen. There are several layers of muscles ( internal and external obliques, Rectus Abdominis, the Obliques, the Transverse Abdominis). Then soften the organs inside of the abdomen, the stomach, the small intestine and large intestine.
- The Heart: Take your awareness into your heart. Locate the heart underneath the breastbone, in front of the spine and nestled there between the lungs. In yoga philosophy it is believed that the soul is located in the heart. That there is a little piece of the infinite located in each and every one of us. In the Upanisads, it speaks of the soul being the size of the tip of a thumb and located near the base of the heart. John Wellwood, an author on depression defines depression as a “Loss of Heart.”
- The Lungs: Concentrate on the inhalation. Let the breath move into the lungs and separate the ribs, opening the space where the intercostals are between each rib. When the ribs are pulled together tightly by the intercostals, the lungs cannot expand fully. When the lungs cannot expand fully they are not able to get as much oxygen in and when we don’t have enough oxygen our perception of reality shifts and it is not clear. We can get stuck in looping thoughts that repeat or caught in obsession of figuring things out, but never really figuring anything out, never really moving forward, just staying caught in this cycle of repetition. We also experience fatigue when we don’t have enough oxygen in the blood stream. Fatigue can be an emotional trigger for depression and negative thought patterns. As you are breathing, feel the ribs opening, and feel the lungs softly massaging the heart as they expand and contract. Use the breath as a bird would use it’s beak to clean it’s feathers of the dew in the morning, running it’s beak down each feather and spreading them out one by one, with the accuracy of human fingers. With the inhalation feel a willingness to be touched. A willingness to have whatever is inside, whether it is the heart, the lungs, the organs, the emotions, or the simple feeling of “You” this feeling that no one else in the world experiences or can ever know, this feeling of “you-ness,” let that be touched. With the exhalation, feel the return of the breath into the ocean from which it came from. Feel the deep sense holding and being held that comes from this understanding of the return.
Sequence for Depression:
- Adho Mukha Svanasana – Handstand – Pincha Mayurasana (Repeat 3 Times)
- Sun Salutation A (Repeat Three Times)
- Sun Salutation B (Repeat Three Times)
- Viparita Dandasana Supported in Chair
- Urdhva Dhanurasana with feet on chair seat (three times)
- Urdhva Dhanurasana laying on ground
- Drop Backs into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Repeat 5 times)
- Sarvangasana or Nirlamba Sarvangasana
- Ardha Halasana
- Halasana – Paschimottanasana Rolls pausing in Navasana between – do this twenty times, and if the mind is brooding, go as fast as you can possibly go! Wake up the brain from the trance!
- Supported Setu Bandha on a Block as Savasana (Keep eyes open if mind is tending to get into looping thoughts) This pose stimulates the Vagus nerve, which is the 10th occipital nerve, which extends into the parasympathetic nervous system and sends a message that everything is ok and stimulates a deep feeling of peace.
Urdhva means upwards and Dhanu means bow. In this posture the body is arched back and supported on the palms and the soles of the feet. This pose opens up the armpits, the chest, the lungs, and the abdomen. It tones the spine by stretching it fully and keeps the body alert and supple. The back feels strong and full of life. B.K.S. Iyengar writes that it “gives great vitality, energy, and a feeling of lightness.” This pose is energizing, uplifting, heart opening, and reconnects one with their heart. When coming down from this pose there is often a feeling of surrender, happiness, and great contentment. Because of the opening of the chest and lungs the breath floods in with loads of space to occupy and there is an ease in the body as it is soaked with breath, almost as if being soaked with truth.