Daily Dose of Exercise: Yoga for depression, cat/cow

Our first daily dose of exercise was child’s pose. Remember, we are starting everything super slow, so we may not realize the benefits of our practice right away! Especially if we are only doing child’s pose and from the bed at that. The whole idea is to move a little bit, get a little bit of exercise and slowly increase our practice until we are feeling better. By then, we will have a new yoga practice that makes us feel so good, we will not want to quit…. (or thats the idea anyway). So… we are starting slowly, we are starting in the bed, if we have to and we are moving, little by little, until we feel better.

The Benefits of Child’s Pose:

  • Releases tension in the back, shoulders and chest
  • Recommended if you have dizziness or fatigue
  • Helps alleviate stress and anxiety
  • Flexes the body’s internal organs and keeps them supple
  • It lengthens and stretches the spine
  • Relieves neck and lower back pain when performed with the head and torso supported
  • It gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles
  • Normalizes circulation throughout the body
  • It stretches muscles, tendons and ligaments in the knee
  • Calms the mind and body
  • Encourages strong and steady breathing

So, while it might feel like, we really aren’t doing anything with this one pose, we are actually accomplishing quite a bit!  I have found this pose helpful to alleviate the symptoms of RLS and to ease my IBS symptoms as well.

Since you are already on your hands and knees… (No pun intended) we are going to do cat/cow pose next.

Image

Looks pretty easy, right? It is… awaken your spine by pushing yourself into cat pose (Far right) Simply put, just arch your back like a cat. The counter move to cat pose is the cow, you are going to engage your abs, keeping them firm extend your rear in the air and raise your shoulders (the center image) imagine a string pulling your belly to the ground while two more strings are pulling your shoulder and rear up at the same time, but keep your abs engaged, don’t puff your belly out. We are going to do this dynamic yoga move for about 5 minutes, alternating between the two moves. I like to inhale into cow slowly and then slowly exhale into cat pose. The repeated repetitions create a gentle massaging action, which increases the circulation to the discs between the vertebrae. This augments the suppleness and health of the vertebral discs and enhances the all-important cushioning action they create for the spine.

Despite it’s somewhat simplistic name, Cat-Cow (Marjariasana) it is a great yoga pose for beginners, an excellent spine revitalizing sequence, and a great yoga exercise for back pain. It also gently tones the female reproductive system and is an excellent prenatal yoga sequence up to the second trimester. Some yoga masters maintain that it can also help bring relief from cramps if practiced during your monthly cycle.

  • Stabilizes the sacrum to release lower back pain
  • Supports back by engaging abs
  • Stretches the low, mid and upper back, the front torso, the hips and the neck
  • Loosens spine
  • Stretches hips
  • Massages and stimulates kidneys and adrenal glands, and tones the uterus
  • Creates emotional balance
  • Relieves stress and calms the mind

Cat-Cow also improves the vital information flow through the spinal cord, creating an overall energizing effect. To feel this, make sure to rest for 20-30 seconds after having done the sequence for 5 minutes, allowing your mind to be absorbed in the shift of sensations in the body. This is an important energetic integration taking place, which is enhanced by your awareness. Taking a moment to tune in to your body after each of the following two sequences also enables you to become aware of the effect these simple, rhythmic sequences have in your entire body. We will do this by going back into child’s pose and laying quietly for another 5 minutes. (If you are not ready for 15 minutes, you can do cat/cow first today, followed by child’s pose for 5 minutes each)

Sources:
http://www.cnyhealingarts.com/2010/11/08/the-health-benefits-of-balasana-child%E2%80%99s-pose/

http://www.creativesoulinmotion.com/2011/11/easy-yoga-poses-to-help-with-digestion/

http://yoga.about.com/od/yogasequences/ss/catcow.htm

http://yogauonline.com/yogatherapy/news/yoga-for-back-pain-cat-cow-and-cat-wheel/340040110-cat-cow-marjariasana-and-cat-whe

http://www.examiner.com/article/yoga-pose-of-the-week-cat-cow-pose

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