On day 8 of my cleanse, I was blessed to attend one of two days of a workshop with Judith Hanson Lasater, author of several books including, Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times,Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life, and her most recent book which I am dying to read, What We Say Matters: Practicing Nonviolent Communication. Judith began studying with BKS Iyengar in 1974 and started Yoga Journal Magazine, along with several colleagues, in her living room in San Francisco in 1975. She wrote the Asana column for Yoga Journal for 13 years. She is a Physical Therapist and holds a PhD in East West Psychology. She is most certainly an accomplished woman, mother, yogini and someone I call my teacher. This was the third workshop I have attended with Judith and the workshops always peak my interest and yet I leave them feeling more grounded, more rested and more spacious than when I arrive.
Judith infuses all of her workshops with her vast knowledge of anatomy, asana, philosophy, non-violent communication and restorative yoga. It was a rather short workshop, but I always leave craving more knowledge. I think this is a mark of an excellent teacher. She does not overwhelm you with everything she knows, but gives you just enough to make you thirsty for more. And because there is so much restorative yoga, your brain and your body are able to absorb the information more fully.
Yoga for Depression started off with a foundation in the Ayurvedic Doshas. Depression is caused by an imbalance in the Kapha Dosha. Kapha is the dosha associated with Water and Earth. It is the one that can become heavy, wet and dark when out of balance. When in balance Kapha is steady and strong, stable and nurturing. My constitution is Pitta-Kapha. ( You can take an online test to determine your Dosha at Joyful Belly.com ) So I am familiar with the imbalance of Kapha and I can be prone to depression and weight gain. This often happens during the cold wet months of late winter early spring, not surprisingly this is the Kapha season of the year.
Yoga practice to counterbalance depression includes more vigorous asana like standing poses. It also includes stimulating the core of the body where many Kaphas gain weight and are prone to heaviness. This action can be accessed in almost any pose. We focused in moving from the core from Adho Mukha Svanasana into and out of Plank position and into lunges.The other key practice for Kapha imbalance are back bends, including supported back bends. Back bends should create a fluid arch and not over-arch in the neck or the lower back. All of these practices are enhanced by moving with mindfulness, neither moving too slowly nor too quickly.
For additional reading on Yoga for Depression see Amy Weintraub's Book, Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga