Naturally, during the winter months we tend to want to sleep more and eat heartier foods. If we follow cues from the natural world, we see that winter is actually the time for doing less. If we are aware of the earth’s rhythms, we can tap into this yin energy and turn inward for self reflection. Yet, for many people, this kind of change can leave them feeling unproductive, without purpose, and depressed.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression usually experienced during the fall through winter months. The lack of sunlight and the cold temperatures can affect a person’s moods and overall motivation. Kundalini Yoga has many great kriyas to counter the “Winter Blues” and help a person maintain a steady level of mood and motivation throughout the winter season and beyond.
Kriya for SAD and Depression
This meditation is from the manual The Art, Science & Application of Kundalini Yoga.
This series will expand the aura and help alleviate mild depression and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
- Standing Knee / Toe Raises. Slowly come standing up. Have the feet shoulder width apart with the feet at a right angle to the body. Bring the arms up parallel to the ground with the palms flat and shoulder width apart. Rise up on tiptoes. This is the inhale position. Exhale and staying on the toes, push the seat out. Keep the chest lifted and bend the knees until the thighs are at about parallel to the floor. Inhale up and exhale down, staying high on the toes. (Two minutes.)
Good for overall circulation. It strengthens the quads and is wonderful for strengthening weak knees. It energizes the sex nerve (inside the thigh) and the life nerve (sciatic nerve).
- Elephant Walk. Remain standing up. Bend over and place the hands on the ground. Keeping the knees as straight as possible begin walking around the room on the hands and the feet. Let the breath regulate itself. Normal breath. (Three minutes.)
This is an anti-depression exercise that is also aerobic. It builds upper arm strength and stretches the entire body. It brings extra circulation into the head.
- Relax on the Back. Come lying flat on the back. Have the arms by the sides, palms facing up with the legs uncrossed. Allow the breath to return to normal. Normal breath. (Two minutes.)
- Archer Pose Left. Draw the knees up to the chest and rock yourself up. Slowly come standing up. Bring the left foot forward with the right foot back. The front foot is pointing forward with knee bent so that the shin is at a 90-degree angle to the ground. The back foot is at a 90-degree angle to the plane of the body. The distance between the feet is such that two thirds of the weight is on the front foot. Hips are parallel to the ground. Left arm is extended over the left leg as though holding a bow with the shoulder rolled back and down and the chest lifted high. Right hand holds the string, elbow bent and pulled back so you feel a stretch across the chest. Chin is over the left shoulder with the eyes open and gazing at an imaginary target. Long, slow, deep breathing (2 minutes).
Good for total body stretching and strengthening. Builds confidence and courage.
- Archer Pose Right. Remain standing and bring the right foot forward with the left foot back. The front foot is pointing forward with knee bent so that the shin is at a 90-degree angle to the ground. The back foot is at a 90-degree angle to the plane of the body. The distance between the feet is such that two thirds of the weight is on the front foot. Hips are parallel to the ground. Right arm is extended over the right leg as though holding a bow with the shoulder rolled back and down and the chest lifted high. Left hand holds the string, elbow bent and pulled back so you feel a stretch across the chest. Chin is over the right shoulder with the eyes open and gazing at an imaginary target. Long, slow, deep breathing (2 minutes).
- Aura Builder. Come standing on the knees and heels if possible. Otherwise, sit comfortably in Easy Pose. Bring the arms up to a sixty-degree angle with elbows straight, palms flat and facing each other overhead. Concentrate on the space between the palms and feel as though you were building energy and light between the hands. Breath of Fire. (One minute.)
It builds the strength of the energy field around the body.
- Aura Extender. Immediately bring the arms down from sixty degrees so that they are parallel to the ground, extended out to the sides, elbows with the palms extended out and the fingers pointing up. Breath of Fire. (One minute.)
It, too, builds the strength of the energy field around the body.
- Shoulder Rolls. Remain sitting in Easy Pose. Keeping the hands on the knees, roll the shoulders together in big, slow, smooth circles. Normal Breath. (One minute.)
It loosens tight shoulders. It opens the chest, heart and throat centers.
- Triangle Pose Push Ups. The next three exercises are an aura building kriya. Slowly come standing up. Have the feet a bit apart and place the hands on the ground with the left leg up extended behind you in the air with the knee as straight as possible. Inhale in this position and exhale the nose to the ground, keeping the leg straight and extended high. If you do not have a lot of strength in the arms then just bend the elbows a little on the exhale. Do six to ten complete push-ups. Switch legs and repeat on the other side.
It strengthens the shoulders. It will build the total body aura.
- Arm Pumps Front. Come sitting on the knees and heels if possible. Otherwise, sit in Easy Pose. Bring the left arm out in front parallel to the ground with the hand extended as though you were going to shake hands. Reach the right arm up and under the left arm and grab the back of the left hand with the right hand. The fingers of the right hand are on the top of the left hand with the right thumb wrapped around the fingers with the thumb out toward the end of the left finger. Keep the elbows straight and inhale and bring the arms up to sixty degrees and exhale and bring the hands back down to parallel. Inhale up, exhale down. (Ninety seconds.)
- Aura Arm Swings. Come sitting comfortably in Easy Pose. Inhale and swing the arms back with the palms facing the ground. Exhale and swing the arms up and forward, in front of the face. When the palms reach in front of the face about six inches apart, open the eyes briefly and look in between the palms, closing the eyes as the arms swing back. Do not clap the hands. (Two minutes.)
It will expand the front and sides aura. It also loosens the shoulders and opens the lungs. Blinking the eyes in the space in between the hand can help develop the ability to see the aura.
- Silent Resting Meditation. Remain sitting quietly with normal breath. Feel the space surrounding the body. Feel expanded, light and bright. Normal breath. (Thirty seconds.)
- Balanced Breath Meditation. Remain sitting in Easy Pose, chest high and chin level to the ground. Bring the right hand up and using the fingers, close the right nostril and inhale left. Now, using the same hand, close off the left nostril and exhale right, inhale right (closing left), exhale left (closing the right) … continue. Every time you exhale you switch nostrils. Long, slow, deep breathing. (Two minutes.)
It will revitalize the nervous system, helps to balance the brain hemispheres and can provide a nice transition between mental tasks, clearing off the effects of a busy day. This is a good breath to do before concentrating on a mental task or before meditation.
- Leg Shake. Stretch the legs out in front and shake them out. Normal Breath. (Thirty seconds.)
It is good for the hips and helps to adjust the sacrum area (triangle-shaped bone in the very lower back)
- Basic Spine Flex. Place the hands on the shins right above the ankles. Grasp the shins firmly and inhale through the nose, keeping the chest up high and tilting the pelvis forward. Exhale through the nose, keeping the chest high and tilting the pelvis in the opposite way. Inhale, flexing the spine forward; exhale, flexing the spine backward. (Three minutes.)
Strengthens and stretches the lower back. It changes brain wave patterns after three minutes to make you calm.
- Sat Kriya. Sit in Rock Pose on the heels and knees. (Sit in Easy Pose if needed.) Arms are held up overhead with the upper arms hugging the ears. Fingers are clasped together with the index fingers pointing straight up and the palms touching. The other fingers are interlaced. Chant the word, “Sat” as you sharply pull the navel point in, visualizing pulling in energy at the navel point. Chant the word, “Nam,” as you relax the navel, visualizing energy exiting at the brow point. Let the breath regulate itself. Eyes are closed and focused at the brow point. (Three minutes.)
The rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the navel center in Sat Kriya produces waves of energy that circulate, energize and heal the body. While chanting, the spine stays still and straight. This is neither a spinal flex nor a pelvic thrust. You stay firmly seated on the heels through all the motions of the kriya. The abdominal contraction is focused at the navel point. There is an automatic contraction of the rectum and the sex organ areas as in the lower body lock called “root” lock or Mulbandh, but the lock is not forced and is pulled naturally from the navel.
- Deep Relaxation. Come out of position and rest on your back. Have the arms by the sides, palms facing up with the legs uncrossed. Allow the breath to return to normal. Have the knees up for comfort, if needed.
Find more powerful kriyas in the manual The Art, Science & Application of Kundalini Yoga.