Guest Post – Val & Yoga

Val has graciously written a guest post for me, and I hope you enjoy it. You can find her blogging and running over at Chicago Marathon Val.


Hello, “Say Yes to Salad” readers!  I’m so excited that Maggie is giving me the opportunity to do a guest posting today.  I’ve been following this blog for a long time and it’s great to be a part of it!

Knowing Maggie and her readers love their yoga, I decided to write a post about yoga, but first….

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I should mention that I am in no way, shape, or form a yoga expert or even a yoga enthusiast – although recently I have begun to move more in that direction!  I took a yoga class during undergrad and, well, I fell asleep!  I know, I know, don’t hate me….

That was years ago, and it wasn’t until the past few months that I have begun to reconnect with yoga.  I love yoga for the increased flexibility and muscle toning, increased lung capacity, decreased stress, and for the way that it enables me to breathe better during my long runs.

However, aside from loving the benefits that yoga can offer to ME, I have recently began to see yoga as something that I can also incorporate into my profession.  As a school social worker in Chicago’s inner-city, I work with troubled youth that frequently suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, etc, and most come from single-family homes in impoverished communities.

Although I received my Masters degree in Social Work after learning a ton of traditional forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, etc, I have always leaned more toward alternative types of therapy – such as play, art, or movement therapy.

I have recently begun doing a lot of research about the connection between yoga and mental health, and many of the principles that I have been learning about can not only be applied to my students but also to all of us.  In fact, I’ve tried many of these techniques with my Type A husband who now swears by them!  It’s too tricky to describe various poses online without pictures, so here are some of the basics.

***Please note that while I have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, hold an LSW degree (Licensed Social Worker), MSW (Master’s in Social Work), and I am a QMHP (Qualified Mental Health Profession), I am NOT a trained yogi nor do a hold a doctorate degree and as you all know by now, you should always consult a doctor before engaging in any new form of exercise.  I am also not attempting to treat or diagnose anyone’s stress or mental trauma, I am just trying to provide some recommendations for some asanas and breathing exercises that you may find to be helpful!  Enjoy 🙂

Recommended sequence for anxiety, worry, or tension:

  • Child’s pose
  • Downward-facing dog
  • Standing forward fold
  • Wide-legged forward bend
  • Shoulder stand
  • Seated forward bend
  • Bridge
  • Goddess pose
  • Savasana

Recommended sequence for depression or lethargy:

  • Upward hands pose
  • Standing forward fold
  • Pyramid yoga pose
  • Triangle pose
  • Revolved triangle pose
  • Supported headstand
  • Inverted staff pose
  • Seated twist
  • Goddess pose
  • Savasana

Some more tidbits…..

  • Asanas help to build a stronger nervous system which can help to decrease anxiety
  • The concentrative part of yoga can help to decrease symptoms of OCD or generalized anxiety
  • Gently press on your left nostril while breathing through your right nostril to energize yourself.  Take long, deep breaths in and out.
  • Conversely, you could also press on your right nostril while slowly breathing out of your left nostril in order to calm yourself down.
  • Hold your thumbs over your ears and making a “buzzing” breathe to cause a vibration.  With your eyes closed, look toward your third eye (between your eyebrows), chin, or tip of nose.  This creates a soothing effect on the mind and the nervous system.
  • While meditating, view incoming thoughts as bubbles;  simply float them out of your mind.  Assign the bubbles names or words in order to help you to detach from them, such as “this is a worry, this is a judgment,” etc.
  • “Sat nam” means “I am truth”; Recite this mantra and focus on the third eye and breathe.  Breathe in during “sat”, breahe out during “nam”
  • While sitting in a chair or standing, slowly fall into a forward bend while exhaling.  This releasing tension, excess agitation/counters anxiety, and is cooling.
  • While sitting on the ground or in a chair, begin hunched over and then begin to slowly move open your shoulders, move your arms back and bend your back while inhaling.  This is a heating position, allows more breathe,  and helps to counter depression.
  • Torso twist:  this reduces internal tension and redistributes heat throughout the body.  While sitting, inhale with your hands together in front of your heart, then exhale and twist torso to move hands to your side.  Switch sides, and eventually make these movements larger.
  • Hold one hand in front of your face, keep it still, and slowly and gently draw circles with your nose on your hand – this is very calming and centering.

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Thanks again, Val 🙂 Good luck with your training! You’re going to be great. I’m definitely going to try out these sequences.

7 Replies to “Guest Post – Val & Yoga”

  1. I really love your “tidbits”
    I have never heard of these! definately going to give it a try

    I am re-connecting to yoga also and loving it.
    trying to share it with my sons and hubs…. I think it could benefit anyone!
    nice guest post!

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