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Yoga Poses That Help Treat Depression

Wide-Legged Forward Fold with Clasp

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  • Stand with feet wide apart, clasp hands behind back, and take a big inhale to open the chest.
  • On the exhale, soften knees and fold forward, letting the head fall toward the ground. Keep shoulders away from ears.
  • Do your best not to shrug. For a deeper shoulder opening, press the meat of your palms together. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Photo: Kevin Talbot @shotbysmooth

Bowed Half Moon

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  • Start in a supported warrior III on your right leg with both hands on the ground or blocks underneath your shoulders.
  • Keep right fingertips on the ground, or a block, underneath right shoulder.
  • Open left hip on top of right, and open torso toward left.
  • Extend left arm straight up and look toward left fingers.
  • Bend left knee, and take a hold of left foot with left hand (if you cannot reach your foot, loop a towel or yoga strap around it), lightly pressing foot into hand to open back, keeping knee in line with hip.
  • Lean back and open chest. Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

More on yoga's healing powers: How Yoga Helped Me Get My Life Back

Photo: Kevin Talbot @shotbysmooth

Bound Extended Side Angle

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  • Start in warrior II with right leg forward. Release right hand down to the ground inside of right foot and reach left arm to the ceiling.
  • Allow left arm to fall behind back. Take right arm underneath right thigh to clasp left hand or wrist (if you cannot reach your wrist or hand, take a towel or yoga strap in between your two hands).
  • Lean back and gently lengthen left arm toward tailbone and back. Revolve chest open toward the ceiling. Gaze is over the left shoulder.
  • Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Photo: Kevin Talbot @shotbysmooth


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  • Begin in down dog. Lift right leg high to down dog split, open the hip and bend the knee.
  • Open the hip so much that you start to tip over. Right toes come to the ground, right knee bent, and right arm reaches up and out, in line with body.
  • The outer edge of the left foot stays on the ground. Lengthen through left leg and lift hips up as you drop head back.
  • Breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Photo: Kevin Talbot @shotbysmooth

Forearm Stand

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  • Start on hands and knees. Release forearms to the ground and hold opposite elbows to get shoulder-width.
  • Parallel forearms to one another and lift hips high into dolphin. Walk feet toward elbows as close as they will go.
  • Lift left leg toward the ceiling. Come onto the ball of right foot and start to rock forward and eventually lift both legs off the ground.
  • Bring feet and legs together; feet can be flexed or pointed. Try to stay here for at least three deep breaths.
  • This pose can be done at a wall until you are comfortable without one. Alternatively, you can use a yoga strap to keep your upper arms a shoulder-width apart.

Photo: Kevin Talbot @shotbysmooth

Forearm Wheel Variation

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  • Start in wheel pose. Gently lower head to the ground, take forearms to either side of head, and clasp hands together.
  • Elbows stay shoulder-width apart. Press into forearms and slightly lift head off the ground so that the weight is in arms and not head.
  • Walk feet out together until legs lengthen. If you don't have a comfortable wheel practice, skip this one.

Photo: Kevin Talbot @shotbysmooth

Hollow Back Handstand at Wall

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  • Face a wall. Plant palms shoulder-width apart about 12 to 18 inches away from the wall, wrist creases parallel.
  • Lift one leg and take single-legged hops until top foot hits the wall, then bring the next.
  • Bend your knees, plant your feet on the wall, and then slowly allow your bum to relax to the wall (which most likely will require you to come to your toes on the wall).
  • Press chest though arms and away from the wall and breathe for as many deep breaths as you can before coming down.

Photo: Kevin Talbot @shotbysmooth

Reclining Goddess Variation

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  • While sitting on the ground with legs in front of you, place a medium-height block behind you beneath where shoulder blades will lie.
  • Bend knees and place feet on the ground, hip-width apart.
  • Using arms, slowly lower upper back to gently rest on the block, adjusting placement until you are comfortable. Ideally, the block is where your bra line would be.
  • Next, clasp hands behind head and allow elbows and head to release toward the ground.
  • Allow knees to fall away from one another to the ground, keeping feet together. Stay here for at least 10 deep breaths.

Photo: Kevin Talbot @shotbysmooth


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