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This is the month of resolutions, new gym memberships, scary credit card statements, and increased depression. The third Monday of January, "Blue Monday", is said to be the most depressing day of the year. This is calculated by factoring in weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, time since falling off new year’s resolutions, low motivation, and stress, among other things. Although it is certainly an interesting marketing quip (first published by Sky Travel in 2005), the seed of truth behind the concept of Blue Monday speaks to the state of body and mind most of us find ourselves in at this time of year. Coming off the high of Christmas, it isn’t uncommon for our eating habits to have gone awry, our exercising to be non-existent, and our stress levels through the roof as we settle back in to the busy schedule of everyday life in January.

So how can we curb the beginning of the year blues as we enter 2020? Yoga may be a good starting point for you. Yoga has many benefits to physical health, including increased strength, balance, endurance, flexibility and vital capacity. Additionally, studies have shown that yoga may reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and decrease several risk factors for heart disease. It’s no wonder so many health professionals are huge advocates for yoga! In my personal experience, yoga has been an incredibly effective way to increase my core strength and stretch out my back and shoulders, helping me avoid the chronic low back and neck/shoulder pain that often comes with sitting at a desk all day.

Beyond the many physical benefits of yoga, there are just as many mental health benefits. Yoga is known for promoting lower levels of stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression. Studies have noted that yoga can decrease the secretion of cortisol – the primary stress hormone – which explains the substantial improvements in well-being that comes from practicing yoga. Another study looked at the effect of yoga on sleep and found that those who practiced yoga fell asleep faster, slept longer and felt more rested in the morning. Although how yoga improves sleep is not 100% known, it has been suggested that yoga increases the secretion of melatonin – the sleep cycle hormone. (These findings are only the tip of the iceberg. I encourage you to following the source links below and read the other amazing studies and findings on the benefits of yoga).

There are more than 100 different types of yoga which can making starting a bit overwhelming and intimidating. Hatha yoga is most commonly recommended to beginners due to its slower paced approach, but all types of yoga have beginner classes and all yoga poses can be modified to ensure comfort and safety. I recommend trying different classes and styles until you find your personal preference. Although yoga is generally a safe activity for most people, be sure to practice under a trained instructor when beginning and consult your health care provider regarding practicing yoga if you have a herniated disk, a risk of blood clots, eye conditions, are pregnant, have severe balance problems, have severe osteoporosis, and/or uncontrolled blood pressure.

I hope you give yoga a try this year, and experience the many benefits it has to offer, just as I have. To continue exploring yoga, check out this video by our Manual Osteopath, Rima, by following the link below. And please be sure to comment below to share your personal victories with yoga! Namaste.

 Link to Yoga Video: https://youtu.be/GY7oxaxIGm4

Resources

https://osteopathic.org/what-is-osteopathic-medicine/benefits-of-yoga/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16319785/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15937373/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-benefits-of-yoga#section1

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/yoga/art-20044733