There are so many postures in yoga that help with depression and mood. Yoga is about dropping out of your head and into your body by way of pairing movement with breath. Even when the fog of depression seems impossibly thick, connecting with the body is an awesome way to find presence, and presence is like a headlight that lets you see a way forward and out.
That said certain poses in particular have unique energy and mood shifting properties. I like the following:
1. Camel pose. Backbends are heart opening and energizing. They are great if you are drowsy at work or are having a hard time waking up in the morning, or if you’re in a funk and need a lift. Camel, Bridge, and Wheel are all great backbends, but I find Camel to be simultaneously grounding and stabilizing, as well as a huge emotional and energetic release. Beware – if you have trouble getting to sleep avoid backbends before bed.
2. Pigeon pose. One of my favorite body workers likes to say, “Most people aren’t broken, they’re just stuck.” If you are stuck in your mind, chances are you are stuck in your body too. Excess energy tends to pool and get stuck around the large joints, especially the hips. Spending a solid two minutes in pigeon on each the right and the left, breathing with conscious awareness the whole time, is a great way to move stuck energy and relieve tension. A common pitfall here is spacing out. Make sure to stay in the room!
3. Headstand (or Legs Up the Wall). Every posture is a new perspective. If you need a totally new perspective on life, there’s no better posture than turning it all upside down with a headstand. If headstand is new to you or feels daunting, legs up the wall is equally effective, and in fact, I have experienced some of my most profound energetic shifts in yoga in legs up the wall when I stayed for at least five minutes. Inversions are balancing poses. When the mind is overactive, putting the heart above the mind both literally and figuratively helps to quiet the mental chatter. Inversions also promote digestion and hormonal equilibrium.