Hello, Sun!

Sun salutations for longest days of the year.

The June sunshine in Northeast Ohio banishes memories of snow and freezing rain. June 21 is the summer solstice, the day of the year with the most hours of daylight. In celebration of the beauty of summer, try “Sun Salutation”, a series of yoga poses that can relax your mind, stretch your muscles, and sooth your spirit. Kim demonstrates how below. If any of the poses hurt your wrists or knees, visit my website for modifications. Yoga should never hurt.

Sun Salutation

Before you start, stand in Mountain Pose (stand straight with proper posture, feet shoulder width apart, hands at your sides with palms facing forward). Close your eyes and take a moment to focus on your breathing. Take a deep, slow breath in through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Breath deeply and slowly, focusing on your breath throughout the following poses as they flow from one to the next.

1. Downward Dog
Begin on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Straighten your elbows and relax your upper back, making sure to distribute your weight evenly across your hands. Exhale and tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor and straighten your legs- you should resemble the shape of an “A”. Imagine that there is a string attached to your hips, pulling them into the air. Be sure to continue your breathing. Hold the pose for 3-5 cycles of inhale/exhale. If you have problems with your wrists, see my website for modifications.

2. Plank
With an inhalation, move your shoulders forward and lower yourself into a standard plank position.

3. Lower to the ground
With your next exhalation, slowly lower yourself to the ground so that your abdomen and thighs are flat against the ground.

4. Upward Facing Dog
With your next inhalation, push your upper body up as you straighten your arms, keeping a slight arch in your back.

5. Return to Downward Dog
With your next exhalation, tuck your toes under and thrust your hips back up into the air and tip your head down back into the shape of an “A”. Hold for 3-5 breath cycles and repeat the flow as desired.

Again, yoga should never hurt. Please see the workouts tab for modifications of these poses that take pressure off the wrists and knees.

Happiness Is a Good Sweat

Evidence that exercise may help prevent depression.

May is mental health awareness month. As many runners can attest, a good run can immediately boost your spirits. In addition, several studies show that exercise can help treat some forms of mild-moderate depression. However, a recent study suggests that exercise may actually help prevent depression.

The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that exercise may prevent depression. The study included nearly 34,000 Norwegian adults without symptoms of depression or anxiety at the start of the study and followed participants over 11 years (1984-1997). Researchers examined how many hours and with what intensity participants exercised and collected data regarding the development of signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The results showed that those participants who reported doing no exercise at all had a 44% increased likelihood of being diagnosed with depression compared to those who exercised 1-2 hours a week. That exercise was of mild-moderate exertion, not over-the-top all-out effort. Participants who exercised were as likely as those who did not exercise to develop anxiety.

This study is important because it studied participants without depression or anxiety at the start of the study and followed them over time. The study has a large sample size and was controlled for other variables that may have impacted the development of depression and anxiety such as socio-economic status, BMI, substance use, and new-onset physical illness. Of note, the study was performed in Norway, which may limit how the results can be applied to other countries with different mental health resources.

If you are currently experiencing depression or anxiety, remember that it is important to seek help from a trusted mental health professional.

Do you need some mood-boosting exercise opportunities? Get 2 the Core can help develop a plan that is right for you!