Yoga for an elevated mood and positive mindset

Given the events of the past year or so, seeking joy and taking care of our mental state has become a priority for many. Decreasing stress levels and tending to our emotions is an imperative part of our long term physical and mental health. Yoga works wonders for boosting one’s mindset and increasing feelings of positivity. Through movement, breath and meditation, we can move stagnant energy in the body and increase our happy hormones for an elevated mood and emotional state. Follow along with this playful sequence for a positive mindset. 

Seated meditation 

Make your way into a comfortable seat, spine upright and sit bones firmly rooted. Place your palms face down on your thighs and take a few deep breaths. Once you feel settled, return to your regular breathing pattern, letting your breath flow in and out of the body at a smooth and natural rhythm. Direct your entire awareness to the sensation of the breath. Become curious as you witness the breath enter and leave the nostrils, noticing the temperature, sensations, and where in your body you feel it the most. 

When you notice your mind begin to wander, gently and non-judgmentally redirect your awareness back to your breath, letting your thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky of your mind. Continue meditation for 5-10 minutes, gently opening your eyes when you are finished, bringing your awareness back to the space around you.  

Downward facing dog (Adho mukha svanasana)

From your seat, come into a table top position, hands stacked underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Press into the palms and straighten your legs, creating an inverted V shape with your body. Straighten out through the spine and extend the hips toward the ceiling. Invite in gentle movement, straightening one leg and then the other. Find stillness and hold for five breaths. 

Sun Salutations (Suryka Namaskar)

To warm up the body, downward facing dog shift forward into high plank. On an exhale lower all the way to the ground. Inhale place the palms underneath the shoulders and peel the chest off the mat, coming into cobra pose. Exhale shift back through a child's pose and back into downward facing dog.

Look between your hands and step or jump up to a forward fold. Inhale reach the arms overhead and come up to stand. Exhale fold over the legs once more. Inhale place the palms on the shins and straighten out the spine and then exhale plant the hands and step back to plank, lowering all the way to the ground and repeating your vinyasa, meeting back in a downward facing dog and completing 3-5 rounds of sun salutations at your own pace, coming back to a downward facing dog when you are finished. 

Warrior Pose II (Virabhadrasana II)

On an inhale, step your right foot in between your hands. Pivot your back foot to a 45 degree angle. As you inhale, lift your torso and anchor into your feet. Keep a strong bend in your front knee as you press back into the earth with the blade edge of the left foot. Extend your right arm forward and your left arm behind you. Keep your arms at shoulder height and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Gaze over your front middle finger. Hold for 5 breaths.

Extended Side angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Take a deep breath in and on an exhale, bend the right arm and place your right forearm on your right thigh. Extend the left arm up and over by your ear, hand pointing toward the front of the mat, extending through your left side body. Gaze underneath the left shoulder toward the ceiling if that feels okay for your neck. If not, gaze down toward your right foot. Hold for five breaths, stretching and breathing into the left side body. 

Triangle (Utthita Hastasana)

Inhale come back up to stand and straighten your right leg. On an exhale reach as far forward as you can, then placing your right hand on the inside of your right shin and extending the left arm toward the sky, stacked over your left shoulder. Press your hips forward as you stamp your chest back. Keep the weight light in your right hand and breathe here for around 10 breaths. 

Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

Gaze down toward the mat and shift your weight into your right foot. Place your right hand or block on the mat about a handprint in front of your right foot slightly outside the pinky toe edge. Straighten your right leg, and lift your back leg off the mat to hip height. Peel the left hip open for half moon pose. Keep your left foot firmly flexed and extend your left arm toward the sky. Find a steady gaze or drishti to maintain your balance. (You can gaze at the floor, wall, or at your lifted hand). Hold for 3–5 breaths. 

On an exhale, gently step back into warrior II, keeping a slight bend in your right knee as you step back. Flow through a vinyasa to repeat the same cycle on the other side.

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