Yoga for happiness

Yoga is a powerful mood booster. The combination of breath, movement and meditation is a potent way to clear stagnant energy and negative emotions and come back to a peaceful and positive state. If you find yourself experiencing a low mood, roll out your mat and practice this sequence for happiness and joy. 

 

Tadasana variation 

Come to stand at the top of your mat with your feet firmly rooted, separated hips distance apart. Allow your arms to separate at your sides, palms facing forward. Close your eyes and feel yourself rooted in your foundation. Take a deep breath in through the nose, and then sigh it out of your mouth. 

 

From here, begin to shake out your body, starting with the arms, moving to the legs, and then the entire body. Just shaking and and moving organically in any way that you feel called for a few minutes. Take up space, shake, dance, breathe and allow yourself to let go. 

 

Forward fold 

Come back to stillness, and fold the upper body over your legs. Invite a soft bend into your knees and let your upper body relax onto your thighs. Allow your head and neck to hang heavy, maybe grabbing for opposite elbows if that feels good in your body. Hold and breathe for up to 15 breaths. 

 

Sun Salutations 

Plant the palms and step back into a 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.

 

Cheetah

From a downward facing dog, on an inhale raise your right leg toward the sky, keeping the hips squared and your foot flexed toward the mat. On your exhale, press the mat away and bring your knee in to your chest, tucking your chin and rounding through the spine. Inhale extend the leg, exhale crunch the leg into the chest and come into cheetah. Repeat five rounds on the right, then do the same with the left leg. 

 

Down dog variation

Hold downward facing dog for a few breaths in stillness, then shorten your stance, walking your legs in a bit and invite a slight bend into your knees. Press firmly into the mat with your right hand and reach under the body with your left hand for your right calf, using the strength of the arm to encourage a twist in the upper body. Hold and breathe for five breaths then go ahead and switch sides.   

 

Waterfall 

Come to lie down on your back. Place a block or blanket underneath your sacrum if you have one. Extend your legs toward the ceiling, keeping a slight bend in the knees. Relax your ankles and release any engagement in the legs. Hold here in waterfall for up to 20 breaths.

 

Supine twist

Bring the knees into your chest and drop both knees at belly button height over to the left. Extend your arms at shoulder height and gaze over your right shoulder. Hold and breathe in your twist for 5 breaths, then move the knees through center and switch sides. 

 

Savasana 

Lie down on your mat, extending your arms and legs wide. Let go of any breath control or attempt to control the mind and allow your body to fully relax. Stay in your savasana for up to 7 minutes, slowly transitioning into a seat to resume the rest of your day when you are finished.

 

Gabrielle Marchese is a certified yoga instructor. 

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