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Practice These 9 Feel-Good Yoga Poses To Elevate Your Mood

by Leah Wood: Our best days always seem to coincide with our best moods…

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But with a regular yoga practice, you can boost your mood any time you need by simply stepping onto your mat.

Through my years of practicing yoga, I have been fortunate to teach and take more yoga classes than I can count, and I can think of less than a handful of times that I went into a class and didn’t leave feeling better than when I started.

Yogis are, by definition, those who do exercises designed to promote control of the mind and body. While we can’t control the world around us, we can control our actions and reactions towards it.

No matter where your mind might be when you step onto your yoga mat, it is known that a regular yoga practice helps your mind release anxiety and awaken parts of the brain that influences a sense of calmness.

These “happy releases” help put you in a better mindset and leave you with the ability to feel more relaxed and stress free.

While a regular yoga practice will do your mind and body good, there are specific feel-good yoga poses that can boost your mood quickly and effectively.

Many of these poses are inversions. Inversions help us see the world from a different angle, giving us the opportunity to view challenges with a fresh perspective.

When we hear “inversions” in yoga, many of us think handstands. Yet inversions are actually any pose where your head drops below your heart, meaning we can all reap the mood-boosting, feel-good benefits that inversions are known to bring us.

Read on to learn – and practice! – 9 mood-boosting yoga poses.

Practice These 9 Feel-Good Yoga Poses Any Time You Need to Boost Your Mood:

1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose is empowering and grounding. It increases awareness of your mind/body connection and enhances your ability to be mindful and present – key for boosting your mood.

This is the perfect feel-good pose to literally stand in your power and connect to your deep, conscious breathing (another surefire way to boost your mood). Mountain Pose helps calm the nervous system and control our fight or flight response so we can get back to zen.

Let’s try it:

  • Begin standing with your feet hip-distance apart and a micro bend in the knees
  • Press your big toes and all four corners of your feet firmly into the mat to help your body feel grounded and stable
  • Use your inhale breath to raise your arms overhead
  • Slightly scoop your pelvis forward and imagine your ribcage is wrapping around you, giving your insides a hug
  • Rotate your thighs inward and engage your core (there’s a lot going on in this pose!)
  • Breathe deeply and slowly to keep your calm sense of stability, grounding, and presence
  • Drop your shoulders, open your heart and smile 🙂
  • Stay here for 5 breaths, up to 2 minutes

2. Wide Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana I)

Straddle Forward Fold Pose

This is one of my favorite mood enhancing poses. When you’re in this pose, imagine all the stress and negative thoughts rolling off your back. This mood-boosting yoga pose creates space to quiet our minds, focus inward, and let go.

Let’s try it:

  • From Mountain Pose (Tadasana) step one foot out about 3-4 feet (depending on your height)
  • Make sure feet are parallel and slowly begin to hinge at your hips as you press the inside toe and heel into the ground for added strength and stability
  • With a controlled and engaged core, let your head slowly drop below your heart, gently lengthening the spine
  • Once you are fully in your forward fold, reach your hands to your calves or outside of the feet to deepen the stretch
  • Stay here for 5 breaths, up to a full minute

3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Down Dog Pose

Downward Dog offers us a great full-body stretch and as a bonus is a perfect gentle inversion. This feel-good yoga pose helps relieve stress and mild depression as well as calm the brain.

Let’s try it:

  • Starting in Table Top position, press into your palms, tuck your toes and straighten your legs as your hips lift up and back into Downward Facing Dog
  • Your arms and legs are straight and strong, but you can micro bend your knees as much as needed
  • Drop your gaze towards your thighs and imagine a string is pulling your chest towards your thighs
  • Continue to press the mat away and lengthen your spine
  • Release the stress from your neck by dropping your head and sinking deep into the pose
  • Stay here for 5 breaths, up to 2 minutes

4. Down Dog Crunch (Adho Mukha Svanasana Variation)

Down Dog Crunch Pose

Taking what we learned about Down Dog and all the emotional benefits that come from it, now let’s add a knee crunch to fire up your core! This fire and power will energize your mind and body and leave you feeling empowered. The perfect mood-boosting yoga pose variation.

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Downward Facing Dog Pose
  • With an inhale, lift your right leg behind you. With an exhale, crunch your right knee into your chest
  • Lift the heel of the grounded left foot and round your upper body towards your bent right knee
  • Repeat 5 times, and then switch sides
  • Option to repeat several rounds on each side to build heat

5. One Leg Plank Pose (Eka Pada Phalakasana)

One Leg Plank Pose

The strength that comes with a Plank Pose is already electrifying . . . The power this pose brings and the path it takes you on is a full body workout, but also emotionally ignites the mind. Add this fiery one-leg variation and you feel like you might fly with your new power!

Let’s try it:

  • Starting in Table Top position, tuck your toes and straighten your legs, pressing up and into Plank position
  • Gently scoop your pelvis forward to engage your low core (transverse abdominis) and simultaneously pull your belly button to your spine to keep your full core engaged
  • Imagine a string pulling your chest forward, and keep your gaze a few inches in front of your palms
  • Make sure your shoulders are stacked over your wrists and heels stacked over your toes
  • Maintaining your strong and mindful abdominal engagement, slowly lift one leg and feel your power
  • Stay here for 5 breaths, and then switch legs (feel free to rest in Table Top Pose before side 2)

6. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose is one of the strongest heart opening yoga poses. This pose helps fight fatigue and boosts your mood by relieving stress and also reducing physical tension in the upper body. Cobra is also an excellent lung opener, allowing more oxygen into the body which in turn nourishes the brain.

Let’s try it:

  • Start lying on your stomach and plant your palms beneath your shoulders, hugging your elbows into your sidebody
  • Bring your big toes to touch (imagine a cobra tail) and engage your lower half
  • Firmly press your toenails, tops of your feet, thighs, and pubic bone into the mat
  • Pull your belly button towards your spine as you slowly start to press into your palms to lift your chest
  • You can choose to keep your elbows bent or press into a full Cobra by straightening your arm
  • Roll your shoulders down your back and lift your heart
  • Stay here for 5 breaths, up to 30 seconds

7. Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Forward Fold Pose

Forward Fold is a gentle inversion that helps reduce anxiety, fight fatigue and relieve insomnia. It’s also an amazing hamstring and low back stretch. Dropping the head below the heart calms the brain and leaves you in a more tranquil state of mind – the ultimate simple feel-good yoga pose!

Let’s try it:

  • From Mountain Pose (Tadasana) step your feet hip-width distance apart, directly under your hips
  • Place your hands on your hips and slowly start to hinge forward with control
  • Allow your head to hang heavy and keep a micro bend in the knees
  • With a deep inhale, relax your body. With a deep exhale, start to straighten into your legs (they do not have to be all the way straight – you can keep a micro bend)
  • Ease your mind and let your head hang from the root of your neck
  • Option to hang ragdoll by grasping opposite elbows, or interlace your fingers behind you and let your arms hang overhead for a shoulder opener
  • Stay here for 5 breaths, up to 2 minutes

8. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Butterfly Pose

Butterfly Pose (also known as Bound Angle Pose) is a wonderfully grounding yoga pose. It helps create a safe, calm space to meditate or clear the mind of negative thoughts. Butterfly opens and nourishes the hips, where a lot of our emotional baggage and stress is stored.

Let’s try it:

  • From a seated position, bring the bottom of your feet together so your legs create a diamond shape
  • Interlace your fingers around the outer blades of your feet and allow your thumbs to rest on the inside arch of the feet
  • Using the leverage of your grip around your feet, lift your heart and pull your chest forward as you roll your shoulders down from your ears
  • Gently engage your core to create a firm foundation
  • With a tall, flat back, hinge at the hips bringing your chest forward
  • Using your thumbs, gently massage the arches of your feet for a feel-good bonus!
  • Stay here for 5 breaths, up to a full minute

9. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Legs Up Wall Pose

Legs Up the Wall Pose is a great stress reliever (THE go-to pose for reducing stress and boosting your mood). With your feet up above your heart, Legs Up the Wall can also help improve circulation, which can enhance brain function to help keep your mind sharp, focused and boosted.

Let’s try it:

  • Start by lying on your back about 5 to 6 inches away from a wall
  • Gently swing the back of your legs up against the wall as you rest your shoulders and head on the mat beneath you
  • Option to place a yoga bolster, cushion or pillow beneath your low back for added support
  • Slowly inch your glutes as close to the wall as you can get
  • Stack your ankles above your hips and allow your body to relax, closing your eyes and melting into your pose
  • Stay here for 5 breaths, up to 5 minutes

These Mood-Boosting Yoga Poses Will Help You Get Past the Slump and Feel Great

Now mix it up, create your happy, and enjoy practicing these yoga poses in your own fun way. Perhaps you want to put on your favorite yoga music, light some candles, or try different variations of the poses . . .

Whatever is calling to you in this feel-good yoga pose sequence – go for it! This is YOUR practice and your time on the mat, so enjoy it and get ready to boost your mood!

Source: Yoga Approved

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