Whether you wake up on the wrong side of the bed feeling rather grumpy, or feel stuck in a tough rut that feels impossible to shake, a regular yoga practice can bring so much relief. It is estimated that approximately 1 in ten Americans struggle with some type of chronic depression and that number is climbing. The good news is, yoga is on your side!
Rolling out a mat for ten minutes and picking just one or two poses is all you need to create an energizing shift in the body. For a twist I like to add in my own mantras to really seal the deal. Here are 3 examples of common power poses, when thought of differently can actually change your mindset for the day.
Begin with seated breaths
It’s always a good idea to start any practice with some seated breaths. If this is how far you make it today, ….applause.
Sit up tall and close your eyes if it’s comfortable to do so. If you have a wall accessible, feel free to sit up against it to prep the body for good posture. This pose is a must for me, because it allows all the dust in my mind to settle for a few moments as I set an intention for practice.
Note: Never over-think your intention, perhaps just acknowledge how you’re feeling in that moment and move into the breath.
Begin with 10-15 deep, slow breaths.
For extra energy, focus on your inhales
For a more calming effect, focus on your exhales
If you’re in need of extra centering, place one hand on your belly and observe its expansion as your breath in and out.
If you’re feeling bored: Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasada with lifted leg
It’s always nice to find a regularly practiced pose and make it playful. My new favorite one at the moment is plank pose with an option to lift one leg at a time. I often suspend my leg for a moment when transitioning from plank pose down to chaturanga as it helps me create a rhythm for myself.
Practicing slight variations can help bring some lightness to regularly practiced poses like this, and it forces you to pay attention when you switch sides. This way the monkey mind has less of a tendency to wander off and it keeps things a little more exciting.
Begin in a downward facing dog, and shift your weight forward so the shoulders are directly above your wrists. Draw the muscles of the belly inward and keep the hips steady. Push back through your heels without dropping the chest and try to lift one leg up for a breath or two. You can also try this with the arms. Aim for 3-5 slow breaths before shifting to the opposite arm. This pose is definitely challenging. Come down to your knees at any time, and if you lose your balance, laugh it off extra loud.
Mantra: I am free to explore how I move
If you need some inner strength and grounding: Utkatasana (Chair pose)
Place your feet a little less than hips width apart. If you would like some extra grounding, take them wider. Slowly drop your hips as if you were sitting in a chair, pressing your weight towards your heels. You should be able to lift your toes off the mat if you had to. Rather than clenching your muscles, consider letting gravity do the work here. When you work larger muscle groups like the quads, it’s important they get oxygen so don’t forget to breath deeply. Enjoy the heat building aspects of this pose.
Mantra: My body and spirit are strong and unwavering
If you’re feeling numb: Uttita Parsvakonasana
Because it stretches and strengthens the body at the same time, this is a great pose for the “multi-tasker”. Best accessed from warrior 2, slowly lean your torso towards your bent knee and stay grounded through both feet.
If you’re coming into this as a beginner, here are some tips.
This pose is often great accompanied by a good hamstring stretch to take care of the lower half of the body.
Mantra: I am a radiant, energetic being
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