Got a case of the doldrums? Yoga can help you bust you out of those blues.
“Backbends improve mood by expanding and uplifting the energy and shifting the nervous system,” explains yoga expert Beth Shaw, founder and president of YogaFit. “Forward folds are relaxing and cooling. Hip stretches release emotions and stress from the body, and twists detoxify and tone the digestive system.”
Just be sure to warm-up first. This Moon Flowers pose will get your heart rate going: Stand with your feet three to four feet apart and extend the arms to the sky. Bend your knees and bring the elbows towards the ribs with your fingers pointing towards the sky. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
Now you’re warmed up—and ready to go from glum to gleeful with these four yoga moves.
1Standing Forward Fold
Start by standing. Then hinge at the hips folding forward. Grab onto elbows (or for a more intense stretch, grab ankles). Sink a little further on each exhale, letting the crown of the head move towards the floor and relaxing the head and neck as much as possible. Take 10 deep breaths. This pose is not recommended for anyone with a heart condition or if heart rate is higher than resting.
2Standing Back Bend
Moving slowly, firm your glutes and place your hands or fists on the bony points along your spine. Push your hips forward and lift your chest to the sky. Lift out of your lower back, drawing your elbows back to expand your chest. Look toward the sky without dropping your head back.
From a seated position, extend your legs. Bend your right knee, placing the sole of your foot on the floor. Place your right hand next to you or behind you and sit tall. Beginning at the base of the spine, rotate to the right, bringing your left forearm around to hold your right shin. Use your core strength rather than your arm to deepen the twist. Hold and breathe.
4Upside Down Pigeon Pose
Lying on your back, raise both bent knees off the floor. Bring the right ankle to the left quadriceps, aiming for a spot on the leg midway between knee and groin. Pull the left knee towards your body, while you push the right knee away gently until you feel a deep stretch in your hips and glutes. Hold for 10 deep breaths. Switch sides.