We all have ‘those’ days. Those days where we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, where everyone around you seems to want or need something from you, where traffic is bad, you spill your smoothie all over yourself, and you sleep in so you miss your yoga practice.
Some days, you get yourself into a funk and can’t seem to get yourself out of it. Having a low mood sometimes is a totally normal, unavoidable part of life. But that does not mean that you can’t do something to help yourself feel better!
Yoga offers some great postures that can help energetically pick you up and give you a lighter and brighter perspective. Here are my top five favorite yoga poses to help boost your mood.
1. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Bow is one of my favorite poses in general. I especially love it for its mood-boosting effects. This heart-opening pose works to open the entire front of the body, which is the exact opposite of what we usually do when we’re sad.
When we’re feeling sad, scared, threatened, or otherwise down, it is our natural tendency to close our chests and collapse our upper bodies. When we actively open our heart centers, this sends a message to our bodies that we’re safe, and so this pose can literally act as a mood lifter.
This pose also helps massage the digestive organs, which again can help brighten our mood by moving old wastes out of the body. Try this pose when you’re feeling stuck or stagnant emotionally, when you feel like there’s ‘old stuff’ you don’t need still floating around your mind.
2. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Camel is my second pick for a mood-brightening pose, for much the same reason as Bow. You’ll be opening your chest and shoulders in this pose, again sending the message to your body and mind that you’re safe and secure, which can go a long way to helping you feel brighter and happier.
The other benefit of this pose is that is can literally release stuck emotions that may have been spiraling around your mind and body. The act of opening up and back is a brave one, and this can bring the emotions, thoughts, and feelings we’ve been having trouble expressing otherwise to the surface.
Try this pose when you’re feeling down but don’t know why. You may find that you quickly discover what was bothering you as you practice this asana.
3. Headstand (Sirsasana)
Headstand is my third choice to help pick you up out of a bad mood, because it is one of the best poses I know to help usher in a change in perspective. When we are feeling upset, most of the time we’ll benefit from being able to look at whatever it is that is bothering us from a new vantage point.
This literal change in how you see your world (while you’re hanging out upside-down) can translate into metaphorical changes in how you’re viewing whatever is bothering you.
I recommend practicing this pose when you’re having a hard time accepting something in your life, or when you’re facing a challenge you aren’t sure you can overcome.
4. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Legs-Up-the-Wall is my personal go-to pose whenever I’m struggling inside. It’s amazing for helping release all tensions in the body, for helping switch the nervous system over to rest and digest, and for calming an overactive mind, so that you’re better able to deal with whatever has all hot and bothered.
I recommend this pose for when you’re dealing with something that has you really agitated and stressed out, or when you’re unable to calm your mind to make a clear and rational choice.
5. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Finally, Tree is the pose I recommend when you need something to help lighten the mood, to help bring some silliness and fun to whatever it is you’re currently dealing with. Balancing on one foot is a challenge for most of us, and the whole idea of acting like a tree can be—if you let it—quite comical.
This pose encourages us to take our minds off of our foot on the ground, and focus them on our hands in the sky. This playful approach to changing our thoughts and perspectives is wonderful for when you’re taking life way too seriously, and finding that this is making you upset.
What are your favorite poses to help you get out of an emotional funk? Do you think you’ll give any of these a go next time you’re feeling low?