6 yoga poses to lift your spirits - Juice Daily
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6 yoga poses to lift your spirits

Tired? Stressed? A bit blah? There’s an answer for that.

Yoga. Nearly two million Australians now practice yoga – double the amount previously recorded, according to a recent Roy Morgan report.

And the leading motivation converting regular folk into yogis, is stress management, according to a new ‘Yoga in Australia’ report from RMIT University in Melbourne.

The study found while first-timers often begin with intentions to tone their body or aid medical conditions, stress and anxiety management become the core reason for continuing.

Aly Clarke, a yoga instructor at Body Mind Life agrees that the mood boosting benefits are by far the most popular draw card for their clients.

“We notice a visible change in their body language and faces immediately after,” says Clarke. “From the moment they walk in off the street they’re stressed and hurried but when they walk out after class they’re smiling, shoulders are relaxed, teeth unclenched and there’s a light in their eyes that’s inspiring.”

So how exactly does bending and stretching help you feel this soul-happy?

“Yoga starts with the breath – when you focus on your breath and bring awareness to the body you become present. It’s an incredible moving meditation.”

And right off the back of the latest Stress and Wellbeing survey finding Australians are more anxious than ever, it’s a surefire reason to grab your tights and hit the mat.

Read on for Clarke’s top poses for uplifting spirits:

1.Easy pose (Sukhasana)

“Sukhasana encourages you to focus on your breath, shifting your body from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system which helps to calm and soothe,” says Clarke.

1. Sit on the ground in an easy cross-legged position.

2. Lean forward and walk your sit bones out wide behind you, creating a stable base.

3. Relax your thighs and feet and rest your palms gently on your knees.

4. Draw the crown of your head up towards the ceiling but melt your shoulders away from your ears.

5. Close your eyes and lips and focus on creating even, gentle breath in and out your nostrils.

Note: A block or blanket under the seat can help relieve tightness in the lower back.

What it works: The ankles, knees and back.

 

Easy-Pose

2. Upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

“Upward Facing Dog opens the front of the heart to new opportunities while strengthening the arms, increasing bone density and helping to ward off osteoporotic fractures,” says Clarke.

1. Lie on your belly with legs stretching out behind you.

2. Bend your arms, bringing the palms of your hands back to frame your ribs and hug your elbows in.

3. Press into your palms to straighten your arms, lifting your chest off the floor and puffing up through the heart.

4. Press into the tops of your feet to switch on the thighs and firm the buttocks.

What it works: The wrists, arms, shoulders and chest.

Upward facing dog

3. Wheel pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

“Back bending increases serotonin levels and decreases cortisol (stress hormone) – helping you to feel happier and build your immune function. Bellur Iyengar (an original yoga guru) said – ‘If you open your armpits you’ll never get depressed,’” says Clarke.

1. Lie on the ground with your knees bent and the soles of the feet on the floor in line with your hips.

2. Reach down and tickle the back of your heels with your fingers and turn your big toes in.

3. Bend your elbows and spread your palms on the floor beside your ears with fingers facing your shoulders.

4. Press into your feet, lifting your hip points up towards the sky.

5. Press into your hands to straighten your arms and relax your neck.

6. Lift your pubic bone up and hug your elbows in.

7. If you can’t lift up, try a simple bridge. Leave your head and shoulders on the floor and lift hips up off the ground. Hold for five breaths and release.

What it works: The arms, legs, buttocks, abdomen and spine.

Wheel pose

4. Handstand hops against a wall (Adho Mukha Vriksasana)

“Inverted poses encourage blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart where it’s pumped back through the lungs for fresh oxygen – making you feel invigorated,” says Clarke. “Flipping your world upside down also will help you view challenges from a fresh perspective.”

1. Come into a short Downward Dog, facing the wall.

2. Spread your fingers, parallel your wrists in line with your shoulders and hug your upper arms together.

3. Bring your big toes to touch and look forward beyond your hands.

4. Bend your knees a lot and spring forward and up, stacking your hips over your shoulders (up may need to lean against the wall).

5. Press down through your hands, hug your belly in and extend your feet into the sky.  Lean your feet against the wall for as long as you can, or free balance if advanced. 

What it works: The arms, shoulders, legs, abdomen, buttocks and legs.

Handstand-Hops

5. Seated spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

“Releasing twisted poses allows fresh, oxygenated blood to flow through the internal organs and helps move waste through the system so you feel lighter and brighter,” says Clarke.

1. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you.

2. Bend your right knee and cross your right leg over the left, pressing the sole of the right foot to the ground.

3. Bend the left knee, drawing the left heel to the outside of the right hip. 4.Anchor your feet down and energetically big them towards one another to engage the inner thighs.

4. Touch your right fingertips to the ground behind your sacrum, inhale your left hand to the sky and rotate the torso to the right.

5. Use the back of your right elbow to resist your thigh and deepen into the twist.

What it works: The legs, core, abdominals, back and chest.

Seated-Spinal-Twist

 

6. Corpse pose (savasana)

“Savasana encourages a inward turning of the senses, giving your nervous system some downtime and helping you to sleep better,” says Clarke.

1. Lie on the ground with your knees bent.

2. Press into your feet to lift your pelvis up and draw the tailbone long.

3. One at a time, extend the legs out long, bring the heels to rest mat-distance apart and left your big toes fall outwards.

4. Use your hands to lift the base of the skull, extend the neck long and slightly tuck your chin.

5. Wriggle the shoulder blades down and under your body, take the arms a few inches away from the sides and turn the palms up to face the sky.

6. Soften the face and close the eyes letting muscles go soft and heavy.

What it works: The whole body.

Savasana

 

Sam Bailey

About the person who wrote this

Sam Bailey

Sam Bailey is a Sydney-based journalist whose passion for health and fitness and has seen her write across health titles including Womens Fitness, Womens Health, Body + Soul and Daily Mail Australia. In her down time you can find her sipping green smoothies, attempting complex yoga poses and soaking up vitamin D on Bondi beach.

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