9 Yoga Poses That Make You Happy

Yoga Poses To Make You Happy

If only life could be all rainbows and unicorns–we’d chase the shadows and demons away with pixie dust and optimism! The unfortunate truth is that life isn’t always so bright and cheerful. It gets complicated, confusing, and at times even overwhelming. Basically, there’s a strong chance that you’ll struggle with some kind of depression or emotional issue at some point in your life.

A 2010 BioPsychoSocial Medicine article revealed that long-term yoga practice can significantly reduce fear, anger and fatigue. Researchers administered the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire to two groups of healthy women-one group of women who had more than two years of yoga experience and one group of women who had never practiced yoga. The long-term yoga practitioners had, on average, lower mental disturbance, tension-anxiety, anger-hostility, and fatigue scores than the control group.

Whether you’re down in the dumps after being dumped, need motivation to get out of bed and get through the day, or just feel out of sorts emotionally, yoga can help you get back on your feet. Read on for 10 poses that help you beat the blues on the mat. (Then, put the moves together for the ultimate yoga workout guaranteed to boost your mood.)
Yoga Poses That Improve Your mood
Beth Bischoff
1. Camel Pose

Do it for: Anxiety

Anxiety is like the bully or mean girl you dreaded in middle school. Even if you start your day full of optimism, she lurked in the shadows, waiting to pounce when you least expected her. Anxiety works in much the same way-your fears and worries hover around you all the time, preventing you from feeling confident and happy.

In camel pose, the backbend creates a sense of fearlessness. It exposes your heart and soft underbelly, but in a safe and supported way.

* Begin by kneeling with your knees and feet hip-width apart and the tops of your feet flat on the floor.
* Keep your pelvis on your knees, your tailbone down, and your lower belly lifted.
* Bring your hands to your heart in prayer position, roll your shoulders back, and hug your elbows in.
* Curl your chest open by leaning back, but keep your hips over your knees.
* When you can’t curl your chest back any farther, release your arms and grab your heels.
* Relax your head and open your throat.

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Yoga Poses That Improve Your mood
Beth Bischoff
2. Crescent Pose

Do it for: Mild depression

When you’re not feeling particularly happy, try to make your yoga practice about joy, and invite it back into your life, pose by pose, breath by breath. (Avoid binging when you’re feeling down-learn how to stop the cycle of emotional eating.) Mild depression can be eased with rejuvenating, playful yoga postures. Backbends, like the slight one in crescent, are proven to release endorphins.

* Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Step back about one leg length with your left foot as you bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle.
* Keep both feet hip-width apart, with your weight resting on the heel of your front foot and on the ball of your back foot.
* Engage your lower belly to extend your lower back and raise your arms straight up over your head, keeping them shoulder-width apart.
* Rotate your upper arms inward to broaden your upper back, and lift your gaze upward.
* If you can keep your shoulders from flaring outward and your arms straight, bring your palms together.
* Repeat on the opposite side.

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Yoga Poses That Improve Your mood
Beth Bischoff
3. Cat and Cow Poses

Do it for: Insomnia

Insomnia-that evil, sleep-stealing monster that lurks under the bed! It feeds off stress, anxiety, and what we in yoga call “the constant fluctuations of the mind,” or racing thoughts. Use these poses to calm your mind and relax your nervous system.

* Start on all fours with your hips stacked over your knees and your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
* Keep your arms straight as you inhale, drop your belly, and roll your shoulders back (Cow).
* Exhale, press into your palms, round your back, and drop your tailbone down (Cat).
* Repeat this several times, performing Cow on the inhale and Cat on the exhale.

More: 10 Yoga Poses for Health Problems
Yoga Poses That Improve Your mood
Beth Bischoff
4. Reclined Bound Angle Pose

Do it for: Relaxation

We all know how hard it is to relax in a world of perpetual motion-our days are packed with meetings and phone calls and social events, not to mention the constant checking of e-mails, text messages, and social media sites. But we also know how critical it is to be able to tune out all this noise and clear our heads.

* Begin on your back, with your knees bent wide and the soles of your feet together.
* Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you comfortably can.
* Lift your chest and draw your shoulder blades down your back to lengthen your neck.
* Take your arms wide, with your palms facing up.

More: Find Your Perfect Meditation Style
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Yoga Poses That Improve Your mood
Beth Bischoff
5. Goddess Pose

Do it for: A broken heart

You’re in love, blissfully happy, and singing from the rooftops-then suddenly, you find yourself curled up in a ball with a tearstained face and a feeling of despair. A broken heart very well may be the most painful injury ever-with few proven ways of rehab. There’s plenty of advice out there: “Time heals all wounds” and “There are plenty of fish in the sea,” but often those words just aren’t enough. Let this pose remind you that you’re completely in charge of your own happiness.

* Stand with your feet one leg’s distance apart and your feet parallel.
* Rotate your heels in and toes out until your knees point in the same direction as your toes.
* Bend your knees, and drop your pelvis into a neutral position.
* Keep your arms lifted, elbows slightly bent, and palms up.

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Yoga Poses That Improve Your mood
Beth Bischoff
6. Simple Spinal Twist Pose

Do it for: Bloating

Even saying the word “bloat” is enough to make you uncomfortable. Twists like this one help speed up digestion. (Plus: 11 Ways to Prevent Belly Bloat)

* Lie on your back and hug both of your knees to your chest.
* Open your arms wide and, keeping your knees bent and together, drop them over to your right side.
* Push your left shoulder down as you elongate your lower back and turn your head slightly to the left.
* Repeat on the opposite side.
Yoga Poses That Improve Your mood
Beth Bischoff
7. Head To Knee Pose

Do it for: Headache

Even incredibly sweet people go postal when a migraine hits them. It’s hard to maintain any sense of well-being when your entire head is throbbing and it hurts to blink. Unfortunately, the best remedy for a migraine is a dark room, a cold compress, and sleep. But yoga can also do wonders to thwart an oncoming migraine, and without a doubt it can help prevent future attacks. (Read more: 7 Weird New Headache Causes)

* Begin seated, with your left leg straight and your right knee bent.
* Bring the sole of your right foot to rest against your inner upper thigh. Inhale and extend your spine.
* Exhale, spin your chest over your left knee, and grab the outer edge of your left foot, or clasp your right wrist with your left hand.
* Inhale and extend your spine again.
* Exhale and fold your torso over your straight leg, bending your elbows wide and relaxing the base of your neck.
* Repeat on the opposite side.
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Yoga Poses That Improve Your mood
Beth Bischoff
8. Puppy Dog Stretch

Do it for: Bedroom confidence

Nothing’s sexier than a confident partner. You can do squats till you can bounce a quarter off your butt, but if you don’t believe you’re sexy, it won’t translate to someone else. Practicing yoga blends the physical bonus of gaining strength and an attractive figure with the confidence that your body type is perfect and made just for you.

* Start on all fours with your knees hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart.
* Stack your hips above your knees and walk your arms out in front of you, keeping your arms straight.
* Melt your belly, chest, and throat towards the ground.
* Hug the upper outer arms in and press into your palms.
* Gaze forward.

More: The Yoga Workout for Better Sex
Yoga Poses That Improve Your mood
Beth Bischoff
9. Seated Inner-Thigh Twist

Do it for: Intimacy and sensuality

Maybe you brought sexy back, but you still can’t quite get on the same track as your partner. When words fail you, unroll your yoga mats and practice moving and breathing together. Your heart rates will rise for long enough for you to sweat out stress and then lower again to calm your hearts (just in time to send those pulses racing again!).

* Sit tall with your back pressed against your partner’s and reach your right arm towards their left thigh and your left arm onto your right thigh.
* Gently press down on the thigh or slide your hand to their inner thigh.
* Push your legs down with your hands as you sit tall and revolve your chest to the right.
* Repeat on the other side.

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