Psst! We’ve got a simple secret for beating the blues and giving your mood a serious boost: these yoga moves from Sadie Nardini, host of “Rock Your Yoga” on Veria Living TV. Not only do the poses encourage your body to release endorphins that help you feel better, but they also massage your mid-section, increasing your body’s stress-zapping serotonin levels. While many people believe most of these feel-good neurotransmitters reside in your brain, the majority of them actually live in your gut. “Add to this the confidence and empowerment that come from cultivating a more fit, toned, strong body, and you’ve got a recipe for becoming the master of your moods,” Nardini says. Go through these yoga moves whenever you’re feeling low, flowing smoothly from pose to pose.
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1. Fierce Lion Lunge
Stand at the front of a mat with feet hip-distance apart. Step your right foot back as far as is comfortable and bend your left knee to come into a lunge (your knee should be over your ankle). Keeping hips and low belly centered, reach your arms overhead (A); inhale. Exhale, forming fists and sweeping your hands in toward your hips; fold forward toward your front thigh as you sweep your hands back, opening palms and spreading fingers wide. At the same time, stick your tongue out and roar like a lion (B), letting go of emotional stress. Inhale, rolling back in and up through the front belly and bringing arms overhead to return to “A” position. Do 5 to 10 reps. (Too challenging? Place your back knee and shin down onto a blanket.)
2. Twisted Lunge
While still in lunge position, exhale, bringing your palms together at your chest. Keeping hips and low belly centered, twist your torso to the left, touching your right elbow to your left knee; look down at the floor (as shown). Take 3 to 5 breaths into your belly.
3. Fierce Lion Chair
Step your right foot forward next to your left; bend your knees and squeeze your legs together. Roll up, drawing your belly in and upward to support your low back Inhale, reaching your arms overhead (A). Exhale, once again forming fists and sweeping your hands in toward your hips; fold forward over your thighs as you sweep your hands back, opening palms and spreading fingers wide. At the same time, repeat the lion’s roar (B). Do 5 to 10 reps, then slowly roll up to standing. Repeat steps 1 through 3 on the opposite side, then go on to step 4.
4. Supported Shoulder Stand
Lie on your back on the mat, arms resting comfortably by your sides. Bend your knees, lift your hips, and place a block or large book under your hips. Either stay here, walking feet mat-width apart and letting your knees fall toward each other, or lift your bent knees over your hips, then straighten your legs into the air (as shown). Hold for one minute or more.
5. Belly Roll
Turn over onto your belly, then roll slightly to one side and place a dishcloth rolled into a small ball under your lower belly (not your hip bones). Roll onto the ball and relax, bringing your arms to the floor (as shown); breathe slowly and deeply as you rock your hips from side to side, allowing the ball to massage your lower belly. Continue for 5 minutes.