Written by Janice Quirt
There’s many a Facebook graphic with inspirational quotes from the yoga world. One always seems to strike a chord, though, and that is the phrase “You’re only one yoga class away from a good mood”. As teachers and as participants we’ve seen over and over the power of a yoga class to lift spirits.
Pranayama and Meditation
Why is that exactly? Certainly most exercise results in the production of mood-lifting endorphins. But the effects with yoga seem to be longer lasting, and more entrenched. That’s likely because yoga combines the feel-good physical exertion with breath and energy exercises (pranayama) that can clear the mind, banish stress, and promote relaxation. In fact, there are specific pranayama exercises that can be used just for those times when you’re feeling tense and irritable. The alternate nostril breathing “pratiloma” means “to go against the order of things” and this banishes moodiness and lethargy. There’s also the meditation involved with yoga, which can help strengthen the pre-frontal cortex, home of creativity.
Eastern Medicine: The Meridians
In the Eastern tradition, different meridians can be manipulated to help with various physical ailments and mental outlooks. In Yin yoga, we tug on the connective tissue surrounding these meridians to help energy, aka prana or chi to flow more freely and find balance. An imbalance in the kidney chi can lead to anxiety and worry. A blockage affecting the liver chi can lead to irritability and anger. Lung chi that isn’t aligned can result in feelings of sadness. By creating a targeted yin sequence, we can focus on those specific meridians and help to alleviate chi blockages in those areas.
The art of mindfulness meditation can also have huge impacts on mood. By learning how to pause, soften and connect to physical or psychological ailments, they can have less power over emotions or mood. Mindfulness in terms or health and nutrition also goes a long way to feeling your best and being in the best possible mood.
If you’re interested in learning more about tailoring your yoga practice to help optimize your emotions and thinking, come to our Manage Your Mood workshop on April 30. We’ll learn specific pranayama, yin sequences and meditation practices to curb irritability. You’ll leave knowing how to use and implement these strategies in your everyday life so you feel less irritable, banishing the funk and curbing the occasional desire to lash out. We’ll also investigate the power of aromatherapy via essential oils to uplift our spirits and make every day the best possible day.
Our moods don’t have to hold us hostage. Yoga can teach us how to respond, not to react. Come learn all about it!