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Asanas and breathing exercises to enhance mood, boost energy levels

Living with stress has become a commonplace experience, but rather than accepting it as a constant, it’s crucial to discover effective tools for its mitigation. Yoga stands out as a powerful means to address the physical, emotional, and mental toll of stress, offering a transformative perspective on life.

Certified yoga educator and Moon Village Cafe founder, Samiksha Shetty, emphasizes the potency of yoga postures (asanas), breathwork (Pranayama), and meditation in fostering inner calm and relaxation. If you’re seeking ways to de-stress, these practices are indispensable.

In yoga, the combination of movement and breath serves to release pent-up energy along the spine and throughout the body. This mind-body connection facilitates cellular-level changes, allowing the nervous system to rewire and retrain responses to psychological or emotional triggers that activate the fight-or-flight response.

Shetty recommends specific asanas and breath exercises to elevate mood and provide an instant boost in energy:

1. **Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana):**
This posture unwinds the entire body, strengthening the arms and shoulders, lengthening the spine, calves, and hamstrings. It promotes increased blood flow to the brain for heightened energy.

2. **Ushtrasana (Camel Pose):**
Targeting the spine, which houses stress and repressed emotions, this backbend opens the chest, leaving you feeling more invigorated. Hold the pose for 30 seconds.

3. **Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose):**
This pose relieves stiffness in the ankles, knees, and hips, enhancing hip mobility and facilitating emotional release. Various variations provide flexibility in the practice.

4. **Happy Child’s Pose:**
Lengthening and stretching the spine and hips simultaneously, this pose not only relieves fatigue but also shifts the mind to a playful mode. Stay in the pose for 9-12 breaths.

5. **Savasana (Corpse Pose):**
An essential yoga pose, Savasana balances the nervous system and removes emotional blockages. Lie down, relax, and observe the changes in your body and mind.

Shetty also underscores the significance of breathwork:

– **Natural Breath:**
Observe thoughts as they arise and dissipate while breathing naturally. Detach from thoughts and focus on the quality of your breath.

– **Belly Breathing/Abdominal Breathing:**
In a meditative posture, focus on your navel. Inhale, feeling the diaphragm move downwards, and exhale, contracting the abdomen. This technique can be practiced sitting or lying down.

Additionally, she recommends body scan meditation as a method to release physical tension. Begin in savasana, scan your body mentally, and bring awareness to different parts, starting from the feet and moving towards the head.

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