Health & Fitness

5 yoga stretches to make you happy!

Author: Elle Canada

Health & Fitness

5 yoga stretches to make you happy!

Ever notice when you are in yoga class all your worries seem to melt away as you bend your way through stretches and poses? Treat your body and your mind to the same sense of calm and contentment everyday by doing these 5 simple stretches. They will boost your energy and make you feel light and relaxed, which equals a happier you! Tracey DosAnjos of Moksha Yoga in downtown Toronto gives ELLE Canada some pointers on how to stretch yourself happy!

"While there might not be a specific yoga posture that I can guarantee you 100% will make you happy, I can guarantee you that addressing the stress and tension we build in our body and mind will greatly contribute to a happier and lighter self," says Tracey. The first step is to realize the emotion and feeling that can cause stress. Tracey suggests stepping back and open your mind and body to moments in your life when you felt amazing and happy ... then use the following postures to help release any stress.

Upward Dog
This amazing backward bend will help to strengthen the spine and open the heart. The deep opening through the front of the body helps to relive stress and energize the body.
1. Lie face down on your yoga mat, with your legs together and the hands at either side of the chest (fingertips in line with the top of the shoulders) Make sure to keep the elbows in tight to your side.
2. On the inhale lift the upper body off the floor and straighten the arms. Let the shoulders slide down the back and keep the neck long. If you are able lift the hips and legs off the floor (so only the hands and the tops of the feet have floor contact. Lift through the sternum and allow the shoulders to slide down the back. Stay lifted through the abdominals to support the spine.
3. Take some long deep breaths as you allow the chest to open.

Child's Pose
This is a great restorative posture to calm the mind and release stress.
1. From upward dog press back to a kneeling position with buttocks on the heels and a long spine with the forehead gently resting on the floor
2. Spread the knees apart and let the belly relax
3. Lay the arms alongside the torso and release the shoulders towards the floor
4. Breath deep and calm as you allow the body and mind to relax
5. Enjoy a beautiful deep opening through the lower back and hipsDownward Dog
This is a rejuvenating posture to bring calm energy to the body and mind. There is an inversion with the head below the heart…with the increased blood flow to the head calming the mind and relieving stress.
1. From child's pose tuck the toes under, push back towards the heels and lift the sit bones upwards
2. Spread your fingers and outwardly rotate the upper arms
3. Rotate the thighs inward and extend through the heels (don't worry if they don't touch the floor)
4. Relax the head and neck as you lengthen through the spine and move the shoulder blades down the back
5. Think of keeping your weight even between the hands and feet. Keep the sit bones lifted to the sky.

Chaturanga Dandasana
This is a great posture to strengthen the whole body and to relieve stress.
1. (plank) From Downward dog bring the body forward into a straight line above the floor.
2. Firm the legs and abdominal muscles to keep the spine supported
3. Keep the shoulder blades moving down the back with the palms pressed down.
4. (chaturanga) Exhale, and lower your body down in a straight line. Keep the elbows in tight to your side

To energize the body and get the blood flowing you can join these postures together in a flowing sequence. Start in Downward dog, inhale to plank exhale down through chaturanga, inhale upward dog and exhale back through downward dog. Make sure to move with your breath!
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Health & Fitness

5 yoga stretches to make you happy!