Deep down, we all want to feel happy, but sometimes it’s hard to find the pathway to elation. The quickest and most simple route: being present in your body. There is so much pleasure to feel in the moment. I designed this routine to help access that joy, which is your birthright.
Here is a routine that will increase your lung capacity, clear you of pent-up sadness or grief, and infuse your blood with oxygen. It includes Breath of Joy to clear the lungs, backbends to open your heart, and twists to detoxify your organs and enliven your spine. It is meant to be playful and is the perfect pick-me-up. Enjoy!
Breath of Joy
This is a complex breathing exercise. But don’t let that intimidate you! Remember to have fun. Although it may seem like a lot to coordinate, beginner’s luck and playfulness go a long way, especially when it comes to being joyful. With a little practice, you’ll be surprised at how intuitive this movement will become. Yoga marries the breath to the movement, so putting the two together is what makes this yoga!
Part 1: The Breathing Practice
Practice this while standing, with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, so you feel grounded. Take 3 sharp sips of breath in through your nose with your mouth closed. Then open your mouth and force the exhale out of your mouth. Repeat this 3 to 5 times, or until the pattern becomes second nature.
Part 2: The Body Movement
From a wide stance with your knees slightly softened, swing your arms up over your head (as shown), then fling them out to the side, then back overhead (like a conductor conducting a symphony). Then release your body to swing down into a forward bend and back up.
Part 3: Put It All Together
- The movement: arms up; the breath: a sharp sip in through the nose.
- Arms out to the side with a sharp sip in through the nose.
- Arms up again, another sharp sip in through the nose.
- Body swings down (as shown). Exhale out the mouth.
- Swing back up (with momentum) and inhale, continuing to the next set. Repeat 5 times.
Sun Salutation A Series
Stand in mountain pose. Inhale, reach arms up, gaze up.
Exhale, fold down with a flat spine. Inhale, lengthen your spine, hands to shins. Exhale, place your palms on the mat, and come to plank pose (as shown). Palms are aligned directly below your shoulders, and your hips, shoulders, and heels should be in a straight line. Activate your abdominals.
Lower yourself down, shoulders come no lower than your elbows into low plank pose.
Inhale and roll over your toes into Upward-Facing Dog (as shown). Legs straight, thighs lifted off the mat as you press the tops of the feet down into the mat.
Roll over your toes and move back into downward-facing dog (as shown). Place your palms down by your feet and step your feet back, hip-width apart. Push your hips back up to an apex, as if you are an inverted “V.” Press your palms into the mat, especially the mound under the pointer finger. Press your chest toward your thighs. Downward-facing dog relaxes your nervous system, plus it lengthens and stretches the entire back of your body. Enjoy being here. Hold for 5 breaths.
Gaze forward, lightly step or hop your feet up to your hands. Lift your chest and bring your palms to the shins on your inhale. Exhale into a forward bend (as shown). Inhale while floating back up into standing.
Repeat 5 times, finishing in downward-facing dog.
Step your right foot between your hands and come back into a high lunge, with your front knee at a 90-degree angle and your back leg straight. Raise your torso to an upright position. You may bend your back knee slightly if this is too strenuous on your hip flexors. Clasp your hands behind your back and open up your lungs. Take 5 breaths here.
From crescent, spinal twist to the right while extending your right arm out to the right and the left arm forward. Keep both hips level and arms parallel to the floor. Hold for 5 breaths.
Now reach your right palm down the back straight leg and extend your left arm up and over (as shown). Hold for 5 breaths.
Sweep your left hand to the mat inside the right foot into a twisting lunge. Take 5 breaths.
Next step back to plank pose and through a vinyasa and repeat all on the second side.
Camel Pose (One-Arm Variation)
Kneel at the top of your mat with your feet hip-width apart and toes tucked under. Place hands on your lower back for support. Hug your elbows in and shrug your shoulders back. Aim your tailbone down toward your heels. Firm your thighs and reach back for your right heel with your right hand as you reach up and over your head with your left arm. Open up your chest and gaze at your fingertips. Take 5 long breaths; with each exhale, relax a little more deeply. To rise from the pose, firm your thighs and reach your left arm up and forward, following your fingertips with your gaze. Before switching sides, pause in child’s pose to balance out the spine with a forward fold. Come back onto your knees to set yourself up for the other side.
Happy Baby Pose
Lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest. Open your knees as wide as they can go around the ribs and aim the soles of your feet up to the ceiling. Grab for the insides of your feet and pull downward while arching your back. Take 5 to 10 breaths. Release your feet and hug your knees to your chest.