4 Gentle Yoga Moves to Improve Your Mood February 16, 2017 09:36
You don't need to be a pretzel to improve your psychological well-being with yoga.
Whether you've just sweated out a hot yoga session or enjoyed some unwind time with something more gentle, that feel-good boost you get leaving the yoga studio has just been scientifically proven to benefit you. Yoga as gentle as chair yoga for older adults improves several measures of psychological well-being, including anger, anxiety, depression, and general positive feelings, according to research published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.
The researchers tested three groups of older adults: those who did a chair yoga program, those who did a chair exercise program, and those who did nothing. The chair yoga group had greater psychological improvements than either of the other groups.
You don't have to be a seasoned yogi, either. These benefits were seen after a once-a-week, six-week-long program; none of the participants had any previous yoga experience.
While most of yoga is focused on the "asanas," or the postures, the pratyahara, or the practice of turning your attention inward, is also an important component of yoga.
The beautiful thing about pratyahara is that you don't need to be able to bend yourself into a pretzel to practice it. Even simple movements can reinforce your inward focus. Try these 4 chair yoga moves from the Kimberlee Bethany Bonura, PhD, and creator of the online series Chair Yoga and Totally Chair Yoga.
While holding the back of your chair, balance on your left foot. Your right foot will come to either your ankle, calf, or upper thigh (though not on the knee joint), depending on your ability, with the knee turned outward. Lift one or both arms above your head and hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths, keeping your gaze focused on one point. Repeat on the other side.
Chest Opener and Gentle Twist
Seated, place your right hand on your left knee and gently twist at the waist to place the left hand behind you on the left thigh, left hip, or the back of the chair, depending on your flexibility. Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Holding onto the back of your chair, stand on your left foot and grab old of your right foot, if your flexibility allows. If it's comfortable, release the chair back and balance on one foot, keeping your gaze focused on one point. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
If sitting cross-legged on the floor isn't available to you, meditate in your chair. Find a comfortable seat and either bring your hands to prayer position to help you center your awareness or allow them to rest comfortably on your thighs. Maintain a sense of calm, both in your mind and body, while focusing on your breath for 1 to 2 minutes.