’Tis the season to celebrate! To party! To be joyful! So why are you so down? Don’t let the worst of the winter months get the best of you. You are responsible for your own happiness, so take charge, relax, let go. Even if you’ve never done yoga before, try these four easy ways to beat the winter blues.
Find a clean, quiet corner. Sit comfortably with your legs crossed, spine tall. Roll the shoulders back. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Try to clear the mind by focusing just on your inhales and exhales. Imagine the inhales are a golden, pure light. The exhales are pushing all internal impurities out of your system. Imagine that golden light circulating throughout the entire body. Let the mind and body fully relax. One breath at a time, let your mind be at ease.
You may want to use a mantra to stay focused. Here are five you can repeat; use any or all: “Let go,” “I am light,” “I am peace,” “I am free,” “I choose happiness.”
Your meditation can be just as quick as one or two minutes, or as long as 30 minutes or more. Let yourself smile if you feel the corners of your mouth lift up. Let yourself feel safe, warm, filled with light, at peace.
Based on studies that have shown that fake laughter may have the same physio- logical and psychological benefits as real laughter, laughter yoga was developed by an Indian physician in the ’90s. Start by grabbing a partner. It can be your friend, your significant other or — my favorite — a child! A child’s pure heart and naturally open mind makes him or her the perfect partner to get the laughter going. Start by making eye contact with your partner and simultaneously shouting out, “HA, HA, HA, HA, HO, HO, HO, HO” — in other words, fake laugh. Make it so fake that it sounds ridiculous! Soon you’ll “fake it till you make it,” as real laughter eventually kicks in.
Child’s Pose is a great way to breathe in a receptive position. Get on your knees and spread them out shoulder width apart, big toes touching behind you. Sit your hips on the heels and fold over. The ribcage should fit perfectly between the thighs. Drop the forehead down to the ground. Stretch the arms by your sides, palms up. Relax the shoul- ders and neck. Breathe in through the nose, out through the nose. Repeat this mantra throughout the pose: “I am safe.” Stay for 5 to 10 breaths.
For the Puppy Dog Pose, get on all fours, palms and knees to the ground. Shoulders are above the wrists, hips above the knees. Walk the hands forward as you lower the chest down to the floor and curl the toes under. Exhale and move the buttocks halfway back toward the heels. Engage the entire arm from the fingertips to the triceps, while relaxing the shoulders and neck. Keep a slight curve in the lower back. Lengthen the entire body, feeling the stretch in your spine. Feel the shift in your mood as this pose helps you open the heart and chest. Repeat this mantra: “Choose happiness with every passing thought.” Stay for 5 to 10 breaths.
Sunina Young (sunina.com) is a yoga + SLT pilates instructor in New York City.
Story by Sunina Young
Photos by Andy Hur, andyhur.com
This story was originally published in our Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here.