Exercise is a known mood-booster. It’s a healthy way to achieve long-term balance, get your blood flowing, increase oxygen levels, open up the heart, and lower stress. Instead of reaching for short-term fixes like sweets or a glass of wine, try exercise: It improves your mood in the now and going forward.
This series of moves combines inversions, chest openers, and stretches to the flight-or-fight muscles and fast-paced exercises to help boost mood all day long. Focus on finding deep and continuous diaphragmatic breath (allowing the space around the ribs to expand as you breathe in and fall back down as you breathe out) as you move through the exercises, for even more mood boosting. Diaphragmatic breathing helps to lower cortisol by aiding the cleansing of the adrenals.
You can do this series once a day or whenever you’re feeling like you need a pick-me-up.
Begin lying on your stomach with your arms extended overhead by your ears. Float your chest up into a long arch. Reach your arms and legs out to lift them off the floor while keeping your belly deepening in and up. Slowly begin to flutter the arms and legs like you are swimming. Inhale for four beats, then exhale for four beats for a total of 12 breaths.
2. Double-leg kick.
Begin lying on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your midback. Bend both knees to kick your heels toward your sitz bones. Keep the fronts of your hips pressed to the mat. Extend your legs straight as you reach your arms back and lengthen your upper spine into an arch. Turn the head to one side as you lower, alternating head turns with each rep. Perform eight times.
3. Telescope arms.
Lie on your right side with your arms extended forward on the mat at shoulder height. Slowly draw the left fingers along the right arm and across the collarbone to come in to a twist with your upper body. Let your gaze follow the left arm as it unfurls on to the mat to create a wide-open chest. Take deep, full, opening breaths.
4. Leg beats/ab scissors.
Start in a chair position with your hands behind your head. Lengthen your head, neck, and shoulders into an abdominal curl. Extend your legs outward to a 45-degree angle, or as low as you can keep your deep core connected and spine in neutral. Keeping the knees straight and the legs turned out, cross your thighs over each other in alternating beats 10 times. Repeat the set three times.
Start in a forearm plank with your belly button pulled into your spine. Fold at the hips to reach your sitz bones up toward the ceiling to come into an up stretch position. Feel the length between your head to your tail. Allow your heels to drop to the floor for a calf stretch. Engage your abdominals to return to a forearm plank. Repeat eight times.