Have you ever had one of those days that leaves you feeling ready to punch a wall, scream for hours or both? Perhaps all you wanted to do was crash on your couch and open a brewski — no matter how it made your head feel the next day.
Before you cave into less-than-healthy habits to manage stress, why not transform the negative energy of a bad day through yoga? Like the punk band Public Image Ltd. once sang, “anger is an energy” — and it is a potent one. Make it positive and productive with this flow series.
1. Set the Mood
How do you want your fierce yoga workout to go? Typically, your setup might include candles and dim lights — but what background soundtrack do you want? No yogi ever said, “You must perform your asanas only to the tune of piano concertos and easy-listening spa classics.” If you’re going to perform your workout by jamming out to death metal for a portion of it, go for it! Create a playlist specifically for days like these.
This isn’t to say you don’t want to add the soothing sound elements as well as the visual and olfactory ones. Include relaxing music at the beginning and end of your playlist. Plus, hey, candles and dim lights complement goth moods as well as tranquil ones.
2. Start with a Compassionate Body Scan
An ideal way to begin your practice is with a body scan. While this technique comprises a type of mindfulness meditation, it also brings awareness to the areas of your body where you’re holding the most tension. This practice helps you determine what poses will benefit you the most.
For example, if you tend to carry stress in the extensor muscles lining your spine, you might feel tense or taut in your lower back. Movements like standing toe touches and downward-facing dog can help relieve tension in this region.
3. Start Generating Some Heat
Now, it’s time to get some heat moving in your muscles. Warm up your legs with chair pose. When you get your blood flowing through your most massive muscle groups, it elevates your heart rate. Also, stand in goddess pose with your feet spread wide, similar to horse stance in karate.
Take the time to engage your core with some seated twists, as well. A well-developed abdomen and lower back help you maintain your balance through the more challenging poses to come.
4. Challenge Your Body
Once your blood is flowing, it’s time to go a little bit crazy. You don’t have to rush immediately to one of the most challenging yoga poses known. Instead, harness your negative energy to push yourself safely. Perhaps you typically perform tree pose while holding on to a wall for balance. Try to master the asana without the use of an aid and see how it goes.
Exercise common sense and listen to your body. While you want to challenge yourself, yoga should produce a comfortable burn. Sharp, sudden pain means you’re trying to stretch too far. Go to the point of discomfort, but not beyond.
5. Test Your Endurance
A perfect way to up the caloric burn and intensity of your workout is to test your endurance. You up the ante without having to perform any single-handed handstands. Have you ever experimented with how long you can hold warrior pose? Why not make today the day you find out? As you grow sweatier, visualize the tension of the day rolling off with each bead. Imagine it evaporating away into the sky — poof, gone!
6. Take Your Time Cooling Down
Many people use yoga poses to cool down from other types of workouts, but since your objective is healing your mental state, take your time re-establishing inner peace. Once you feel pleasantly exhausted, begin moving through a series of gentle, floor-based poses. During this time, focus on your breath and your attitude more than the physical motions. For example, you can relax in happy baby pose and let yourself giggle — it’s OK. Laughter is an excellent way to restore your mindset to a more positive frame.
7. Relax in Savasana
You transformed the energy of your negative day through yoga. Now, you get to reap the rewards. Hopefully, you selected some music that will help you enter a deep state of relaxation as you lay in savasana. Take as long as you like, even letting yourself drift off to sleep if you so desire. You kicked negativity to the curb, and you deserve to bask in the glow.
Transform Stress and Negativity into Positive Energy Through Yoga
The next time one of those days leaves you feeling like pouring a double, choose a healthy way to unwind instead. Your body and mind will thank you for choosing yoga!