03/11/2010 07:34 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Yoga Positions For A Good Mood

Not feeling yourself of late? Try these mood-boosting vinyasa yoga poses for size.

When practising yoga - as with any physical exercise - we fuel ourselves with energy by consciously letting go of tension and opening to our essential aliveness.

"This ready-for-anything 'juiciness' becomes visible in the face and body. It lifts our hearts and brings light into our eyes" says Wenche Beard, who runs spiritual and luxury yoga retreats all over the world at

Brighten your day - and others' - by regularly practising these three heart and joy-opening postures, with advice from Wenche on how to get the most out of each.

Upward facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana)

What's it good for?
Opens your chest, relives fatigue and depression, and lifts your spirit.

Expert tip

Spread your fingers. Imagine drawing the floor beneath you and lengthen out of your legs and hips focusing on space in the spine and shoulders, lift your torso. Imagine opening the doors of your heart and let it breathe, your neck relaxed.

How long do I hold the pose?
If your back is tender keep the pose dynamic, otherwise hold it for six to eight breaths.

The pigeon (eka pada kapotasana variation)

What's it good for?
Stretches the thighs, hips and abdomen. Opens the shoulders, chest and lungs.

Expert tip
Breathe deeply and apply a root lift (mula bandha) to support the lower back. Draw energy up the spine to the crown and fingertips.

Imagine your back like the sail on a sailing boat. Set sail and let the winds of your breath take you deep into this strong stretch.

Ground your hips and shoulders. If you can't lift your arms up, keep them grounded beneath your shoulders supporting the spinal lift and arch.

How long to hold this pose?

Six to eight deep breaths. Practice on both sides.

Extended side angle twist (utthita parsvakonasana variation)

What's it good for?
Strengthens your legs, opens the hips, and balances the nervous system.

Expert tip
Keep your heal and instep in alignment, knee above the ankle and spine long. Enjoy spiralling through the universe of your inner body.

Rotate your chest to the sky and smile with your heart and mind. If this posture is too advanced, support yourself with one hand on the floor and the other along the ear, palms pointing downwards.

How long do I hold this pose?
Stay in this pose for three to six breaths to begin with, extending the time as your body becomes stronger. Practice on both sides.

Remember that yoga is designed to let go of tension not create it. Enjoy your good mood!

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