We’ve all woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Getting too little sleep and burning your tongue on your morning coffee can quickly snowball into a terrible day. As yoga practitioners, we already have the tools to start the day on the right side of the bed and carry that happy feeling within us as the day continues. These simple techniques and morning yoga practices will not only start your day off with a smile — they will also increase your overall happiness.
Meditation is key to long-term happiness. It can actually permanently change your brain. A meditation practice boosts happiness by increasing positive emotion and decreasing depression, anxiety, and stress. A study by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that loving-kindness meditation increased positive emotions over time. I think of loving-kindness meditation as wishing yourself and others well, then extending this well-being to all beings.
Visualization helps you replace negative thoughts with positive ones. If you can begin your day visualizing a future happy event, you’ll get an added boost of happiness through anticipation. So, start your day in your happy place. Begin by closing your eyes and picturing yourself in your favorite place or doing something that you’re looking forward to. Imagine how it feels, smells, and what it sounds like. Let yourself be transported to this safe space.
How you feel in the morning can affect your whole day. Get your day going with gratitude because grateful people are happy people. During your yoga practice, think or even say what you are grateful for. Some days, I like to simply begin with, “I am grateful for this body. I am grateful for this yoga practice.”
Kapalabhati or breath of fire is perfect for the morning because it is energizing. It wakes and warms the body and brain. Kapalabhati is an invigorating breath that can help shake off negative emotions. It is characterized by an initial long, slow inhale and rapid exhales.
5. Yoga power poses
A boost in confidence and self-esteem increases your happiness. You are more likely to feel good about life if you feel good about yourself. Power poses are those asanas that energize and make you feel strong, confident, and ready to tackle the day. Get on your mat and practice the poses that make you feel like a rock star. Try some standing yoga poses for strength and an energetic uplift.
6. Challenge your practice
Knowing how to handle challenges can boost your happiness by showing you that the worst case scenario is often not as bad as you thought. When you face challenging poses on your mat, you’ll begin to see them as not so bad and may even learn to feel calm amidst the challenge. Add poses you aren’t fond of to your morning practice. Pick the pose you like the least, the one that makes you tense and maybe even stressed. Practice it, breath and even smile through it, and feel better able to handle what the day throws at you.
7. Set practice goals
Mastering skills gives us a long-term happiness boost. When we look back on an accomplishment, we feel happy. Use your asana, pranayama, and meditation practice to build your skills and reap the long-term benefits. Pick a pose or technique you are learning and practice it every day. You may even enjoy keeping track of your progress.
Smiling makes you feel good and helps you recover from stress. Even if you aren’t feeling happy, smiling can increase happiness. So, strike an asana pose and smile. It’s probably best to start with a pose you like or even one of your power poses but eventually try this even in the challenging poses.
9. Eat mindfully
Eating breakfast puts you in a better mood. But, eating mindfully increases your happiness even more. Appreciating your food before you dig in builds anticipation, which also increases happiness and even makes your food taste better. So, take your practice off the mat with breakfast.
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