Most of us have had days when our disposition or outlook is not what we want or need it to be. An unexpected funk or shot of irritability is made more uncomfortable by sheer dint of its unknown origin: When one has undergone a stressful experience or interaction, a reactive mood change is understandable; however, when the source of angst or crabbiness is unapparent, the way to ameliorate it may also be less clear.
Today, I have created a practice designed to improve a funky mood or corral an errant attitude. It is especially helpful for those times when “mental muck” seems to come from nowhere. The routine is comprised of three pranayama and posture pairings: The first will oust latent anger and pent-up frustration, while working to revitalize your self-confidence; the second places pressure on the liver and thyroid, thereby powerfully eliminating physical and mental waste; and finally, the third breath-and-posture pair integrates and stabilizes the resumed state of balance.
Special note: I have learned through the years that unremembered dreams or planetary movement can often be the culprit with regard to a sudden bout of moodiness. This practice takes care to align your newly improved mental and emotional state with the universal energies that circulate within and without.
To begin, I suggest a few rounds of Cat/Cow or your preferred yoga warm-up. Then, come onto your back for a modified Wheel (or Bridge) pose.
Special note: Because you will be in the posture for several minutes, you may want to use a block (standing tall on its short end) underneath your sacrum. With practice, you will feel strong enough to hold the position without the prop.
On your back, lift your hips and spine off of the floor; your feet and knees are parallel, about hip-width apart. Bring your arms out to the sides at shoulder level on the floor, palms up. Press the last two fingers into the palms with the thumbs; the index and middle fingers point straight out to the sides. The eyes are closed and gazing at the Third Eye.
Draw your breath in through your teeth; exhale fully through your nose. Initially, this “tooth breathing” can be surprisingly awkward: For example, I found that my first few breaths caused my jaw to tremble, and my teeth to jog back and forth over each other. Or, you may find that the air through the teeth creates sensitivity for you. Stay with the intention to suck in air through the teeth as you find a way to settle any early discomfort.
The unfamiliar breath coupled with Pran (Energy) Mudra and the empowering posture immediately starts the work of clearing any negativity or self-doubt that may underlie your mood.
After 3-5 minutes with the first pairing, slowly roll your spine and hips back onto the floor. Allow the knees to fall inward to rest against each other as your slightly widen your feet, toes turned in a bit. Cross you arms over your torso, and remain in this “constructive rest” for about a minute, breathing deeply and steadily.
Next, hug your knees into your chest, and lift your head off the ground as if to bring your nose between your knees. If this bothers your neck, you may keep the head on the floor, or support your head in your hands, being sure to keep the knees tucked into the body. Regardless of your choice, begin Breath of Fire through the mouth, panting like a dog. With eyes remaining closed, continue for 1-3 minutes.
For the final pairing, you will sit up and come into a “squared-leg” seated posture. Sitting with crossed legs, adjust your legs so that your feet come under their opposite knee, thereby creating a squared-off version of a more open or relaxed seated pose. Your arms mimic this parallelogram effect: Hold your bent arms at shoulder level in front of you, right forearm resting atop the left; hands are relaxed with palms facing down. Begin deep ujjayi breathing, moving your breath evenly and fully through the throat to create an oceanic or windy sound. Maintaining your closed-eye gaze at the Third Eye, breathe consciously and fully in this posture for 5-11 minutes.