Yoga for Depression Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 4

Brighten Your Mood

30 min - Practice


This practice is designed to create space in the breath and body as we allow our perspective to widen and our mood to brighten. Denise guides us through a flow that includes hamstring opening, leg strengthening, and balancing postures. We finish with a deep hip opener and relaxing Savasana (Corpse Pose).
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap

About This Video


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(Waves rippling) Welcome back. We're going to be doing a practice today on creating space. One of the things I find is that it's helpful to think about creating space within your body with yoga, but also within your breath. To be able to create a little bit of distance between what we experience on a day-to-day basis, and the reactions that we have. So we'll go through a few different inquiries in terms of observing and really becoming mindful of what's happening as we move through our practice.

So for today's practice I'd encourage you to have a strap handy, and we'll start off on our backs. So lie back, allow yourself to settle in and without changing anything, observe the breath. Notice whether it feels open and expansive or whether it feels like there's any constriction anywhere and then very consciously and deliberately start to deepen your breath, inhaling in through your nose, filling up the belly and exhale, allow the belly button to drop back towards your spine. Inhale, fill the belly, feel it expand and exhale, let the belly soften. Taking a deeper breath, inhale into the belly.

Take the breath into the chest, feel the ribs widen and exhale, squeeze out the breath, ribs drawing in, belly button tightening towards the back body. Inhale, feel the belly, feel the chest. feel the shoulders so the breath reaches underneath your collarbones and exhale, empty the breath out of the shoulders, out of the chest, and out of the belly. We'll do that once more. Inhale deep into your belly.

Take the breath into your chest, breathe up into the shoulders, hold at the top and feel the fullness, feel the space and slowly exhale out of the shoulders, out of the chest, and out of the belly. Start to activate here so as we breathe in we flex through the feet, turning on the muscles in the legs. Lift up your kneecaps until you feel the quadriceps turn on. Spread out your toes so there's a little bit of space and light between each of them. Inhale here and exhale, draw your right knee in towards your chest.

Hug it in and let the belly relax as you breathe the belly into your thigh. Exhale, relax your shoulders and your back. Grab a hold of your strap here and take it around the ball of your right foot. We inhale deeply and exhale, draw your knee in towards your shoulder, opening up the hip and allowing it to relax, keeping the left leg active and with your next breath, we extend that right foot up towards the sky. Slowly start to rotate your right foot out.

So we feel the hips starting to open up and then think about opening up all the way from the top of the leg, so from the root of the thigh. Inhale and exhale, round your left hand down as you allow the right leg to open out to the side. Keep reaching through that left heel knowing that you have control, listening to your body's sensations. Opening up as much as you feel comfortable. Inhale here and exhale, draw that back towards center.

Release the right foot. Take in a big in-breath and as you exhale, draw the left knee in. We take the strap around the ball of the left foot. Draw your right, your right foot towards the end of your mat, flexing through spreading out your toes. Left knee coming in towards your shoulder, allowing the hip to relax, belly breathing into the thigh.

Inhale here, exhale, extend as much as feels all right for the back of the leg. Just sensing here, noticing how this side feels compared to the last. Does it feel more or less spacious? We ground down through that right leg, ground down through that right hand. Start to rotate, turn the toes out towards the side, and then feel the whole leg turn from the root of the thigh as we open up.

It's like the hip is wrapping underneath. Shoulders stay on the mat as you reach out to the left. Hips stay where they are. Noticing the sensations. Take in a big inhale, exhale, make your way back through center.

Release your left foot out of the strap and set it down. Big inhale here as you bring the right knee back in towards the chest. Just allow the sole of the foot to find the inner thigh and bring your awareness to your hips here as you open up the right knee into sleeping tree. Let's keep the legs active here so that you're still flexing and activating through the left foot and we have a firming of the right sole of the foot into the thigh as the left thigh firms back. So the tree isn't too sleepy.

We're not veering off to the side with the hips going with, but activating, reaching strongly through the legs and noticing whether the hips feel like they've come off center and if so what needs to happen to bring them back. Maybe we don't go quite as far. Maybe we don't come up quite as high and then with your in-breath, we feel the belly, we feel the chest, feel the shoulders, feel the space and with the out-breath we cross over, taking the knee over to the left, just coming into an easy supine twist. If it's okay for your neck, take your gaze over towards the shoulder, maybe over your right thumb and make your way back to center. And second side, extend though your right foot, flexing through the toes.

Big inhale, exhale left knee in and we find our tree on the other side. Once again, notice whether this side feels more or less spacious than the other. And then notice whether the hips are off center, and if so, how do we activate the body to bring it back to its normal center, to its alignment? Perhaps not going quite so far, not quite so high. Just sensing the space in the hip.

Then inhale, exhale, cross it over. Easy twist, gazing back towards the left. Shoulders relaxing onto your mat. Then inhale, exhale, make your way back to center. Drop both knees in towards your chest and roll your way up to all fours.

Bring your hands underneath your shoulders, knees underneath your hips. Flatten out your feet and breath in. Draw your shoulders back, heart forward and breathe out. Come back through center and find the rounding of the spine, chin coming in towards the chest, gazing inward. Inhale, look forward, shoulders back.

Exhale, pass through center and take it into the back body. Come back through center and find that middle point where it feels like you have the nice, natural curve of your low back. Ribs drawing in, pressing into the feet, into the shins. Inhale and exhale. Reach back into the right foot, toes curled under on your mat.

Here turn your toes out towards the side. Allow the heel to drop in towards center and then take that the other way so the toes turn in and the heel drops out. Make your way back through center, just feeling the rotation from the very top of the thigh and then float the heel right up straight out of the hip and find that in space. So we turn the toes out, feel the rotation as we externally rotate the whole leg, and then take that back through center coming to internally rotate, toes turn in, heel turns out and then set the foot down. Second side we reach back through that left leg and then just find what feels right here as we drop the heel out, toes in and take that the other way, toes out, heel in.

It's becoming aware of the different asymmetries that we have in your body. Whether your right hip feels more open, breathe the left leg straight out Or whether it feels like that's the one that gets a little more stuck. Turn the toes out, draw the heel in and spin that the other way, toes coming in towards center as you hug the standing leg in. Not veering off to the side and then finding center and setting everything down. Spread out your fingers, draw the shoulders back.

Curl your toes under and lift your hips up coming into downward facing dog with bent knees. Reach the hips further back, press back to the tops of the thighs and then slowly reach down through the heels. Walk your hands back towards your feet. Finding your way to uttanasana, standing forward fold. Take in a big inhalation, use that to help you stack up the bones of your spine, coming all the way up to standing and we'll inhale, reach your arms up overhead.

Exhale, lift, fold forward. Breathe in, come up halfway, hands to your outer shins. Exhale, fold all the way back down and with your inhale, come all the way up, strong through your legs, reach up towards the sky, exhale, hands to your heart. We'll do that again. Inhale, reach up, exhale, lift and fold.

Breathe in lift halfway, heart forward. Exhale all your breath out. Rise up with your breath all the way and then get empty, hands to your heart. Adding on, inhale reach up. Exhale, lift and fold.

Breathe in, heart forward, shoulders back. Exhale all the breath out and walk your hands forward coming into plank pose. Find it, take the knees down, shoulders back, elbows drop back. We come forward as you lower, elbows right by your sides. Breathe in, press away from your mat, shoulders drop back, gaze out in front of you and then exhale, curl your toes under, lift all the way back to downward facing dog.

Press away from the mat through the hands, reaching the hips back towards the wall behind you. Big inhale here and reach straight back through that right foot. Then remember the exercise from before where we turned the toes out. Open up the entire hip. Maybe even bend your knee and find some sensation, find some space.

Careful not to let that left side of the body dip. We're trying to keep the weight even in your arms and then come back to center. So we turn the toes down, maybe even internally rotate. So it's like the inner thigh reaches up towards the sky and release the foot down. Big inhale, exhale, reach straight back through that left leg and then slowly start to open up the hip.

Toes turn out, the hip opens up maybe bending your knee. Even in the arms and hands and then slowly making your way back to center. Toes reaching down towards the floor. Inner thigh reaching up towards the sky, hips level and releasing that left foot down. Bend your knees, look forward and step your way up to the front of your mat.

Inhale, lift halfway, exhale, fold. Rise up with the breath all the way and get empty, hands to your heart and step out to come into a wide angle stance. So here I like to think about taking the stance as wide as your wingspan, placing the feet roughly underneath where your hands are and bring your hands to your hips lifting up your toes, let's activate through the legs. Press down into your big toe, and while you do that press into your outer heel so we activate the arch of your foot. While you keep doing that, press into the pinky toe and the inner heel, so we turn in the entire inseam of the legs.

Lifting up through the center of your body, we take the heart up and exhale, fold forward. Breathe in and lift up halfway keeping the legs active so we're squeezing into our center imaging a beach ball right between your knees. Exhale, folding, inhale, lift halfway, and exhale fold. Noticing the sensation in the hips and the hamstrings and then make your way up noticing if you lost the beach ball, if it's somewhere bouncing off down the beach. Back to center and then spin your right foot out.

Toes pointing straight ahead, angle off your back foot towards the corner of your mat. And we'll bend deeply into this right leg until we pretty much stack the knee over the ankle. We're looking to get as close to parallel with this front thigh as much as possible. And as we press this knee out over the ankle, the right hip wraps underneath. Back leg in neutral presses straight back.

See if you can find a little space as you lift that hip off the thigh. Shoulders come back over the hips as you extend the arms out into warrior two. Gazing over your fingers, find a little more length here, more space in your spine, and then exhale. We straighten out that leg that's working for you. Turn the palm up towards the sky and reach back into reverse triangle.

You have the option to drop back into warrior two and take it back, or to hold the pose if you're wanting to work on more strength as you come back into reverse warrior. With your breath we inhale warrior two and exhale reverse warrior. One more pass through. Turning the palm up towards the sky, right hand reaches up and back. Find all that length in the side body.

Keep that as you straighten out your right leg. Lift up and start to reach away. We stay long on the side body, long in the torso and then find a resting spot for your right hand. Maybe a block, maybe the shin as you keep that hip wrapping underneath and start to open up across your chest. Trikonasana.

Gazing up towards the thumb if it feels comfortable for your neck and then notice if that bottom knee feels locked out. If so, engage the muscles. Press the calf forward, turn the leg on and keep drawing it back in towards the hips, you get even longer in the torso. Breathing. Finding a sense of spaciousness across the chest and the whole front body and back body and then we inhale, come up and reverse triangle.

Make your way back into your warrior two, bending into that front leg and then slowly shorten your stance stepping onto your right foot, placing a block or reaching for the floor with the fingertips as you step onto the right foot reaching the left leg back towards the back of your mat and once again we extend across the chest into half moon. For an extra challenge gaze up towards that top thumb and keep pressing into the big toe when it feels unsteady. Active through the feet, active through the legs and then when you're ready, just like we came in nice and slow, softening into that bottom leg and touching down into your triangle. Inhale, reach your way up. Make your way back to center and second side.

We spin the left leg out, bend into your left knee, working your way into your warrior two hip wrapping underneath as the knee presses out and finding that space, lifting the hip off that front thigh as you extend through the arms. Gazing over your fingertips, relaxing your shoulders, finding space in the upper body and then turn the left palm up, reach up and back. An option here for you to decide, does it feel better to straighten through the leg and give that left leg a break? Or to hold the lunge as you reach back through the warrior dance? Moving with your breath and then extending that left leg.

Reaching up, finding that space in the side body. Lifting up, reaching away from you keeping the space, hand to the shin, hand to the block extending your right arm up towards the sky, triangle pose. Left thigh hugging back in towards its hip, leaning back onto the shoulder blades. Imagine the collarbones smiling and then inhale, we lift up. Bend into your left leg, hop that back foot in and place your left hand slightly out in front and off to the side as we take flight, stepping into half moon.

Reaching strongly through that right leg as you hug that standing leg in towards center, remembering to breathe and maybe rolling your gaze up towards the sky and then just like you came in, giving yourself time and space, finding the breath as you bend into that standing leg, touch down and find your triangle. Inhale here and lift up and make your way back to center. Step or hop the feet together and take a look at your right foot. Lift up your toes, spread them out. Big inhale here, as you exhale, draw the right knee in towards your chest and let's turn the knee out towards the side.

Find that resting spot that we found in sleeping tree, either the ankle, the calf, or you can take it up to the inner thigh and actively press the foot into the thigh as the thigh presses back. You find that sense of evenness in the hips. Maybe the knee draws forward. But that same idea of the hip wrapping underneath as you press into the big toe, find the space in the center body and maybe grow your tree. Arms reaching up overhead and if it's comfortable you can take the gaze up and nice and easy make your way back out.

An option here to grab ahold of your strap or to bring the knee back towards center. Grab ahold of the big toe, big inhale, exhale, extend and just like we were working before, we turn the toes out. We start to roll the hip open finding triangle pose on one leg. Option to extend through that right arm and find space. Make your way back through center and release.

Second side, lifting up the toes starting off with a really wide base. Big inhale, exhale, we rotate from the top of the thigh out and then find that same resting spot that worked for you on the last side. Actively pressing the foot into the thigh as the thigh presses back, finding evenness and space in the hips and then hands together in front of your heart, growing your tree. Feeling the foot rooting down, energy rising up, maybe the gaze comes up. Creating space.

Hands together in front of your heart. Option to use your strap or to grab ahold of the big toe. Big inhale, exhale, extend as much as feels okay. Press into the big toe when it feels unsteady and we rotate out from the very top of the leg. Maybe extending through the arms.

Remembering to breathe and finding your way back to center, and release. Come up onto the tiptoes and then reach the hands down towards your heart as you bend your knees making your way all the way down. Release your hands down to your mat, have a seat. Take your right leg at a diagonal and cross your left leg over. Finding a sense of evenness in the hips, and it can be helpful to take a blanket if you find that you've got one hip hiked up quite a bit and it feels unsupported.

We want to cross one knee over the other, so walk the left foot out to the side and reach actively through your right foot. Inhale, get long, and exhale. Walk your hands forward and fold. You can grab ahold of the knee, the shin, the foot, whatever's accessible and here think about creating space across the chest so that as we breathe in we fold forward over the legs as opposed to just letting the spine round. So inhale, find length and exhale, fold in just a touch deeper.

Drop your awareness into your body and notice the places that feel sensation. Can you breathe space in here? What happens to sensation when you bring your awareness to it? Does it change? Does it become more intense?

Does it dissolve? Slowly roll your way up and tuck that bottom leg underneath. Slide the top leg out until we stack knee over ankle, ankle over knee, coming into double pigeon. And for many of us the hips get particularly tight with the lifestyles that we live driving in cars, running around, riding bikes. So if this knee is hiked up you can feel free to prop it with a block or prop the hips with a blanket.

But try to find a sense of evenness in the hips as you lift the chest, and then exhale, lean forward and fold. Perhaps the hands come out in front of you or you can take a block out in front and breathe. And how do we find space in all of this contraction? How do we breathe through the things that feel uncomfortable? If you can find space and breathe here, it becomes easier to do off the mat.

Walk your hands in, roll your way up and release your legs. Second side, left leg across as diagonal, right leg over. Walk the foot out towards the edge. You find evenness in the sitting bones. Lift the heart and fold forward.

Inhale, lengthen, find space in your low back and exhale, lean in as you breathe. It's the breath the cues the body to open up, to relax and to create space. If we move too quickly, the body will clench up and say we're not going there. So inhale, get long, exhale, fold. Notice which hip feels more open, which feels more challenging.

Slide that bottom leg underneath, top leg comes out as we stack knee over ankle, ankle over knee, flexing through both the feet. Trying to find evenness in the sitting bones. Inhale, lift through the heart and exhale, ease your way in. Breathing in and breathing out. And slowly make your way up and out.

Unwind the legs and make your way onto your back. Sliding down to the heels come in, you can reach them with the fingertips. Pressing down into your feet, reach the knees away from you. Lift the hips. Coming into bridge pose.

Option to stay here, see if you can relax the glutes, and choosing either to stay here, or creating a figure four, by slowly taking the right ankle over the left knee and pressing the knee away from you. Release your way out, drop the hips, and just notice. Ground into your feet, reach the knees away. Option to hold in the bridge, or if you're feeling steady and breathing easy, we cross the left ankle over the right knee opening up your hip. Take your time as you unwind and release down onto your mat.

Then after all the opening of the hip let's go the other direction. Walk your feet out towards the edge of your mat. Take your knees in towards each other and allow your arms to cross over your body. Inhale, reach your arms up and exhale, recross opposite arm up top. Release your arms, keep the feet this wide and let your knees fall over to the right.

Make your way back through center and to the other side. And as you return to center, extend through your legs and lie back into shavasana. Noticing how energy flows a little more freely through your body minus some of the tension that you were carrying. What does it feel like when we free up space? Lingering here if that's what your body's asking for or as you're ready, bringing your knees in, rolling to one side, pausing and slowly making your way up.

Finding a comfortable seat and sensing the spaciousness in your body and knowing that if you can breathe through discomfort on your mat, that that can serve you in your life. Bring our hands together and bow to each other with namaste. The light in me honors the light in you.


Jenny S
1 person likes this.
I'm really enjoying this season...I feel much better both physically and mentally and I'm looking forward to the next episode 🙏🏻 Namaste Denise!
Denise Antonini
I am happy to hear you're feeling better Jenny! The next show is up on Saturday. Enjoy!
Oceanna M
I am also looking forward to the next episode. Denise is awesome!
Denise Antonini
The next show is up tomorrow! I am grateful for your commitment to your practice and happy to support your journey to well-being.
1 person likes this.
Nice practice - I love the Light in me honors the Light in you. Lovely
Denise Antonini
Thank you Sam! I appreciate your taking the time to share your sentiments. Re: Namaste - I find that yoga helps us see ourselves more clearly and then we can more clearly see each other. Be well!
John Jackson
That was lovely, thank you! I could've posted this on any number of video's but what is the purpose of moving to the side after Savasana and before Sukhasana?
Maria Elena D
Thank you Denise! enjoyed this practice, feeling more spacious and light in my body and spirit, 💜
Denise Antonini
You're very welcome Maria! So glad you are finding spaciousness in your practice.
Denise Antonini
You're welcome Craig! The reasons for turning to the right vary across traditions from physiological (your body more easily returning to homeostasis based on your anatomy), energetic ( being able to maintain a state of relaxation based on the energy chanels of the body), to symbolic ( the right side of the body receiving the benefits and blessings of your practice).
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