Yoga for Depression Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 11

Uplift Your Mood

25 min - Practice


Sometimes the best way to shift your mood is to go upside down. Denise guides us through an energetic and strengthening flow practice designed to uplift your mood. We explore Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations) and strengthening postures for the arms, shoulders, and core in preparation for Sirsasana (Headstand). You will feel a new sense of vibrancy.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

About This Video


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(seawater swashing) Welcome back. I find that one of the best ways to shift your mood is to get upside down. And so we'll be working on uplifting yoga today, and with that, if you ever notice that you're not feeling quite right, it feels like it's not a good idea to get upside down, please by all means take a break and honor how you're feeling. You'll be needing one block for this practice today so have that handy. And we'll start on our back, so place the block towards the front end of your mat, as you lie back, and the block will end up just above your head.

We'll start off with knees bent. Taking a moment here to drop your attention down into your body. Noticing your energy and your mood. And then very consciously and deliberately start to deepen your breath, inhaling in through your nose, filling the belly, filling the chest, filling the shoulders, and exhale in reverse, out of the shoulders, empty out your chest, pour the breath out of your belly. Inhale into your belly, take the breath into the chest, all the way up into the shoulders, and exhale release (exhales).

Inhale here, and then take the hands, and place them flat to your mat, elbows wrapping up towards the ceiling, and the pinky edge of your hands will hug in towards the blocks. Breathe in here, and as you exhale, start to slide the block away from you. It'll be tempting to allow the elbows to splay open, resist that (inhales), as you slowly keep wrapping the elbows up (exhales), deepening the armpits and inching the block further away. The ribs will want to get away from you too as we arch the back, resist that by drawing the ribs in towards your body and keeping the abdominals strong. Inhale here (inhales), exhale maybe inch just a little further away, elbows wrapping up, triceps reaching up towards the sky, biceps coming up by your ears as we open up the chest and shoulders (exhales).

Then once again slide the block back in towards your head, we'll do that once more, big inhale (inhales), exhale, inch the block further away (exhales), noticing where you feel the body working, feeling the warmth as the chest and shoulders start to open and receive a little more circulation and blood flow, (inhales) inching the block a little further away, ribs drawing in, elbows wrapping up, tail bone reaching towards the backs of your heels, and exhale release (exhales), and just notice the difference of the energy in the arms. Slowly, make your way to one side, use your arms and hands to come up, and set your block off to the side. Well, interlace your fingers back behind your head (inhales) and slow roll your way down and then exhale, roll your way up (exhales). Roll your way down (inhales) and roll your way up (exhales). Release into the mat, maybe extending through the heels, activating through the feet, glimpsing at the toes, shoulders coming up off your mat (inhales) and release down (exhales).

Coming up glimpsing at the feet (inhales) and release (exhales). Rolling up, maybe coming up a little higher, holding, feeling the engagement of your front body, and release (inhales), and then one more (exhales), coming up just a little higher, slowly release your way out, hands come back around, making your way to table. Step the right foot back, and we extend the left foot as well finding your way to high push-up or plank pose. Draw your shoulders back, elbows back, reach the hips way up and back, downward-facing dog. (inhales) Inhale shift forward back to plank, strong in the center here, exhale, reach all the way back, downward-facing dog (exhales).

(inhales) Inhale, come forward, long lines of the spine, crown of the head reaching away from the tailbone, tailbone reaching towards the backs of the heels, and then float your right heel straight out of the hip, without anything else moving, and exhale release (exhales). Big breath (inhales) and float the left leg (exhales). Exhale release, (inhales) then take it all the way back downward-facing dog (exhales). Walk your hands back towards your feet, finding your way to a standing forward fold. Place the hands underneath your feet, toes coming out by the wrist creases, feeling free to bend the knees deeply here, and bring your shoulders away from the mat, so the shoulders are coming onto the body, shoulder blades are reaching up, and then slowly start to extend the legs as much as feels OK (exhales).

Release your hands from underneath your feet, inhale roll your way up to standing (inhales), and exhale (exhales), hands together in front of your heart. Make your way up to the front of your mat. Sun salutation A, inhale reach your arms up (inhales), exhale fold forward (exhales). Inhale, lift halfway, shoulders back (inhales), exhale, fold back down, plant your hands, you can hop or step, if you hop, hop all the way to the low push-up, inhale, flatten out your feet, draw the shoulders back, exhale all the way back, downward-facing dog (exhales). (inhales) Listening for the raff (exhales).

(inhales and exhales) And empty out completely on your next exhale, bend your knees, look forward, and hop or step your way up to the front of your mat. Inhale lifting halfway (inhales), exhale folding (exhales), strong through your legs as you come up all the way (inhales), and then get empty (exhales), hands to your heart. Drop your thighs down towards the mat, inhale, reach up for sun salutation B (inhales), exhale fold forward (exhales), inhale lift halfway, exhale hands down, hop or step your way back to the low push-up. Inhale we lift away from the mat (inhales), exhale, downward-facing dog (exhales). Bring your right leg up into the air, and on your exhale step the foot all the way through.

Front foot facing straight forward, back foot is angled, block nearby, we place the block between your hands, strongly draw your right thigh in towards your hip as we come up all the way with the block between your hands (exhales). Engaging the front body so we scoop up the lower abdominals, ribs draw in, and relax the shoulders down away from the ears, reaching the block away, maybe energizing through the arms a bit more, and then set the block off to the side, right leg goes up and back, hands to your mat (inhales), downward-facing dog (exhales). Shift forward, option to lower through, pressing away from the mat (inhales), and exhale back, downward-facing (exhales). Inhale, take your left leg into the air (inhales), exhale step it up between your hands (exhales), back foot grounds down, plug the left thigh in towards its hip, inhale, reach the block forward and up (inhales), where you're one on the left (exhales). Strong in the center of the body, scooping the lower abdominals, ribs, and, strong through the shoulders as the block is reaching away, and then exhale, block off to the side, hands down, step that foot back.

Downward-facing dog, we're coming through the transition, lowering down (exhales), inhale we press away (inhales), and exhale back, downward-facing dog (exhales). (inhales) Empty out all your breath (exhales), bend your knees, look forward, hop or step your way up, inhale lift halfway, exhale fold, drop back into your chair (exhales), thighs reaching down towards the mat (inhales), and exhale fold forward (exhales). (inhales) Take your block, and place it in the center of your mat. If you haven't done crow pose before, this is a good way to start practicing, taking the feet up onto the block, hands down, and the knees out to the outer arms. We draw the elbows back, keep the collar bones wide and look forward, and maybe as you lean forward, one foot comes up off the block, maybe the other, maybe both, strongly drawing the heels in towards your hips, and maybe setting the feet down.

If you're used to doing crow pose, perhaps trying without the block, spreading out your fingers, knees high up the arms, squeezing in towards center, trying to get the heels to touch, and bringing them up towards the hips, maybe working towards straight arms. (inhales) Big inhale, option if you're feeling like you're breathing easy here, to take your chest forward, and take the legs back, to Chaturanga. Low hover, inhale, press away from the mat (inhales), exhale back, downward-facing dog (exhales). (inhales) Inhale right leg up, exhale step it through (exhales). Come up onto your fingertips here, and set that back foot in a little closer, as we start to straighten out that front leg (exhales).

Right thigh draws in towards its hip, and then bring your hands to your hips, and lift up all the way. So press down into your big toe as you draw the right thigh further back, inhale, lift your heart, and exhale, fold forward (exhales), feeling the opening of the hamstring. Inhale lengthen (inhales), and exhale fold (exhales). Inhale, get longer (inhales), exhale, folding and maybe releasing your hands down to the blocks, down to your mat. Keeping the legs active as you press the calf forward (exhales).

(inhales and exhales) And bring the hands to your mat and bend back into your lunge, near the option of stepping back and forth, or hop switching, getting the hips up, and bringing the left foot forward. Up onto your fingertips, back foot steps in just a touch, straighten into that left leg, drawing the thigh back in towards its hip, hands to your hips, inhale, come up all the way. (inhales and exhales) Taking a big inhale, lift across the chest, widening (inhales), and exhale, fold forward (exhales). Inhale, lengthening as you come up, and exhale, folding, checking out how that left hamstring feels compared to the right. Inhale we come up (inhales), and exhale we fold (exhales).

Releasing your hands, pressing into the big toe, maybe pressing the calf forward engaging the hamstring a little more (inhales and exhales), and then bending back into your lunge, and taking that leg back, finding your way to plank. Take your forearms and elbows down, palms facing the mat, arms parallel to each other, and step the right foot back and the left foot back to meet it. So we come into a forearm plank, really strong in the center here, same things we've been working on, wide across the chest, shoulders on the back, ribs drawing in towards the body, and really strong in the low belly. Option here to float the right foot up, exhale release. Maybe the left foot, and exhale release.

And then slowly walking your feet in, hips come up (inhales), finding your way to dolphin (exhales). Continuing to wrap the shoulders in here, they're gonna wanna splay out to the side, so really working the squeezing in of the elbows, and then slowly here, taking the chin up towards your hands, like you're taking a sip, exhale pressing back (exhales). Feeling the strength in your shoulders, inhale coming forward, taking a sip, exhale pressing back. Inhale, come forward, exhale press back. Release your knees, take a breath in child's pose (exhales).

(inhales) Noticing the warmth in your body, things starting to shift (inhales and exhales). Sensing what you're creating on your mat, (inhales and exhales) and looking forward towards your hands, interlacing your fingers. And then a couple of options here, if you're new to getting upside down on your hand headstand, you can feel free to bring the palms in closer together, and we wanna tuck that bottom pinky underneath so that we have a flat surface. If those of you who've been working on hand headstand for some time, well take the cup of the hands a little more open, so that the backs of the thumbs support the back of your head. But from here we'll curl our toes under, lift your knees up off the mat, and then work towards slowly placing the crown of the head into that cup, and then using the shoulders to lift back up.

(inhales) So we're just gently touching the head, and pressing away (exhales). Touching down, and pressing away. Sending the shoulders, and your strength, (inhales and exhales), and remembering to breathe. And for those of you who know that that feels like about the right amount of effort for you, feel free to grab a hold of a block, come on to your back, kick your heels up, as you place the block underneath you. So you get the benefits of the inversion, without actually supporting your weight on your head.

Those of you who would like to attempt getting upside down, bring the elbows the distance of your shoulders, find the place one of your hand's bottom pinky tucked under, and we'll place the crown of the head down onto your mat, curl your toes under, straighten out your legs, and start to walk your feet in so that your hips come up over your shoulders. Really strong in the shoulders so we're actively pressing away from the mat, there's barely any pressure on your head, you should be able to lift the head up off the mat easily, and maybe leaning in, so that we bend our knees, flexing through the toes, and draw the heels in towards your hips. You have the option to bring the knees up over the hips, finding a wall, if you're new to the practice, or maybe, starting to extend the legs, and reaching straight up, stacking the heels right over the hips, and the hips right over the shoulders. Those of you who are working on your headstand, can bend back into your knees, and work the strength of the center of the body by bringing the knees back in towards your chest, and then taking the knees back up, and slowly, making your way down, bringing the hips to your heels, finding child's pose. (inhales and exhales) Walk your hands in, roll your way up (inhales and exhales), and if you just watched that, and you're new to trying headstand, I encourage you to try with the wall, so that you have the support and the knowledge that the wall is there for you should you need it.

If you've been working on this for a while, I do encourage you to try to come away from the wall so that you get a little experience learning to balance. Bring your hands around, and find your way to downward-facing dog, lengthening through the neck, letting the head hang heavy, finding extension through the spine after that inversion (exhales), and shaking out the head. Inhale, take your right leg up (inhales), and then exhale, step it through, bringing your right knee towards your wrist (exhales), right foot towards the left hand, finding our way into upright pigeon. If you feel a lot of sensation in your right hip, feel free to use that block that you have handy. Back foot is extended, toes are reaching straight back behind you, wide across the chest, active in the low belly, and exhale, walk your hands out (inhales), and fold forward (exhales).

Noticing the sensation that you feel, taking your attention to it, and focusing on it, rather than avoiding it. Using the sensation in your body, to be curious, and seeing what it tells you. Walk your hands back in, hands down, curl the toes under on your back leg, lift that right leg up and back (inhales), and release it down (exhales). Inhale, take the left leg up (inhales), and then exhale, draw the knee forward, take it out towards your left wrist, right foot coming up towards the right hand, we inch that back foot straight back, maybe supporting the left hip with your block, engaging the lower abdominals, scooping the pubic bone up towards your sternum, upright pigeon (exhales). And exhale, walk your hands out.

(inhales and exhales) Sensing the differences from the left to the right hip. So a few breaths here, allowing yourself to come down off of those inversions. And walk your hands in, block off to the side, hands down to your mat, downward-facing dog (exhales). (inhales) Bring your knees down, toes together, and take the block underneath the forehead, as you rest in child's pose. Feeling the length of the neck, sensing how your inner landscape is changing, noticing the uplifting qualities of getting upside down.

And then roll your way up, block off to the side, take your legs out in front of you, flex through your feet. (inhales) Inhale, get long, and exhale, bring your right knee in towards your chest. Hug it in so we get tall through the spine, finding a sense of evenness on the sitting bones, and take your right hand back behind you, inhale, the left arm up (inhales), and then exhale using the elbow to hook your knee, and deepening your twist (exhales). Inhale lengthen (inhales), and exhale deepen (exhales). Slowly unwind, make your way back to center, extending through your right leg, bending into the left.

Hugging it in, using that as an anchor to lengthen, and then take your left hand back behind you, inhale, the right arm up (inhales), and exhale (exhales), we find our twist. Inhale, getting longer, and exhale, deepening. Taking the heart further over, the belly further over. Unwind, find your way back, two legs extended, heart comes up, and exhale, walk your hands out (inhales), and fold forward (exhales). Inhale, look towards your toes (inhales), and exhale, release into a passive forward fold.

So move beyond effort, let the feet relax, let the head rest where it may. And slowly roll your way up, take your hands back behind your knees, and roll down to your mat in slow motion. Feeling the strength in the center of your body. And straighten out your legs, Shavasana. Scanning through, and noticing the effects of your practice.

Sensing how alive you feel right now. How present. And knowing that this is a gift that you give yourself, whenever you come to your mat. Feeling free to linger here, or as you're ready, drawing your knees in, and rolling to one side, pausing. Feeling grateful, that you took the time to come to your practice.

To uplift your mood, and create a sense of well-being for yourself. Rolling up to a comfortable seat. Bringing your hands together, grateful for your heart beating inside your chest, grateful for your breath, and grateful for this life. We bow to each other with Namaste. The light in me honors the light in you.


1 person likes this.
The headstand scares me, but I watched you do it in that supported inversion. Clear instructions to follow. Thanks! While I can't squat deep because of a sore knee, I could do the lunge switch. That is fun!!! Needed that uplift. Going to watch you do the hop to chaturanga. Any plans for a new season? Thanks for sharing this wonderful season. Warmly, David
I am grateful  for your feedback David Goldstein! There are many ways to get the benefits of inversions without a free-standing headstand. Find your comfort zone and build from there. It’s great to hear you’re having fun. If there’s something you’d like to see in a new season let me know. Namaste, Denise
Well, anything you feel passionate about should resonate! I enjoy setting intentions and working on my weaknesses—especially loving kindness themes. 

I used your line "the universe doesn't make mistakes" with my class yesterday. We had finished watching Ordinary People, and I connected it to the characters who struggle with existential conflicts. One of my students thought your quote was about fate, but I suggested it could also be about adaptation and evolution.

Namaste, David 

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