With this guide to using yoga for positive energy you wont just boost your fitness, you’ll boost your happiness levels too.
“I’ll be positive all week” you promised yourself Sunday evening, when you were sitting in your armchair with your pajamas on, cup of cocoa in hand and Netflix on. It was easy to feel positive then.
But sometime Monday morning you must have lost all your positivity.
You’re heading back to work for a cheque that’s hardly large enough to justify the 40 hour week you put in. You look in the mirror and even though you’ve been working out religiously you’re still showing those love-handles, and what’s that grey bit in your hair? And as you look around, you realise the house is a mess even though you only just cleaned it yesterday.
It’s a challenge to stay positive, to always keep your chin up, to face every day with a smile on your face. No matter what those self help books promise about always being positive and staying happy, you seem incapable of not getting down sometimes, of not feeling blue.
And then you wonder whether it’s just you. Your friends seem happy enough, the people on TV are always living the life of luxury, and your Facebook friends always seem to have tons to do. What gives? Is it just you? Is there something wrong with you, some reason you get down from time to time?
No. It’s everyone.
Regardless of what we might say on Facebook or the faces we might paint when we go out, we all get down from time to time, and we all need some ways to stay positive.
Thankfully, there are many great things you can do for your positivity. There are many potent elixirs to remedy negativity, to ward off the blues, to keep stress, anxiety and depression at bay.
Positivity warriors know their craft. Like an artist working paints they know the techniques that will produce in their minds beautiful states of serenity and happiness.
These are the ones who meditate daily. They’re the ones who give themselves time to chill when they need to. They’re the ones who use yoga not just for exercise, they’re the ones who use yoga for positivity too.
For 5000 years, people have been using yoga for positivity
5000 years ago, when Northern India was ruled by the Sarasvati civilization, men and women sought answers—answers to creation, answers to the mysteries of cosmology, and answers to the plagues of the mind.
That’s why the Sarasvati set down the Rig Veda, the ancient sacred text. They filled the Vedas with songs, mantras and rituals that would form the philosophical basis of what we call yoga.
They weren’t concerned with yoga pants. They didn’t care how they looked doing Downward Dog. They sought spiritual, emotional, and physical health.
That’s why yoga originated not just as physical exercise but as philosophical treatise. You can read more about this on Yoga Basics.
That philosophy continued as yoga evolved though the Brahmans and Rishis, and into the renowned Yogic scriptures the Bhagavad Gita, written in 500 B.C.E.
The Upanishads took the Veda’s idea of ritual sacrifice and internalised it, teaching transcendence of the ego through self knowledge and action. And through it all, these ancient spiritul gurus were seeking ways, essentially, to make people purer, healthier, happier, and more spiritually aware.
We may be tempted to refer to these ancient texts as religiosity. But in truth, when those ancient texts were written they were written as I write this now, with interest in heightening emotional and spiritual awareness, with the goal of providing practical answers to life’s questions and complications.
In other words….
The old spiritual gurus wrote yoga for positivity, for happiness, and for spiritual awakening.
Today, yoga is thought of by many as an exercise used only for physical fitness. And yoga pants.
We’re in danger of losing the most important aspect of yoga: the spiritual philosophy that empowers a person to transcend to higher states of existence.
But nevertheless, philosophical, emotional, and spiritual truths survive in yoga. And if you would like to use yoga for positivity, you would be wise to consider those truths.
To begin to use yoga for positivity, consider the ancient truths
An Asana’s for the mind, not just for the body
Asanas are the poses that we all know and love in yoga. Downward Dog? Asana. Corpse pose? Asana. But these asanas aren’t just a way of stretching your body. They revolve around the chakras and nadi in the body. Each chakra is associated with both physical and mental states.
And mental states. That’s the crucial factor. Because as we get into asanas, we shouldn’t just be putting our bodies in specific positions, we should also be putting our minds in specific positions by meditating on the asana.
When you enter an asana meditate on it. Focus the mind on it. This then doesn’t just stretch the body, but the mind too. This is the first guiding principle of using yoga for positivity: engage the mind in the pose of the body.
A wise woman once said “Good breathing is good living”. This is why pranayama is so important.
Pranayama refers to the technique of guiding the breath around the body when practicing yoga. It is a rhythmic guidance of the breath. (you can learn more about pranayama on Yoga Journal)
When you breathe using the pranayama system your body absorbs oxygen better. This doesn’t just help your muscles to grow strong and to remain injury-free, it also strengthens the brain and the mind. It has the same affect as these powerful breathing meditations.
Next time you practice yoga, meditate on the asanas and on pranayama.
When you combine proper pranayama with asanas you will find that anxiety and stress evaporate in the mind like a puddle in the sun. Take the time to appreciate this sensation of body and breath coordinating in the divine marriage of your physical self. Meditate on it. Let the mind be one with asana and pranayama. This will create divine relaxation of body and mind. This is when your complete being will resonate as one, like the notes C E and G played in perfect harmony to produce a Major C chord.
The next time you’r’e doing yoga, use a body scan meditation to really connect with your asana.
It’s one of the great misconceptions that yoga always involves movement of the body. Yoga also advocates stillness of body and mind, just as Hinduism and Buddhism do. Take the time to practice meditation, whether its Anapanasati meditation, Metta meditation, or a guided meditation.
Try to meditate for twenty minutes a day.
Practice mindful eating
Sometimes you’ve just got to eat that happiness with your face.
Your diet makes a gargantuan difference to how you’re feeling. But what in the name of Annapurna is the right diet? (Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of food).
Most yogis eat entirely fresh food.
We’re talking veggies and fish here, people.
If it’s green and leafy it’s probably good. If it comes in a packet with tin-foil and tells you to put it in the microwave you should probably straight up chuck it in the crapper, you know?
Nature is divine. Eat nature. Let nature enter your body in its purest state. It will cleanse body and mind. Positivity will follow as surely as the river flows to the sea. So eat fresh. Let nature do its wonder in your tummy.
“But Paul,” you say, “you’re talking about the Upanishads and pranayama and all that jazz. I just want to do some yoga poses. I just got brand new yoga pants. Give me some asanas to do already.”
All right. Put your yoga pants on. Let’s see them. Got ‘em on? Great. Here’s a bunch of asanas for those of you looking for a conventional form of yoga for positivity.
To use yoga for positivity, focus on these asanas
- Cat-Cow Poses
Cat-cow is the pose where you’re down on all fours and you curl your spine up and down looking like a cat. You already know this move; you’ve done it a trillion times before.
Cat-Cow pose calms the mind and relaxes the nervous system. The gentle rhythm of the movement also creates positive energy in the body.
- Warrior II Pose
Warrior II is a fantastic asana for releasing tension and stress. It also promotes a grounded mental state which will make you feel more confident.
Dancer is one of the best moves in yoga for positivity. There’s a lot of body language that goes into this pose. You’ve got your arm stretched up (ever notice how you reach your hand upwards when you either stretch to relax or pump your fist in victory when your team wins? Same deal). You’ve got the leg swinging out back too. And your chin is lifted high. All this body language is like a natural happiness pill you’re taking.
You’re probably a goddess already (all my readers are goddesses… well, not the guys… I digress…)
This is the pose when you kinda look like a member of the New Zealand All Black’s when they do Haka (which is awesome). Either that or you look like you’re about to catch the biggest damn beach ball you’ve ever seen.
Goddess is another great move in yoga for positivity. It produces power and stability, which helps you to face your stress and anxiety and to feel like you’ve got the power to motor through all the day to day bullshit that gets you down.
There’s a reason why this move is called Happy Baby. Yes, it makes you look like you’re an adult who needs to get your diaper changed, but it also makes you really happy (which is actually because it reminds you of when your parents would pamper you when you were a kid).
Wheel Pose promotes the movement of blood into your head, as all back-bends do. It also releases endorphins. Finally, it opens your body deeply so you breath deep, helping you to relax.
And definitely practice pratyahara
Pratyahara is the 7th limb of yoga and is all about the mind and what goes into it (sort of like nutrition for the mind). Definitely read our guide to Pratyahara yoga for more on this.
And that’s about all you need to know. Use these tips to start using yoga for positivity.
Th-th-th-that’s all, folks! Hope you’ve enjoyed this grand exegesis into the methodology of using yoga for positivity.
Oh, one more thing, I create an infographic that I thought might be helpful. Feel free to share this infograpahic. Just leave a backlink.
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I’ve also created a downloadable PDF for this. Hope it helps.
And here is how good yoga can make you feel
Love you guys.
Oh. And if you really, really, really want to be positive and stay positive. Well, you’d better take a look at our list of Happiness Exercises.
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