How Yoga Poses Work to Change Your Mood & Energy: LifeForce Yoga Asana

Āsana is so much more than a yoga posture. My teacher, Rama Jyoti Vernon, teaches that the word āsana means “to be and to breathe and to become one with the eternal cosmic vibration.” It is sacred geometry and brings our bodies into alignment with higher vibrations. When held with a relaxation of effort and meditation upon the infinite, we achieve mastery of the posture (according to the Yoga Sūtras of Patanjali, 2:47-48). When this mastery occurs, the opposites no longer exert force on our minds, bodies, and energy. This is when we can truly be and breathe with our true nature, and experience union with the Divine and our sacred sense of self.

While this may sound beautiful and eloquent, how often do we experience this fullness? Sometimes we are just rolling through the poses to get the job done, while the mind takes inventory of our lives. Our yoga practice can become an exercise and lose the profound and blessed aspects that help us reconnect to our sacred sense of self every day.

The practice of LifeForce Yoga goes far beyond posture for posture’s sake. We practice to release the constrictions that keep us from realizing our true nature as wholeness in each moment. To do this, we must hold the mind in the present moment. If you have ever had issues with stress, anxiety, depression, and/or trauma, you know how easy it is to do your yoga practice while thinking about other things. This is why we add mantras and other sounds to our practice.

The sounds that we use can be soothing or energizing. For instance, “ma-ha-ra” helps us to connect to the energy of calm strength when we are moving through a sun salutation. This works even better when we invite an image for calm strength. Or, we can use the soothing sounds “sha-ma-ya,” to help us connect to peaceful energy. The sounds are nothing more than syllables that are linked together with an image/visualization to foster a specific mindset. This is the practice of bhavana, the cultivation of an attitude that brings us closer to the eternal cosmic vibration. The Yoga Sūtras of Patanjali teach us vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam, “where there are constrictive thoughts, feelings, or emotions, cultivate freeing thoughts, feelings, or emotions” (2:33).

We also use the chakra mantras in postures. The mantras help to energize our connection to the chakra and the element represented by the chakra. We might want to ground, energize, open, or focus our energy with both the posture and the chakra. These mantras are beautiful in promoting such an intention within our practice. Here are a few examples:

Mountain Pose – Tadasana

Stand with the feet underneath the hips. Wiggle the feet and the toes to start establishing a connection to the feet. Lift and spread the toes, waking up the arches. Make sure that your knees are soft and not locked. Allow the thigh muscles (quadriceps) to engage lightly, while you draw the lower abdomen in just enough to wake it up. With the exhale, invite the spine to lengthen up while relaxing the shoulders down the back. You may wish to keep the arms at the side or lengthen them above the head.

Mountain Pose

Imagine yourself as though you are as strong, grounded, and present as the mountain. To this add the repetition of the root chakra mantra, lam (emphasizing the “L” sound and pronouncing the “am” as “um”). Do this four times. You may even feel the sound vibrating down to the feet.

This helps to increase a sense of grounding, that you are here and present. This is good for working with stress and anxiety as the mind is often on a worry journey. The root chakra is all about a sense of security and needs being met, which makes this practice fantastic for trauma and PTSD. When used for the depressed mood, this can energize, especially when using the arms overhead.

Warrior II Pose – Virabhadrasana

From your mountain pose, step the right foot back three to five feet. The hips open towards the side. To accomplish this safely for the right knee, make sure that the right foot is angled at about 60 degrees (no need to get out a protractor). The left knee bends so that the knee is directly over the ankle. The left knee may tip internally, so engage your left outer hip to draw the knee in line with the foot. Keep the torso aligned to center, neither leaning towards the left leg, nor the right. Take a deep breath in and on the exhale lift the arms out to the side.

Warrior 2

Imagine that you are strong, self-assured, and connected to your internal sense of power. Add the repetition of the solar plexus mantra, ram (emphasizing the “R” sound and pronouncing the “am” as “um”). For a calmer sense of strength and courage, use one repetition per exhale 10 times. To awaken your self-esteem and self-worth, try repeating the sound 10 times per exhale three times with strength and force. Don’t be afraid to really get loud with this, you are breaking up the constrictions that block your self-esteem and self-worth. You are worth it!

This is such a beautiful practice for depressed moods and PTSD as it connects with energy and revs it up, especially when repeating the mantra 10 times per exhale with an image of courage or strength. The slower more meditative repetition is good for more anxious states as it won’t energize too much yet connects you to your self-esteem.

We will be exploring many more postures with sounds during the LifeForce Yoga Āsana to Manage Your Mood workshop coming up at Kripalu, July 5th – 7th. Register now to reserve your space!

About the Author

Rose Kress

Rose Kress ERYT-500, C-IATY, YACEP, Director of the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute, which trains yoga and health professionals internationally. She is the author of two CDs, edits the research newsletter, and directs the training programs for LifeForce Yoga.

Leave a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our Research Newsletter

Cart

What People Say

“I gained tools for working with my own depression and with my clients’ depressions.” — Robert Sgona, LCSW, RYT, psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, Camden, ME.
“I have found the LFYP training to be incredibly useful in giving people specific tools to use in maintaining physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance, and further opening their intuitive abilities.” — Nancy Windheart, RYT-200, LFYP, Reiki Master, Animal communication teacher, Prescott, AZ
“A client who returned said, "When I came before, you helped me understand and get where I wanted to go. Now you show me yoga practices I use to help myself understand and get where I want to go.” — Sherry Rubin, LCSW, BCD, LFYP, Downingtown, PA
“I began a fantasy during the meditation exercise... almost as if I’d been there. It’s now an on-going work of fiction.” — Serian Strauss, Tanzania
“Words do not do justice to all that I learned. This workshop changed my life!” — Jen Nolan, Teacher, Cortland, NY
“Giving my clients a strategy and permission to quiet their minds and rebalance the sympathetic nervous system has been very beneficial to them and in our work together.” — Sue Dilsworth, PhD, RYT 200, LFYP, Allendale, MI
“This workshop helped me rededicate my energies and begin to work through some of the blocks I’ve felt creatively.” — Steve Mark, college professor, New Haven, CT
“My life is already changed! I will use the tools I learned in my own practice and in my work. I feel safe and seen.” — Susan Andrea Weiner, MA, teacher/expressive arts facilitator, El Cerrito, CA.
I absolutely love this stuff! I have been using it with my clients and I am just finding it to be so incredibly helpful. There seriously something for everything. Although I am not as skilled as I hope to be someday, even at my level of training I’m finding that I am beginning to figure out what to do. It just blows my mind! - Christine Brudnicki, MS, LPC
“I learned lots of ways to reduce the anxiety and depression of my patients and myself.” – Aviva Sinvany-Nubel, PhD, APN, CNSC, RN, psychotherapist, Bridgewater, N.J.
“I have gained an incredible opening and clearing of old obstructions. I hope to return to my life and fill this opening with things I love to do and that give me joy!” — Lisa Shine, administrative assistant, Ballston Lake, NY
“I have found the pranayama (breathing practices) especially easy to introduce in a clinical setting. Some people have benefited quickly in unexpected and transformative ways.” — Liz Brenner, LICSW, LFYP, Watertown, MA
“I have gained a softer heart, more receptive mind, and tools to enrich both personal and professional aspects of my life.” – Regina Trailweaver, LICSW, clinical social worker, Hancock, VT.
“I integrate strategies like mantra tones and pranayama, but above all I invite myself and those I teach to cultivate svadhyaya, to practice self-observation without judgment.” — Barbara Sherman, RYT 200, LFYP, Tucson, AZ
“I feel profoundly transformed, both physically and emotionally. The connection between mind, body and spirit was clearly evident to me, but revealed to me through this workshop as an integrally vital link to overall health.” — Nadine Richardson, program manager at rehab agency, Monroe, CT
“My patients can now have the same effects as many medications without having to actually take medication!” — Deborah Lubetkin, PSY.D, LFYP, West Caldwell, NJ
“This program changed my life in a significant way. It helped me connect with the spirit which is something you can’t get from psychotherapy and medication.” – G. W., artist, Pittsburgh, PA
“Yoga Skills for Therapists is the ideal resource for those who want to bring yoga practices into psychotherapy or healthcare. Weintraub, a leader in the field of yoga therapy, offers evidence-based, easy-to-introduce strategies for managing anxiety, improving mood, and relieving suffering. Helpful clinical insights and case examples emphasize safety, trust, and skillful adaptation to the individual, making it easy to apply the wisdom of yoga effectively in the therapeutic context.” — Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author, Yoga for Pain Relief, Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy
“I came hoping to learn to move past some of the obstacles blocking my creativity. Over the course of this weekend, I feel I’ve gained a certain measure of faith in myself and in my ability to change. I also had some realizations that I believe will be very helpful to me. I feel encouraged. Both the content and presentation of this program were so well-thought out that I can’t think of any way to improve it.” — Andrea Gollin, writer & editor, Miami, FL
“I gained perspective of who I am in the world and this will change my life significantly.” — Mary Ford, artist, Southport, CT
“I utilize the LFY techniques in both a class room setting and one-on-one environment. The skills have infused my teachings with compassion, mindfulness, and awareness.” — Kat Larsen, CYT, LFYP
“My personal practice will change, as well as my yoga classes. I have a better understanding of yoga!” — Andrea Gattuso, RYT, Yoga Teacher, Hackettstown, N.J.
“I have been reminded that I am not on this path alone, that others are sharing the journey that sometimes seems so difficult. I have also been reminded of the importance of daily practice and I will do that. The whole program has been an incredible experience for me. Thank you!” — Lorraine Plauth, retired teacher, Voorheesville, NY
“This workshop has changed so much — my self-image and my life. My own heart’s desire is 100% clear. I gained tools to help myself and others to live life fully.” — Marcia Siegel, Yoga teacher, therapist, Carlsbad, CA.
Scroll to Top