Joy Story

Open your heart on the mat and bring happiness into the world.

A recent study published in Emotion, a journal of the American Psychological Association, suggests that happy emotions can lay the groundwork for long-term well-being. Over time, researchers discovered, feeling happy helps you build resources for navigating a wide range of life’s challenges.

On some days it can be harder to access happy emotions than on others, but your mat is a great place to connect with your inner joy. “Not everyone comes to yoga every day super bubbly and excited to be there,” says certified Anusara Yoga teacher KK Ledford of San Francisco.

Pausing for a moment to set an intention for your practice allows you to tap into the current of bliss that exists within all of us, Ledford says. Hold your intention to connect with joy. To engage your playful side and open your heart, concentrate on rooting down through your legs and rising into your heart as you practice the poses below. If arm balances are a part of your practice, add Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance) after Ustrasana; Ledford says it’s one of the most effective poses for lifting the spirits and connecting to your inner joy.

On days you feel less than blissful, says Ledford, you don’t have to change how you feel. “Just tapping into the current that’s already there can put a little bit of a smile on your face. We don’t stop being divine when we have a bad day.