A Dose of Pleasure Thursday – The Physiology of Pleasure

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Diane Cesa is a yoga practitioner and teacher, lover of life, tea drinker, adventurer, eternal optimist, nature fan, blogger and self-proclaimed pleasure maven.

You know what it feels like to have a less-than-pleasurable day, right? You might notice certain thoughts in your head or feel certain emotions. What’s happening in your body? It’s so easy to get caught up in our heads and with our emotions that our body gets neglected.

Years of yoga taught me how moving my body can affect my mood. Now when I find myself in a not-so-pleasurable funk I change my state by changing my physiology. You can read an excellent article on this topic in Elephant Journal here (be sure to check out the resource links at the bottom of the article, as they offer us some excellent ways to enhance your frame of mind by simply adjusting your posture – perfect for not only meditators but desk jockeys). Here are some of the things that I do when I want to increase my pleasure quotient:

Move – One of my favorite ways to keep the energy flowing is to move/shake/vibrate. Sometimes I’ll put music on and dance (I take multiple Shake Your Buddha breaks throughout the day – I even have a playlist on iTunes for this exact purpose). Other times, I’ll just stand with my feet planted on the ground, vibrating my body. If I’ve got serious writer’s block or a case of midday blahs, I’ll get up and do jumping jacks for 1-3 minutes. That surely gets the blood pumping! I move when I’m feeling down, overwhelmed, stuck, whatever. Moving never fails to help me move through a state and change my energy for the better. Some of my favorite accompaniment music is: The Global Unity Nia Sounds CD, the Medicine Trance CD, the DrumSex CD, and the song TNT for the Brain by Enigma.

Stretch – If my neck and shoulders feel tight, I take a few minutes to do some seated stretches; for an all-over stretch, I come into Downward Dog (I’ll either stay for 5 breaths, rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths and then repeat or I’ll alternate Downward Dog and Upward Dog at a quick pace); to loosen my back and take a relaxation break, I do a forward fold in a chair, and to loosen a stiff back and rejuvenate myself, I do this simple sequence:

I stand a foot or two away from a waist high counter. I inhale both arms up from the front and exhale while lowering both hands to rest on the edge of the counter (I round my back and lower my head at the same time). Keeping my hands on the counter, I inhale and push gently arching away from the counter (similar to cobra only it’s standing against a counter rather than lying on the floor and pushing up from the floor). Keeping my hands on the counter, I exhale into a squat and then inhale coming up (I straighten my legs to standing while raising both arms above my head). I exhale my arms back down to my sides. I repeat this 5 times.

Breathe – Breathing is another way to change one’s mood and physiology. Some of my favorite breathing techniques are the most simple: Inhale through puckered lips and exhale through the nose (do this for 3 minutes); inhale for a count of five, exhale for a count of 5 (do this for 3-5 minutes); inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth, inhale through the mouth, exhale through the nose (complete this cycle 12 more times). Sometimes I even incorporate movement and breath like this: Sit with your arms out in front of you parallel to the floor, palms facing the ceiling. Make cups with your hands (the outsides of your hands should touch). Inhale the arms our to your sides (to a T position) and exhale them back to the starting position (with the outsides of the hands touching). Repeat (at a brisk pace) this for 3 minutes while breathing strongly.

Click here for more tips on how to stoke the flames of pleasure using the best tool you have – your body.

Have a pleasure-filled day,