Whether you pair it with a glass of red wine, use it to make a decadent dessert, or savour it by itself, dark chocolate has the power to make the everyday feel a little less mundane. (Even Audrey Hepburn considered dark chocolate her favourite pick-me-up.) Now it’s even being incorporated in yoga classes. Yes, chocolate yoga is officially a thing, and while it isn’t quite on the radar of most Canadians, it’s only a matter of time, says Toronto-based reiki healer and yoga teacher, Tara Good. “Chocolate yoga is something that is currently trending in London, England, as a way to create more of an intentional sensory experience while on the mat.”

All of this to say, as we enter some of the coldest and most blah months of the year, finding ways to boost our moods (as well as the moods of friends and loved ones) is one way to make it through the grey skies and wind chill advisories, whether that means finally sending that thank you note, inviting friends over for popcorn and a movie, or just trying to be more mindful in our daily lives.

Here, Good shares her thoughts on adding chocolate to your self-care routine, eating mindfully, and why we should put ourselves first when we’re feeling low.

What are some things we can do to improve our mood?

The most important thing to remember when you’re feeling down is that you are number one. In that moment, and every moment. Let go of everything and anything that you are carrying for others, as what you need is to show up for yourself. Take a moment to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself what you need. It may be something small, like eating a piece of chocolate, or it may be something larger like cancelling plans so you can take care of yourself. Follow that guidance, remain fully engaged in it as you do, and then check in again. Ask yourself: what do I need now? Close your eyes, breathe, and listen to what comes. The biggest challenge will be to give yourself permission to do so. But over time, the more you do, the easier it will be. Take it one step at a time, as all we really have is the present moment. Stay mindful and engaged in each moment the best you can, and the stress of the past or worry of the future will be released. It is a practice, so be patient. Only you know what you need. And what you need will change moment to moment and day to day.

Can chocolate be part of our self-care routine?

I believe that anything that makes you feel good can and should be part of your self-care plan, in moderation. If having some chocolate is something that brings you joy, and it’s being used as an expression of love for yourself rather than a coping mechanism to numb or avoid an uncomfortable emotion or experience, then you are the only one that needs to give yourself permission to do so. In shamanic and Wiccan traditions, the raw form of cacao is used during sacred ceremonies for its heart-opening properties. It’s seen as medicine for the heart, so even though the properties of the chocolate itself have changed, it is a practice that in many ways is intended as the ultimate form of self-love.

How can we eat mindfully?

When you develop any mindfulness-based practice, whether it be yoga, meditation or breath work, you are accessing the intuitive part of yourself. It’s a bi-product of the practice. When this side of you is nurtured, you will see that it holds a deep wisdom that, if listened to, will tell you exactly what you need. If there are certain foods you enjoy, such as chocolate, it is for a reason. It is bringing you something that you need. When you start to eat intuitively, you can listen to and then follow your cravings, so as to satisfy these needs. It naturally becomes a practice of mindfulness as your perspective on eating will shift, and as we all know, perspective is everything.

For a demonstration on how to eat chocolate mindfully, check out this easy how-to exercise.