Categories
Power Yoga Taiga Yoga Yoga

Yoga as Therapy?

Yoga as self-therapy: Tune out to check in.

Yoga as therapy has been contentious in recent years. In January 2016, the Yoga Alliance requested that any yoga school remove the terms “yoga therapy” and “yoga therapist” from their title. This suggestion was a precaution against misleading the public to think that yoga teachers are diagnosticians. The point was not that yoga isn’t therapeutic, but rather that yoga is not a strategy for diagnosing or curing ailments.

“If I go to yoga, I’ll be healthier.” While this statement is true, it’s not because yoga is a panacea or a prescription. Yoga is a therapy to help find physical and emotional well-being. The practice is a tool for noticing ailments, understanding strengths and having the resources to deal with challenges. By getting out of bed and on to your mat every morning, you are taking time to tune out from the world and check in with your physical and emotional self.

This regulation from the Yoga Alliance does not reduce the fact that yoga is therapeutic in nature. The point is that yoga does not represent the reductionist style of therapy that we tend to apply to ourselves. We apply reductionist theory to our habits: “If I meditate, then I’ll be calmer.” “If I don’t smoke, then I’ll be able to run faster.” “If I eat less, then I’ll be thinner.” While these statements are true, they fail to capture the notion that our health is comprised of a physiological and psychological system. Yoga affords another point of view beyond the reductionist “if/then” approach to improving health.

A healthy lifestyle is something that we all strive for.  Joy and happiness, fewer aches and pains, serenity, and a robust constitution. We know the basics of getting and staying healthy; we know that smoking is bad, eating fruit and vegetables is good, regular exercise is imperative and that it’s critical to keep stress at bay. But we often get mired in wishing to “better” our habits, “get” healthier and “change” something with the expectation of “improvement.” Paradoxically, this desire to improve and to “cure” ailments often creates stress. In opposition to this desire to improve, yoga is a strategy to observe what’s happening with your health. By doing a regular yoga practice, you are able to check in with your own physical and emotional self and understand your constitution from a point of view of acceptance rather than change.

Yoga provides a holistic view of the human body as a system. The practice itself is simple. Just you and your mat. Certainly there are techniques and strategies for poses and for practicing meditation, but the fundamental beauty of yoga is its simplicity. You can’t cheat your way through it. By stepping on to your mat and checking out of whatever else you were doing with your day, you are observing the subtleties of your mind and body and teaching yourself strategies for managing emotional and physical discomfort.

The therapeutic potential of yoga comes from its consistency. The yoga sutras decree that the formula for success in yoga is to “practice regularly over a long period of time.” The therapeutic practice is not a prescriptive solution to health but rather a strategy for understanding yourself and finding the right path towards health and well-being.

Categories
Yoga YTT Blog

Mindful Meditation for Peace of Mind

You don’t have to practice yoga every day. But when you need your practice, you’re going to wish you’d been practicing every day.

Yoga is a physical, emotional and psychological practice. The physical part, the poses, is the most obvious. The emotional and psychological components of a yoga practice are much harder to understand. But tapping into the emotional, mindful and psychological aspect of yoga presents a platform for training the mind to avoid negative self-talk and unnecessary distractions. Try practicing mindfulness meditation as a way to navigate difficult experiences, understand interpersonal relations and ease the suffering of yourself and those around you.

When the body is suffering, there are tools that can be used for healing. Tools such as resting sore muscles, splinting broken bones or massaging tired muscles are all useful for healing what ails the physical body. On the contrary, when the mind is tired or emotional pain is present, the tools necessary to heal are not as apparent. The subtle body and the mind present great complexity and require tools such as mindfulness yoga for healing.

There will always be suffering. Emotional suffering is an inevitable part of the human condition. Heartbreak, loss, failure, rejection…these are just a few examples of suffering that every human will experience. The attachment to this suffering is optional. As children, our personality structure is based on seeking love from the environment. Seeking and finding love is a strategy of the ego and children must pursue love and acceptance as a survival technique. As we reach adulthood, however, the pursuit of love, acceptance and pleasure creates a false sense of self. Constantly seeking approval and love from external sources represents the inherent idea that we are “not enough” as we are and thus suffering ensues when external circumstances of love and acceptance change or disappear.

The strategy for navigating difficult emotions and indulging in less suffering is to train the mind and heart to be free of misunderstanding of the true self. Mindfulness meditation is the tool. Our lives are a collection of stories and the challenge is to understand that these stories are not the totality of our existence.

By understanding that experiences and situations are often beyond our control, we can escape the assumption that experiences and emotions represent our faults as humans.

The intention of mindfulness meditation is to develop a strength where sensations such as emotions are present, but not threatening.

Our greatest challenge to misunderstanding ourselves is interpersonal relationships. If, as Sartre said, “Hell is other people,” then how can we escape that hell? Sartre did not mean this literally; as in, he didn’t mean that other people are poisonous villains. What he meant was that much of our understanding of ourselves comes from the knowledge that other people already have of us. Our interactions with family, friends, strangers and coworkers creates parameters for how we are judged. In turn, we judge ourselves by the same criteria. If we can escape this judgement and stop allowing other people’s perception of us to be the dogmatic definition of ourselves, we can achieve a sense of peace and a deeper understanding of ourselves.

A heart-cultivation practice is a mindfulness meditation technique that acknowledges the other people around us, but does not focus on the mutual judgements and expectations we have for each other. This is a strategy for exercising the four qualities of the heart. It’s a useful strategy for managing difficult emotional times, but is most beneficial if it’s part of a regular practice.

  • Loving kindness
  • Compassion
  • Sympathetic job
  • Equanimity

Loving Kindness (metta)

Loving kindness is an inclusive, unconditional love for all living beings. It is not based on “merit,” and has no expectations of anything in return.

Start with yourself.

May I feel at home in my life.

May I trust the process of my life

May I feel patience with my circumstances

May I be free from harm

May I find peace and joy in this world

May I be happy

Next move on to a neutral person. This can be someone with whom you have limited interactions. For example, someone that you see on your daily commute to work or the receptionist at the gym or the cashier at the grocery store. Practice sending loving kindness to this person with whom you have no positive or negative interactions with. A neutral relationship.

May he feel at home in his life

May he trust the process of his life

May he feel patience with his circumstances

May he be free from harm

May he find peace and joy in this world

May he be happy

Finally, if you feel ready, move on to someone with whom you have a very trying relationship. Do the best you can.

To the best of my ability, I wish her comfort in her own life.

To the best of my ability, I wish her patience with her own circumstances

To the best of my ability, I wish her freedom from harm

To the best of my ability, I wish her happiness and health

Compassion (karuna)

Practice compassion by taking note of all the stages of suffering. Refrain from seeing suffering as a binary creation. Suffering is more than a start point and an end point. Suffering is a string of constituent parts and to be compassionate is to look at what is happening and look at the circumstances that gave rise to it. Being compassionate is the ability to recognize and be with pain and know that it is not personal. Rather, the experience of pain can be construed as a welcoming to the human family.

Practice compassion by choosing a person who you know is suffering. Focus on their experience.

May he be free from pain and suffering

May he grant himself permission to love

May he forgive those who have hurt him

By developing a feeling of compassion in your heart, you are cultivating an energy. By practicing this compassion, you are allowing this energy to grow and propagate.

Sympathetic Joy (Mudita)

Create sympathetic joy by acknowledging joy in the simplicity and finding joy in other people’s joy. This is a challenging practice, but it’s important to remember that someone else’s joy does not take away from your own potential for joy. The opponents of joy are envy and jealousy, but by unselfishly noticing someone else’s joy, the poisonous opposite feelings can dissolve.

May her feelings of joy be abundant

May she feel joy in the simplicity of her life

Equanimity (Upekkha)

Equanimity is love plus insight and is characterized as evenmindedness. Cultivating equanimity creates a skill set where you are not thrown off balance by your experiences. It is a recognition that all experiences, good and bad, are impermanent and that participation in the human experience will always present highs and lows, but neither needs to define you

I love all beings and understand that all their experiences are impermanent

I love all beings and understand that making space for love, compassion, joy               and kindness is the way to peace, not clinging to craving, jealousy, envy, pleasure or fear.

Conclusion

A regular mindfulness meditation practice is a tool for achieving emotional stability. By cultivating loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, we can participate in the human experience with ease and understand that our experiences are not the sum total of our existence.

A traumatic or difficult experience may prove to be the catalyst to start practicing mindfulness, but the practice will be of most use if it’s done regularly. You don’t need to practice yoga every day, but when you need your practice, you’re going to wish you had practiced every day.

 

Categories
Power Yoga Yoga YTT Blog

Get out of your own way: battling your ego with the Warrior Series.

Use the Warrior Series to battle your ego and realize your goals.

Most flow yoga classes incorporate at least one of the warrior poses (Virabhadrasana series), but beyond the physical shape of the poses, what are these poses all about?

The warrior series refers to the spiritual warrior, one who battles the universal enemy. The universal enemy exists in all of us: ego, ignorance and unnecessary attachment. Often we get mired in our egos, find ourselves ignorant of what we truly need and develop unnecessary attachments to ideas or substances that aren’t useful.

Everyone has goals and plans. These are ideas that we think are possible, but something gets in the way.

What is getting in your way?  

Is it a hangup with your appearance? Is it an addiction to something that is wasting your time (the internet, sugar, exercise, sex, tv, drugs, alcohol)? Is it an obsession with money? Is it attachment to something that you don’t need? It is a relationship that doesn’t serve you anymore? Is it a fear of failure?

A teacher said to me once that we spend the first part of our lives, as children, defining our personality. We spend the second part of our lives defending that personality. But what if we change the dialogue? What if we simply accept ourselves as beautiful beings who are capable of anything that we can imagine?

What if the only thing that needs to change for you to achieve your goals is your mind? What if the only thing standing in your way is your own ego and unnecessary attachments and fear? 

Avidya is a fogged perception of what is important. Avidya consists of ego, attachment and fear. Avidya is a subtle energy that exists in all of us and keeps us rooted in our habitual ways and unable to transform or improve. Overindulgence in Avidya causes us to believe that we are not the doer of things, but rather than things happen to us.

Ideally, we are able to dissolve Avidya, move past the ego, attachment, negative associations and fear, and achieve what it is that we need.

Conveniently, there are yoga poses to help with this!

The warrior series (Virabhdrasana) is the tool to battle Avidya. These postures represent our battle with Avidya, our battle with our own egos, fears and self-ignorance. Virabhdrasana (Vira = hero, bhdra = friend) is the spiritual warrior against the universal enemy: ego, attachment and fear.

By doing the challenging warrior poses, you are creating an allegory: a representation of actually dissolving your ego, your fears, your attachments. By battling against ego, fear, and attachment, you are getting out of your own way and making space for what is truly important.

Practice the warrior sequence. You will become a spiritual warrior who is capable of fighting your own ego, your unnecessary attachments to material things or relationships that are holding you back and your fears.

I promise it won’t be easy and I promise it will take a lot of bravery, but I also promise that it will be worth it. By getting out of your own way, by battling avidya, by letting go of whatever it is that’s holding you back, you can be or do whatever you can imagine.

Be strong. Be brave. Be a warrior. 

Categories
Handstands Yoga

Core Strength

There is a plethora of images in fitness magazines and on Instagram that display air-brushed models with flat and toned tummies. All of these images suggest that a taught belly is an ideal to strive for. Defined abdominal muscles are a point of vanity and the existence of a six-pack is synonymous with a strong core. A six pack is a physical iteration of a strong core, but they are not mutually exclusive. A strong core is possible in the absence of a six-pack and a six pack is possible in the absence of a strong core.

Core strength in the context of a yoga practice is the union of physical strength and emotional strength. Physical core strength is necessary for steadiness in a yoga practice, good posture and vitality and safety in backbends. Emotional core strength refers to the power to know and follow through on your fundamental beliefs. Your core beliefs are the ethical essence that makes you, you. The physical core strength endows you with the ability to safely do the activities and sports you want to. The emotional core strength provides you with the fortitude to act on your innermost values.

By understanding your core from a multidimensional point of view, you’ll strengthen your back, abs and thighs, but also begin to understand your purpose and eventually tune in to your highest Self.

It is an unfortunate obsession that we have with flat abs:  attaching vanity to the body’s midsection is not helpful for physical or spiritual growth. By viewing the abdomen as something that needs to be whipped into shape and judging it by its appearance, we feel shame when it doesn’t look the way we think it “should.” By attempting to sculpt your abs or flatten your belly for the sake of vanity, you risk suffering when you are unable to attain a certain look.

Yoga is a venue for checking in with your physical and spiritual self. The core is a good place to start. Instead of using a Core Yoga practice to support vanity, embrace the properties of injury prevention and spinal health of the practice. Instead of viewing your core as a six-pack in the making, practice thinking of your core as a multidimensional manifestation of you. True core strength is the embodiment of your purpose. It is about being physically and emotionally strong so that you can follow through on the things and ideas that are important to you.

Taiga Yoga is pleased to introduce a new Core Yoga class!

Tuesdays and Thursdays 10-1045am

Meet you on the Mat. 

Categories
Yoga

Are you a believer?

If you spend enough time in a yoga studio, you will hear a lot of bold statements about the physical and emotional benefits of yoga.

“practicing yin will reduce stress and anxiety”

“forward folds are good for introspection”

“we store a lot of emotion in our hips: hip-opening poses can release pent-up emotion”

“backbends will invigorate your body”

“chanting OM will restore peace and calm in your mind”

…ad infinitum.

One teacher recently made the bold statement that breathing and concentrating on healing can cure any ailment. She said that Savasana (the final resting pose in any practice) paired with belief in the power of the breath will heal the body and physical and emotional ailments will not require outside interference (aka doctors and drugs). In summary, she was saying that breathing is more powerful than drugs.

Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. There are certainly anecdotal examples of yoga practitioners healing themselves of cancer and infections through yoga alone, but of course there is no peer-reviewed journal article proving or disproving the medicinal qualities of a regular yoga practice.

But whether or not there is scientific proof of the benefits of yoga, the question remains: do you believe in the power of yoga? Do you believe in the benefits of deep breathing, of linking your breath with movement? Do you believe in taking the time for meditation every day?

If you believe, it’s likely that many of the proclaimed benefits of yoga will avail themselves to you.

To help you believe, I borrowed from Pascal’s Wager:

  1. It is possible that yoga is physically/emotionally beneficial and it is possible that yoga is not physically/emotionally beneficial.
  2. If one believes in the benefits of yoga than if they exist one receives physical and emotional reward and if they do not exist one loses little or nothing.
  3. If one does not believe in the benefits of yoga than if they exist one loses out on physical and emotional reward and if they do not exist than one gains little or nothing.
  4. It is better to either receive physical/emotional reward or lose little or nothing that it is to either receive no physical/emotional reward or gain little or nothing.

Therefore:

5. It is better to believe in yoga than it is to not believe in yoga.

6. If one course of action is better than another then it is rational to follow that course of action and irrational to follow the other.

Therefore:

7. It is rational to believe in the benefits of yoga and irrational not to believe in the benefits of yoga.

Meet you on the mat?

My point: you may as well practice yoga and believe in its benefits rather than dispute the benefits and refuse to practice yoga. It’s more rational to believe in the benefits than it is to dispute the existence of said benefits.

Oh and if you just want to stretch your hamstrings. You can do that too.

yoga practice to stretch your hamstrings

Categories
Uncategorized Yoga YTT Blog

Yoga and SAD

The darkness of winter is upon us. If you suffer seasonal affective disorder, you will understand the debilitating exhaustion, apathy and moodiness that affects many during the dark months of December and January.

Seasonal affective disorder is described by the Mayo clinic as a change in circadian rhythm and a drop in serotonin levels brought on by reduced sunlight in the winter months. For the SAD sufferers, Decembers are punctuated by feelings of isolation, sadness and inexplicable exhaustion.

Depression, especially a variation as misunderstood and seemingly benign as seasonal affective disorder, is hard to talk about. So mostly, they don’t talk about it. They hang out at home, sleep a lot and eat a lot of carbohydrates. These three traits lend themselves to a frustratingly negative sense of self.

Resting a lot and spending time alone is not necessarily negative, especially during the cold dark months of winter, but if the SAD sufferer feels that such behaviour is unhealthy, then the self-blaming and feelings of worthlessness manifest themselves. Yoga is a reprieve from those negative thoughts and a distraction through breath and movement.

Anecdotally, there is evidence that yoga is specifically beneficial for Seasonal Affective Disorder, but objectively any physical activity will do. The advantage of yoga is that it can be done anywhere and at any time of day. There is no special gear, you don’t need a partner, it doesn’t have to cost anything and it doesn’t matter if it’s dark out.

There are yoga studios in almost every town or city, and even if you have never tried yoga, I guarantee that you will be welcome at whatever studio you walk into. And if you don’t feel like going out to go to yoga? There are excellent online yoga classes. I maintain a membership with yogaglo.com during the winter and am always impressed with the wide range of classes and teachers the site offers. You don’t even need a yoga mat to start. A beach towel or blanket works really well, especially on a carpeted floor.

-The advantage of yoga is that it can be done anywhere at any time-

So if Seasonal Affective Disorder affects you at this time of year, see if a daily yoga practice mitigates the effects. It’s not that socializing less and eating more carbohydrates in the winter is inherently bad, the problem is when your actions make you feel bad about yourself. Yoga’s focus on breathing and moving can offer a reprieve from the negativity and the low self-esteem that results from the SAD symptoms.

Categories
fall schedule Yoga

Power Yoga is for Beginners

The physical challenge of Power Yoga makes the yoga aspect of the practice easier than in less-physically challenging sequences.

I teach Power Yoga. I have taught other versions of yoga but Power Yoga is most congruent with my personal practice and is what I want to share with my students. Almost every day, someone says to me that they “can’t” come to my class because it’s “too” hard. Physically, yes, the poses are challenging but the yoga part of the class is markedly easier in a power flow class than in a slower-moving hatha class.

Let me explain. Yoga is about creating a union between breath and movement. It is about silencing the chatter and listening to the breath. As the oft-quoted Patanjali said, “yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.” Indeed, in Ashtanga yoga, Samadhi, the eighth limb, is a quiet state of mind and an awareness exclusively of the present moment. A quiet mind is the intention of any yoga practice.

The physical challenge of power yoga provides an outlet for quieting the mind.

In a slower and less physically challenging practice, quieting the mind can be daunting. Hanging out in utkatasana (chair pose) or anjaneyasana (lunge pose) for ten breaths is physically difficult and thus demands all the mind’s attention.  Sitting in sukhasana (easy seated pose) or standing in tadasana (standing mountain pose), on the other hand, is physically easy but detaching from distracting thoughts is more difficult and requires practice and concentration.

My point is this:  the harder the pose, the easier it is to tune out of the mind’s clutter

and achieve awareness of the present moment and nothing else.  

So, if you are a beginner to yoga, by all means try out whatever class comes recommended by friends and suits your schedule. But don’t shy away from power yoga because you think it will be too hard physically. Yes, the poses are challenging and yes you will sometimes be bewildered by what the teacher is asking you to do (“you expect me to put my foot where?!), but that’s the point. By trying unexpected yoga poses and facing a physical challenge, your attention will be focused completely on the present moment and you will find yourself one step closer to a clutter-free mind.

Power Yoga at Taiga Yoga, Yellowknife

www.taigayoga.com

quiet-mind

Categories
Uncategorized Yoga

Cue the Silence

Our world is a noisy place. We exist among conversations, loud engines, music, sirens, air filter machines, humming computers, ringtones, radios, barking dogs and constant chatter inside our heads. Silence is an elusive concept. So when the power went off in my office building last week, besides the darkness, the aftermath was a silence that juxtaposed the constant background noise that I hadn’t realized was there.

In yoga, I encourage my students to “let go of distracting thoughts,” and “quiet the mind.”

But how can the mind become quiet when the world is so noisy?

Therein lays the challenge. I constantly struggle to quiet the omnipresent chatter in my head. I do yoga as a tool to quiet my mind and I teach yoga to help others quiet their minds. Paradoxically I teach with a soundtrack playing in the background. Music is something that I always incorporated into my classes. Deva Premal, Wah!, Krishna Das. These musicians were my most regular attendees. They never missed a class and their voices and rhythms provided the ambiance for my classes. But is more external noise really the key to inner silence?

When the power was off and my office was silent for 25 minutes, I had the time to reflect on the value of silence. I pondered why I play music during yoga classes.

Who was it for? Did my students relate to it? Did it assist them to quiet their minds, as I was constantly reminding them to do? Doubtful.  It occurred to me that I was playing the music for myself. The music was a comfort for me in case I couldn’t think of anything to say. It was a buffer between awkward silence and valuable commentary from me.

So I turned off the music. The relief of not having to design playlists for every class was a wonderful byproduct of my new music-free yoga classes. More importantly, I noticed my students. When I played music, I wasn’t listening to my students. I was often listening to the music, wondering if it was too loud, too fast…did the students like the song? But none of that has anything to do with yoga and my teaching wasn’t effective with the distraction of a playlist.

Without the music, I am able to listen to the pranayama in the room and focus on how students are responding to my verbal cues. I am able to tune into how students are responding to my teaching and subsequently teach poses and sequences that cater to what my students need.

It is my intention to foster an environment where dynamic and valuable yoga practice can take place. An environment where students can silence the chatter, tune out of the world and achieve an internal focus and respect. Turning off the music is my small contribution towards finding silence of mind, awareness of breath and steadiness of body.

Join me on the mat for music-less but pranayama-rich power yoga.

Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm

Tuesdays at noon.

Taiga Yoga Studio, Yellowknife

 

Categories
Uncategorized Yoga

Silence the chatter with a strong physical yoga practice

Yoga is the simple equation of breath + movement. But it seems there is an interest in “getting there,” “doing the poses right.”  The physical part of yoga, the movement, is simply a gateway to quieting the mind.  Yoga poses are a venue for your body and mind to concentrate on breath and movement with the goal of quieting the inner chatter.

 Practice yoga to disengage from the constant inner dialogue

The self-doubt, the vanity, the unproductive discussions and negotiations with the self can all be eliminated by concentrating on breathing in physical poses. Easy, right? Except it isn’t.

Some days it feels impossible to quiet the mind, forget the chatter and be peaceful.

Enter power yoga.

The poses of power yoga provide a setting for tuning into the sound of the breath and concentrating on physical stamina, strength and flexibility. By concentrating on breathing in challenging yoga poses, the inner dialogue will fall silent. It’s very hard to think about your next career move when you’re practicing arm balances!

So if your inner chatter is particularly noisy, step onto your yoga mat. The physical challenge will quiet your mind.

You’ll be surprised at the mental clarity that can be achieved after a physically challenging yoga practice.

And if you’re afraid to try yoga  because you “can’t keep up?”  

Yoga isn’t about getting somewhere, or achieving a particular pose. It’s about creating a harmony between breath and movement. Sometimes more challenging poses are required to find the harmony and focus, sometimes not. Some people need more challenging poses to quiet the mind, while others already have the mental fortitude to silence the chatter without the physical challenge. Some days it takes a little extra strength to overcome the inner noise, which is why progressively more challenging poses are offered in power yoga.

But there is no end goal, there is no best pose, there is no best yogi.

Power yoga offers the chance to challenge yourself physically as much as you need to cultivate a quiet mind. Power yoga sequences are designed so that everyone is challenged, regardless of body type, age, or yoga experience.

Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm

Tuesdays at Noon. 

Taiga Yoga, Yellowknife

Categories
Uncategorized Yoga

Open the heart to heal

When we sustain a physical injury such as a broken leg, black eye or a sunburn, the injury is visible for the world to see and comment on. “What happened!?” invites story-telling and sharing the circumstances of the accident. Sharing contributes to healing. In contrast, surviving emotional trauma does not always prompt the healing power of sharing. We tend to shy away from talking about our aches of the heart.

Recovering from physical trauma takes time, of course, but is visible. Talking about the injury and noticing physical improvements contribute to healing. Matters of the heart, on the other hand, are less visible and more complex. Although heartache often manifests itself as a furrowed brow, swollen eyes and a sad face, sparking a conversation about emotional pain is a little more sensitive than discussing a physical injury.

So, while the presence of a physical injury invites questions and conversation, the seclusion of an emotional injury has the opposite effect. Isolation and loneliness prevail.

Meanwhile, the owner of the broken heart

seeks an outlet for the pain.

Healing from a physical injury has socially-acceptable antidotes: over the counter painkillers, topical creams, physical therapy. Matters of the heart are shrouded in secrecy, punctuated by solitude and emotional discomfort. Thus, the victim of the emotional trauma is prone to making bad decisions, escaping through drugs, alcohol, sex, and regrettable lifestyle decisions.

So, how to deal with emotional trauma in a healthy way?

The posture of grief is characterized by hunched shoulders,images (7)slumped spine,and head in hands. Heart opening yoga poses are the antidote to a grieving posture and will create space to let the emotion out, to free the heart from sadness and begin to heal.

Yoga is the union of mind, body and spirit.

Practicing heart opening poses is a gateway to releasing unwanted emotional energy.

Make no mistake, heart openers will trigger a painful release of emotions, often tears, but will ultimately foster tremendous release and freedom from negative energy. Fortunately, the yoga studio and the yoga mat is a safe place to let go of great emotional trauma. The yoga mat is a place of solace and comfort and is free from judgment.  You are always safe on your yoga mat and just like you aren’t passing judgment on the yogi on the mat next to you, you can be certain that (s)he isn’t judging you either. All that being said, if getting yourself to a studio is simply too much for your broken heart, unroll your yoga mat or towel in the privacy of your own home and practice these heart openers there.

yoga collage

Warrior I

Updog/ cobra

Bow pose

Wild thing

Camel

Fish

Wheel/bridge

Dancer’s pose

After a deep heart-opening practice, rest in a long savasana followed by several minutes of sitting still, crosslegged. Take your time and step off your mat and back into the world when you’re ready.