The practice of yoga in general is widely known for its potent healing powers, enabling the student to “open up’” and release blocked energy that has been accumulated over a lifetime. All yoga poses have the capacity to release stored emotions; however, certain yoga poses have been designed to speed up this healing process by directly touching the places inside the body where emotions are stockpiled. Over the course of time, this touching, opening, and releasing progression allows you to let go of old wounds and allow healing to begin.
New to the practice and wonder how yoga is responsible for this inner tranquility? Think about it: It is kind of impossible to simultaneously stress over your life and hold a yoga pose that requires you to balance on only the fingertips of one hand and one foot at the same time while the other hand and foot are in the air. It’s not exactly the right time for your mind to ruminate over meaningless nonsense. With consistent practice, you will start to release suppressed emotions and learn how to control the mind.
Hip openers, backbends, and inversions are perfect examples of the types of postures that can put you on a fast track to inner peace. Our hips are a warehouse for stored emotions to gather. Our hearts (needless to say) are another part of the body that grasps onto feelings that either have the capacity to uplift or bring us down. Inversions are perfect for flipping your perspective, which leads you to look at life and situations very differently. As a result of practicing the following poses on a regular basis, you will begin to let go of the things that no longer serve you. You will learn how to flip your perspective and see life from a different angle. You will learn how to release emotions and heal old wounds.
Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Upward-facing dog is a fantastic heart opener. To get into the pose, first lie flat on your stomach with your palms on both sides of your shoulders. Stretch your legs out behind you with the front of your feet flat on the mat. On an inhale, push into your hands and the tops of your feet to lift your torso and thighs off the mat. Lift your chest and face toward the sky. As you breathe into this posture, focus on continuing to open up the chest by stretching the front of your torso.
Wild Thing (Camatkarasana)
This is another heart opening posture. From downward-facing dog, inhale and lift your right leg up in the air, and then bend the knee to start to open the hip. Slowly drop your raised leg behind you, allowing your foot to connect with the ground. Then, begin to open up your chest and ribs by stretching your right arm out over your head and continually lifting the hips. As you breathe into the posture, continue to open up your chest and rib cage. Repeat on the left side.
Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Pigeon Pose is a potent hip opener guaranteed to release blocked energy and stored emotions. Start in Downward Facing Dog. On an inhale, lift your right leg to the sky and then bend the knee to bring the leg under your torso toward your hands. Then place your right leg down at the top of the mat with your right knee on the right side of the mat, and your right foot on the left side of the mat, with your left leg straight out behind you, front of the foot flat on the mat. Try to get your right leg as parallel as you can with the front of the mat, with your knee and your foot in the same line. In Pigeon Pose, you can keep the torso lifted, or if it’s accessible to you, start to lower your torso down toward the mat, eventually letting it rest with your arms extended in front of you. Repeat on the left side.
Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
Upward-facing bow is the ultimate heart-opening posture. To get into the pose, start by lying flat on your back with your hands palm down on both sides of your ears. Your fingertips should almost be touching your shoulders. Place the bottoms of your feet flat on the mat, as close to your sitting bones as possible, with your knees bent about hip-distance apart. On an exhale, slowly start to lift your hips and shoulders off the mat by straightening your arms. Let your head drop until it is comfortable. To come out of the pose, slowly lower your body back down to the mat.
Do not get discouraged if this pose is inaccessible for you at this point in time. I would recommend practicing camel pose on a regular basis to open up your back and chest. Wheel pose will be much easier as your body opens up.
Headstand is the king of all yoga inversions. You may want to practice this pose against a wall if you have yet to master headstand. Start by kneeling on the mat and then placing your forearms down. Clasp your hands together. Then place the crown of the head down, cradling your head with your hands. Come up onto your toes like you were going into downward-facing dog. Bend the left knee deeply and extend the right leg straight up in the air. Start by taking little hops with your left leg and bringing your right leg up in the air. Once you find your center of balance, slowly raise the left leg up to meet the right leg. Make sure the weight is in your forearms and not in your neck. When you are ready, slowly come out of headstand and rest in child’s pose.
Do not get discouraged if you cannot get into this pose on your first (or 50th) try. It takes time. Keep practicing, be patient, and the pose will come!