5 Yoga Poses To Ease Your Emotional Hangover
You know those times when it feels like there’s just too much? Too much holiday, too much family, too much pressure? When the momentum of our everyday lives builds to the point where it starts to drain us emotionally, it can feel just as depleting and hard on the system as an actual hangover from alcohol.
The good news is, like all hangovers, emotional hangovers are temporary, and there are proactive things you can do to help your body and mind recover. That’s where this series of yoga postures come in.
So grab your mat and throw on a comfy pair of sweats. As we settle into this at-home practice, we’ll cultivate the skills to step back, slow down, and hang out in presence. The truth is, simply being present and becoming more aware of what’s arising now is incredibly healing. And the best part is, being present requires absolutely nothing. It’s with us all the time, and it’s something we can always come back home to.
Just like it’s easy to hold our emotions in and bury them deep, it’s super common for us to guard and hold the low belly in as a gesture of protecting ourselves. By softening the belly in Child's Pose, you’re practicing surrendering and letting go, which is a sign of strength.
- Click your big toes together and open your knees wide.
- Sink your hips back and stretch your arms forward.
- Let your forehead rest heavy on the mat.
- Close your eyes.
- To take it deeper, as you inhale through the nose, let the low belly soften and expand.
- As you exhale, sigh it out.
- Repeat three times.
Easy Cross Legged Position + Spinal Roll
Simply becoming aware of how the body is expressing tension and what emotions are present is healing work. Once you see it, you’re no longer stuck in it. It no longer has a hold on you.
- Take a comfortable and alert seated position.
- Rest your hands on your knees.
- Inhale, lift your chest and roll the heads of your shoulders back.
- Exhale, shift the ribs to the right, then pull them back and to the left. You’re essentially tracing a circle with the rib cage to move the spine in all directions.
- Repeat three to five times. Then reverse the circle and go the opposite direction.
- To take it deeper, get really curious about the physical sensations present in the body. Are there areas of the body that are holding on to tension? Is there a particular spot that’s calling for more care and attention?
- As best you can, just notice and take your time as you move through these circles. You may notice some emotions along with the physical sensations. Open yourself up to all of it.
Modified Side Plank Stretch
Opening the side waist helps us breathe deeper with more freedom and ease. Building the habit of lingering in a brief moment of stillness on the mat when the knee and elbow touch can have a powerful ripple effect on the rest of our day. When we practice pausing, we invite more steadiness and awareness into our lives.
- From all fours, extend the right leg back and hold in a balanced position.
- Walk your left palm underneath your nose, and press the palm into the mat.
- Once you feel steady, sweep the right arm high so the fingertips reach toward the sky.
- Tuck your left glute underneath of you as you open and stack the hips.
- Adjust the left shin as needed.
- To take it deeper, layer on movement to stretch and open the intercostal muscles between the ribs.
- Breathe in, reach your right arm up overhead so the biceps is by your ear.
- As you breathe out, bring the elbow and knee toward one another.
- Repeat seven times on each side.
- As you move through this, option to pause and linger for a moment in stillness when your knee and elbow touch. It’s a very brief, short pause that happens after the exhale and before the inhale. No need to tense up—just stay curious about the pause.
- Repeat on the left side.
Becoming more aware of how the sensations in the body come and go can remind us that in the same way, emotions come and go. When currents of fear, anxiety, and anger wash through, it can be tough to remember that these too are ephemeral.
- Lie all the way down on your mat with your knees bent and the soles of the feet rooting down.
- Cross your right ankle over the left knee.
- Interlace your hands behind the left thigh.
- Hug the knee in toward your chest.
- To take it deeper, gently press your right elbow into your right inner thigh as you flex the left foot. This will increase the stretch you feel in the glute and side of the hip.
- Stay here for seven to 10 breaths and notice the physical sensations present.
- Before you move to Figure Four on the other side, lie all the way down with the legs extended and see if you can stay present with the release that happens in the hips.
By becoming more aware of where attention gets pulled as we relax into these gentle twists, we’re increasing awareness and strengthening our ability to be present.
- Lie down and walk your feet wider than your hips. Drop the knees over to the right. Then windshield wiper the legs back up and drop them to the left. Rock back and forth between sides at your own pace.
- To take it deeper, pause and hold your knees over to the left.
- Place your left foot on top of the right knee, and gently press the knee down to deepen the stretch.
- As you continue to breathe, stretch the tailbone down towards your heels to lengthen your lower back.
- Hold for 10 breath cycles.
- Notice when thoughts come up and guide attention away from the breath. When attention wanders, it’s perfectly fine. Simply notice and return to the waves of breath.
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Kait Hurley is the founder of kaithurley.com. With a background deeply rooted in wellness, Hurley is an educator whose mission is to help others move, meditate, and feel amazing. In the spring of 2017, she decided to share her philosophies with the world, launching kaithurley.com. As a lifelong athlete with over a decade of experience in the health and wellness industry, she is dedicated to helping people feel strong and focused through their practice. If you're curious to try mindful running for yourself, she can coach you through her new app. Download it here and fire up her collection of classes. Each session includes a music-driven run, a mindful stretch, and a short, seated meditation. Hurley is currently living in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Peter, and their kitten, Javier. Connect with her on Instagram @kait.hurley.