Spiritual practices teach us to be present in our emotions regardless of their origin. Unfortunately, in moments of loss the state of non-emotional identification becomes merely an aspiration for most of us. Instead, we tend to cling into the depths of our pain and overlook the fact that the world moves on. Organizing the day around the level of pain becomes common. It becomes common to such an extent that we might start to prevent ourselves from engaging in social, family or any physical activities. This automatic reflex to pull away and self-isolate can have a profound negative effect on our daily life, but also to those who are close to us. As a result, social and martial relationships often result in conflicts, which might unwantedly exacerbate the pain of loss.
If only there was a quick fix button to get us going. Well, there’s not. But do not get discouraged. There’s something better. It’s called personal growth. The pain of loss might bring a number of costs, but it often brings a number of unconscious benefits as well. One of them is the opportunity to go deeper within and increase your control over the pain. Active engagement in a physical activity such as yoga can react as pain-buster, healer and life changer. Here’s how.
During asana practice our blood circulation increases, which automatically raises the level of nutrients and helps the debris get out. The longer we hold, the deeper we get. However, there’s a higher state of mind control that we need to reach, in order to accept and release pent-up emotions. The following yoga sequence is designed to help you achieve stability within the body, while calming down your mind. The objective of this practice is to help you witness the rise of your thoughts and memories from the depths of your mind and to show you how they subside into it. Through experiencing and observing this complex process you will be able to gain back the control over your though process, and attain the inner calm that you deserve. It is time to uplift your mind-body-spirit connection by learning to accept and overcome the uncertainties and pain that come in to our lives.
1. Bharmanasana (Table Top)
Come into a kneeling position and release your palms on the floor making it all the way to your table top position. Keep your hips over the knees, with hips distance apart and shoulders over the wrists, with shoulders distance apart. Take a few long breaths here, keeping your neck nice and long. Tuck your belly button in, elongate your spine and engage your core muscles. From here take five rounds of cat/cow pose. Learn to move with your breath, on your inhale slowly look up and arch the back, on exhale round your spine while sucking your belly in. This exercise will wake up your spine, which will automatically stimulate the vagus nerve and will trigger a sensation of relaxation.
2. Balasana (Child pose)
From Table Top exhale slowly while moving your body backwards until your sit bones lay down between your heels. Your knees can remain hips width apart, allowing your torso to fall down in between them. Keep your hands extended on the floor and on your inhale raise up back to Table Top. Repeat this sequence for five breaths and on your fifth exhalation remain in child pose. Rest your forehead on the mat. You can keep your hands extended or place them next to the sides of your body. It is okay to close your eyes and concentrate on the energy within. Remain in this position for ten long breaths. Breathe deeply into your diaphragm and lower back. Your belly and chest expand on inhalation and release inwards on exhalation, allowing your spine and lower back muscles to relax. This technique of deep diaphragmatic breathing will bring your stress levels down, while helping you let go of any staggering emotions within your body.
3. Nirvalasana (Sphynx Pose)
From Child pose slowly lie down on your abdomen with extended long legs and elbows on the floor. Make sure that your pelvis is gently pressing in to the mat and that your heels touch. Measure the distance between your elbows by clasping them with opposite hands. Elbows should be under your shoulders. Gently push yourself up by pressing your palms and elbows into the floor. Observe your lower back and if comfortable pull your hands an inch backward to sit up higher, allowing to deepen the backbend. You can close your eyes and bring your awareness within. This beginner back-bending asana activates the nervous system and keeps it in control. The oxygen levels in the blood increase thereby improving the blood circulation. Practice of the Sphinx Pose helps to stretch the psoas muscle, also known as the divine muscle, this stretch acts as a simple therapeutic pose by helping the release of stress and anxiety stored deep in the body. To come out of the posture exhale slowly until your chest and forehead are on the ground. You can place your palms above each other and then rest your head on them. Close your eyes, focus on deep long breaths and remain in relaxed position until your heart beat comes back to normal.
4. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Once your heart beat has stabilized you may proceed with the Cobra pose. Lying down in prone position bring your forehead on the ground, placing your hands by the side of your chest with palms on the floor. Straighten your legs and activate them, while keeping your heels together. Inhale and place your chin on the ground preparing to lift up your body. Once you are ready inhale and raise up as per your body limits. Roll your shoulders back and open your chest, while engaging your core to protect your lower back. This asana reduces muscular tension in the lower back and contributes for the release of pain. Relaxation promotes endorphin release, which has a direct influence over our pain experience.
5. Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose)
Sit with your legs straight and toes pointing up. Erect your spine and remain for a few breaths in this posture. When you are ready place the left leg in the interior of your right thigh. Inhale, strengthen your arms and lift them up above your head. Orient your pelvis forward and start to slowly bend until your hands reach your toes, ankle or shin. Inhale and lengthen your spine, exhale and fold deeper into the posture. As most of the forward bend poses relax the mind, so it is with this one. Remain in the posture with closed eyes, and observe the sensation of calmness that comes in when falling deeper into the posture. The sense of relaxation might explicitly awaken some plesantful imagery and thoughts. Taking deep long breaths is essential during this asana. By doing so fresh blood is brought into the diaphragm, improving the functioning of the lungs, while bringing back balance into the body.
6. Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head to Knee Pose)
Begin by erecting your spine and strengthening your legs. Touch your heels and point your toes up. Slowly open your legs wide as you would in a straddle split. Then, on your next inhalation fold your right leg. Pressing the right heel into the groin, remember to keep the left leg active and extended. Inhale and sit tall from the axis of your spine. When you start exhaling slowly twist your torso to the right, the twist comes from your waist. As you inhale place your left hand on the floor and extend your right hand into the air. Fall deeper into the posture with each exhalation, allowing your body to enjoy the side stretch of your oblique muscles. Opening your chest, through this posture, encourages expansion of your lungs allowing your breaths to deepen and release any tension that is being stored in the intercostal muscles between your ribs and the side and back of the body. To come out of this posture inhale while bringing the torso up slowly extend your right leg and touch your heels together. Repeat the same movements on the other side and remain as per your comfort. When finished, relax in a long-seated position until your nervous system re-adjusts and your heart beat slows down.
7. Upavistha Konasana (wide Angle Seated Posture)
Sit with straight spine and legs together. Lean your torso back and place your hands behind your body. Open your legs wide apart and press your hands against the floor. Take a moment and observe your legs – the thighs should be rotated outwardly, while the knee caps point straight up. Elongate your spine, while inhaling and start to exhale, while walking your hands forward between your legs. With every exhalation allow your body to fall deeper into the posture. Try to maintain your spine straight, emphasizing the forward bend through your hip joints. If you cannot come all the way down to the floor you may put few pillows in front of your body and relax into them. With every exhalation deepen the bend. This forward bend activates the core muscles that support to the spine, thus generating power and stabilization from within. Staying longer in this asana slowly relaxes the brain, helping it to let go of any day-to-day issues that have been stored inside. Once you are ready to get out of this posture, simply inhale while lifting your torso back with the help of your hands. Place your feet together and then relax in a long-seated position.
8. Paschimotanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
In order to enter this seated forward bend posture, you need to sit straight with elongated spine and straight legs. Press your heels into the ground and on the next inhalation slowly extend your hands above your head. Suck in your stomach to protect your lower back and start to move with your breath while bending forward. Keep the front torso long and lean forward from the hip joints, not the waist. If possible, take the sides of your soles or catch your thumbs. If no grip is possible you can extend your hands and keep them on your ankles or on your knees as per your comfort. Remember to keep the spine straight and long during this posture. Suck your stomach in, this will create a sense of spaciousness between your ribs and your thighs. Gently fold deeper into the asana with each exhale. Close your eyes and remain in this posture enjoying the stretch of your spine, shoulders and hamstrings. This forward bend resembles a gesture of prostration and surrender. It invites us to balance the energies within and let go any emotions that feed our anxiety. After taking time in this asana, on your inhalation, slowly come up keeping the spine as long as possible. Exhale and rest in a long-seated position and observe your breath.
9. Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand to Big Toe Posture)
After finishing the sitting series slowly lie down on your back and take few long deep breaths in and out, allowing your nervous system to realign. When ready place your legs together with toes pointing up and palms next to the sides of your body. Start by lifting your straight right leg off the floor until it reaches the maximum. If you are unable to catch your straight leg on your ankle or below your hamstring, you may bend the right leg into the knee and interlock your fingers underneath the hamstring. Close eyes and dive deeper into your bodily sensations. This asana helps to balance the alignment of your hips, pelvis and lower back, while alleviating stiffness and backache. The posture might feel intense, but so it is the newfound energy delivered throughout the whole body by the increased amount of blood flow. Once you are ready to go out of the posture release the grip of your hands and place them on the sides of your body. Slowly exhale while bringing your right leg down to the floor and repeat on the other side.
10. Ardha Pavana Muktasana (Half Wind-Relieving Pose)
Engage your whole body by strengthening your legs and placing your palms on the side of your torso. Fold your right leg into the knee and slowly slide your heel on the floor until you reach your buttocks. Once it’s there, take a breath in and lift up your knee towards your chest. Actively press the knee towards your chest with the help of your quadriceps. Then, interlock your fingers and place them on the shin bone under your knee. Exhale and press your knee even closer towards your chest. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath. Belly expands on inhalation and goes down on exhalation. Creating a gap between your quadriceps and your core, allows your knee to come closer in to your chest. This asana increases the blood flow in to your pelvic floor and releases any emotions stored into the digestive tract. It helps to release trapped gases, hence improving the energy flow within the subtle body. When you are ready to go out of this posture release the grip of your hands and rest them on the side of your body. Slowly place back your heel and brush it through the floor until your leg is nice and long. Repeat this asana for the same time with your left leg and with both legs simultaneously in order to get the best results.
BONUS: Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist)
For making it this far, you deserve a bonus 🙂
Begin from supine starting position with extended legs and palms on the side of your body. Slowly brush your right heel on the floor until it reaches your buttocks. Align your hands with your shoulders and rest your palms on the floor. Then lift your right heel off the floor and place the sole of your foot underneath your left knee. Slowly exhale allow your right knee to fall to the left side, while turning your head towards the left. Remain in this posture and keep long even breaths. Try to keep both shoulders on the ground. If your right knee does not reach the floor you may place a block or a pillow underneath, allowing your body to fall deeper into this supine twist. This is a great restorative pose to calm down your mind and reduce any problems connected to insomnia. It eases fatigue within the body along with any mental issues. The twist at the base of the spine allows the proper flow of oxygen into the entire body and alleviates blockages in the spine. To go out of the posture inhale while twisting your head simultaneously with your right knee until you come back to center. Slowly place your right leg on the floor and strengthen it. Repeat the posture on your left side and remain in it as per your desire.
We hope you enjoyed these poses and that your mind and body are relaxed so you can tackle other responsibilities with clarity and calm. Tell us how you did in the comment section below!
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