Fitness

3 Home Yoga Moves To Heal Your Mind

You’re flowing through your sun salutations, stretching your limbs into one move, then the next and then something unexpected happens. But it’s not an embarrassing stomach rumble or a cringey escape of air (come on, we’ve all been there!) that’s got you crying into your yoga mat, it’s, well…nothing. That’s right, it turns out we need to pack a box of Kleenex alongside our water bottles and yoga blocks because spontaneous bursts of emotion are a thing. “It’s not uncommon to experience intense feelings” says yoga teacher and creator of Everyday Yoga for Stress Release, Nadia Narain (nadianarain.com). “In my first yoga class I balled my eyes out and I knew it was a good thing. I didn’t cry because I was sad, there was no story attached to it, it was just a release of things stored up and I felt so light afterwards. Nowadays, I don’t feel as if I have taught a great class unless someone has a cry!” While we may shed a tear from frustration at our inflexibility, Nadia believes that yoga is more healing than we first thought. “Most people come to yoga for a physical or stressrelief benefit but it also helps to clear blockages and move energy, especially as we use our breath, a sequence of movements and relaxation techniques – we give the body permission to open and release things that are stuck.” Whether it’s an uncontrollable sob, a feeling of despair or a rush of elation, YF explores the notion that perhaps our humble weekly yoga class could be all the therapy we need.

The highs and the lows

Interesting, yes, but the thought of blubbering in front of 15 plus yogis doesn’t exactly have us running to the nearest studio. “It may seem daunting but it’s really important to firstly point out that although yoga can have a positive impact on emotions, it’s not the same for everyone,” says yoga teacher and influencer Celest Pereira (celestpereira.com). “Where some people will derive little or no emotional benefit, others might find it’s their happy place.” Although more in-depth studies need to be carried out, the concept of harnessing trapped emotions subconsciously is something we can all resonate with over the years. Yet from what we do know, our body’s ability to process emotional episodes go hand-in-hand with our mental capabilities. “Some emotions can manifest themselves in the physical body,” Nadia explains. “Things like sore necks can be a result of feeling weighed down by emotions – everything that has happened in our lives is remembered by the body and it causes blockages that will show up.”

Just do it

Throwing some shapes on your yoga mat in the hope of an epiphany may be a bit of a reach, but Nadia encourages us to find a sequence that works with our bodies as opposed to against it. “Certain poses will help release specific parts of the body by opening it up and holding the position. Once energy moves, it may show itself in different ways – some people may cry but some could laugh, you might feel exhausted or energised after a session. Your body will release what it needs to and often what it feels safe enough to,” she says. So, how can we test these theories? “We sit more than ever – at our jobs, at home, on our commute, the list goes on,” Nadia explains. “As a result, the hip flexors often get very tight, particularly in women, but the areas around the hips and the psoas (around your pelvis) also store a lot of emotions. The psoas is the muscle we use when we need to fight, flight or freeze, so a lot of emotions associated with running from or holding a situation can be stored in those areas. There are meridians in the body that, if emotions are suppressed, they can become blocked. Doing a good yoga sequence using the correct breath can open the body helping to release these meridians and blockages.”

Let it go

Whether you’re a keen yogi or a namaste novice, exploring the virtues of yoga could give you the awakening you need. “Bending positions are known to give you more energy, forward bends bring a sense of calm and twists are more for detoxifying. What we need to understand is that the mind and body work together – what happens to one affects the other. If you are stressed you will feel it in your body and it will affect your mood. Sometimes a meditation or breathing practice will be all you need to release emotions, other times a pose that may open a meridian that is blocked will be better for you. Each person is different and will hold things in different ways. Either way, we must remember that a release of feelings or emotions is a good thing. Your body is very intelligent – it only releases what is no longer helpful for you in that moment. Tears are not always sad, sometimes they are just an expression of energy blocked in the body. If you do have a cry in a class, know that your body went deep and you allowed some of the protection and armour you wear to fall away.” So, the next time you shy away from your usual yoga class, Nadia has some parting wisdom to help you go forth. “Don’t get caught up in a story. Let the tears fall, giggle, feel tired or energised if that’s what your body is telling you. Some people get into a very relaxed state and have an insight or an answer to something they have been thinking about – it can lead to anything.” Tissue anyone?

 

  • Release your inner emotions without the audience with these at-home moves

  • 3 Home Yoga Moves To Heal Your MindFire log
    1. Sitting on the edge of a thickly-folded blanket, bend your knees with your feet on the floor. Lightly roll your shoulders, pushing your shoulder blades down


  • 2. Slide your left foot under your right leg and lay the outer leg on the floor. Stack your right leg on top of the left, making sure the right ankle is outside the left knee


  • 3. Keep your torso and back long, exhale and fold forward, placing your elbow onto your knees


  • 4. Hold one minute or more. Inhale the torso upright and uncross your legs to come out of the pose. Repeat for the same length of time with the left leg on top

  • 3 Home Yoga Moves To Heal Your MindPigeon pose
    1. Starting on all fours, bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist


  • 2. Slide your left leg back in a straight line from your back, straightening the knee and pointing the toes


  • 3. Gently lower yourself down and on an inhale lift your upper body, coming up onto your fingertips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Pull your core in with your tailbone down and open your chest


  • 4. Stay here for five breaths or longer and on an exhale try to release the tension in your right hip. Repeat on the other side

  • 3 Home Yoga Moves To Heal Your MindYogi squat
    1. Begin on your feet, crouched down with your tailbone between ankles and your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest


  • 2. Continue to press your hands firmly together while at the same time pressing your elbows against your inner thighs


  • 3. Hold and breathe for 30 seconds

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