Sometimes life presents us with challenges that seem overbearing and cause us to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Since the practice of yoga offers the tools for self study, stress relief, and balance of mind and body, yoga poses can aid in relieving a heavy heart and soul.
These six yoga poses are designed to relieve grief and sadness by creating flexibility in the pelvic floor and shoulders, opening the chest and softening the spine.
Yoga Poses for Grief and Sadness
1. Double Block or Bolster
This pose is designed to passively open the chest. You place one bolster or block (preferably foam or cork) underneath the head and one underneath the upper chest (right behind the heart). Here, the whole front body is exposed and the heart is open, which may allow the grief and sadness to be released from the physical body.
2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward facing dog is a full body stretch bringing flexibility and length to the hands, feet, legs, shoulders, pelvis, spine, and front body. Among the many other benefits this pose also reduces fatigue and focuses the mind, and brings the heart higher than the head, allowing for emotional release.
3. Low Lunge
Low lunge is an easy pose that opens the hips, lengthens the muscles in the legs and provides grounding and stabilization through the feet. The hips are said to hold a lot of emotion, mainly grief, so this pose prepares them perfectly for deeper hip opening yoga poses. Make sure to practice both sides!
4. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
This pose is almost like a backbend, which opens the chest and the shoulders, and utilizes the length of the legs. When the gaze is lifted toward the sky, upward facing dog can also release blockages in the throat, which can arise when something is left unsaid.
5. Child's Pose (Balasana)
In this pose the gaze is inward, toward the self. As a very introspective pose it allows for deep reflection and protection. It also exposes and brings more awareness to the back body, allowing for the breath to fully enter the base of the spine and the kidneys, which can hold a lot of trauma.
6. Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This pose is a hip opener and a chest opener all in one. Use a bolster lengthwise to support the spine and a blanket on the bolster as a pillow for your head. Here, the hips are allowed to passively release (you can place folded blankets underneath your legs to support the knees and release the groin) and the chest can passively open. Placing a blanket under the head allows the forehead to be higher than she chin, which supports the restorative qualities of the parasympathetic nervous system.
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Yoga pose image via Shutterstock