I rarely feel sadness. I’m a very positive person and have a “glass half full” mentality. But every once in a while the feeling of sadness grabs me. It grabbed me this week. I woke up feeling so sad. All I wanted to do was run----I felt that I literally needed to shake the sadness out of my body. It didn’t work.
Coincidentally, I had a private yoga session with a wonderful teacher later that morning. I shared with her my sadness. We talked, cried and hugged and then she choreographed an asana (physical yoga practice) practice that helped release my emotions and calm my nervous system. While asanas are primarily known for releasing tension in our bodies, they are a great way to release tension in our minds as well.
Where emotions are stored in our bodies
Our hips are where we tend to store our emotions, old wounds, anger and sadness. That’s why it is very common to experience an emotional release on your yoga mat, most likely during or after a hip-opening class. When we are stressed or experience trauma (physically and emotionally) our body tightens up. We can visually see this tightening in other parts of our body---clenched fists, tight neck and shoulders---but we can’t see that our hips are tightening too. Holding on to these feelings for long periods of time is what contributes to many physical ailments.
Yoga poses that help release emotions
We did a series of hip-openers, holding each pose for at least 2 minutes to allow the hip muscles and joints to open naturally and not forcefully. The postures included:
- Reclining bound angle pose - baddha konasana
- Left-leg & right-leg wind freeing pose
- Bridge pose - setu bandha sarvangasana
- Garland pose - malasana
- Pigeon pose - eka pada rajakapotasana
- Wide-legged child’s pose – balasana
(Yoga.com has a picture of each pose along with instruction on how to do them.)
Holding each pose for a few minutes was a key element that helped me process my feelings. It allowed me to really feel the sadness and then let it go, softly. I was so absorbed with each pose, my breath and her soothing words that I could almost see the emotions float out of my body. My glass was half full again.
This experience helped me remember the important connection between the body and the mind/heart. In the yogic view, the body, mind and spirit are considered one. In fact, the word yoga is a Sanskrit word which means union, connection. Furthermore, this experience reminded me of the importance of our connection with each other, especially in the healing process. Sharing and feeling together is essential to a meaningful and fulfilling life.
We are one.
Written my OM Matters founder, Tambra Wayne