Monday, June 27, 2016

Yoga Poses for When You're Sad

Do you keep practicing yoga, even on days when you are sad?

I once heard a friend say that yoga is not always a practice for feeling better, yet it is a practice used for feeling more.

I love this thought, and I love that my yoga practice supports me even on days when I am gloomy, upset, grieving a loss, or feeling depressed.

Yoga can help us feel more, so that we can release negative feelings.

On days when you are feeling sad, or ready to release sadness, try these yoga postures to help you connect with the place you're in. You may just find that after your practice, you feel a little lighter. And if after practicing you still feel some intense feelings, please still give yourself permission to be exactly as you are; sometimes we need to feel heaviness before we can feel lightness again.

Begin in seated meditation.

Find stillness in a comfortable position.

Close your eyes and tune inward.

What's going on for you in this moment? Though it may be uncomfortable or a little unsettling, see if you can invite the feeling of sadness. Notice where it is present for you in your body. Maybe your hands or feet? The center of your chest? Your hips?

Without trying to change anything, simply notice. Bring your attention to your body.

If you're craving some movement, consider seated cat/cow for a few minutes, cat/cow from hands and knees, or a few sun salutations.

Then, come into pigeon pose. From downward facing dog, draw your right knee forward toward your right wrist. Allow your hips to sink down. Feel free to slide a block or pillow under your right hip, crawl your hands forward, coming down onto your elbows or letting your forehead rest on the ground.

Stay here for 1-5 minutes on each side. Be sure to keep breathing!

Again in this pose, invite feeling. If there are tears, allow them to process. Remind yourself, you are exactly where you need to be. Let your body be heavy, and your breath deep.

From pigeon, do a few rounds of low lunges (anjaneyasana) on each side. You can have your arms up overhead, lifting through the chest, or bring your arms down by your sides. You can even take a lizard variation, both hands inside the front foot.

Move around a bit and stretch your hips in a way that feels right.

Take a few audible exhales through your mouth. Release.

Move through downward facing dog on your way into Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) pose. Take up a lot of space in this pose.

Notice the wide stance of your feet, and the expansive reach of your arms. Get tall in your spine and gaze forward over your front middle finger. Set your gaze.

Then, allow the pose to intensify a little. Breathe more. Feel the large muscles in your legs start to fire. Engage the muscles around your core, your center, and picture energy lifting up through the spine -- tailbone all the way to the crown of the head.

Tune into your power center. Perhaps today, even with the feeling of sadness, you can also feel the energy of strength. Notice the play between these two energies, and offer what you can in the pose. Surrender your expectations.

If you can, stay for 8-10 breaths on each side in Warrior II. 

Next, have a seat on your mat. Take your legs wide to a straddle and take wide legged (seated) forward fold. You can walk your chest forward down toward the mat, tucking your chin into your chest. Or maybe you try an upright version of the stretch, with your fingertips placed on the ground behind your hips, and you lift up through the chest, finding a little backbend.

Deep breaths here, sending energy into the back body and the backs of the legs.

End with legs up the wall pose. Scoot your booty as close to the wall as you can, lay back, and then bring your legs up the wall. Allow your whole body to soften and rest. Let the breath slow down.

Come back to the feeling of when you started your practice. Notice your emotions, and where you may feel them in the body.

You can begin counting the breath for a few minutes, inhaling to a count of 4, and exhaling to a count of 5 or 6. Or, try inviting the mantra, I am that I am. On the inhale, I am. On the exhale, that I am.

Stay for as long as you like, taking your time to finish your practice and return to your day. Always the option here to spend a few minutes journaling about what came up for you. 

Here's a summary of the YOGA FOR SADNESS practice:
  • Seated meditation. Notice where in your body you may feel your emotions.
  • Cat/cow to warm up
  • Pigeon pose (1-5 minutes on each side)
  • Low lunge or lizard on each side (breathe into the hips)
  • Downdog
  • Warrior II
  • Seated wide legged forward fold (Upavistha Konasana)
  • Legs up the wall (deep rest)
  • Optional journaling :) 

May your yoga practice be an act of kindness toward your body, and a key to finding healing and peace. Namaste.

Photos in this post by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography (1-4, 6), and Felipe Silva of The Uprise Collective (5). Graphic illustration created using Canva.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Have a Fun Weekend.

What are you lovely yogis up to this weekend?

I'm looking forward to visiting with my sister, brother-in-law and nephews, having a picnic on the beach, drinking wine, pancakes for breakfast, smores in the fire pit, and taking it easy.

Here are some fun links from around the web:

How storytelling can help you set a new habit.

The documentary on loving your body that I can't wait to see.

The insomniac in me totally wants to try this quirky method for falling asleep.

'When I've lost 20 pounds, I'll be happy with who I am.'

Five yoga poses to help you prep for inversions (PS the article has great info about shoulder anatomy!)

Mental health resources for when you can't afford to see a therapist.

Refreshing iced coffee recipes. Mmm!

Plus, this week's posts on Alive in the Fire, in case you missed them or want to revisit:

A yoga practice for when you're feeling blissed out.
On letting go of what others think of me.
Pretty pictures for days when it feels good to be quiet, and still.

Photos in this post by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Letting Go of What Others Think

Yesterday on Instagram I posted about a topic that I keep coming back to lately...

Letting go.

Right now I'm working on letting go of caring what others think of me. 

I had a moment yesterday where I thought, 'You know, today has been a really good day.' And then I listed off the reasons it was a good day, and none of them were related to me; they all had something to do with other people -- granted, people in my life that I love and care about, but not me. 

And I thought, 'I want to be happy with myself regardless of what's going on with other people, and outside of their opinions of me.' 

This is something I struggle with, that I've struggled with for a long time without realizing it; I constantly look for approval from others. 

I base my happiness on the happiness of those around me. 

 And sometimes, as an empath, I feel my energy merge with that of those who are close to me, and I struggle to separate my experience from theirs. 

So, how do I work on this? How do I create my own experience, and develop my own self-worth outside of what's going on around me, or what other people think of me? 

My yoga practice is a good starting place. When I'm on my mat, it's just me. I give myself permission to move in my own way, to feel what I feel, to let go of shit, and to be imperfect. 

Re-reading this very blog has been helpful lately, too, as I've been writing about the topic of loving myself for YEARS. 

This struck me yesterday, actually...I have so many posts about self-love, self-acceptance, and compassion! I have given myself so much advice on this topic! Haha. It almost felt silly to realize I have all this advice and I still struggle to take it practice what I preach. 

But, coming back to the theme: LET GO. Be present. Begin again in this moment.


Photos in this post by Tom Huynh.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sneak in a Hug

What if today my purpose is not to do anything besides sneak in a hug with someone that I love?

To surprise them and bring them a smile as they suddenly find themselves wrapped up in my arms.

What if today is simply meant for expressing love?

Not doing, but being.

A human.

In love.

Someone who shares this love.

Photos in this post found via Pinterest.

PS Hugs, and more hugs.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday Feels

It's Monday. And officially summer.

I feel a little quiet today, so here are some pretty things from around the web.

Cheers to simply being as you are, and noticing what's around you and within you.

Love you guys :)

Photos in this post via Pinterest.

Yoga Poses for When Your Heart is Full

Feeling blissed out?

Try this little yoga sequence. Notice how simply by creating certain shapes in your body, you're able to feel a deep sense of blissfulness and joy.

Here's a new post in the yoga for healing series that's perfect for days when you're feeling joyful, in love, lighthearted, and radiant.

Try these poses as a way to express your happiness, and radiate love to those around you.

If possible, do 3 rounds of sun salutations to warm up the body and link movement with breath.

Step into star pose. Feet can be about hip width or wider, and bring your arms overhead. Reach up and take up a lot of space. Bring your gaze up toward the sky or to your fingertips.

Breathe in a long, slow exhale, and a full, energizing exhale.

Do this three or four times, just noticing the feeling of your feet on the ground, the energy in your body, and the space you're in.

Spend some time on your mat experiencing Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) pose. Step your feet wide apart. Let your front knee bend deeply as you press into your back foot, feeling the outer edge of your foot ground down.

Take your arms overhead with a deep breath in. Reach through the fingertips and feel the arms engage.

Picture sending out joyfulness and happiness-- letting it radiate down through your legs and feet, up and out the crown of the head, and through the arms and out the fingertips.

Take up a lot of space here. Breathe! Feel.

Do a few sets of this pose on each side, building some heat in the body.

If you've got time and you're feeling energized, feel free to do 3-5 minutes of core work after this (lying on your back- supta baddha situps, or maybe seated, in boat pose).

Next, alternate between goddess pose (malasana) and crow pose (bakasana)

In goddess, lift through the chest, and take your concentration to your heart center. Envision lifting that energy of loving kindness up into the heart, all the way up the spine and out the crown of the head.

Plant your hands firmly and rock your weight forward onto your palms, coming into crow pose. Let this playful arm balance be a chance to express gratitude and trust for where you are right now, in this moment.

Squeeze your knees into the backs of your upper arms, and press the arms into your knees, feeling a strong connection there. Lift up on the pelvic floor, gaze forward, and fly.

See if you can stay for 6-8 breaths (or more, if crow is already in your practice). Notice how your mind and body might want to jump ahead to the next moment-- the next thought, the next pose-- can you stay with what is? Can you notice everything about this moment and be in this breath?

Can you let your heart be full, even in a challenging pose like crow pose? Maybe you don't lift up the feet just yet, but can you feel a sense of contentment with the work you are doing and the strength you are building?

Rest for a few moments in child's pose, then make your way to your back.

Come into bridge pose: press down through your feet, lift your hips, squeeze your inner thighs. Work your shoulders a little more under your body, and feel your chest come up toward your chin. Direct energy in your thighs away from the hips, toward the knees. Picture squeezing a block between your thighs, to keep that engagement.

Close your eyes.

Bring your attention to your upper back, between the shoulder blades. Notice the front body, the chest, the beating of your heart.

Backbends are a way to express openness, vulnerability, and to welcome in whatever emotions are present.

Stay for a few breaths, feeling whatever comes up for you in this pose.

Here's a summary of the YOGA FOR BLISS practice:
  • 3 sun salutations to warm up
  • Star pose 
  • Warrior I on each side (can be repeated 3 or 4 times to build heat in the body)
  • Optional - 3-5 minutes of ab work, either seated, or on your back
  • Goddess pose
  • Crow pose
  • Feel free to move between goddess and crow 3 or 4 times, seeing how long you can stay, and cultivating awareness of the present moment (strong Ujjayi breath!)
  • Child's pose (rest for a few breaths)
  • Bridge pose (or Wheel, if it's in your practice)
  • Shavasana 

May your yoga practice be an act of kindness toward your body, and a key to finding healing and peace. Namaste.

Photos in this post by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography (1), Tom Huynh (2, 5), and Felipe Silva of The Uprise Collective (3, 4). Graphic illustration created using Canva.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Have a Fantastic Weekend!

What are you guys up to this weekend? I'm excited for date night at a local wine bar, sleeping in, going to a local Oyster Fest event, taking it easy on Father's Day, and sharing as many hugs as possible. :)

Some fun links from around the web...

This couscous salad looks yummy.

30 ways yoga teachers can make more money, from Yogipreneur.

Yoga postures for hot summer days.

Let go of stress.

Funny #dadquotes for Father's Day. Plus, Father's Day gift ideas.

40 fun and free things to do this summer.

And some of this week's posts on Alive in the Fire, in case you missed them:

Ways to boost your self-esteem, if you're feeling critical of your body.
A documentary about loving yourself as you are.
Yogi Surprise June and celebrating the summer solstice.
Don't be stinky after yoga!
Yoga poses for if you're feeling angry.

Photos by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.


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