5 Best Yoga Poses For An Emotional Release

5 Best Yoga Poses For An Emotional Release

Since starting my workout journey, I have tried almost everything to reach my health goals – HIIT, cardio, etc. Fortunately, I quickly realized I am a weightlifting warrior who likes to throw in yoga occasionally. Now, in true “new to this, not true to this” fashion, I hopped on YouTube to learn some simple yoga moves and their alternatives I could practice during warm-ups and post-workout stretches.

After nearly two months of practicing different poses, I remember one day, I suddenly felt “different.” I did not cry, but I experienced what felt like a release, and when I was done, my back and shoulders felt lighter. Additionally, my spirit felt a little more at ease. Since I did not fully understand what happened, I decided to tap on an expert’s shoulder.

Divinity Gaines is a yoga instructor, dancer, personal trainer, and content creator. In our talk, she explained the release I experienced and shared the best poses for an emotional release. “When we talk about yoga, people associate it with just poses, but it is much more,” Divinity explained. “Yoga possesses eight limbs.”

The eight limbs of yoga, or Ashtanga, are: 

  1. Yama (Self-restraint)
  2. Niyama (Observance)
  3. Asana (Movement and posture)
  4. Pranayama (Breath)
  5. Pratyahara (Withdrawal of senses)
  6. Dharana (Concentration)
  7. Dhyana (Meditation)
  8. Samadhi (Union)

When explaining to me the "why" behind my emotional release while doing yoga, Divinity noted that the physical movement of my practices is the limb called asana. She continued, “The emotional release you feel is just that. We hold tension within our bodies throughout. We have energy channels on both sides of us. These channels run through our bodies, and people associate different energy points with their chakras. And yoga opens those channels.”

Not all emotional releases look the same; therefore, you do not necessarily have to worry about an “ugly cry” while doing poses. For example, sometimes, an individual will experience samadhi, which is “ultimate bliss.” However, regardless of your pose, you will not experience that release if you are not breathing throughout.

“If you are using your pranayama (breath), then you will experience that release,” Divinity stated.

Divinity GainesPhoto courtesy of Divinity Gaines

Top 5 (Physical) Yoga Poses for An Emotional Release

Even though you can practice many yoga poses for an emotional release, Divinity has provided her top five poses to get us started.

1. Lizard Pose/Utthan Pristhasan – The lizard pose is a deep hip flexor opener perfect for someone experiencing high stress and can release unconscious trauma. It deals with your second chakraSvadhisthana (sacral chakra), which is linked to confidence, survival instinct, creativity, and a feeling of generosity.

Begin on all fours in Downward Dog, ensuring your feet are hip-width apart and your chin stays tucked under your chest. Next, step your right foot forward to the outside edge of your right hand, entering a lunge position. Next, lower your left knee to the ground and press into your hips, keeping your arms and back straight. Then, slowly lower onto your forearms, keeping your back flat and your head aligned with your spine. Finally, press up onto the ball of your left foot as you straighten your left leg. Hold the pose and then repeat on the other side.

2. Pigeon Pose/ Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – The Pigeon Pose is another hip flexor opener that deals with our second chakra. It can be an intense emotional release and tension release.

Start with your knees under your hips and your hands slightly before your shoulders. Bring your left knee forward and out to the left, position your left foot in front of your right knee, and rest the outside of your left foot on the floor. Slide your right leg back, straighten the knee, tuck your toes under, and push through the fingertips to lift your torso and lengthen the spine. Keep your hips squared, press your tailbone down and forward, open the chest, and gaze up.

3. Supta Baddha Konasana – For anyone experiencing anxiety, stress, or a scattered mind, then the Supta Baddha Konasana is an excellent move for you. It stimulates your sacral chakra, which is associated with your sex organs, and root chakras, which are responsible for your sense of security and stability.

Lie on your back. Bend your knees, keeping the soles of your feet on the floor. Next, open your knees out to either side, bringing the soles of your feet together. Your arms can be in any comfortable position—out in a T shape, overhead, relaxed by your sides, or resting on your thighs are some options. Stay here for several minutes as gravity works to deepen your stretch. Breathe naturally throughout the pose. To come out of the pose, reach down and help your knees come back together. Then roll over to one side and use your hands to support you as you sit up.

4. Camel Pose/Utrasana – The Camel Pose is for anyone with a hurting heart. It involves your heart chakra and heart opener. For example, if you recently experienced a breakup and want to release that pain, then try this move.

Place your knees hip-width apart in kneeling, and tuck your toes. Engage your inner thighs, draw your lower belly in and up, and roll your shoulders back. On an inhalation, lengthen through both side waists, and lift the chest. With the lower body stable, on an exhale, start to come into your backbend, lifting the chest without crunching the neck or lower back. As you lean back, find your blocks or heels with your hands – or you can do this one side at a time by circling one arm up and behind you. Keep your inner thighs engaged, firm the shoulder blades into the back, and stay for a couple of breaths. Use your inhalation to help you back up, then sit on your heels with a neutral spine for a moment.

5. Inversion Pose – The last pose releases trauma, promotes emotional growth, and re-toxifies your blood. These poses allow your blood to circulate. An Inversion Pose is any move where your heart is higher than your head, such as a headstand.

Although yoga is a great tool to help with emotional release, incorporating other activities, such as therapy or journaling, can also help.

Divinity Gaines is a former NBA dancer turned Yogi. Her website offers a mind and body release program and a 21-day fitness challenge (all levels welcomed). In addition, she teaches yoga at Core Power in Hollywood on Mondays and Wednesdays.

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Feature image courtesy of Divinity Gaines

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