Do you ever feel numb and like you have completely blocked out your emotions? Chances are, you’ve learned coping mechanisms to quiet your emotions when you need to be in control. Problem is, when we practice this too often, we start to numb out. Today’s yoga practice is to help you open and release emotions.
We tend to stifle emotions as a form of self protection. In our society, we’ve been told that being “too sensitive” is not okay. We are not allowed to cry or get angry. We aren’t supposed to be obnoxiously joyous either. In order to fit in, we start to train ourselves to hold emotions in.
While this can be useful in some situations, holding onto our emotions leads to unnecessary stress and the inability to feel anything! While you may not want to feel sadness, you do want to feel joy, right? Unfortunately, when we block one form of emotions, we start to block them all.
Opening the hips is one of the best ways to start releasing emotions. We tend to hold a lot of feelings and stress in our hips, especially women. In this yoga practice, we will focus on opening and stretching the hips in deep poses. I suggest taking this practice really slow and holding each pose for as long as you can. Don’t be shocked if you feel the sudden urge to cry or feelings of anger. Let it all out and experience whatever comes up.
Take this yoga sequence with you anywhere!
Yoga to Release Emotions
This is a basic seated pose with crossed legs. Sit comfortably with the spine long, pressing the tailbone into the floor and lifting the top of your head towards the ceiling. Hands can rest palms down or palms up on the knees.
Lord of the Fishes
Seated with both legs directly in front of you, bend into the right knee and place the right heel as close to the sitting bone as possible. Optional: Cross the right foot over to the outside of the left leg only if the entire tailbone remains on the floor. Extending the spine by lifting through the crown of the head, begin twisting over to the right side, bringing the right fingertips behind you. Bringing the left elbow to the outside of the right knee will allow you to press deeper into the twist. Optional: Look back over your right shoulder. The spine should stay tall throughout the twist, not allowing the chest to “dump” forward. Repeat on the other side.
Easier Option: Keep the bottom leg stretched out straight (as pictured).
Cow Face Pose
Start seated with your legs out in front, then bend your knees and put your feet on the floor. Slide your left foot under the right knee to the outside of the right hip. Then cross your right leg over the left, stacking the right knee on top of the left, and bring the right foot to the outside of the left hip. Reach the right hand high and then tuck the back of the hand on your upper back. Reach your left hand around to the lower back. The aim is to bring the fingers together for a bind, allowing the chest to open as the shoulder pull back. Optional: Use a yoga strap or belt to grip behind the back if the fingertips do not reach each other.
From downward facing dog, step the right foot up in between the hands, making sure that the knee is stacked right over the foot. Lower the left knee onto the ground and slide the left foot back until you have a comfortable stretch in the hip and groin, keeping the right knee stacked over the ankle. Arm variations: Beginners may choose to keep the hands on the floor or on top of the right knee. For more of a challenge, raise the arms overhead, keeping the shoulder blades back, and enjoy an optional backbend.
Reverse Low Lunge
From low lunge, reach into the front hand and lift the hand up overhead. At the same time, place the back hand on the top of the back thigh. Bend deeper into the front knee without dropping weight into the hips. Keep the chest open by pulling the shoulders back and reaching the chest towards the ceiling. The gaze can float up to the lifted hand.
From downward facing dog, step the right foot up in between the hands, making sure that the knee is stacked right over the foot. Step the left foot slightly out to the side and angle the foot at a 45 degree angle to the front of the mat. Center your hips forward by pressing your left hip towards the front of the mat. Reach the hands over head, keeping the shoulders drawn back and the belly pulled in.
From standing, turn to face the long edge of your yoga mat and step or hop your feet wide and parallel, about 3 feet apart. Turn your toes out and your heels in, creating a 45 degree angle with each foot.On an exhale, take a deep bend in your knees, moving toward bringing your thighs parallel to the ground and your hips in line with your knees. The knees have a tendency to bow inwards as they bend, so ensure that your knees remain stacked directly over your ankles. Bring the arms out to the side and create “cactus arms” or a ninety degree angle with the arms, fingertips reaching upwards. Optional variations: Lift one heel and then the other, or challenge yourself by lifting both heels off the ground at the same time.
Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold
From standing, turn to face the long edge of your yoga mat and step or hop your feet wide and parallel, about 3 feet apart. Turn the toes inward and the heels out. Place the hands on the hips and start to hinge forward from the waist, keeping the back as straight as possible. When you have gone as far as you can with a straight back, release the head down and allow the back to round, bringing the hands to the floor or the ankles. Hold here for 5-10 breaths. To come back up, bring the hands back to the hips and rise with a flat back. Optional arm bind: Before folding forward, reach the hands behind the back and grasp the hands together, knuckles facing down. As you fold, try lifting the hands up as high as possible, keeping the shoulders pulled back.
Goddess Pose with a Twist
From Goddess Pose, bring both hands onto the knees with the fingertips facing inwards. Bend into both elbows, pressing them out and away from the body. Drop one shoulder and look into the opposite direction. After a few breaths, repeat this on the other side.
Garland Pose or Yogi’s Squat
Start from standing in mountain pose. Step the feet wider than hip distance, turning the toes out and the heels in. Squat down and reach your tailbone as close to the floor as possible. Aim to keep your heels on the floor if possible, walking the feet further out or closer together to accomplish this. For balance, keep hands on the floor in front of you or on block. If balance, bring the hands to prayer at heart center and press the elbows into the knees to open the hips.
Standing Forward Fold
Start standing in tadasana. On an exhale, hinge forward at the waist with a straight back and bring your hand towards the ground. Depending on flexibility, bring your hands to the shins, floor, or yoga block. You can also keep a slight bend in the knee. Allow the hand and shoulder to relax downwards.
Start from seated position with your legs out straight in front of you. Bend into the knees and bring the souls of the feet together, allowing the knees to fall out to each side. Pull the heels as close to the pelvis as comfortable, keeping the hands wrapped around the ankles and lift your chest forwards. Hold here for a couple breaths. Then walk the fingers forwards and allow the head to drop, rounding into the back.
Baby Cradle Pose
From an easy seated pose, bring the right knee into the right elbow crease. Cradling the lower leg, try to wrap the left arm around, allowing the right foot to settle into the left elbow crease. If this doesn’t feel comfortable, you can also bring the left arm underneath the leg and clasp hands together. Gently rock the leg side to side, releasing the hip.
Seated Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Start seated with both legs stretched out straight in front of you. Spread the legs out away from each other as far as comfortable for you, pulling back the flesh of the buttock so you are sitting directly on the tailbone. Place the hands out in from of the pelvis and lift through the chest as you lean forward, keeping a straight back. Remain here for a couple breaths, then fold forward completely, allowing the head to drop forward and the back to round. Hands can continue to walk forward or reach out for the ankles.
Reclined Supine Twist
Start laying on your back and gently draw the right knee into your chest. Use the left hand to draw the knee across the body over to the left side of the mat, rolling onto the left side of the body. Reach the right hand to the right and relax into the twist. Gaze can be to the left or, for a deeper twist, glance back to the right.
Happy Baby Pose
Start lying on the back. Bend your knees into your chest and separate the feet and knees wide, holding on to the outer edges of the feet. Open your knees slightly wider than your torso, then bring them up toward your armpits. Rock side to side on the back, actively pulling the knees wide and towards the floor.
Corpse Pose or Savasana
Don’t skip this one! This may not seem like it, but it is the most difficult yoga pose that you can accomplish. Laying flat on your back, bring the arms to your side with the palms up, allowing the shoulders to roll back. Allow the toes to fall out to the side and tuck the chin in slightly to make sure the back of the neck is straight. Relax the body as much as you can and rest here for 3-5 minutes.
Ready to release some emotions with these hip openers? Keep this routine nearby you by printing out this one page PDF.
Questions about the routine or how to release emotions Comment below and let’s keep the conversation going!