4 Yoga Poses to Unlock Emotions
Have you ever felt upset without being able to clearly identify why? It’s not unusual for someone to struggle with identifying what exactly is concerning them.
You may need some time and space to process how you’re feeling and, what
- if anything – you want to do about it. If ignored, this type of disconnect from a person’s sense of self can cause stress, internal conflict and negatively effect relationships.
Breathing, meditation and taking time to slow down can often help provide clarity and a better connection to a person’s sense of self. You can find this through a regular yoga practice and incorporating the following four asanas into a sequence:
Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
From downward facing dog, step the left knee through your center and towards your left wrist. Slowly drop the left leg down while moving the foot towards the right hip. Lower on to your mat, keeping both hips parallel. If this is uncomfortable, you can prop up the hip and pelvic muscles by placing a block or blanket under the left hip. Adjust the alignment on the back leg to ensure it’s not falling over to either side. It should be lengthening directly out of your hip rotator. If having the back leg straight is uncomfortable to you, keep a slight bend in the knee. The left foot can stay close to your hip, or if it’s available to you, you can gently extend it forward, keeping the foot flexed. Begin to fold forward and lower the torso to a height that is comfortable to you, maybe bending through the elbows and resting your forehead on the back on your hands.
Pigeon is a fabulous hip opener pose and engages your sacral (Swadhishthana) chakra. Hips are a part of the body where people often hold tension, especially women. Pigeon pose opens both the hip flexors (located on the front of your body) and the hip rotators (located on the back of your body). It can also help release tension in the lower back. In advance versions, a person can simultaneously practice shoulder and chest openers while in this pose.
The awakening of the sacral chakra in your lower belly will help connect you to your emotions, relationships and creativity. Take time in this pose to notice any sensations you feel in your body and breathe into those areas. Focusing on your breath, allow yourself to feel grounded and safe while in this pose. Let it serve as a reminder that everything will be alright.
Stay low and long in this pose for 10-20 breaths on each side.
Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
Lying on your back, bend your knees with the soles of your feet flat on the mat and inch your heels a little closer to your hips. Take your hands behind your head, bend through the elbows and place the palms of the hands on the mat, directly under the shoulders, fingertips facing towards your body. Lift the hips as you press into your hands and feet. Press through the upper thighs as you shine your heart upwards.
The Wheel pose is great for allowing yourself to feel vulnerable as it awakens your heart (Anahata) chakra. Releasing the neck and dropping the gaze in this pose will help you to see things differently, maybe give you a new perspective on life. It is especially helpful while mending a broken heart and will encourage you to fill yourself with love, gratitude and appreciation.
Remember to breathe slowly and deeply as your lungs naturally begin to work harder for you. Feel your chest expand and heart soar.
For a less intense variation, enter your Mini Bridge pose.
Work your way up to staying in wheel pose for a minute at a time, for up to three times.
Wisdom Pose (Balasana)
Kneeling on your mat, bring your knees together and sit your bum back your heels. Fold your chest over your thighs and relax your neck, dropping your gaze down and closing the eyes. Place your arms down and back by your side, palms facing up, and release into your shoulders.
This variation of Child’s Pose offers all the same benefits that Child’s does, including balancing your sacral (Swadhishthana) chakra, but this variation allows the shoulders to relax a little bit deeper. It also allows more openness to your thoughts as your stretch the crown of your head towards the front of your mat, inviting your crown (Sahasrara) chakra to open. While resting in this humble and still pose, notice thoughts as they come and go, inviting wisdom and creativity.
If performed with an open mind, the full-body, gravitational pull of Balasana can induce a great sense of physical, mental and emotional release.
Continue to deepen the breath and hold for about a minute.
Supported Corpse (Salamba Savasana)
Take a bolster or roll up a blanket and tuck it under your knees. Lay flat out on your back, on your mat, letting your feet flop open to your sides and hands resting down by your sides, palms facing up. Feel a soft release into the lower spine. Close the eyes, and begin to focus on the natural rhythm of your breath.
This pose will help you relieve stress and bring peace to the mind. Your body should feel relaxed as you take your practice inwards, silently experiencing gratitude and acceptance. If you find tears streaming down your face, let them fall. This is a relaxing and releasing pose – both physically and mentally.
It is suggested a person stay in this pose five minutes for every 30 minutes of practice.
Practice these asanas in your own way, noticing what’s right for you and your body. Become aware of how you feel in them and let your natural energy guide you to your answers. You may be surprised at what surfaces when you can unlock your emotions through the practice of yoga.
Partner Yoga Poses: The Power of Connectivity
Want to heighten your yoga experience? Deepen your practice through body and mind with partner yoga: Partner Yoga Level One and Partner Yoga Level Two, led by instructor Pedro Franco, are perfect for yoga lovers. Partner yoga is a practice for any level of yogi. It can be done with a friend, loved one or acquaintance. Through this fun and connected series, you will learn to strengthen and amplify your practice by creating a greater sense of awareness in your own body while also paying close attention to the presence and movements of your partner. Partner yoga poses are great if you want to try something new or to spice things up in your relationship with more intimate couples yoga poses.
Things to Keep in Mind When You Start Your Partner Practice
- Partner yoga does not have to be complicated to be beneficial
- Partner yoga can simply be sitting back-to-back with your partner and breathing. It can be meditative. It can be as simple as massaging your partner’s sacrum after a stretch or wiggling your partner’s legs after a flying pose
- Partner yoga works on the same principles as individual yoga: Listen to your body and do what feels right. Challenge yourself, but only to a healthy limit
- If you’re new to partner yoga, take time to build strength, stability and flexibility in order to grow in the practice. Remember that in any form of yoga, there is no competition. For as many times as you stumble, you have just as many opportunities to try again. It is the act of connecting that matters most, not reaching a pose
Start with a Simple Partner Yoga Pose
Partner yoga can be a challenge for even the most advanced practitioner: It doesn’t matter how many hours you have spent on your mat, how many downward dogs or side crows you have done in your life. Maybe you are focused and resilient but need to work on your strength. Maybe you are strong and advanced in your movements but need to work on the act of giving yourself to your partner in a selfless manner.
Partner Seated Spinal Twist (Janu Sirsasana)
Begin by sitting back-to back in a comfortable cross-legged seated position
Each partner places their right hand on the other’s partner’s left thigh just above knee
Put your left hand on your own right knee
Coordinate your breathing by lengthening through spine on each inhale
During each exhale, twist a little more
Come back to center seated and repeat on other side
Learn the Art of Balancing with Your Partner
Partner yoga is not just about you. It is about the other person, too. Partner yoga poses exist to teach yogis and anyone interested in the practice how to gain better awareness and alignment of the body through precise adjustments and articulated movements.
Partner Boat Pose (Navasana)
Start by having each partner sit at the end of the mat facing each other
Each partner will bend their knees and press the soles of their feet together
Connect by clasping each other’s hands
While keeping the soles of your feet together, lean back slowly
Lengthen your legs and reach your feet upward to a bent-legged boat pose
Continue to breathe while you work on your balance
Create Greater Intimacy with Your Partner
Partner yoga can be as intimate as you allow it to be. Partner yoga is for anyone and everyone. It is about trust. It is about connection. It is about feeling the electric sensation between you and another person. It has the power to strengthen bonds between friends, unite strangers and fuse couples together in a new and stimulating way. Partner yoga has the powerful ability to create a profound level of intimacy between two people. The combination of breath, balance, trust and connection create for a unity that is unlike any other. It is assumed by many that partner yoga is purely sexual. This is not true. Yes, partner yoga can be a sensual experience if you want it to be, especially in couples yoga poses. It can also be an experience of unity in a completely different way. It can be whatever you want it to be. That is the beauty of the practice.
Partner Dancer’s Pose (Nataranjasana)
Start by standing up toward the back edge of your mat, facing your partner
Grab your partner’s right hand
Each partner will slightly bend the knees
Shift your weight onto your right leg
Bend the left knee and gran onto the inside of the left ankle or calf with your left hand
Gently pressing your shin into your left hand, open your back
Finally, reach your right arm up to balance
Repeat on the other side
Connect with Your Partner
Partner yoga is not just about you. Partner yoga has the word partner in it for a reason. It is a practice for two and is a practice that focuses on the unity of two. This is the idea that we should be incorporating in our partner yoga practice. Listen to your partner’s needs. Are they comfortable? Do they feel supported? Do they feel capable of holding you in a pose? Are they calm and present? Through the power of breath and touch, you will be able to sense your partner’s physical and emotional state. Yes, you need a partner to fly. You need a partner to pull your legs and lift you up. But your partner also needs you. It all comes back to unity. In these partner yoga poses and couples yoga poses, we rely on each other and so we must move in a way that represents that.
Double Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Stand back-to-back with your partner
Leave about 6 to 12 inches between you and your partner’s heels
Each partner will bend at the waist and come to a forward fold
Reach your hands behind you
Grab onto your partner’s hands
As you increase flexibility, you may be able to grab your partner’s forearms, elbows or even shoulders
Walk your heels closer until your bottoms are touching and straighten your legs
Lengthen the spine, head dangling toward the ground
AcroYoga is the combination of yoga, massage and acrobatics. As with partner yoga, which often includes acrobatic poses, shown in the Partner Yoga Level Two video, it is important to focus on the building blocks of your practice. Start with what you know and allow yourself to grow through continual practice, one step at a time. Motivation and repetition are the keys to helping you excel at AcroYoga. A common misconception about AcroYoga is that the size of your partner matters. This is not always true. Believe it or not, you have the ability to lift someone twice your weight. It is all about your technique.
As an extension of partner yoga, AcroYoga relies on the same principles: trust, communication and connection. Once you master these skills, you will be flying in the air and lifting people up with your feet in no time. Here is a fun beginner’s partner AcroYoga pose to test out your skills.
Flying Plank (A)
Base lies on back
Base places legs up in the air, heels over hips
Flyer starts by standing facing the base, with their toes almost touching the base’s glutes
Base bents knees slightly to bring feet to the hipbones of the flyer
Base and flyer connect hands, palm to palm and fingers interlaced
Flyer leans forward into the base’s feet
With flyer’s body in a single line, the base will receive the weight of the flyer in their feet
Base will then straighten their legs and stack their heels directly over the flyer’s hips
The flyer should have an engaged core, and the base should have straight arms and shoulder blades firmly grounded into the mat for maximum support and balance
From Flying Plank, yogis can work into the variation below: the flyer leans into the base’s hands instead of feet.
Flying plank photo credit: Amy Goalen
Just as we protect our family, friends and loved ones, we must protect each other when practicing partner yoga. Emotionally and physically, we must rely on each other to reach the ultimate goal of unity and connection.
Thank you to Amy Goalen for providing the beautiful main article image!