Yoga for a Broken Heart
I have spent the past two years using yoga alongside therapy to heal my emotional wounds. Suffering from pelvic pain, my asana practice revealed to me that my physical pain was a manifestation of my emotional pain. Once I released that, my pain subsided and I was able to cancel an impending surgery. I have seen numerous times in my practice and in my teaching that pain in the heart and the body can be helped or healed through yoga. Through my healing journey, my teaching has evolved to a more heart-centered approach; one that focuses on the connection between the mind, body, and heart and the belief that they are constantly striving toward wholeness.
Here are a few of the techniques that I’ve used in my own life and teaching.
- Use affirmations with Sun Salutations
Bathe your body in the truth of who you are. Each inhale say “I am”, each exhale say the affirmation (silently or aloud). Do one Sun Salutation per affirmation below.
- Imagine red light at the base of the pelvis and say the words I AM SAFE
- Orange at low abdomen, I AM CONFIDENT
- Yellow at upper abdomen, I AM POWERFUL
- Bright green at heart center, I AM LOVING
- Pale blue at base of throat, I AM TRUTHFUL
- Deep blue between eyebrows, I AM WISE
- Violet above the head, I AM WHOLE
- White in the space slightly higher above the head, I AM FREE
- Soak in the effects of washing your body and mind in truth
- Talk to Your Pain
When you feel physical pain, silently ask the pain what it is trying to tell you. Give it a chance to speak – tell it you’re listening. Sometimes it helps to practice asana, journal, draw, or go for a walk during this process.
- Ground the feet down and open the heart up
Use standing and balance poses to help you feel grounded and present. Practice chest openers to help you keep your heart open. Interlace your fingers at your back, hug your shoulder blades and elbows together, reach the knuckles toward the floor, and lift the sternum and side ribs up. Do this as often as possible to help you keep your heart open to life and joy.
- Keep your heart soft
Pain can cause you to close up. To help you stay open, place your right middle finger on your heart center and gently and slowly massage. In that spot, imagine a beautiful ray of light breaking through the clouds. Choose a quality of love that resonates for you, and imagine that quality shining brightly. Any time you need to remember this place of love and peace deep within you, put the right middle finger there gently.
Brokenness and pain are part of being alive. Owning that pain and dropping into it is how we begin to heal.
What to Do When You’re Not on Your Mat
Gaia’s The Yogi’s Heart series can help you open and heal your heart.
Vernal Equinox: Rhythm And Ritual Through Yoga
Over the course of each year, our playful planet performs an elliptic dance around the sun while simultaneously spinning about its own imperfect axis, which tilts roughly 23 degrees from vertical. Born of the primordial fire, the terms of this intricate cosmic relationship are responsible for all of the natural rhythms that inform our daily lives — from changing weather patterns to reliable zeitgebers that regulate our internal clocks.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
THE STORY OF A BLUE SPHERE AND A FIERY MASS
As Earth diligently revolves around the sun each year, there are four distinct sandhis, or junctures, where a clear seasonal shift occurs from our terrestrial perspective. The vernal equinox is one such juncture, marking the transition from winter to spring.
As we welcome the appearance of new life in nature, many of us remain blissfully unaware. We may neglect or even override the innate curiosity that seeks to understand how our cozy blue sphere and its fiery solar star orchestrate this magnificent show year after year. The truth is, when it comes to their relationship status, “it’s complicated.”
A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO VISUALIZATION
Imagine yourself sitting in a camping chair with your feet warmed by the heat of a well-burning fire. Fortunately, you’re equipped with a warm scarf and hat to dull the chill you might otherwise experience as you recline back (at exactly 23.4°) to enjoy the stars. Now, without adjusting the direction your chair is facing, imagine yourself orbiting around the focal fire to the opposite side, giving the back of your head a chance to enjoy the warmth of the flame.
If your feet were the southern hemisphere and your head were the northern hemisphere, these two positions would represent the winter solstice (with more heat reaching the bottom half of your body) and the summer solstice (with more heat reaching the top half of your body) respectively.
To visualize the vernal equinox, imagine your chair were to revolve just a quarter of the way around this campfire circle. In this position, your body would be leaning neither toward nor away from the fire and the projected plane of your navel (the equator of your body) might pass directly through the center of the glow. Also, the light reaching one side of your body would match the darkness on the opposite side, much like the day and night which are of approximately equal length on the equinox.
Still confused? Don’t sweat it, simply allow yourself to enjoy the fruits of spring with a deep knowing that there are some wildly wonderful forces at play.