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.