Yoga is a powerful tool for unlocking emotions that have been suppressed over time. Our emotional tensions and traumas are often woven into physical tension and pain, and yoga can help us unravel this. As our body strengthens, we feel safe to express our emotions, and yoga can facilitate intense emotional release. Common poses for releasing stored emotions include the corpse pose (Shavasana), back push-ups, and the pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana).
Kapalabhati breathing can also help to elevate and expel emotions that are close to the surface of the body. The Sanskrit word yoga means connection, and it is both a state of connection and a set of techniques that allow us to connect with anything. Making sounds while maintaining a yoga pose can open the throat chakra and allow tension and emotions to be released from the body. Yoga can also bring up intense feelings that you weren't expecting, such as racing hearts in the lizard pose.
The state of yoga is variously defined as relaxed attention, balance between body and mind, and tranquility. Dirga pranayama brings energy and awareness to the chest, abdomen and hips and allows emotions to be released from deep within the body. Yoga offers “freedom from a series of emotional restraints” according to Dr. Loren Fishman, medical director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in New York City.
Yoga teacher Kelly Clifton Turner explains that feeling trapped or inflexible in a yoga pose can be more than just physical strain; it can be old feelings that hold you back. Ultimately, the purpose of practicing yoga is spiritual development, which can help us process difficult emotions and past traumas. Donna Raskin, a yoga teacher and writer in Rockport, Massachusetts, believes that yoga beats the blues.