8 Yoga Poses For Release That'll Help You Let Things Go When They're Not Serving You
There have been many times in life when I've caught myself holding onto things that were no longer serving me or contributing to my personal growth, just because they were comfortable and safe. Over the years, a daily yoga and meditation practice has taught me how to let go of toxic attachments, and free both my body and my mind from lingering tension. If any of this sounds familiar to you, incorporating a few yoga poses for release into your own practice might help you let go of anything you've been holding onto that's preventing your most radiant and empowered self from emerging.
By combining a series of restorative movements, pranayama (breathing techniques), and meditation, yoga teaches you how to get to a place of liberating "vairagya," or "non-attachment." Sure, yoga's not a quick-fix for any struggles you're facing in life, but by consistently showing up for yourself by rolling out your mat each day, you'll slowly begin to learn new things about your innermost tendencies and thoughts.
When you commit to a practice that makes you feel empowered, you'll realize that you've always been, and always will be, equipped with the tools to let go of toxic things, people, and situations. Use this yoga flow to remind you of what you're capable of when you feel the need to release yourself from expectations, judgments, and the physical tension that these things inevitably bring.
1. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Start your practice by grounding yourself in a balanced and centered easy pose. Sukhasana is a lovely place to begin your flow, set your intentions, and reduce any stress or anxiety you may be holding on to.
Place your palms face-up on your knees if you feel like you want to receive energy from the universe. If you're looking more for peace of mind and a way to silence the mental chatter in your brain, place your palms face-down, and turn inward in reflection.
2. Deep Breathing Exercise (Pranayama)
As you sit in your easy pose, prepare for a simple breathing exercise to relax your mind and ease into your physical practice.
There are many yogic breathing techniques that you can try as you sit cross-legged on your mat, but as a yoga teacher myself, allow me to suggest a very easy, but highly effective form of breath work.
Simply cup your hands a couple of inches away from your mouth, and leave them there. Deeply breathe in, filling your entire belly with air and letting it expand. Then, open your mouth for your exhale, making the sound an audible sigh, and pretending like you're fogging a mirror in front of you (but the "mirror" is your cupped hands).
Repeat this about five times, mindfully and slowly.
3. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjariasana/Bitilasana)
After you're done with your pranayama, make your way onto all fours so that you can flow through a few rounds of cat-cow. Link each movement of your body with each of your breaths, noticing all the unique sensations along the way.
Remember that you can add in any additional movements here that make you feel good, and allow you to release physical tension. This is your practice, so feel free to personalize it to your body's needs.
4. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Slowly and gently make your way into your first downward facing dog of the practice. Pedal out your feet to open up your hamstrings and calves, and make sure your fingers are spread wide on the mat, keeping pressure off your wrists as much as you can.
Inhale deeply, drawing your belly button in toward your spine. Draw out your exhale as you begin to feel at home in this asana.
5. Knee-To-Nose Repetitions
Raise your right leg toward the ceiling on your next inhale, and as you exhale, bring your knee in toward your nose. This motion will require a lot of core strength, but using your breath as a guide will help you summon your inner power and energy.
Repeat this motion three times before you glide into your next asana.
6. Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)
Bring your right leg behind your right arm into a luxuriously hip-opening pigeon pose.
Honestly, hip-opening poses in yoga are like a mild form of therapy all on their own. For many people, pigeon pose coaxes buried emotions out from the depths and allows them to bubble to the surface. Here, you'll experience all the feels, and you'll be left with a newfound ability to simply let that sh*t go.
If there's one pose you'll want to focus on to really release those stagnant emotions that aren't serving you, it's kapotasana.
7. Supported Side Plank (Vasisthasana)
From your pigeon pose, make your way into a chest-opening side plank, with the added support of your grounded knee beneath you. Gaze up at your raised arm, close your eyes, and focus on the simple sound of your ujjayi breathing.
Allow yourself to savor the simplicity of the present moment as you let go of the past and find peace with the uncertainty of the future.
8. Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
On the opposite side of your body, repeat each asana from your knee-to-nose repetitions to your side plank so that your practice holds balance and equanimity.
When you've finished that sequence, set yourself up for a supported fish pose. Staying in this restorative and incredibly chest-opening asana for a few minutes at the end of your practice will remove any obstructions that are blocking your chakras, and here, you'll be able to release any remaining barriers that may be in your way.