Yoga for Letting.Go.

"We attain freedom as we let go of whatever does not reflect our magnificence. A bird cannot fly high or far with a stone tied to its back. But release the impediment, and we are free to soar to unprecedented heights." ~ Alan Cohen

Happy spring! It may not feel like it outside, but hopefully Mother Nature gets the memo soon, that spring has officially sprung. Last time I wrote it was to share my thoughts on letting go, which was a theme that wove its way throughout our recent health and yoga retreat in Costa Rica, Purify and Restore.

Letting go is a very necessary and powerful part of transformation. And since spring is all about transformation—cleansing, rebirth, renewal, growth and change—I wanted to stick on the subject a little longer and offer up a few more tools to help with the process. 

Yoga is a particularly wonderful tool for letting go. For giving yourself permission to release, both mentally and physically, whatever you don't need. Whatever is no longer serving you. We carry so much around with us every day. Tension, stress, anxiety, worry, old relationships, new relationships. All of that gets stored in our bodies and minds, taking up space that otherwise could be put to better use. Or simply left free and clear, for energy and breath and life to flow more freely within you.

Whatever you're letting go of this spring, whatever clutter you're clearing, here are a few yoga poses that will help you loosen your grip.

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Prasarita Padottanasana
(Wide-legged Forward Fold)

Forward folds are a great way to release and let go. They stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, telling the body that it's safe to relax. And from a relaxed state, letting go comes much easier.

Step your feet wide apart and parallel to one another. Bring your hands to your hips and on your exhale, begin to hinge at the hips and tip your torso forward, maintaining a long, clear spine or flat back as you come halfway down, bringing your body parallel with the floor. Take the fingertips to the floor or blocks and pause here as you activate the inner thighs and take the weight forward into the balls of the feet. Take a few breaths and then again on an exhale, begin to bend the elbows and release the torso down into the full forward fold. Drop the head, relax the neck. Let go. Breathe.

To release out of the pose, keep the fingertips on the floor and on an inhalation, bring the torso up halfway. Bring the hands to the hips and with a long spine, return to an upright position. 

For more on this pose and its benefits, click here.

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Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon)

We store a lot of emotion and tension in our hips, so hip openers like pigeon are a wonderful way to release. This pose can be intense and uncomfortable, but just like anything, if you allow yourself to sit with that discomfort and soften into it using the breath, the sweet release will come eventually.

From downward facing dog, place the right knee behind the right wrist and lay the right shin down onto the mat. Untuck the left toes and then slide the left leg all the way back behind you. Be sure the left leg extends directly from the hip, and that the foot is in line with the leg. Square your hips in front of you and use a prop like a block or a blanket to prop up your right hip if that feels more comfortable. Release onto your forearms and drop your head onto the mat or a block. Extend your arms all the way out in front of you. Breathe deeply, in and out through the nose.

When you are ready to release, walk your fingertips back up towards the hips, tuck your back toes and make your way back to downward dog. Repeat on the left.

Fore more on pigeon, benefits and variations of the pose, click here.

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