See below for instructions on how to do photo 1, 2 and 3.
I had a whirlwind of emotions today (and not just from losing my mat, or having to ask the Bikram teacher for water). Generally, I can acknowledge them as they bubble in my chest, and let them tantrum in my rib cage until they dissapate...all without blinking an eye. But other times, that bubbling turns to heart-pounding...which then registers as anxiety...sometimes sickness to the stomach. And if it happens inside the Bikram studio, the pounding worsens as I ache to run outside the room for some fresh air. But it's the best thing to be trapped in there, forced to calm yourself down (I have never yet left a Bikram class early).
I almost always feel incredible nausea, and often, the urge to cry after doing these chest-openers. Backward bending, cobra, full locust, and the *gasp* dreaded CAMEL pose all do it to me. But I find that even though the unsteadiness is enough to make you feel your mortality, the opening of your heart feels liberating in later moments. My shoulders roll back, I stand taller, and I lead with my heart like a beacon onto my path.
I believe that those chest openers do a lot of good, even if they stir up all those emotions that are either trapped, dormant; or bubbling near the surface, about to erupt into a frenzy.
So next time you're feeling a little closed off, a little upset or sad, or even a little numb, try one of these poses with an open mind (don't forget to breathe deeply!). It just might steady your soul, or unlock a little love (Self-love I've noticed gets trapped the easiest...let a little out!).
1. Backward Bend
Put your hands palms together, cross your thumbs, interlace your fingers with your index finger sticking out. Put your feet together, squeeze your butt so it pushes your hips forward and drop your head back. Fall all the way back, letting your armpits drift towards the ceiling. I get really tingly here, and it's scary, but if you push through, it feels so good after.
2. Chair Stretch
Sit with your spine straight on a chair, feet flat on the floor. Grab the back of the chair with your palms facing down. Push your chest forward.
3. Camel Pose
Stand on your knees, spine straight. Put your palms on your "butt pockets" with fingers facing down. Drop your head back. Then put one hand on your heel, then the other, and push up with your chest, and forward with your hips. Look toward the back of the room so you don't get dizzy. Another intense one, even nauseating, but stay in for a few breaths and you'll reap the benefits.
*******If you need some all-over body opening, which is ALWAYS a good idea, catch a donation-based Yoga For People class M-Sat at 6 p.m. - MORE INFO.