Ariana Grande's new single "thank u, next" is groundbreaking in its ability to express heartbreak and gratitude at the same time. If you are newly single, it might feel like you'll never get to the place of thanking your ex for the things you learned in the relationship. It takes time to accept the feeling of loss associated with breakups. Prioritizing your self-care and healing is important in this time. Taking care of yourself can be just as empowering as Ariana makes us feel when we listen to her sing about how she grew from the pain of past relationships.
Yoga is an integrative practice that heals mind, body, and spirit. Backbend postures, or poses that open the heart and chest, can symbolize our ability to open ourselves up to new experiences and perspectives when we're experiencing pain. Show yourself compassion and allow yourself to gently open up the heart space, promoting expansion rather than contraction.
Yoga helps us understand, in a very tangible way, how we can rely on ourselves for happiness and peace. Practice these gentle poses to release stress and cultivate more self-love and self-awareness.
1. Cat/Cow (Sanskrit: Marjaryasana/Bidalasana)
Start on your hands and knees in table-top position, with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Practicing cat and cow is great for moving in sync with your breath and warming up the spine before practicing backbends. On an inhale, look up slightly, begin to broaden across your chest and collarbone, and slightly arch your lower back. On an exhale, look down and begin to round your back, drawing your belly button in towards your spine. Do this for 5 cycles, bringing some awareness to your breath and moving mindfully.
2. Child's Pose (Sanskrit: Balasana)
From your hands and knees/table-top position, take your knees wider apart than your hips, and allow your big toes to touch. Slowly walk your hands forward as you release your hips back to your knees. If your forehead doesn't reach the floor, you can use a yoga block or fold a blanket or towel to bring the ground up closer to you. Additionally, if you have any knee or lower back pain, you can fold or roll up a blanket or towel and place it behind your knees. Stay here between 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Melting Heart Pose (Sanskrit: Anahatasana)
From Child's Pose, return to table-top. Walk your hands forward again, allowing your chest to melt down towards the floor. Instead of sending your hips back towards your knees, they will be in line on top of your knees. If this backbend is too deep of a stretch, you can support your arms with a pillow or bolster. This pose is great for opening up the shoulders and chest. Stay here for 3 to 5 minutes, and then slowly slide your hips back into a brief Child's Pose.
4.) Supported Fish (Sanskrit: Salamba Matsyasana)
Ease your way onto your back, with a yoga bolster or one or two pillows or blankets (if you have two, stack one on top of the other). Place the bolster or pillow stack vertically, and sit right at the edge of it. With your knees bent and feet planted on the floor, lie back so that your upper body is supported by the prop. Depending on your height, you might need to stack another bolster, pillow, or blanket to support your head if it doesn't feel completely supported by the first prop. This is a great way to gently and passively open the chest, still the mind, and soothe the nervous system. Stay here between 5 to 10 minutes.
5. Supported Relaxation (Sanskrit: Salamba Savasana)
Savasana is the ultimate self-care pose. I often hear from students that they don't know what they are "supposed" to be doing in Savasana - and that's the point! You don't need to do anything. You can allow yourself to relax and rest by making the conscious effort to let go of what you are currently worried about.
A "classic" Savasana pose involves lying on your back, so a "supported" version means we add all the props necessary for coziness and support. You can use an eye pillow, have a pillow or folded blanket under your head, prop up your knees with a bolster or a pile of blankets, and cover yourself with a warm blanket. You can also apply an essential oil like lavender to your palms, or put a couple of drops into a diffuser. Do whatever you need to do to relax for at least 10 to 15 minutes.