Have you told yourself that you love yourself today yet?
The most important step in emotional intelligence is the ability to love and care for yourself. It’s simple—if your basic needs are met, you are able to give to others! So prioritize your self-care. Take a long shower, take a nap, make time for yoga class, and cook healthy, organic meals.
If your body and spirit are loved and cared for, you will be able to extend this love and care to others around you. The truth is, any asana will lift your spirits as long as it is practiced with intention and pranayama.
Try these yoga asanas to awaken your emotions: Side Bend to open your emotional body, Backbend to open your heart, Twist to ignite your fire, and Balance to feel grounded.
1. The Yoga Side Bend: Standing Crescent or Half Moon Pose (Chandrasana)
Stand with your feet together or slightly apart. Inhale the arms above the head sideways, exhale to clasp palms, release your index fingers. Inhale to stretch up, and exhale side bend to the right, pushing your hips to the left.
Hold the posture for 3 to 5 breaths, opening the chest to the sky and pressing down through the left foot. Keep the weight in the heels and the arms pressed into the ears. Inhale back to center and change sides.
2. The Yoga Backbend: Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Stand on your knees with your feet 6 to 8 inches apart, feet in line with your knees. Push your hips forward, squeezing your seat. Place your hands on your low back, thumbs facing outwards, fingertips pointing down.
Inhale to get ready, and exhale let your head fall back, stretch into a supported backbend. If this is comfortable, reach your right hand for your right heel, then left hand for your left heel. Push your chest and throat upward and open.
Hold for 3 to 5 breaths. To come out of the posture, return the hands to the low back for support and use your core strength to come up. Fold forward into Child’s Pose (Balasana) for a counter posture.
3. The Yoga Twist: Supine Belly Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana A)
Lie on your back in Savasana. Pull your knees to the chest and allow them to fall to the right, bringing your arms to a “T,” palms facedown. Turn your chin over your left shoulder, and relax into the twist. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Inhale the knees and chin back to center and change sides.
4. The Yoga Balance: Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet together, arms by your sides. Shift the weight to the left foot and bring your right foot to your calf or higher into the inner thigh, pressing the sole of the foot into the leg and the leg into the sole of the foot (avoid the knee).
Alternatively, you can bring the front of the foot to rest on the inguinal crease or the area where your thighbone attaches to your hipbone, with the sole of the foot to the sky as long as the knees are in one line as you balance on your standing leg (most advanced).
Once stabilized, bring your hands to the heart center in prayer. Other variations are to lift the arms to the sky, or into a reverse prayer behind the mid-back. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Attempt to close your eyes for 1 to 2 breaths. Slowly come out of the posture and change sides.
Move through these postures one by one, or in a series, linking the postures with a vinyasa flow (a basic Sun Salutation is good). Be aware of any blocks or limitations in your ability to hold the posture with steadiness or go deeper into the bends or twists.
For example, when I am feeling emotionally stressed, my ability to backbend in Ustrasana is limited and I become dizzy and nauseated. This is a sign that I need to relax, come back to my breath, and try again. Practice with patience, understanding, and a willingness to embrace change.