Your Personal Yogi: Let go of the pastWritten by Jennifer S. White | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think that if you’re only considering improving yourself one day each year that you might want to reconsider what you’re doing on the other days. Having said that, I do appreciate the thought and effort people put into any self-betterment, so this year I’m suggesting a yoga resolution for all—letting go of your past.
Yogis believe the back body relates to one’s past. Forward folds are a perfect example of putting this idea of releasing one’s past into physical action. Releasing tension from our backs symbolizes letting the past dissolve to make room for the present and future.
First, let’s look at the anatomy of a forward fold.
If you have tight hamstrings and they reach their maximum stretch, your body will do one of two things. You will bend your knees to stop the stretch or you will round your lower back. It’s much better to keep your lower back long and flat during your forward fold, so feel free to bend your knees if necessary.
To begin, sit on the floor with your feet flexed, toes pointing toward the ceiling. Bend your knees if necessary or sit on a folded blanket. Try to keep your legs and feet touching.
Remember that we don’t want to go back into our past—even to let it go—without also bringing a sense of our present self and our future hopes and goals. The front body relates to our future, so keep this in mind as you lift your heart away from your engaged lower abdomen and long lower back. Draw your shoulders down away from your ears and firm your shoulder blades into your heart center. Keep this lift of your front body—this imprint of your future hopes—as you hinge from your hips into your forward fold.
Your hands can rest alongside your legs or you can loop a belt around the balls of your feet to help stretch your calf muscles. Rather than using your arms to pull you into the pose, keep a bend in your elbow and use this bend to help broaden your back body.
Don’t worry about getting your core to your legs. Instead imagine taking your belly button to your feet to help keep your lower back long.
Take your gaze to your big toes and encourage this lift of your heart or begin to round with the natural curve of your upper spine and tuck your chin. Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.
If you choose to round your spine and tuck your chin then think of the crown of your head growing towards your feet. This will help you fold from your hips rather than your waist, encouraging length in your spine and lightness in your hips.
If you’re flexible and your hands easily come to your feet, then wrap your fingers around the outsides of your feet as you place your thumbs on the tops of your feet over your arches. Gently pull with your fingers as you push with your thumbs to give the feet an added stretch.
Hold this pose for at least one minute, breathing in and out through your nose the entire time. Visualize releasing yourself from your past.
As you inhale slowly back up into your present, feel joy opening your heart to new hopes and possibilities. Happy New Year.