Therapy, openness, and great friends indeed help me maintain joy with my mental and emotional states, but my body is more complicated for me. I’m still getting used to being present in my body and learning to listen when my body needs something is hard. Since I know yoga works well for this, I wanted to explore specific yoga practices like trauma sensitive yoga designed to bring joy, happiness, compassion, and gratitude.
This marks the first of a three part series involving yoga for finding and maintaining happiness. Rather than do each practice just once, I’m repeating them during different parts of the day and when I'm in varying moods.
Self-compassion isn't easy for me. But I was already feeling great, uplifted, and my heart was full of gratitude. So setting my intent for self-compassion seemed the right choice. There were two things I was going to focus on for self-compassion:
What I instantly noticed was that I began paying attention to the spaces between what I thought were the important poses. It was the movements from one position to another that I started to really connect with my body as opposed to just repeating what was on the screen. I found I moved differently than Adriene.
She also kept repeating that she wanted those practising with her to have an experience, not just ‘do yoga’. This changed the nature of what we were doing for me. It gave me the freedom to explore my body and not worry about doing the pose exactly how Adriene did. This was helpful as I have hypermobility and shouldn't do certain poses for health reasons.
Compassion Yoga Warrior 1 Pose
I was able to breathe deeper and let go of more stress in my upper back and shoulders. One thing I noticed was that I kept smiling, even when the moves were more difficult for me.
I was feeling the gratitude in my body, not just thinking it. I felt it move through me like a wave of pleasant energy and that’s what was making me smile and I couldn't stop myself if I’d tried. By the time I finished, my entire body was relaxed. I’d also learned during my practice that I had issues with my knee and hip, something I’d not been aware of before. Taking the time to hold compassion and stay present in my body made a huge difference in my result.
I left the practice full of joy and self-love. I felt euphoric, which isn't something that I've historically felt after yoga.The second time I did the video, I wasn't in a good place. I’d dealt with some trauma and was genuinely sad. While I still felt grateful for all the goodness in my life and inside me, I was in pain, and it closed off that lovely flow of energy I’d been feeling move from my root chakra up through my crown.
One pose I found particularly helpful when releasing sadness was Boat Pose. I’m not sure why, but it seemed to keep all the parts of my core that like to hold onto trauma engaged. The longer my muscles were involved, the more I released when I left the pose. I also found Cobra pose particularly helpful during my state of sadness.
Compassion Yoga - Boat Pose
When I'm sad and holding onto trauma, it affects my core and heart chakra. So by opening my chest up and my entire body with Cobra, I was able to feel a lot of the negativity move out through my heart. I felt like a blast of sadness shot from my chest, and it pushed right through my open window and into the earth. After finishing a second time, I’d managed to release the negative emotions I was feeling. I couldn't explain why, though. My inner scientist wanted to understand how the sessions—which seemed to impact me more than shorter sessions I’d done—affected me so positively, even when I came into it full of sadness.
GABA is a major neurotransmitter that brain cells use to communicate with each other. People with low levels of GABA often experience depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders that affect happiness. The study included testing nineteen subjects. All had their GABA levels tested before their tasks. Eight were sent to do an hour of yoga and eleven sent to read for an hour. After one hour, all the subjects were tested again.
Those that read for an hour had no change in their GABA levels. But those who did an hour of yoga experienced an increase in GABA levels. After more research, the team came to the conclusion that an hour of yoga may help alleviate depression and assist with happiness. The study was more comprehensive than my summary here, so I do suggest the read.
Model photos colourbox.com
Sienna Saint-Cyr is an author, advocate, and the founder of SinCyr Publishing. She speaks at conventions, workshops, and for private gatherings on the importance of having a healthy body image, understanding enthusiastic consent, using sexuality to promote healing, navigating diverse or non-traditional relationships, having Complex PTSD, and more. Sienna loves sharing her journey of healing and finding happiness with her readers.
Along with writing erotica and romance, Sienna speaks at conventions, workshops, and for private gatherings on such sex-positive topics as a healthy body image, using sexuality to promote healing, and navigating diverse or non-traditional relationships. She writes for several websites. Find out more at https://siennasaintcyr.wordpress.com/.
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