Forgiveness for Your Health - Yoga for Releasing Baggage

Forgiveness for Your Health – Yoga for Releasing Baggage

sinking into forgivenessBy Faye Martins, Sangeetha Saran, and Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

Forgiveness is a powerful tool that can transform your life in ways you never thought possible. When we hold onto grudges and resentments, it can weigh us down mentally, emotionally, and even physically. However, when we learn to forgive, we release ourselves from the past baggage holding us back and open up space for healing and growth. Let’s discuss the importance of forgiveness for your health and share some yoga practices for releasing emotional baggage. So let’s dive in and discover how forgiveness can be a game-changer on our journey toward wellness.


What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a powerful act of letting go and moving forward. It is the ability to release negative feelings, resentment, or anger toward someone who has caused us harm or hurt. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting what happened, excusing the other person’s behavior, or reconciling with them; instead, it means accepting what happened and choosing to move on.

Mercy or grace can be challenging because we may feel like we are giving up control or justice for ourselves. However, holding onto grudges and resentments can lead to increased stress levels, anxiety, and even physical health problems such as high blood pressure.

Forgiving can also benefit our relationships by improving communication and trust. When we let go of past hurts, we create space for more positive interactions with those around us.

Ultimately forgiveness is a personal choice that requires intentional effort over time. By practicing forgiveness regularly through yoga techniques such as breathwork and meditation, we can foster a mindset of compassion toward both ourselves and others in our lives.

Why is Forgiveness Important?

Forgiveness is an essential aspect of our emotional and mental well-being. Holding onto grudges and resentment can negatively affect our physical health, such as increased stress levels and weakened immune systems.

When we forgive, we release ourselves from the burden of anger and bitterness that can consume us. It takes strength to let go of hurtful experiences and move forward with a positive mindset. Forgiving others also allows us to see people in a different light, understanding that they, too, are imperfect beings who make mistakes.

Forgiveness enables us to break free from the cycle of negativity, bringing peace into our lives by releasing past hurts. When we hold onto grudges or refuse forgiveness, it only harms us in the long run.

Furthermore, forgiving helps nurture healthy relationships with others by fostering trust and respect between individuals. It allows for growth within personal connections rather than holding them back through unresolved conflicts.

In essence, forgiveness is fundamental for improving individual mental health and nurturing healthy relationships with those around us.


What are the Benefits of Forgiving?

Forgiveness has long been considered a virtue, and for a good reason. The act of forgiving can have numerous benefits for your overall well-being.

Firstly, forgiveness helps reduce stress. When we hold onto grudges and anger towards others, our bodies release cortisol, the stress hormone. Over time, this constant stress can lead to various health issues, such as high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.

Moreover, forgiveness also enhances our relationships with others. Holding onto resentment and bitterness only serves to create distance between people. By choosing to forgive instead, we open ourselves to greater intimacy and deeper connections with those around us.

Furthermore, practicing forgiveness can improve our mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that individuals who practice forgiveness tend to experience higher self-esteem and optimism than those who do not.

Choosing to forgive is a powerful tool for promoting emotional healing and improving overall physical health. It takes courage and strength, but the rewards are ultimately worth it.

How to Forgive Someone

Forgiving someone who has caused us pain or harm can be incredibly difficult. However, forgiveness is essential to our mental and emotional health. Here are some steps you can take to learn how to forgive someone:

1. Acknowledge your feelings: Before you can begin the process of forgiveness, it’s essential to acknowledge and accept all the emotions that come with being hurt.

2. Identify the cause of your pain: Understanding what specifically caused your pain will clarify why it’s time for you to let go.

3. Express yourself: Speak up in a safe environment about how you feel toward those who have caused you harm.

4. Practice empathy: Try putting yourself in their shoes and seeing things from their perspective.

5. Release expectations: Let go of any expectations or desires for an apology or acknowledgment from them.

6. Find closure within yourself: Closure doesn’t need to come externally – work on finding inner peace and letting go of resentment.

Forgiving someone isn’t easy, but vital for our well-being and growth.


Forgiving Yourself

Forgiving yourself can sometimes be the most challenging task, as we tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard than others. However, holding onto guilt and shame can adversely affect our mental and physical well-being.

One way to begin forgiving yourself is by acknowledging that you are only human and make mistakes like everyone else. Recognizing your flaws and imperfections is okay because they make you who you are.

Another helpful approach is practicing self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding instead of harsh criticism or judgmental thoughts. This means accepting your past actions without dwelling on them or beating yourself up over them.

It’s also important to take responsibility for any harm caused by your actions but then move forward to do better in the future. Avoid ruminating on past mistakes, as this can prevent growth and healing.

Through forgiveness of oneself, one can cultivate inner peace, reduce stress levels, improve relationships with others, increase resilience against future challenges, and ultimately foster happiness within oneself.

Releasing Past Baggage

Holding onto past hurts and grudges can weigh heavily on our minds and bodies. It’s like carrying around a heavy backpack filled with rocks everywhere. The longer we hold onto this baggage, the heavier it becomes.

Releasing past baggage requires us to acknowledge that something hurtful happened but also accept that we cannot change the past. We must consciously let go of the pain and move forward with forgiveness.

One way to release past baggage is through journaling. Writing down our thoughts and feelings can help us process them and gain clarity on what it is precisely that we need to forgive.

Another helpful technique is visualization. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and imagine yourself letting go of all your negative emotions related to the situation or person you are forgiving.

It’s important to remember that releasing past baggage is not an overnight process; it takes time, patience, and self-compassion. But once we’re able to let go of the weight holding us back truly, we open ourselves up for growth, healing, and, ultimately, greater happiness in life.


Understanding the Blame Game

When we feel hurt or wronged by someone, it’s natural to want to place blame on them. However, the “blame game” can quickly become toxic and damaging if left unchecked.

Often, our desire to blame others comes from a need for control. We may think that if we can assign responsibility for our pain to someone else, we’ll feel better and more empowered. But in reality, this only perpetuates a cycle of negativity and victimhood.

Blaming others also prevents us from taking responsibility for our emotions and reactions. By shifting the focus onto someone else’s actions or words, we avoid facing uncomfortable truths about ourselves that may contribute to our suffering.

It’s important to remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing or condoning harmful behavior – it simply means choosing not to hold onto anger and resentment toward another person. When we let go of blame and embrace compassion instead, we free ourselves from the burden of carrying around negative emotions.

Solutions for the Blame Game

It’s easy to fall into the blame game when we feel hurt or wronged. However, blaming others for our problems only perpetuates anger and resentment. Here are some solutions for breaking free from the blame cycle:

Firstly, take responsibility for your own emotions and reactions. While others may have contributed to a negative situation, how you respond is up to you.

Secondly, practice empathy and try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. This can help you understand their motivations and actions better.

Thirdly, communicate openly with those involved in the situation. Express your feelings without blaming or attacking them personally.

Focus on finding solutions rather than assigning blame. Brainstorm together with those involved to devise constructive ways to move forward.

By taking these steps toward letting go of blame and focusing on favorable resolutions, we can foster healthier relationships and cultivate peace within ourselves.


Mantras to Help You Let Go

Mantras are powerful tools that help us release negative emotions and thoughts. These sacred sounds, words, or phrases have been used for centuries in various spiritual practices to calm the mind and promote inner peace.

One mantra that can help you let go is “Om Shanti,” which translates to “Peace be with you.” Chanting this mantra during meditation or throughout the day can remind you to release anger or resentment toward yourself or others.

Another helpful mantra is “I forgive myself; I forgive others.” By repeating this phrase, we acknowledge our mistakes and extend forgiveness to those who may have caused us pain.

“Let it be” is a simple yet effective mantra that encourages acceptance of things beyond our control. This gentle reminder helps us surrender our need for control and trust in the universe’s plan.

Lastly, “All is well” reminds us that everything happens for a reason and ultimately works out for the best. It helps shift our perspective from negativity to positivity.

Incorporating mantras into your daily practice can assist in letting go of past grievances, promoting forgiveness, fostering inner peace, and cultivating compassion towards oneself and others.

Yogic Breathing for Forgiveness

Yogic breathing, or pranayama, can be a powerful tool for cultivating forgiveness and letting go of past grudges. By bringing attention to the breath and using specific breathing techniques, we can quiet the mind and create space for forgiveness.

One simple technique is called Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breathing. This involves closing off one nostril while inhaling through the other, switching sides, and exhaling through the opposite nostril. This practice helps balance both brain hemispheres and calms the nervous system.

Another effective technique is called Ujjayi breath or “ocean-sounding” breath. To practice this technique, sit comfortably with your back straight and take slow deep breaths through your nose while slightly constricting your throat muscles to create an audible sound like ocean waves. Exhale slowly through your nose with that same constriction.

These yogic breathing techniques can help release tension from our bodies and minds, allowing us to feel more open-hearted toward ourselves and others. As we practice forgiveness regularly with these tools in our toolbox, it becomes easier over time, making it part of our daily routine, which benefits us and everyone around us.


Grudges Draw the Life Out of You

Grudges can weigh heavy on our hearts and minds. Holding onto negative feelings toward someone for a long time can drain us of our positive energy, leaving us feeling depleted and unhappy.

When we hold grudges, it’s like carrying around a heavy backpack filled with rocks. The longer we carry it, the more drained we become. It can affect not only our emotional well-being but also our physical health.

Studies have shown that holding onto anger and resentment can increase stress levels, affecting heart health and overall immune function. Additionally, it causes an increase in cortisol levels which is linked to weight gain.

We must learn to forgive others and ourselves to release ourselves from this burden. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing the harm caused by someone else’s actions; rather it means finding peace within ourselves despite what has happened.

Letting go of grudges frees up space for positivity and love to flow into our lives. When we focus on forgiving instead of hating or blaming others, relationships improve, and inner peace is gained.

Yoga Poses to Cultivate Forgiveness

Yoga is an ancient practice that aims to promote physical and mental well-being. It can also help cultivate forgiveness by releasing tension and negative emotions from the body. Here are some of the best yoga poses for fostering forgiveness:

1. Child’s Pose: This pose helps release tension in the hips, thighs, and back, which can often hold onto negative emotions.

2. Bridge Pose: This pose stretches the chest, neck, and spine, opening up space for compassion towards yourself and others.

3. Supine Twist: This pose releases tension in the lower back while promoting a sense of relaxation throughout your entire body.

4. Pigeon Pose: This hip-opening posture lets you release pent-up emotions deep within your muscles.

5. Tree Pose: Standing tall like a tree cultivates balance and stability while helping you let go of past hurts.

Remember to approach each pose with mindfulness and intention as you work toward letting go of any resentment or anger towards yourself or those around you.


Music for Fostering Forgiveness

Music uniquely evokes emotions and memories, making it an effective tool for fostering forgiveness. It can help us release negative feelings and shift our perspective toward forgiveness.

Listening to peaceful music can calm the mind and body, letting us let go of past grudges and resentments. Music with positive lyrics can inspire us to look beyond our anger or pain toward compassion and understanding.

Many genres of music can be beneficial in promoting forgiveness. Classical music is known for its soothing melodies, while instrumental tracks without lyrics allow the mind to focus solely on the sound itself.

World music with cultural influences from various regions may also offer a unique experience in fostering forgiveness by exposing listeners to different perspectives and ways of life.

Whatever genre resonates with you, incorporating music into your daily routine can help create a more forgiving mindset. So next time you’re feeling stuck in negativity or holding onto anger towards someone else or yourself, try turning on some uplifting tunes as part of your healing journey towards forgiveness.

How Compassion Changes Mindset

Compassion is one of the most powerful emotions we can experience. When we feel compassion for another person, we can put ourselves in their shoes and understand their pain or suffering. It allows us to connect with others on a deeper level and builds bridges of understanding between people.

When we practice compassion regularly, it changes our mindset in profound ways. We become less judgmental and more accepting of others, even those who may have hurt us. We develop greater empathy and sensitivity toward other people’s needs, which helps us build stronger relationships.

Compassion also helps us cultivate self-compassion. When we learn to be kinder and more forgiving toward others, we also start extending that same kindness and forgiveness toward ourselves. This leads to improved mental health outcomes, such as reduced anxiety levels and increased feelings of contentment.

Moreover, practicing compassion can also help reduce stress levels because when you’re focused on helping someone else instead of dwelling on your problems, it takes away from your usual sources of worry.

Cultivating a compassionate mindset can transform our lives by improving our relationships with others while simultaneously boosting our sense of well-being.


Mindfulness Meditation for Loving Kindness

Mindfulness meditation for loving-kindness is a powerful practice that can help us cultivate compassion and forgiveness towards ourselves and others. This type of meditation involves focusing on specific phrases or intentions, such as “May I be happy, may you be happy, may we all be happy,” while maintaining a non-judgmental awareness.

During this practice, it’s essential to let go of any judgments or negative thoughts that may arise. Instead, acknowledge them without dwelling on them and return your focus to the intention.

Research has shown that practicing mindfulness meditation for loving-kindness can increase empathy and social connectedness. It can also reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being.

If you’re new to mindfulness meditation for loving-kindness, start with a few minutes each day and gradually increase your practice. With regular loving-kindness exercises, this simple yet profound technique can transform how you relate to yourself and others.

How Acts of Loving Kindness Cultivate Compassion

Acts of loving kindness are small actions we can take every day to show compassion towards others. These actions can range from holding the door open for someone to giving a compliment or sending a thoughtful text message. When we perform acts of loving kindness, it benefits the recipient and ourselves.

By practicing acts of loving-kindness regularly, we cultivate a mindset of compassion and empathy towards others. We become more aware of their needs and feelings, which helps us develop deep connections with those around us.

When we practice these daily gestures, our brains release hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin, promoting positive emotions like happiness and reducing stress. This results in improved overall health and well-being.

Moreover, when we engage in these compassionate behaviors, it becomes easier to forgive others who may have wronged us. By building up our capacity for empathy through kind acts, forgiving those who have hurt us becomes less challenging over time.

In essence, performing acts of loving-kindness is an essential step in cultivating compassion within oneself. It allows us to connect with others on a deeper level while promoting our emotional well-being at the same time.

Yoga Nidra for Fostering Compassion

Yoga Nidra is a form of guided meditation that can be used to foster compassion towards yourself and others. It involves lying comfortably while the instructor guides you through various visualizations and breathing exercises.

During Yoga Nidra, you will be encouraged to focus on feelings of love, kindness, and empathy towards yourself and others. This practice helps to cultivate self-compassion by allowing you to let go of negative thoughts and self-criticism.

As you progress through the practice, you may feel connected with all living beings. This feeling can expand your awareness beyond yourself and lead to greater compassion for those around you.

In addition to fostering compassion, Yoga Nidra has been shown to reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. By taking time for regular Yoga Nidra sessions, you may find that your relationships with others become more positive and improve your mental health.

Incorporating Yoga Nidra into your regular yoga or meditation routine can help cultivate feelings of empathy, love, and kindness towards yourself and others.


Lifestyle of Compassion

The practice of compassion doesn’t have to be limited to specific moments or situations. It can also become a part of your lifestyle, an integral aspect of how you approach life and interact with others.

One way to cultivate a lifestyle of compassion is by making small but consistent acts of kindness toward others. This could mean regularly checking in on loved ones, offering help when someone needs it, or even just smiling at strangers.

Another critical aspect is self-compassion. Showing kindness and understanding towards ourselves is crucial for maintaining overall well-being and emotional health. This could involve self-care activities such as taking time for ourselves, expressing gratitude for our strengths, or reframing negative thoughts into positive affirmations.

Practicing mindfulness can also aid in cultivating compassion within oneself. By being present at the moment and observing our emotions without judgment, we can learn to respond with greater empathy towards ourselves and others.

Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who value compassion can reinforce this mindset as a central tenet. Building relationships based on mutual respect and support fosters a sense of community where caring for one another becomes second nature.

Incorporating these practices into daily life allows us to lead more fulfilling lives while contributing positively to those around us.


Forgiveness is not just letting go of anger and resentment toward others. It’s also about releasing past baggage and cultivating compassion for yourself and others. Forgiveness can significantly benefit your overall health, including reducing stress levels, improving relationships with loved ones, and increasing feelings of happiness.

You can release negative emotions that hold you back from living a fulfilling life through yoga practices such as breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, yoga nidra, and specific poses targeted at cultivating forgiveness.

By embracing a lifestyle of compassion through acts of kindness toward ourselves and others daily, we can foster lasting change in our mindset. Remember that the journey to forgiveness is not easy but worth taking for our well-being.

So take some time today to reflect on any grudges or resentments you may be holding onto. Practice self-forgiveness first, then extend that kindness to those who might have wronged you somehow. Doing so consistently over time with dedication and patience will help transform your life into something beautiful beyond imagination.


© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Yoga of the Heart: Sinking into Forgiveness

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Sinking into forgiveness is a state of mind that occurs regardless of the season. For example, February has images of diamond rings, dozens of red roses, and heart-filled gifts of all shapes and sizes. The sentiments of these expressions of love can be heart-warming or heart-numbing, depending on one’s experience with other people. Our experiences with family, friends, and romantic partners form the fabric of our very being. Many of these experiences may have been filled with love, laughter, and tenderness, while other incidents may have left us breathless with the pain of loss, disappointment, and betrayal.


About the Heart Chakra

The grief and loss we experience when a relationship ends are often held in the Heart chakra region of the body. When grief is lodged in the Heart chakra, this delicate area usually closes down due to the constriction of the breath and the tensing of muscles along the front side of the body and behind the heart area in the thoracic spinal region of the upper back. A constricted Heart chakra is easy to spot. The person often has slumped shoulders and a collapsed chest area and is leaning forward in an unconscious attempt to protect his or her heart from further damage physically.

Yoga offers us many tools to release the visceral experience of pain and loss by gently encouraging us to turn our minds toward the inner awareness of the divinity in our hearts. One of the obstacles to experiencing this deep and abiding love in our beings is holding on to past resentments and anger. As a Yogi or Yogini, actively working toward releasing unresolved emotions and lingering negativity would ease our bodies and minds of dense, constrictive energetic patterns.

The Rose Meditation for Forgiveness

A very nourishing and healing meditative practice for forgiveness is the Rose Meditation. It is a lovely contemplative meditation that can be easily practiced at the end of your Yoga session as you rest in Shavasana. Setting aside at least 10-15 minutes to practice the Rose Meditation during Shavasana is optimal. Additionally, using a Yoga bolster under your knees, wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, and placing an eye pillow over your eyes will help to facilitate a deep sense of safety and release during the Rose Meditation.

When you are ready to practice the Rose Meditation at the end of your Yoga practice, you may wish to put some warm socks on and gather a Yoga bolster, blanket, and an eye bag if you use these props. It is also a good idea to turn off your cell phone if you can so you will not be disturbed. When ready, place your props appropriately and lie back in Shavasana. Take a few deep breaths and place your right hand over your heart and your left hand on your abdomen, just below your belly button.



Feel the rise and fall of your breath. Feel the earth beneath you and the care and love you took to take care of yourself during your Yoga practice today. To begin the Rose Meditation, consider a situation or person with whom you have unresolved or painful feelings. Pay close attention to the energy of your Heart chakra and the depth of your breathing. Keep your breathing deep and continual. Do not hold your breath; this will only cause more tension.

Set an inner intention of forgiveness, lightness, and release. Please do not dwell on the negative memories; bring them to mind briefly. As you review the situation in your mind that caused you pain, release the story that you tell yourself about the situation to the divine light pulsating in your own heart. As you inhale, visualize a pink rose’s gentle color and fragrance. Shift your attention from the painful situation or memory to the divine scent and perfection of the pink rose in your mind’s eye.

Releasing Negative Energy

Breathe in the delicate fragrance and, as you exhale and release any negativity or misunderstanding as you sink into the earth below you. Allow your body to be held by the floor beneath you as the Yoga bolster and the warm blanket surrounding you gently cocoon you. Breathe deeply and gently. Fill your Heart chakra with the beauty and fragrant scent of the pink rose you have envisioned. Release the heaviness of any negative emotions you may have harbored with each exhale and rest in the safety, tranquility, and beauty of this moment.


© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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