We have weathered a stormy, contentious year on the political scene. Whatever side of the aisle you stand on or whether you feel adrift in the middle, it has been difficult. My Gentle Yoga class tonight is held in a gym & community center that is also a polling place for voting. I created the playlist below to soothe nerves and generate positive vibes for my students. May the good feelings flood the building! And when the final votes are counted, may we all remember we are in this together, all Americans.

Tonight’s gentle, mindful flow will focus on releasing tension in the chest/heart and throat/voice. Most of us hold onto significant stress in these areas. Chest-opening poses (asanas) help to relieve the tension of overwork at desks/computers, the forward hunch that is a physical manifestation of worry or loss, and the inner ache of powerful feelings such as lack of love and connection or an overflow of negativity. Throat-opening poses help alleviate the tension of neck, jaw and base of skull that come both from a forward-jutting posture (computers & phones) and the clenching that arises from anger, tension or the repression of speech. Emotionally, sometimes people carry a lot of tightness in the throat area if they feel it is not safe to speak their truth or that it will never be heard, so why bother.

Chest Opening poses include Upward Facing Dog, Cobra, Sphinx, Locust, Standing Camel or Kneeling Camel (pictured above), Humble Warrior, Crescent Lunge, Fish (recommended in restorative form with blocks or a rolled mat for most people), Bow or Upward Facing Bow or Side-lying Bow, Cow, Lord of the Dance and Wild Thing. Forward folds and shoulder stretches can also be beneficial to the heart chakra.

Of benefit to the throat are Camel (again), Fish (supported & restorative), Bridge, Shoulder-stand (supported) and Plow (although I seldom teach it because of the risk to the cervical spine).

I hope you will find the playlist below both soothing and uplifting. (Songs from iTunes.)

“Winter Winds”                                           Yoga Pop Ups

“Air On A G String”                                     Tiempo Libre

“As”                                                                  Stevie Wonder

“Life Is Better With You”                           Michael Franti

“Stand By You”                                              Rachel Platten

“Peace Train”                                                 Cat Stevens

“Imagine”                                                       Etta James

“You’ve Got A Friend”                                Owen Richards

“Together”                                                      Demi Lovato

“Dream A Little Dream Of Me”                  Yiruma

“Blackbird”                                                      Sarah McLachlan

“Somewhere Only We Know”                     Lily Allen

“Here Comes The Sun”                                 The Beatles

“I Won’t Give Up”                                           Jason Mraz

“Up To The Mountain”                                  Patty Griffin

“Meditation (from Thais)”                             Lawrence Foster

“Sayuri’s Theme”                                             John Williams

“Across The Universe”                  Vitamin String Quartet

“The Cave”                                                         Yoga Pop Ups

***Photo credit: Jimmie Ransom