Article by Emily Bowles
Deeply profound experiences in forgiveness are found in the Hoʻoponopono practice. Its origins are Hawaiian. Originally, indigenous healers of Hawaii performed this ritual as a way to cleanse what is known as karma and to mend familial connections.
Today it is still commonly practiced to resolve disputes. The verse says, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”
Think of a wounded relationship, someone who could benefit from hearing those simple words from you. Think of a moment in time when you so deeply longed to hear those words from another.
The phrase is oozing with healing power. And that power is forgiveness. You don’t have to wait for another to heal your pain. You can wrap your arms around your own body for a big hug, and simply state to yourself, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”
Sometimes emotions such as grief or shame can be held deep within the body, and we may experience symptoms of these emotions when we practice yoga. This happens because our bodies are heating up and not only sweating out toxins, but also releasing deeply held emotion or energy. When these things come up, a beautiful way to handle it is to focus on breath and mantra.
The Ho’oponopono prayer is the go-to forgiveness mantra, and applies to self-forgiveness as well as external relationships. You can direct this prayer to a specific person or situation, or speak towards yourself, as if you’re looking in the mirror. Genuine, positive self-talk brings about profound results.
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools to not only transform relationships but to mentally and spiritually set yourself free. We come to a point of acceptance–realizing that we are only human, knowing that humans make choices that don’t always align with our highest good. By allowing yourself the room to be human, and allowing others the space to be themselves, we are all set free to forgive. The process of forgiveness can be challenging, but this simple Ho’oponopono prayer is gentle, safe, and moving.
Combining the Ho’oponopono chant with a yoga asana series like sun salutation is an even more effective way to utilize the practice. As you move, the breath, body, and mantra are all in alignment.
- To begin, stand with the feet hip’s distance apart, (a space the size of two fists). Lift up through the crown of the head and ground down through all four corners of both feet. Take a deep breath in, lifting the arms overhead. Reach up through the fingertips and set the gaze high. Exclaim (either out loud or mentally), “I’m sorry”.
- Exhale as you bend the elbows out to the sides and cactus the arms, palms open and facing forward. Stick out the tongue and roll the eyes back as you release the breath, almost roaring like a lion. Then state, “Please forgive me” and inhale, reaching the fingertips overhead again.
- Exhale and hinge from the hips into a forward fold. Keep the knees slightly bent, weight in the balls of the feet, and spine round. Softly utter, “Thank you.” Straighten the spine into a half lift, shifting the weight onto the heels and hands on the thighs, reaching forward through the crown of the head and backward out the tailbone.
- Inhale deeply and say, “I love you.” Release the breath and fold forward. Palms to the mat, step back into a plank position.
- Begin again with, “I’m Sorry.”
- Inhale and lift into an upward dog. Press the tops of the feet into the mat, calves lifted, and chest open. Gaze at the tip of the nose and declare, “Please forgive me.”
- Exhale and push yourself back into downward facing dog. Inwardly rotate the thighs, relax the head in between the arms, gaze at the belly and say, “Thank you.” Deep breath in, hop those feet forward toward the hands.
- Inhale, and like a reverse swan dive, sweep the arms overhead stating “I love you” loud and proud.
- Connect the palms and guide the hands to the heart. Press the palms together, the thumbs into the chest, and make a connection with the forgiveness that resides deep within your heart created by you. Allow this forgiveness to pour outward and direct it either to yourself, your inner child, or to another person.
- Repeat this sequence 2-5 more times.
Hoʻoponopono is a very simple technique that can entirely alter rigidity and break the cycle of self-punishment. It helps us to become more fluid, peaceful and at ease. It’s safe to say we could all benefit from it. Forgiveness is the key to unlocking mental liberation.
Emily Bowles is a Yoga Alliance certified Hatha yoga instructor—currently living and teaching in Northern California. She is a Reiki level II practitioner and essential oil wellness advocate, engaged in daily healing and self-liberation. She is about to release her first children’s book, and currently studying pre-med sciences to become a naturopathic physician. Emily maintains a personal core power and yin yoga practice, believing that all things are possible—yoga being the dance, the lifestyle, and the vehicle that bridges us closer together, to our higher selves, and to home. She wants to remind you that you must never give up. Your dreams are alive within, waiting on you to manifest the courage and make them real. ॐ