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June 10, 2022

When you make it a practice to live heart-centred, you offer yourself the opportunity to open up to your inner wisdom and deep insights, to find more joy, balance and confidence, greater creativity, and a greater sense of fulfilment.  When you connect with your heart energy, you expand your capacity to love yourself and to love others.  And that’s when miracles can happen!

Here’s an example of a tiny miracle that happened when three women opened their hearts and gathered in a beautiful space to create intention-based yoga practices and beautiful images to share with the world.  When we photographed the sequence for our I AM LOVE Yoga Practice, we were offered the gift of celestial light that streamed through the windows at just that moment and was immortalized on the images.  Absolutely no special effects added here!   Just the miracle of open hearts.

One lovely way to explore and connect with your heart is to connect with the loving energy of your heart chakra, the Anahata Chakra.  

The chakras are the body’s energy centres in the yogic tradition.  “Chakra” in Sanskrit translates to “wheel”.   You can imagine them as 7 spinning wheels located in seven spots along the spine, from the root chakra at the very base of the spine up to the crown chakra at the top of the head.   Each chakra is associated with a different colour as well as with different organ systems, different aspects of our physical, emotional and spiritual journey.

Your heart chakra is located right at your heart centre and is called “Anahata”, the Sanskrit word for “unhurt”, “unwounded” and also “infinite” or “boundless”.  The Anahata chakra is the bridge between earthly and spiritual intentions, between the 3 lower chakras (the root, sacral and solar plexus chakras) and the 3 upper chakras (throat, third-eye and crown chakras).  It is the centre of unconditional love (loving and being loved), of empathy, compassion and joy.  And it is the seat of your own inner wisdom and truth.

The heart chakra is associated with the air element, which can mean free-flowing connection to all other beings. The air, the breath…there is always enough, so we can receive freely and let go freely.  What a perfect symbol to teach of love!

It is associated with the life-giving colour green.  Green is the colour of life and renewal, of transformation, it’s the colour of balance.  Channel this energy by adding a touch of something green to your practice sanctuary or your altar.  Connect to the green growing things around you, and to whatever is on your plate that was nourished by the sun through the alchemy of green.

When your heart chakra is balanced, you will feel open, loved, deeply connected, able to offer love and compassion to others..and you will feel sincerely grateful for the love, the beauty and the abundance in your life.  This is truly transformational and powerful.

So connect with your heart chakra and watch the miracles unfold!

Heart chakra yoga is any pose that spreads your arms or shoulders wide to create a sense of opening and spaciousness across your chest.   The following poses are examples you can try.  Each pose, when done with awareness, is intended to open your heart centre, to tend the sacred flame that’s always there, and to allow you to shine love out into the world.

You can do each of these poses individually (each one can be a complete practice) or connect them with into a lovely grounding sequence.  To do that you could begin with a mindful Mountain Pose and some gentle Sun Salutations, and end with a heart-centred meditation.

As the heart chakra is associated with the element of air, think about connecting your poses with the flow of your breath, to move with your inhales and exhales.

Crescent Moon Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
This pose is all about using the rootedness to the earth to open your heart and rise. It is a celebration of love.
From Mountain Pose, step your right foot back and align your right knee directly over your right heel. Press down through the top of your left foot, and engage the support of your legs to stabilize your pelvis by gently pulling your knees towards each other. Keep your left glute engaged and start to press your hips gently forward until your feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Reach your arms to the sky, palms facing inward, and lift your ribcage and shoulders away from your strong foundation.  Keep breathing into your pelvis, grounded and stable while you reach and lengthen. A small back- bend might feel lovely.  Stay for 5 breaths, then slowly lower your hands and step back to hands and knees.
Repeat with the left foot forward.

Vulnerable Warrior Flow (Virabhadrasana II + Viparita Virabhadrasana)
Vulnerable Warrior turns your Warrior sequence into a heart-opening flow.  
From the front of your mat, step your left foot back into a stable, wide stance. Your front foot points forward, your back foot is turned at about a 45 degree angle. Ground evenly into all four corners of both feet and draw energy from the earth up into your heart. Expand from your heart through your arms into Warrior II - right arm forward, left arm back, wingspan wide, palms down. Gaze beyond your front fingertips, channeling the energy of your inner warrior. Stay for 5-10 breaths.
To transition into Vulnerable Warrior, maintain your foundation keeping your legs in the same position as you drop your left hand to your left leg and reach your right arm up to the sky and back as far as comfortable, opening up your whole right side. In this pose you open your heart wide and expose your vulnerable side -- the ultimate expression of courage and confidence. Stay for 5 breaths.
Return to Warrior II and bring your hand to your hips. Pivot on your feet to face the left foot forward and turn the right foot in. Repeat Warrior II and Vulnerable Warrior on this side.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
Trikonasana is the perfect pose to spread your wings and open up across your heart.  Starting in Mountain Pose, step your left foot back into a stable, wide stance. Your front foot points forward, your back foot is turned at about a 45 degree angle. The classical alignment of this pose is that your heel of your front foot will be in line with the inner arch of the back foot. Ensure that your front knee, which is NOT bent, is facing forward towards your front foot. Remember to ground down through both feet, rooting solidly, paying special attention to the outer edge of your back foot.  Activate your legs and your core muscles.
From this solid foundation, extend both arms out to the side, palms facing down. Begin to tilt your pelvis sideways keeping your right side long.
Place your right hand on your right leg or on a block, your left arm is long and straight reaching directly up to the ceiling.  If it’s comfortable for your neck, turn to look up towards your hand, or down towards the floor.  Really focus on spreading your wings and opening up across your heart.  Stay for 5-10 breaths.
To come out of the pose, bend your front leg slightly, press down on the front foot and on an inhale draw yourself back up, then step forward to the front of the mat and Mountain Pose.  Then step the right foot back and repeat on the alternate side.

Heart-Melting Pose (Anahatasana)
This pose is a gentle shoulder opener and backbend, which helps to counteract the rounding forward many of us find ourselves doing all too often in our daily lives. It’s ideal for your upper and middle back and creates a lovely heart-opening stretch in your chest. And it might feel very restful to connect with the earth by placing your forehead on the mat between your arms.
Come down to your hands and knees. Keep your hips over your knees, and walk your hands forward, allowing your head and chest to release towards the ground. Keep your arms engaged and your elbows lifted. Breathe slowly and evenly, for 5-10 breaths, as your spine releases into this gentle extension.
To release, walk your hands back under your shoulders and notice the sensations in your spine and shoulders.

Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
This powerful, heart-opening back bend is often done within a Sun Salutation sequence, as part of chaturanga.  You can also do it on its own.  Sphinx Pose or Cobra Pose will give you a very similar heart-opening sensation and help to prepare for Upward Facing Dog.
Begin by lying on your stomach with legs extended, feet hip width apart.  Place your hands on the mat at the side of your chest.  When you are ready to lift, actively press your feet into the mat, engage your knees and thigh muscles, press your hands into the mat to lift your chest and hips off the mat.  When your arms are straight, focus on drawing your shoulder blades together on your back and opening up across your chest, and either look slightly up or look straight forward (whatever is most comfortable for your neck).  Make sure your neck is a continuation of the curve of your upper back, so that you don’t strain it.  Hold for 5-10 breaths until you are ready to release down to the mat.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
This is a great pose to feel your feet firmly rooted into the floor and at the same time gently opening up across the chest.
Lying on your back, bend your knees and bring your feet to the floor close to the hips, hip width apart. Bring your attention to all the parts of your body in contact with the floor -- your foundation, and ground evenly through all the contact points - especially the back of your head, shoulders, arms and feet.  Keep the natural curve of your neck away from the floor and start to move your knees towards your feet and then lift your hips up towards the sky. Interlace your fingers under your raised back and press down through your arms - this is how you will create the heart-opening. You may lift the lower ribcage as well if comfortable for your neck. Stay and breath for 5-10 breaths, then release your hands and slowly lower down vertebrae by vertebrae.

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Fish pose is a heart-opening backbend that also opens and stretches the throat muscles, chest, shoulders and abdomen.
Begin this pose lying on your back with your legs and feet together.  Bring your forearms and elbows to your side, tucking them close to your body usually with palms down.  Press your forearms and elbows into the mat, bring your shoulder blades together, then lift your upper body off the mat while you allow the crown of your neck to rest back on the mat.  Continue pressing your forearms and lower body into the mat, to avoid having weight on your head.  Be gentle with your neck!  Stay for 5-10 smooth and easy breaths.  When you are ready to release the pose, press again into your forearms, release your head gently and lower it to the mat.
Note: if you have abnormal blood pressure of neck injuries, it’s best to avoid this pose.

Reclining Goddess Pose (Baddha Konasana)

This pose allows gravity to create a comfortable hip opening position and gentle stretch to the inner thigh and groin muscles. Adding a bolster creates spaciousness across the chest for heart opening.  You make this more comfortable by raising the bolster onto a diagonal using blocks (this puts your spine into a neutral alignment).
Sit at the very end of the bolster with both knees bent, your feet together. Lean back to rest on the length of the bolster. Let your knees fall open and press the soles of your feet together. Open your arms wide or place them alongside your body.  Keep the pose soft and gentle, don't try to press your knees to the floor, let gravity do the work.  If you prefer, you can keep your legs straight.  You can rest here, letting go, for as long as you like. 

Connect With Your Heart - Simply place your hands one over the other on your heart, feeling the energy and connecting

Mantra Meditation - The heart chakra is associated with the bija mantra YUM (YAM).  Chant YUM silently to yourself or aloud.  Or chant any mantra such as SO HUM.

Heart-Centred Padma Mudra - Begin with your hands in Anjali Mudra at heart centre (with palms and fingers pressed together). Keep your wrists, thumbs and little fingers pressed together as you blossom the three middle fingers away from each other into a lotus flower.

Cultivate gratitude - Gratitude is the greatest opener of heart energy. So open your eyes and your heart to all the gifts and the beauty in your life and see it grow all around you.  

How to Get Out of Your Head and Connect with Your Heart
How to Bring Mindfulness to Any Yoga Practice
10 Ways to Cultivate Joy
30 Easy Ways to Practice Self-Kindness
7 Ways to Change the World Through Kindness
6 Intention-Based Yoga Practices...SO HUM...I AM


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