Happy middle of June, yogis!
This month I've been reflecting on approaching life with an open heart. What can we do to encourage vulnerability, compassion, and love?
On the physical level, yoga postures help us to increase flexibility of the spine, relax the shoulders and open the chest so that we are not holding a 'closed-off' posture. I'm thankful that yoga helps me open up and relieve any pain or tightness in my upper back. That's always a good start!
Some yoga poses to help with opening the chest include anahatasana (heart melting or puppy pose), sphinx, cat, and fish pose.
What else? We can also connect in with the heart chakra, anahata, located at the center of the chest at the level of the heart. Its primary color is green, and it is considered the wellspring of warmth, love, joy and compassion in life.
When the heart chakra is balanced, love flows freely in and out, and we are able to love ourselves and others fully.
The heart chakra is area of the body that connects the upper and lower half, so it helps us draw up the energy from our root (our foundation and sense of security), and apply it outward. In the opposite direction, divine energy and connection to a higher power or to our spirit self (our Higher Self) descends down from the crown toward the heart. You can picture energy flowing up from your feet, into the heart, and moving outward. Also picture energy flowing down through the crown into the heart, and outward.
On a physical level, the heart chakra energy is connected to some of our most powerful and vital organs, the heart and lungs. It's also connected to the arms, hands, and circulatory systems-- essential parts of us that allow us to connect with others!
I've been wearing the bracelet pictured above, which came in my lovely Yogi Surprise June box, as a reminder to stay open-hearted. The stone used for the beads is Jade, great for helping balance the heart chakra.
I think another important part of staying open-hearted is to connect with the throat chakra, vishuddha, the voice. It acts almost like a pressure valve for the rest of the chakras below it, enabling their energy to be expressed.
When the throat chakra is open and in balance, we can speak with clarity and intention, communicating our thoughts and emotions.
I love this spray from Yoga Gangsters that came in the Yogi Surprise box, shown above. It's called Truthful Mist and the scents encourage attuning the senses for creativity and self-expression (a blend of Roman Chamomile, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Palmarosa, and Grapefruit). Great product!
Finally, a little note about 'taking out the trash,' and how this helps us stay open-hearted. I'm not talking about the physical garbage here (although spring cleaning is super helpful for clearing your mind!); I'm referring to 'emotional baggage' and releasing the past.
When we let go of past hurts and the stories we've attached to them, this helps us love ourselves and others from a pure, truthful place. Instead of letting our love be clouded by negative emotion, worry, or chatter from the ego, we can just be love.
We're human, and imperfect, and that's OK. We don't have to hold on to all the shitty stuff that's happened to us, or tell ourselves over and over again that we're broken. We can move on, and love more.
The lovely Mind over Lather yoga mat spray that came in my Yogi Surprise box has a lavender and mint scent, very calming and cleansing. When I use it on my yoga mat after practice, I'm reminded that each practice is like a 'spring cleaning' -- not only of the physical body, but also of the mind and the emotional body. Leave what you no longer need, is what one of my favorite yoga teachers always says.
Meaning, come to your mat and let something go. Don't carry it with you out the door again. Empty out your cup. Make space for something new, better, positive, and happy so you can go out into your life and fill back up with good things.
Let your heart be open.
Photos by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.
PS Here's a simple flow from Sadie Nardini for opening the heart, too.