Monday, June 20, 2016

Yoga Poses for When Your Heart is Full

Feeling blissed out?

Try this little yoga sequence. Notice how simply by creating certain shapes in your body, you're able to feel a deep sense of blissfulness and joy.

Here's a new post in the yoga for healing series that's perfect for days when you're feeling joyful, in love, lighthearted, and radiant.

Try these poses as a way to express your happiness, and radiate love to those around you.

If possible, do 3 rounds of sun salutations to warm up the body and link movement with breath.

Step into star pose. Feet can be about hip width or wider, and bring your arms overhead. Reach up and take up a lot of space. Bring your gaze up toward the sky or to your fingertips.

Breathe in a long, slow exhale, and a full, energizing exhale.

Do this three or four times, just noticing the feeling of your feet on the ground, the energy in your body, and the space you're in.

Spend some time on your mat experiencing Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) pose. Step your feet wide apart. Let your front knee bend deeply as you press into your back foot, feeling the outer edge of your foot ground down.

Take your arms overhead with a deep breath in. Reach through the fingertips and feel the arms engage.

Picture sending out joyfulness and happiness-- letting it radiate down through your legs and feet, up and out the crown of the head, and through the arms and out the fingertips.

Take up a lot of space here. Breathe! Feel.

Do a few sets of this pose on each side, building some heat in the body.

If you've got time and you're feeling energized, feel free to do 3-5 minutes of core work after this (lying on your back- supta baddha situps, or maybe seated, in boat pose).

Next, alternate between goddess pose (malasana) and crow pose (bakasana)

In goddess, lift through the chest, and take your concentration to your heart center. Envision lifting that energy of loving kindness up into the heart, all the way up the spine and out the crown of the head.

Plant your hands firmly and rock your weight forward onto your palms, coming into crow pose. Let this playful arm balance be a chance to express gratitude and trust for where you are right now, in this moment.

Squeeze your knees into the backs of your upper arms, and press the arms into your knees, feeling a strong connection there. Lift up on the pelvic floor, gaze forward, and fly.

See if you can stay for 6-8 breaths (or more, if crow is already in your practice). Notice how your mind and body might want to jump ahead to the next moment-- the next thought, the next pose-- can you stay with what is? Can you notice everything about this moment and be in this breath?

Can you let your heart be full, even in a challenging pose like crow pose? Maybe you don't lift up the feet just yet, but can you feel a sense of contentment with the work you are doing and the strength you are building?

Rest for a few moments in child's pose, then make your way to your back.

Come into bridge pose: press down through your feet, lift your hips, squeeze your inner thighs. Work your shoulders a little more under your body, and feel your chest come up toward your chin. Direct energy in your thighs away from the hips, toward the knees. Picture squeezing a block between your thighs, to keep that engagement.

Close your eyes.

Bring your attention to your upper back, between the shoulder blades. Notice the front body, the chest, the beating of your heart.

Backbends are a way to express openness, vulnerability, and to welcome in whatever emotions are present.

Stay for a few breaths, feeling whatever comes up for you in this pose.

Here's a summary of the YOGA FOR BLISS practice:
  • 3 sun salutations to warm up
  • Star pose 
  • Warrior I on each side (can be repeated 3 or 4 times to build heat in the body)
  • Optional - 3-5 minutes of ab work, either seated, or on your back
  • Goddess pose
  • Crow pose
  • Feel free to move between goddess and crow 3 or 4 times, seeing how long you can stay, and cultivating awareness of the present moment (strong Ujjayi breath!)
  • Child's pose (rest for a few breaths)
  • Bridge pose (or Wheel, if it's in your practice)
  • Shavasana 

May your yoga practice be an act of kindness toward your body, and a key to finding healing and peace. Namaste.

Photos in this post by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography (1), Tom Huynh (2, 5), and Felipe Silva of The Uprise Collective (3, 4). Graphic illustration created using Canva.

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