Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Opening Our Hearts

How are you sitting?  Is your spine round or tall?  Is your chest open or closed?  We reverse this slouch with yoga by arching the back in back bend poses like cow or cobra.  In our asana or physical yoga practice, heart-opening has become synonymous with back bends.  My Holistic Approach to Wellness, embraces the triangular factors that influence each other in creating balance or imbalance; meaning when we work with the physical body in our asana practice, we also work with the emotional and chemical body.

Not only do we sit slumped over our keyboards but also when we stand, walk and eat.  Is it any wonder that a majority of us are hunched over physically guarding our hearts?  Are we afraid others will hurt us or that they may be disappointed to see who we really are?  I wrote about my experience in opening myself after experiencing hardship in the article Trusting to Bend Back.  Back bends or heart openers have a way of showing us the courage that lives within while exposing our vulnerabilities.

Those often strong poses that build heat and energize also have the potential to give us feelings of hope and strength.  What does it mean to open our hearts?  My cues in practice usually include, "Tuck your tailbone.  Lift the shoulders and glide the heads of the arm bones back.  Lift your heart by squeezing the bottoms tips of your shoulder blades together.  Strengthen your back body to open the front."  I may even add, "Soften your heart.  Feel the warm space in your chest."

Yoga begs us to take the practice off the mat.  In a Ted TalkBrene Brown suggests we honor what is ordinary in our lives as an idea to open our hearts.  Her work dives into individuals' willingness to numb themselves to avoid vulnerability suggesting that it comes at the cost of experiencing happiness.  The cues that guide us to opening our heart continue with practicing gratitude and awareness of the present moment.  By expressing ourselves, we accept the ultimate invitation to vulnerability and open our hearts to ourselves as well as those around us.

What is your asana or physical yoga practice making you aware of emotionally?  Are you protecting your heart?  What from?  How can you embrace vulnerability?

I leave you with this final tip... hug your friend, spouse or child to the right to align your hearts creating a physical and emotional connection.