Opening the heart
As we embrace this new year with good intentions its time to review how we feel, right here, right now. Three weeks into 2020 already and its time to offer yourself a little reflection on how things are progressing... do you feel that your feet are firmly planted on the ground and you're super motivated, full of energy and being incredibly productive? Or do you still feel like you have a few little ties holding you back? Or are you putting yourself down because your new years intentions only lasted a week? Im here to tell you that either way you're feeling, are okay!
Within classes the past few weeks I have given guidance on reflection, acceptance, letting go and focus. All great things that will give you a little boost from day to day, even if you only remember one small thing from class whether its how you felt in a certain posture, you noticed a new challenge or my words resonated with you. I have said so many time and will always continue to say, every time you come and practice, you're showing up for yourself and moving forward in your life. Whether you lay on the mat for an hour and forgot where you were or you pushed yourself for the whole practice. You came with an open heart and no expectations.
One thing I would like us to work deeper on in the weeks to come is self care and self love. A New year can bring many things forwards for us whether good or bad but to create the life you want, it has to come from the heart.
The heart chakra is the centre of love and connection. The heart chakra is associated with the colour green and the element of air, it's all about space within yourself and your life, feeling freedom. It's the door to our inner temple, our soul, the infinite part of ourselves.
This chakra is responsible for regulating the energy associated with self-acceptance, self-love, compassion, openness, and unconditional love of others. This may seem quite an overwhelming concept in a busy world with rules, boundaries and deadlines. Even day to day tasks can become a burden on our self expression and heart chakra.
So how do we work with opening the heart? I want you to read through this list and make note of if they resonate with you now, or have in the past. Answer them truthfully as this self care and healing is all about you and only you.
You feel disconnected from the people around you (even close friends & family)
You are withdrawn and try to avoid socialising with people
You tend to be needy in your relationships, OR …
You tend to feel emotionally distant in your relationships
You are terrified of being alone
You gain your self-worth from other people (you’re a people-pleaser)
You find it hard to forgive and you hold grudges easily
You find it hard to let go of bitter and angry thoughts
You always feel a sense of anger towards other people/life
You suffer from social anxiety
You frequently feel jealous of other people
You tend to have many self-critical thoughts
You are constantly replaying or reliving a trauma
You have poor boundaries making you prone to developing codependent relationships
You struggle to give or receive love freely
You are constantly suspicious and mistrusting of other people
You have issues with the heart, lung or chest region such as asthma, high blood pressure or poor blood circulation
You feel a constant sense of heaviness in your chest
An imbalance of the heart chakra can be experienced as loneliness and separation, feeling like you don't belong or fit in or feeling disconnected, know that its perfectly normal and okay to feel these things. Through life we experience so many different situations that can make us feel so open, vibrant and content and other times, lonely, confused and down. Your yoga practice teaches you to accept all sensations and experiences within life, and learn to respond with kindness and without judgement.
Its how through all of these ups and downs we respond and take action to create a healthy and happy body, mind and future.
Where do we begin? The heart chakra plays a vital role in how we look after ourselves and others. Looking out on how we move through the world, It can taint our vision and opinions, we can be on cloud 9 in dream state and we can also be resentful. As always, the mind is an incredible tool and can feel like a minefield to even begin to unravel, but I promise you. You have all the tools, you are just distracted.
Yoga opens your eyes and ears to the wonderful world of self discovery. Almost as if you're relearning all about yourself, teaching you to accept you, the perfectly imperfect you. Your beautiful personality, your amazing body and your bad habits! The best visualisation that I can think of right now is imagine when you come and lay down on your yoga mat or even when you sit to meditate, that you are in the dark. And through that intensity of the unknown your imagination begins to go wild, fear, anxiety, thoughts and patterns begin to appear BUT by using your mind, with awareness and patience you create a flash light (not literally!!) This flash light (or one pointed focus) could highlight so many details that you had hidden away, maybe experiences you thought you had over come, situations you dealt with badly. So over time this flash light becomes more brighter or you learn to switch it on quicker. The mind recognises things in the dark and with curiosity and compassion you feel ready to bring them into the light, to inspect and observe and finally let go of, or learn from.
Lets talk about healing the heart shall we?
When we experience imbalances within the Heart Chakra we can feel physical discomfort around the chest, upper back and shoulders. When we are uncomfortable or lacking confidence, we tend to make ourselves small. Walking around with our arms crossed over the belly, head held low and shoulders hunched forward to protect our heart. Within a yoga practice we work through spinal mobility and flexibility but also build strength within the supporting muscles. Backbends play a huge role in opening the heart and from day to day activities where we sit at desks, hunched over a screen or phone, driving and generally having vague and unconnected interactions with people can start to take its toll on the body.
Who here is scared of backbends, the thought of a backbend makes you want to run a mile, or that lovely lower back pain keeps reminding you to avoid exercise and keep taking that ibuprofen!
As many of you know by now, the more you understand about your body the more you will work with it. So backbends can feel scary, invasive and make you feel exposed! But like with any thing, the more you do it, the more you learn to love it, the more you benefit and in no time, it just comes natural to you.
There are many ways to help you come out of your shell and start practicing self love and care, from meditations, yoga postures, journalling, mantra, visualisation, communication and hugging!
Lets start with the physical side of things, thinking of anything that allows you to stand proud, open shoulders, head held high, chest expanding with deep clear breaths. Finding movement (whether this is in a yoga class or not) through the spine, upper back, shoulders and neck will feel great at releasing pent up tension and give you a some lightness if you feel as if you're carrying the world on your shoulders. This can be done in 10 minutes up to 2 hours, its all about learning to turn that light on remember!! Highlighting those areas that need a little care and attention and moving with them with patience.
Here are some lovely postures to help you open your heart. These postures are a reference to inspire your personal practice, help you open the chest and shoulders, improve your posture, give you that little spring in your step and reconnect to your heart, physically and emotionally.
Melting heart pose (or supported puppy pose)
Supported Fish pose
Supported Bridge pose
Wind reliving pose
Plough pose (wonderful counter pose)
Upward facing plank or tabletop
Upward facing dog pose
Full wheel pose
Warrior 1,2 & 3
Meditation and journalling:
Very much like the visualisation above, taking time to give yourself chance to be in a quiet space, where you can allow those thoughts to unravel. You can highlight those things that have made you feel uncomfortable and closed, even hurt. You can either write it down, you might find that as you start to write you cant stop. This writing is for you, no one to read so as I mentioned above, write honestly, write it all down, everything so its out of your mind and directly in front of you. Reading it back may help you heal, help you process and help you let go. Or if you feel comfortable you can highlight in your mind, this can take time to almost rewire your mind and habits. You begin to look inside yourself from a witness point of view.
The heart chakra is responsible for acceptance and forgiveness. It gives compassion and empathy. Everything related to transformation and change is in direct relation to heart chakra.
Positive affirmations can help you increase the positive energy associated with the fourth chakra. Why don't you set yourself little reminders on your phone letting them pop up to remind you, inspire you. Maybe leave post it notes around the house! What you think you become, your environment has a massive impact!
“I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
“I am wanted and loved.”
“My heart is open to love.”
“I forgive myself.”
“I live in a state of grace and gratefulness.”
"I am grateful for everything I have in my life."
"I am open to all opportunities"
"I am grateful"
From a physical yoga practice, to journalling, meditation and mindfullness we can really feel into the body, mind and heart. By paying full attention to how we feel, wether it is good or bad, we can heal, move forward and let go.
When your heart chakra opens, you’ll feel an abundance of empathy, compassion, and love. A balanced chakra allows people to be who they are, instead of attempting to mould to external expectations. Living from Anahata is truly a joyous and engaging experience. You'll find a person with an open heart chakra is open and respects others, they have an easy going peace that emanates outward, no matter the circumstance.
Take time for yourself, to love, create a self care routine, and learn to be open.
All my love,