“You know that our breathing is the inhaling and exhaling of air. The organ that serves for this is the lungs that lie round the heart, so that the air passing through them thereby envelops the heart. Thus breathing is a natural way to the heart. And so, having collected your mind within you, lead it into the channel of breathing through which air reaches the heart and, together with this inhaled air, force your mind to descend into the heart and to remain there.”
~Nicephorus the Solitary
It is the season of love. Valentine decorations and heart-shaped candies and balloons fill the store shelves and we are reminded of our heart connection. While romantic love may be the focus of the retail marketplace, there is a more essential and authentic love experience which we can create and experience in every day, not simply February 14th.
Our yoga practice is a great way to perpetuate love in our lives. Dedicating time each day to sit in meditation, creating space for a connecting asana practice with meets your body’s physical needs for release of stress and tension, and practicing mindfulness in our choice of what we eat and how we spend our time are essential ways to promote self love and self-care. As we begin to practice more self love, the love we share outwardly with others will continue to grow and come from an authentic place. As you begin each day, pause, and reflect on ways in which you can open your heart more fully.
Heart Opening Poses to add to your home practice:
Supported Supta Baddha Konasana or Bound Angle Pose: Reclining on a bolster, with hips and head fully supported for comfort, soles of feet together, with blankets or blocks under the knees
Supported Matsyasana or Fish Pose: Seated, place a block between shoulder blades and another block under head as you recline back. Variations include using a bolster or rolled blanket under the spine. Be sure your head feels supported so you do not strain your neck.
Ustrasana or Camel Pose: Using a blanket under your knees, place a block between your ankles, toes tucked, to engage your core and support your lower back. Hands on hips, keep them placed over your knees and you lift the heart and look upward. Variation to take palms to lower back or hands to the block or heels.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or Bridge Pose: Reclining, knees bent, arms by your sides, pressing into both feet equally, lift hips away from the mat, keeping gaze forward. Hands can remain by your sides or elbows bent with hands toward ribs, or hands brought under the body and interlacing the fingers or a block can be placed under the sacrum for a supported bridge variation.