It’s February y’all. That means we have officially entered upon the month of lurve. It clearly isn’t any secret, as everywhere you look there are red and pink hearts, and teddy bear cards asking you to “be my valentine”. There is a true social divide when it comes to this time of red roses and chocolates between those who loooove love, and those bitter betties that would just as soon forget that this month exists. We all have an opinion on what is love, how we want to give and receive love, and if the truest embodiment of love even exist.
I am a believer in love…in all of its forms. I am of the opinion that an open heart allows you to be fully receptive to the Universe’s overwhelming push to bring love into one’s life. However, we do a pretty prodigious job at keeping our hearts closed off to the ethereal love surrounding us. You may not even realize your heart is locked up…and a locked heart is a sad heart…and a sad heart is incapable of acquiring love…and one that doesn’t acquire love sits at home alone on Valentine’s Day crying into a pint of Ben & Jerrys…and that is not a good look on anyone. The best love comes unexpectedly. One day you are sure that your destiny is eternal loneliness, and then boom. Love finds you. For this I am thankful. Let us open our hearts to this sentiment.
So love guru (that’s me), how do we open our heart to the rapture that is swirling around us? Well thanks for asking, and the answer is always yoga. Shocking. I know. Here is a quick sequence that we can do in order to slowly chip away at that stone surrounding your 4th chakra:
Alternate Nostril Breathing: Start your practice in an easy seated pose, sitting upright and expanding throughout the rib cage in order to take full deep breaths. Close the eyes and fully observe the breath. Close your right nostril with your thumb while inhaling through the left side. Close the left nostril with your pinkie finger and exhale fully. Still closing off the left side, inhale through that right nostril, and then switch. Continue to switch off for 10-20 breaths. Alternate nostril breathing is cooling and calming to the body; relaxing the heart and allowing it to be receptive to the heart openers we will move towards.
Cat/Cow Sequence: From hands and knees drop your belly down towards the earth, lifting your buttock towards the sky while pressing the heart through the arms. Take your gaze upward. Follow on the exhale by arching your spine towards the sky. Pull the belly in and up, drop the head and neck, and tuck the buttock downward. Repeat for 5 cycles. This sequence softens the muscles surrounding the neck and spine, which often limit the heart’s ability to open.
Camel: Begin on your knees with your legs hip width apart. Place your hands on the back of your pelvis. Without compressing your lower back, lean back into the support of your hands, lifting your heart towards the sky, and pressing your hips forward. Let the head drop back to fully expose the space between the throat and heart space. This pose stretches all the muscles surrounding the front of the chest.
Reverse Plank: Starting from seated place the hands behind the buttock with fingers pointing toward toes. Extend the legs out long in front of you. Pressing down through the palms and heels, lift the pelvis and chest towards the sky. Attempt to press the soles of the feet flat into the mat as you lift your hips as high as the chest. Allow the head to drop back.
Fish Pose: Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bring the elbows in on either side of the body and press into the forearms, lifting the heart upward. Arc the back deeply and allow the head to fall back until you rest the crown of the head on the mat. If it is available to you bring the hands into prayer and lift them straight up to the sky in line with the heart space.
After you have completed these poses, allow yourself to lie in Savasana and bring all your awareness on the space surrounding your heart. Set your intentions to be open to accepting love into your life, and being able to give love fully. Focus on the love that you have and that of which you are prepared to give. All you need is love.
Michelle Young, E-RYT and PRYT is a yoga teacher, business owner, mother, and lover of life. She is also part of the My Yoga Scene family, co-editing and blogging about her love of yoga and the journey of motherhood. She has been teaching in the Atlanta area since 2008 in the disciplines of Hot, Vinyasa, Hatha, and Prenatal yoga. Michelle owns and teaches at Lime Tree Yoga in the Old Fourth Ward, and is the private instructor for the Atlanta Hawks. She combines her love of yoga and travel by leading yoga retreats around the globe. You can reach Michelle at [email protected] or at [email protected]