We all have good days and bad days. On good days, everything feels effortless and flows easily: we naturally feel more loving, open and kind, which in turn helps us attract all things good. We could all do with more of those days! So, how can we help ourselves to nurture these positive and loving feelings?
A simple yoga routine that is targeted at 'opening your heart' can definitely help, with beneficial effects on your overall wellbeing. So we asked yoga teacher, mentor, wellbeing ambassador and the founder of the one of our favourite wellbeing sites, The Baoli, Michaela Olexova to share her favourite poses to open the heart, 'tune-in' and help us generate more loving and compassionate feelings with ourselves and the world around us. Over to Michaela...
While living in a culture obsessed with power, greed, domination and fear, what we are really driven by and seek by our natural instincts is our need of love, relationships and intimacy. From the moment we are born, we start to navigate through our lives trying to establish the equilibrium in all our interactions with other human beings based on our birth right to love and be loved.
When we find our love our senses sharpen, our horizons broaden and we start feeling the sensation of wholeness. We feel more connected not only to the person we love but we feel more peaceful, balanced and connected to ourselves - and this can be really uplifting! However, when our love is lost it feels as if the whole world is falling apart. The feelings of rejection, shame, criticism and betrayal begin to come to the surface and we experience isolation and disconnection from the world around us as well as ourselves.
To make sure we get this balance right, it’s important to first centre ourselves in our heart and tune in with our heart frequency to be able to listen, hear and learn of the many names and faces of love. Is your love intimate, compassionate, affectionate and unconditional or does it live through dependency, jealousy, abuse and sacrifice? Only when we start being aware of the characteristics of love we are giving and receiving, we can find the way to loose the fear and start the healing process.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde
It’s from the centre of our heart we can nurture our love and accept ourselves. The moment we feel connected, grounded and content in our own body, mind and soul, the magic of love can freely manifest in the world. When you find there is enough love for yourself, you know there is plenty to offer and share with others without demanding any back. That’s when we can start enjoying the purest form of love - the unconditional love - as it happens right now, without looking back into our past and getting trapped in the old patterns or fearing the future due to our pointless expectations.
To open and nurture our heart, yoga offers many healing practices from breathing exercises (Pranayama) and yoga postures (Asanas) to meditation and mindful journal keeping. Simply opening your chest while positioning your mental focus in your heart energy centre (Anahata Chakra) might be all you need to be able to face up your partners, parents, children and friends with a renewed sense of freedom...
Recommended Heart-Opening Yoga Postures
Seated Eagle 1. Sit comfortably on your heals and fold your right arm over the left trying to bring your palms together. 2. Inhale raising both arms together over your head and arch back as far as it feels comfortable. 3. Focus on opening your upper chest, push your hips forward and keep your seat grounded. 4. Exhale folding your arms and chin towards your chest while rounding your back slightly. 5. Repeat five times. Then change your arms around and repeat over five breaths again.
1. Lie on your belly and bring your hands under your shoulders. 2. Inhale to slide forward and upwards lifting your whole body off the floor - only your hands and toe nails are touching the floor. 3. Open your chest and allow your body to hang down from your shoulders with ease. 4. Check that your shoulders are relaxed and away from your ears and your elbows are straight. 5. Hold for five rounds of breath.
Locust 1. Lie on your belly and stretch your arms behind your back interlacing your fingers. 2. Inhale and lift your head, chest and legs off the floor. 3. Keep balancing on your belly, engaging with your core. 4. Make sure your head and feet are at about the same level off the floor. 5. Draw the shoulder blades and elbows together. Try to keep your arms straight and away from you back. 6. Hold for five rounds of breath.
Inclined Plane 1. Sit down with your legs straight. 2. Bring your hands behind your back and point your fingers towards your spine. 3. Inhale, press your hands into the floor and lift your whole body up into a straight line. 4. Point your toes towards the floor, lift your hips and open your chest. 5. Check your arms are straight and drop your head back gently. 6. Hold for five rounds of breath.