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Thu, February 06 2014

Heart-Opening Yoga

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We learn so many great lessons in yoga that totally fall apart in relationships. You are trying to learn about detachment and going with the flow, but you are in love with a person who’s moving across the country. You know all about compassion and forgiveness, but your partner cheated on you. Cheated!

Valentine’s day can be strange: lonely if you are single, and high pressure in relationships. Either way, it is an excellent opportunity to take a look at your relationship to relationships. Whether it’s friendship, parent/child dynamics, or romantic love, dealing with other humans is where you really need your yoga.

Here is a sequence you can combine with journaling to discover what’s happening in your own heart. At the very least, you’ll feel more grounded for the big date, a night of horror movies with single friends, or folding socks on your own. Before you see anyone, take a few minutes to be your own Valentine.

As always, check with your doctor if you have any health concerns. Don’t do anything that hurts.

Begin with a warm up flow like this one or this one.

Camel Pose

Stand on your knees. Place your hands on your lower back, and squeeze your inner thighs towards each other and roll them slightly back. Engage your core, and tilt your heart towards the sky, squeezing your elbows together behind you. If it feels safe, touch your hands to your heels and look up to open your throat. Hold for five breaths, then sit back on your heels. Repeat 1-2 times, then rest in Child’s Pose.

This heart-opening pose releases the chest and the throat, which can sometimes store old hurts. Energetically, we give through the front of the body.

Write with these questions in mind: Have you been honest with yourself and others? Do you trust as much as you can? Do you feel safe in your relationships?

Pigeon Pose

From Downward Dog, sweep your right shin towards your hands, and inch your back leg straight behind you. Adjust the angle of your front leg until you feel a stretch in your hip, but no pain in your knee. A prop under the right hip can help. If all is well, fold forward over your leg. Stay for at least 5 breaths, then gently switch sides.

Hip openers stimulate the second chakra, which is our energetic centre for relationships and sexuality. This is where we feel emotions, desires, and, sometimes, traumas.

Consider as you write: What do I desire? What do I fear? Does my past affect my behaviour in present relationships?

Marichyasana 1

From seated on a block or cushion with your spine and legs straight, bend your right knee and place the sole of your foot close to your sitbone. Fold forward to the inside of your leg, and snuggle your arm in front of your shin. Press your arm back into your shin, and if possible, link your hands behind you. If it feels safe, relax your head. Gently switch sides after at least 5 breaths. 

This pose opens the back of the heart, which is the space through which we receive.

Consider as you write: Do I ask for help when I need it? Do I create solid boundaries? What saps my energy? What nourishes me?

When you have completed the sequence, lie in Savasana for five minutes to rest and absorb all the good work you just did.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

JC Peters's picture

Join yoga teacher JC Peters on a thoughtful, personal, hopeful exploration into the real life of yoga—how the philosophies and experiences of the practice can help us laugh at ourselves, deal with our deepest shadows, and move through life with grace, gratitude, and wonder.