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Heart-Opening Yoga

by Julie PetersFebruary 06, 2014

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!

Julie Peters

Julie Peters is a staff writer for Spirituality & Health. She is also a yoga teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) and co-owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in Vancouver, BC, with her mom, Jane. She is the author of Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (SkyLight Paths 2016) and WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault (Mango Media 2019). Learn more at Follow her at @juliejcp.

Learn with Julie! 

Register for Julie's courses Stress Management Skills for Real Life: Practices for a Calmer Happier Life and Moon Goddess Meditations: A 16-night journey of desire, heartache and connection.

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