Leading yoga teacher Sarah Drai is this week’s guest blogger and she has kindly created a wonderful yoga sequence that is especially aimed at working on the heart chakra – ideal as today is Valentine’s Day! Sarah is a passionate yoga teacher and founder of yogi2me an app that allows people to book one to one sessions with a yoga teacher direct to your door.
Sarah says: “The Anahata chakra is located at the heart and is considered a source of compassion, healing energy and love. Be sure to approach ‘V day’ this year with a quiet mind and listen to your heart. Give yourself the love and attention this year first and foremost, loving yourself until full. When our relationship with our self improves, so does our relationship with others… and that’s the best gift you could possibly give !”
Awaken your heart chakra with our mindful heart opening sequence:
Nadi Shodhana – Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Find a comfortable seat. Come into Sukhasana (Easy Pose) or sit on a blanket or pillow. Feel your sit-bones ground you as you lift ever so slightly from the crown of the head, creating a long spine.
- Rest your left palm on your left knee, moving your right hand towards the nose.
- Using the right thumb, softly close the right nostril, and inhale as slowly as you can through the left nostril, then close it with your ring finger. Pause. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
- With the right nostril open, inhale slowly, then close it with the thumb. Pause. Exhale through the left nostril. Once your exhalation is complete, inhale through the left. Pause before moving to the right.
- Repeat this pattern five to ten times, and then release the right hand to the right knee. Ease back into normal breathing.
Nadi Shodhana purifies the blood and respiratory system and balances the nervous system. The deeper breathing enriches the blood with oxygen.
Cat/Cow – Marjaryasana/Bitilasana
- Spread the fingers wide and push the earth away. Knees in line with the hips, abdominals drawn in and up towards the spine creating a nice flat back, with the tops of the feet evenly rooted into the mat.
- With inhale, peel the chest through the hands taking the gaze up with a pelvic rotation lifting the tailbone up towards the sky. Breathe deeply and mindfully elongating the breath deep into the navel and pelvis. (Cat)
- With exhale rounding the spine tuck the chin towards the chest, pelvic rotation (cow)
Repeat this dynamic mindful action flowing with the rhythm of your own breath 5-10 times
Gate Pose – Parighasana
From a kneeling position, with the knees hip width apart, step the right leg straight out to the side with the foot flat on the floor, toes pointing outwards.
- With your next inhale, extend the left arm up toward the ceiling, pointing through the fingers. The right hand resting palm down on the floor, fingers spread wide.
- With your exhale, the left arm extends over towards the left ear and out towards the right-hand side, laterally bowing through the left side body keeping the arm straight and engaged.
- Press out through the left hip, and down into the foot and knee. Keep the chin off the chest, gaze facing forward with chin slightly tucked in. Keep the chest open and breathe deeply. Hold for 6 breaths.
- To release, inhale the left arm up and step the right knee carefully to the left.
- Repeat on the left side.
Gate pose laterally opens and stretches the side body, increasing flexibility of the spine, builds core strength and stimulates digestion, circulation, and respiration.
- Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your hands several inches behind your hips, fingers facing forward.
- With exhale, press the soles of your feet and palms of the hands into the floor, lifting up through the thighs, torso, chest, and buttocks. Arms remain straight.
- Inhale deeply and completely. Keeping the neck inline with the spine, gaze facing upwards.
- Hold for 30 seconds, before slowly with control returning to Dandasana with an exhale.
This asana is a great counter pose for wheel, whilst strengthening the arms, wrists, and legs, whilst providing a full body stretch.
Wild Thing – Camatkarasana
- From downward facing dog, extend your right leg up into the sky pushing through the sole of the foot. Stack the hips and bend the right knee, opening the hip and stretching the quadriceps, hip flexors, and abdominals.
- Drop the back foot back behind you and lift the right arm up and over your head, facing your heart and gaze up towards the sky.
- Push the earth away lifting your back body and spine.
- Take 4-5 deep long breaths down into the navel, before flipping back gracefully and mindfully to downward facing dog and then coming back to kneeling.
This is a big heart opener which requires some faith, courage and a little experience so work to it slowly and with acceptance of where you are today
- From downward facing dog repeat wild thing one more time. This time bowing through the front body, peeling the heart open towards the sky even more, finding that extension. As you do this breathe deeply bringing your raised hand down towards the floor, making your way into wheel pose.
- Keeping the arms straight, pushing the earth away, fingers facing inward, allow the head to hang heavy in-between the arms bringing both heels down to the floor, toes facing forward, feet hip width apart.
- With each inhale, breathing into the chest expanding through the front body, with each exhale finding strength. Hold here for 6-8 breaths. Closing down the eyes, releasing and surrendering, exploring this backbend.
- With your last exhale, slowly, vertebra by vertebra lower the spine down to the floor, finishing with a pelvic tilt of grounding the tailbone into the mat.
- Take a moment to rest and observe before making your way into downward facing dog once more and repeating on the opposite side. This major heart opening asana stimulates the fourth and fifth energetic centres of the body, located at the heart and throat centres, which helps us maintain emotional stability. Pay aware of your feelings and emotions; being afraid of your emotions will cause the body to stiffen, which can lead to injury.
Meditation (5-10 minutes)
- Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your spine straight, or lie down in Savasana.
- Using the power of the breath, take 4-5 deep long breaths into the belly bowl inhaling fully and exhaling completely.
- Bring your awareness to the present moment and to the rising and falling of your breath in the abdominal region.
- Bring your left hand on your heart with the right hand on top of the left. Feel your heart beat. Feel its presence.
- As you inhale, feel your chest expand forward, then to the sides, and then in the back of the chest.
- Now, imagine a ball of pure love in your heart. Visualise and feel it grow with each inhale. Feel this unconditional love and deep peace flowing through your heart centre and reaching every part of your body.
- With each inhale, welcome and invite more love, kindness, compassion and gratitude into your heart space. With each exhale, allow old emotions that no longer serve you to leave your physical and emotional body.
- Stay connected to the feeling of pure love, bathe in it, let it surround you warmly and peacefully. Remain with this sensation and allow it to ‘recharge’ your heart and sense of self.
Stay here for 5-10 minutes. Before slowly bringing your awareness back into your physical body. Embody this relaxation.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built. ~ Rumi
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