One of yoga’s most beautiful benefits is how it can shift your emotions in a pure, positive way. Even if you come to the practice for other reasons, your emotional makeup will transform, whether you’re trying to or not! Our subtle body, which is a blueprint of our physical body, contains our emotional energy. Through targeted practice, we can enhance how we feel.
The subtle body contains the chakras or emotional energy centers. To feel more loving, we want to make sure our energy is balanced from the base of our spine or Muladhara (Root) Chakra to our Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra. In order to tap into your own heart and open to more love in your life, you’ve got to be willing to release fear. Yoga practices that create more space in the Anahata (Heart) Chakra will create space in your physical body to experience joy and love.
The Anahata Chakra contains the essence of compassion and selflessness and symbolizes when we rise above our egos to care more for others than ourselves. Anahata is associated with the element of air, the color green, the sense of touch, and the thymus gland.
Often, when physical issues arise with the heart and chest region, lungs and breathing issues, and circulation, it is tied to an imbalance in the chakra. Poses to balance the energy include all types of backbends and also arm balances. Also, learning to shift emotional and thought patterns helps.
Another source advocating focusing on practices of the heart is from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Practicing Maitri or loving-kindness helps keep the mind open. Yoga Sutra 1:33 discusses cultivating virtuous feelings and what yoga philosophers refer to as the four mind locks.
I-33: Maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha dukha punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatash citta prasadanam.
To paraphrase: there are four locks in our minds and in the character of other people: happy, unhappy, virtuous and non-virtuous. To confront these attitudes – whether others’ – or ours, Patanjali suggests: “Befriend the happy; have compassion for the unhappy; delight in the virtuous; be indifferent toward the non-virtuous.”
To break it down further: be happy for others’ joy, be empathetic for others’ sadness, be happy for others’ good fortune, and don’t allow the suffering of the world to overwhelm you. These practices go right to the heart. Being compassionate towards ourselves is also key. Try this loving perspective throughout your yoga practice on and off the mat.
We’ve got beautiful offerings for you this week. Whether it's an acro yoga class to connect with another person or a Vinyasa class with a loving intention, add some love to your yoga practices.
Nourishing Slow Flow - Caitlin Rose Kenney
Therapeutic Acroyoga Basics - Shy Sayar
Pradeep Teotia - Practice with Love
Jeanie Manchester - Sita, Rama & Hanuman: Unconditional Love
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