Do you remember the scene in the classic holiday cartoon, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when the Grinch finally understands the gift of selfless love and his heart expands and fills with joy?
When we spend time in our yoga practice working on backbends, we are essentially creating space for more love and compassion and releasing the fear that can be restricting us from living our most authentic life.
In order to invite more love and compassion into your life, it’s important to release old resentments and hurts which may be blocking you from expressing your emotions. Our hearts contain the two primary human emotions of love and fear. Part of the human experience includes love and pain. When you’ve been hurt, it is natural to protect yourself as you heal. But often, the initial healing process morphs into fear and emotional blocks. Yes, we don’t want to have our hearts ripped out of our chests, but to truly be strong, we’ve got to be vulnerable.
This fear of pain manifests embodies in our chest and shoulders. Our shoulders round forward and if we don’t work to continue opening this area of our body, we can find ourselves perpetually shutting off possibilities for future happiness. Yoga to the rescue! Backbends emphasize the Anahata (Heart) Chakra, which is the seat of compassion, where we rise above the ego and self-love to develop the ability to love others. By practicing heart openers and strengtheners as well as learning to breathe deeply and fully, we create an open heart.
Backbends also positively impact the Visshuda (Throat) Chakra located at the base of our throat, the place from where we speak our truth. Many of us find it hard to clearly state our thoughts and feelings. Working to remove blockages of our verbal expression allows us to speak from the heart.
There are many reasons beyond an over-protective heart to perform backbends as a regular part of your yoga practice. Heart-opening postures like Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Ustrasana (Camel Pose), and Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) all build energy, increase heat, and strengthen the spine. We spend a great deal of time with shoulders rounded forward––can you say ‘Smartphone Shoulders’? It’s vital for healthy posture to keep our spine in optimal alignment and that means opening across the front of the shoulders and chest.
Backbends are energizing and mood-lifting too! Of course, proper alignment and intelligently sequenced technique for your unique anatomy, are vital to successfully opening your heart and strengthening your spine. Take time to strengthen your own heart and forgive yourself from what may be blocking you from being your most free and compassionate.
Enjoy this week's four unique heart-opening classes that will teach you more about backbends, and leave you feeling lighthearted and open.
1. Michelle Marchildon - Easy Peasy Scorpion
2. Cheryl Deer - Forrest Yoga: Safe and Intelligent Back Bending
3. Channing Grivas - Breaking the Heart Wide Open
4. Rob Loud - Full Wheel - Saying Yes from Your Heart
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