health and happiness

How Yoga Helps the Heart

It goes beyond the Cardiovascular System

Heart chakra banner

When I tell my yoga students we are going to focus on the Heart Chakra (Anahata in Sanscript), there is usually a sigh of relief.  We have worked our way through the physical Chakras of root, sacrum and core. The Heart Chakra, fourth of the 7 energy wheels in our subtle body, lies in the space to the right of the heart along the spine.  This area of our spine is one of the strongest of our skeletal system for good reason.  It is protecting a very important physical organ—the heart.Chakras

We consider both the physical and emotional aspects of the Anahata chakra. Our heart can be very vulnerable depending on our life experiences. What may result is a heart chakra imbalance – respiratory issues, heart issues, depression, fatigue, to name a few of the possible symptoms. When you are unhappy, your thymus, which controls your hormones slows down, which can result in a general lack of thriving.  Emotionally an imbalance in this area can either lead to shutting down or just pretending to be happy.

“The fear of giving and receiving love blocks health, joy and goodness from coming into our lives,” according to Ambika Wauters, the author of The Book of Chakras who adds, “The heart’s unique intelligence is to remember love,  It never forget acts of kindness, friendship or love. “

In order to access love, one must be willing to be vulnerable.  At the beginning of class, I offer my students doTERRA geranium essential oil if they need to open up more or melalueca if they need to protect their heart more.  Both sides of this coin leave one feeling vulnerable.  It’s the paradox of the heart chakra, according to  http://nyapatrinos.blogspot.com/2015/08/chakra-series-yin-yoga-heart-chakra.htmlAndrea meditating “through humility, we find our power; through discipline, we find liberation; by cleansing the physical body, we become more mentally clear and attuned.”

We begin our practice in a seated pose to try and still the mind and tap into the heart; easier said, than done.  It takes practice to distinguish what your heart is telling you versus what your mind is chattering at you. One clue is if thought starts with love then it is coming from your heart. According to Yoga Journal’s Stephanie Snyder in a 2015 article, “Over time you will be able to observe both. This inner listening cultivates a discrimination. Discrimination supports skillful choices, which lead you toward your heart’s calling, your purpose. The result is bringing compassion and love into all you do.”

I invite my students to set an intention for the practice, which is often very personal.

It might include forgiving someone who has hurt you, or opening yourself up to love again after a bad relationship.  It could be working on loving yourself or trusting other people, or being less critical of people. Be sure to listen closely to your heart to ensure your intention rings true for you.

We do the following practice.  Feel free to attend one of my classes on balancing the Chakras or try the routine at home. 

In a seated position we begin by loosening our neck and shoulders.  Be sure to sit on a blanket or bolster to protect your spine.  Sitting on a bolster helps lean your pelvic bones toward the front which keeps your back from rounding.  Half way through this neck and shoulder routine, change the cross of your legs to keep them from falling asleep. (2) Preparatory arm stretches will also include cow face arms and eagle arms (shown). Roll over to hands and knees.  A modified cat/cow with a child’s pose focus on shining your heart each time you stretch up and forward helps get problems “off your chest” (3)

Andrea stretching neck 225 tallAndrea doing eagle arms 225 highCat Cow 225 high

 

Rest in Child’s pose.  Then move into Puppy pose also known as Melting the heart.  (4) Draw your shoulders back toward each other, but be careful not to dump your belly. Move into thread the needle or revolved child’s pose. (5) This is an intense stretch for your shoulder.  Metaphorically speaking, your shoulders are the branches from your heart, which if strong can lead to generosity and compassion. Repeat on both sides.

Andrea melting heart poseAndrea threading the needle

Move into downward facing dog (6)—focusing on your shoulders drawing toward your back.  You might need to bend the knees a great deal to feel this in the upper back.  High lunges, Low lunges or Warrior 1 on both sides will be modified to reflect the opening of the shoulders. (7)  Do both sides. Our balancing series will include both Eagle Pose (8) and Dancers pose (9).  Both work the upper body.  Dancer pose opens up the heart while Eagle pose protects the heart. Do both sides.

3 DowndogAndrea doing warrior 1 with open heartAndrea doing eagle 225 tallAndrea doing dancers pose 225 high

 

Add two full sun salutations, focusing each move on a gratitude practice.  For instance when reaching to the sky, express thanks to the sun, the forward fold, thanks to the earth, half way up, thanks to your parents, all the way down, thanks to your children or friends, going through plank, thanks to yourself including your body. Upward dog, thanks to your mind, and coming back up, thanks to the higher being that you believe in. You can even chant these as you go through the sequence. This practice came from Seane Corne. Make sure to open your heart during your back bends.

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Perhaps the most vulnerable heart chakra pose is Camel Ustrasana (10)

The following description of this pose comes from Yoga Journal. “Camel is an upper-spine backbend that comes from narrowing in the belly and widening your hands to your hips and drive the legs and pelvis down as you lift the low belly, ribs, and chest upward.  Finally drop your head back gently as long as it doesn’t cause neck pain. Spend about 3 breaths here and repeat this pose three times. When you finish, sit on your heels, close your eyes, and enjoy the rush of being alive in an open-hearted body.”

Modified Fish Pose is offered as part of this series.  I do not do a full fish pose.   Fish Pose (Matsyasana) 11 is known as the destroyer of all diseases.  It stimulates your thyroid and para thyroid as it strengths the muscles of the upper back and back of neck and stretches your front body muscles.

Andrea doing camel 225 wideIMG_0003

We end the practice in a restorative version  of  Reclined Bound Angel Pose.  Supta Badda Konasana (12) Lie on on your back placing either two blocks or place a bolsters length wise and incline it with a block or two.  Lay back with your spine directly over the bolster. If you are using blocks make sure one block is right across your shoulder blades (for ladies, no lower than the bra line).  Once comfortable open your heart and allow your shoulders to sink towards the floor. Then place your feet together and let you knees fall out to the side.  Roll a blanket into a rope and wrap around your ankles or place blocks under your knees to support you. Visualize the color green, which protects your heart or pink to represent your heart as you relax in this pose. The heart seed mantra is YAM.  Breathe in unconditional love for yourself and others.  Exhale and release old hurts, regrets, anger and grief.

ANdrea doing fish pose 225 highAndrea meditating with hands at heart 225

I wish you health and joy in  your day.  Namaste,  Andrea

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Heaven Lane Yoga

Heaven Lane Creations – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs. Designing individualized doTERRA oil routines for your health.  Designing custom made jewelry to fit your style.

 

Its a Wonderful Life

its a wonderful life image 3

I have been feeling like Jimmy Stewart in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life” !

This summer, I was given the chance to go back in time to visit my college roommate, my family, and my grade school friends and through this journey, I realized the impact I have had on other people.  Don’t get me wrong, I never thought I was useless, but I also never realized how a smiling, positive child who wrote this in her yearbook “ I still believe in love, the best is yet to come” could have left an indelible positive impression on so many people.  It was a reminder to me (40 years later) that all of us put out energy every day that either improves people’s lives including your own or makes them worse.  And through our positive energy we can  affect physical and emotional  health and well-being.

Grateful for RPCoaching  Grateful for flowers 225  Grateful for food

Here are a ten ways (some may surprise you) to keep your energy positive for you and all around you.

  1. Be grateful – as Mindvalley Founder,Vishen Lakhiani author of The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, says, Gratitude is the key part of advancing your Blissipline practice. Quoting now, in a study by Robert Emmonds, PhD and Michael Mccullough, PhD “people who simply wrote down five things they were thankful for from the previous week showed a 25 percent difference in happiness levels compared to people who wrote down five negative things from the week.”
  2. Forgive everyone who has hurt you. You don’t have to tell them, but you really do need to release the anger from inside you, which ends up hurting your energy more than the person you are angry with. Lakhiani also has some interesting evidence of the power of this practice.  According to Lakhiani, forgiveness has been shown to increase the Alpha waves when looking at brain scans and it turns out that Alpha Waves are linked to higher levels of creativity, empathy and compassion.
  3. Surround yourself with beauty – flowers, cute dogs, music that inspires. It is hard to stay unhappy when you are surrounded by beauty.
  4. Turn off as many of the negative messages that you can, including TV and social media. I do not read any rants anymore.  It upsets me and I really don’t believe ranting ever leads to positive change.  I once read getting angry about things is like stabbing yourself. Especially if someone else has figuratively stabbed you with whatever action you didn’t like.  Why do you want to put a second knife in your belly?
  5. Do kind things for other people, whenever possible. It is amazing how good you feel when you are charitable to others. A recent study quoted in Mindbodygreen showed that random acts of kindness lead to longer feelings of happiness than shopping.
  6. Figure out what it is that you like about yourself and remind yourself of your good qualities daily. “I have a nice smile.  I make people laugh.  I work hard” are some of the qualities I like about myself.
  7. This is the surprising one. Be careful of what you eat.  All food has energy.  Make sure the energy from that food is clean and positive.  In other words, the food should be made with love and should be grown in a way that does not put toxic energy into you.
  8. Make your home a sanctuary —keep it clean and uncluttered when possible. I have not studied Feng Shu, but I know I feel better when my home looks, feels and smells clean.
  9. Make sure your relationships, your career and your creative energy bring you joy. Nothing is perfect, but you are much more likely to attract and manifest positive energy if you are engaged in what you are doing. (In other words, find something that allows you to get into the flow) Lahkiani calls this “Bending Reality”
  10. Exercise and meditate daily – take a walk in nature, do yoga, sit in silence and breath and allow the collective positive energy of the Universe to infuse every cell with this living breathing sphere we live on known as earth.

I am pleased to have three opportunities to spread my brand of happiness to you.   Check out my yoga classes, my jewelry designs or my health tips using doTERRA  essential oils. Connect with me at andrea@heavenlanecreations.com.

 

I wish you health and joy in your day!

Namaste, Andrea

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Heaven Lane Yoga – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs.

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