9 Shapes: Yin Yoga for the Heart Chakra
Updated: Aug 3, 2019
Allow your big starry heart to open.
~ 60 minutes
Come to lay on your backside with the soles of the feet together, bringing the support of the blocks behind both the shoulders and the head. The block between your shoulders should run vertical along the spinal column on the medium height. The block behind the head can be on the highest hight or the middle height as it feels right for you. Rest here as you drop into the practice for 7 minutes.
Ease your way off of the blocks and onto your backside. Roll through to your fetal position on either side. Set yourself up like in cobra, then take the left arm across the body, right arm over the left and across the body, and keep both palms facing up. Extend your legs out in behind you. Stay for 3 minutes and as it feels comfortable, press down into the backs of the palms. Feel the shoulders slide away from the midline of the body.
Roll over onto the left shoulder, release the right arm towards the sky as you bend the right knee and slide the right inseam of the thigh onto the earth. Start to lower the right shoulder back in space to find the spinal twist from the belly. Keep the left hand on the right knee and keep the knee rooted to the ground. Take 3 minutes for your breath to move through the spine.
Bring the right palm back to the mat, press to lift the chest and return to the belly with arms bent to the sides like a goal-post. Keep the right knee bent at a 90 degree angle. Stay to open the hip for 3 minutes. Feel safe and grounded.
Extend the left arm out into a half T-shape, bring the right hand in under the right shoulder, and bend into the right knee. Start to press into the right hand as roll onto the outer edge of the left side of the body. Allow the right knee to go up and the right foot to land somewhere behind the left thigh. If this is too much on the hips, keep the knees bent and stacked on the mat. Stay here to stretch the muscles of the wings and to breath the heart open for 5 minutes. While you are holding, find 3 lions breaths where you inhale through the nose, stick out the tongue and breath out the mouth.
Make your way back to your belly. Stack your palms and rest your forehead on top of stacked palms as a transition. Let the legs extend behind you. Breath into the lower back. Place the hands under the shoulders and press back to a table top position. Take some time to explore a slow cat/cow to find some fluidity in the spine. Hold on cat and press down to feel the back of the heart lift, and hold as you reach the heart forward and tilt the tailbone.
Make your way onto your seat and extend your legs out in front of you. The intention here is not to feel into the hamstrings. This variation of a seated forward fold is for the entire length of the spine. Tuck your chin in towards your chest and try to round to reach the forehead to the knees. Keep the toes soft. If there is a lot of sensation in the backsides of your legs, you can place blocks or a bolster under the knees as you fold. Give this one 5 minutes to breath into the back of the neck to the base of the spine.
Slowly start to stack the spine and begin to roll back to your halasana or plow pose. Keep the arms out long on the mat as the hips come up and the feet go back. Try and stack the hips over the shoulders. This is quite intense on the cervical spine so if you need, find blocks stacked under the feet or a blanket folded and placed along the mat until the base of the head. 5 Minutes to melt.
See what happens by bending at the knees. If you can, place the knees somewhere close to the ears and soften in. Stay for another 3 minutes. To come out, slowly roll through each vertebra until you make your way onto the backside. Option here to counter this shape with a fish pose or matsyasana.
Slowly make your way to a comfortable laying position free from any props. Allow the legs to go long and the arms to soften by your sides. Take 10 minutes to integrate the benefits of the practice in savasana. To conclude the practice, place your hands on top of one another at the heart space and say aloud 10 times the bija mantra or see sound of Yam to further activate this space.
It might be the appropriate time to come to an easy cross legged seat and meditate. Feeling the bones stack in the spine, the crown of the head extending upwards, and the awareness return to the breath, allow yourself to visualize what it is you are looking to call in with regards to your heart.
The heart is the gateway to the soul, to the subtle body, and to the spiritual body from the lower three chakras that pertain more to survival, belonging, and ego. It is the center of the thing that no matter what, ties us all together: love. Often the heart can be blocked from traumas and heartbreaks that have in some way created habits or cycles known as samskaras where we reside in a space of aversion or attachment, blocking us from the flow of love. We use this practice as a way to move that energy and to consciously create space for that which we want to see in our lives.
"Welcome to the path of the heart! Believe it or not, this can be your reality, to be loved unconditionally and to begin to become that love. This path of love doesn’t go anywhere. It just brings you more here, into the present moment, into the reality of who you already are." - Excerpt from Be Love Now by Ram Dass
“Fall in love with yourself first.” - Jayananda