By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed
There are many different Yoga postures that help to open up and elongate the entire front side of the torso, including the Heart Chakra area. Additionally, there are Yoga postures the profoundly help to open up the back of the heart area, which is known as the thoracic spine. Just like the front of the heart area, the back of the heart can also become constricted if we are tense, afraid or sad.
At times, these feelings may lie just below our conscious awareness. However, our bodies register all of our feelings immediately. Feelings of tension, stress, fear, and grief are frequently seen in a collapsed Heart Chakra area. When the heart area is constricted or collapsed, the shoulders also begin to creep up towards the neck area, further exacerbating the constriction of our life force energy. At times, even our breathing can become shallow and inadequate from the somatization of painful feelings, emotions and memories.
* Modified Standing Forward Fold
Practicing Yoga postures on a regular basis that help to release this constriction is paramount to keeping the energy or prana flowing freely and vibrantly throughout the body. Modified Standing Forward Fold is a very simple Yoga posture that deeply releases stress and tension all along the back of the legs, the hamstrings and the lower back. Practicing Modified Standing Forward Fold with your hands clasped behind your head will further increase the stretch along the back of the hamstrings and will effectively release tension throughout the thoracic spine, throat and neck.
To practice Modified Standing Forward Fold, you may wish to warm up first with a series of Sun Salutations. If you are not familiar with the movements of the Sun Salutation, please refer to a reputable Yoga website or DVD. After you have warmed up, come to Mountain Pose at the front of your Yoga mat. With your next inhale, raise your hands arms overhead and pause for a moment with your hands in Prayer Position directly over your head. With your next exhale, bend gracefully over your legs and bring your hands down to the Yoga mat and touch your toes. If you are not able to reach your toes, just bring your hands down your legs as far as you comfortably are able to today.
With your next inhale, interlace your fingers and place your hands at the base of your skull with your elbows straight out to the sides of your head. As you practice the posture, gently apply pressure to the back of your skull with your inhale as you raise your head slightly and push against your hands. This will further increase and elongate the stretch. As you exhale, slightly release the pressure. Keep this rhythm of applying gentle pressure with your inhale and releasing the pressure with each exhale as you practice this Yoga posture. In addition, by keeping your elbows directly in alignment with your ears and out to the side, you will feel a profound stretch throughout the back of your Heart Chakra between your shoulder blades.
Hold Modified Standing Forward Fold for 3 to 5 complete breaths. When you have completed your final breath in the posture, release the clasp of your hands and bring your fingers back down beside your feet on your Yoga mat. With your next inhale, release the clasp of your hands, stand up and raise your arms overhead with your hands in Prayer Position. With your next exhale, bring your hands back down in front of your Heart Chakra and pause for a moment to enjoy the expansive pulsation of energy throughout your entire heart area. You may wish to say a quick prayer of gratitude for the life force energy that animates your entire being before continuing on to the next Yoga posture.
© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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