Heart Centered Holidays: Yoga to Transform Emotionality

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Heart Centered Holidays

The holidays should be a time of joy, celebration, and connecting with loved ones, but navigating them can sometimes feel like an emotional roller-coaster ride. One minute, you’re laughing with family during a festive feast, the next you’re in tears, overwhelmed by some challenging memory of the past.

Try this restorative pose and heart-opening meditation to transform negative patterns of stress for the ultimate body/mind tension release. After all, the whole goal of yoga is to explore the body-mind connection and use the postures (though that is only one of many techniques) to find peace within. In this practice, we will use reclined bound angle pose to release tension in the body and make it a more fit vehicle for a quiet mind.

Step One: Bound Angle Pose

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In this restorative version of the pose, use whatever props you have on hand to mimic the shape of the pose and set yourself up to be completely comfortable without any physical effort. With the lift of a bolster behind the back, breathing is easier and the heart is invited to open along with the hips as they externally rotate. Put support under the knees to support them and take any strain out of the low back. If the low back is already tight, simply hug them in and let them come out straight on the ground in front of you. Once you are in your comfortable version of this position, become aware of your breathing. Bring one hand to your belly and one to your chest. As you inhale fill the belly, then the lungs, and when you exhale feel the chest then belly compress. When you feel calm start the following meditation while relaxing deeper into the pose.

Step Two: Heart Opening Meditation

In Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, he explores how to open your heart to challenging emotions in order to see them clearly and allow them to transform and release. His reasoning is that it is our resistance to these habitual, negative emotions that keep them in a holding pattern. He likens them to a thorn stuck in the skin. Rather than protecting it and doing everything we can to avoid the intrusion of the said thorn, we pull it out and then there is relief from and healing can begin.

In a calm state, with both hands stacked right over left on the heart, begin to allow yourself to become aware of a habitual emotion you’re ready to release. Imagine your heart can stay open with your intention to heal. Perhaps you feel it like the expansive, healing energy of love or a radiant light emanating outwards like a bonfire enveloping your whole body. Affirm your bravery as you let the emotions in and stay present with it. What does it look or feel like in the body and in the mind? What happens when you notice the energy behind the emotion. Can you simply witness it as an objective observer? Breath deep. Inhale love and exhale gratitude for the lesson it may have, and your ability to allow it to move through you release. It may take continued practice but what if you could simply relax into the practice and let the practice be one of surrender.

When you feel finished with this meditation, slowly wake up the body with movement of fingers and toes and hug your knees to your chest. Take a moment of gratitude for your bravery knowing that every effort makes a difference and connects a new neural pathway in the brain. Sit cross-legged and comfortable for a few minutes before returning to your holiday festivities. Affirm that you enjoy the journey gaining strength with each effort.
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Happy Holidays! Do you find these techniques helpful? I’d love to hear from you.

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