Class 4 - Opening Your Heart
Opening Your Heart requires courage and vulnerability.
To rise up and be open to new opportunities and experiences, to soften our often closed and guarded exteriors.
It also requires compassion and forgiveness of self and others.
We are so often closed off to the world as a result of painful experiences and a need for self-protection.
This flow encourages you to expand across the heart centre, with bright opening poses that cultivate a sense of passion and openness and facilitate releasing any stuck-ness in the back of the heart.
The standing Asanas used in this flow require firm foundation and awareness in the legs, utilising your previously learned alignment cues, enabling you to lighten your spine and expansively open your body with full support.
These standing postures with time and practice become a beautiful foundation and pave the way for a courageous and compassionate heart, passionately engaged in life without expectation.
Open Your Heart
Sitting in Sukasana – easy cross leg position. If this position is not available to you due to knee injury, sit against a wall so that your back is supported and legs are stretched out in front of you.
Close your eyes. Allow the palms to rest face down on the knees. Rock gently side to side on your sit bones connecting both it bones to the earth
From this steady seat, lengthen your spine, allowing the elbows to bend in towards your waist and the shoulders to softly glide down away from the ears. Gently lift the heart broadening your collarbones and draw your chin gently in towards your chest allowing the spine to lengthen up to your crown.
Start to follow your breath as it moves through your body. Guiding the breath in through the nose direct it into the heart with a deep full breath, retain it a moment, then exhale. Continue to breath in this way, with a longer inhalation than exhalation, and retaining the breath and a feeling of expansion and opening in the heart space. Take 10 rounds of breath in this way.
Inhale circle the arms out to the side and up over your head connecting the palms, exhale draw them down the centre line, touching your thumbs lightly to your third eye point to your lips and then to the heart, repeat 3 times.
Inhale arms up and then split the hands, turning to the left and taking your right hand to your left knee and the left arm behind you for an easy seated twist. Inhale lift and lengthen spine, exhale softly twisting deeper. Take 3 rounds of breath. Keep the right hand on the left knee and inhale the back arm up and over to connect to the right knee.
With hands clasped over the knees, curl inward with chin into chest and draw back away from the knees, navel into spine and with a focus on expanding the back body. Inhale deeply and feel shoulder blades draw apart. Take 3 rounds of breath.
Inhale keeping the cross of the arms, release hands and bind arms, squeezing elbows together and drawing shoulder heads back for Eagle arms. Breathe into the back body exhale release bind and allow left hand to float to outside of right knee for a twist. Take 3 rounds of breath. Inhale back arm up and over to right knee. Curl in and draw back, release hands and bind arms for Eagle arms on the other side.
Tip forward onto hands and knees, with hands shoulder width apart, spreading fingers wide and grounding all parts of your hands into the earth. Shift the knees back a little, curl toes under and start to press into hands and balls of feet to lift hips towards sky into Downward Facing Dog. Press the hands strong into the earth to send your weight back into the heels, driving heels into the earth. If your legs are tight feel free to keep knees slightly bent. Allow the head to relax and eyes to look between the feet. Glide shoulders away from your ears and keep pressing with straight strong arms away from the earth. Feel your spine lengthening, creating space between the discs as you inhale, notice the expansive quality of your breath, exhale and notice the contraction back in toward your centre. Take 3 breaths here.
At any time you can come back onto the knees and sit back onto the heels resting chest on thighs in Childs Pose.
Step the right leg forward in between the hands, Right ankle is directly under the right knee. Spread your toes wide and feel the four corners of your feet pressing into the floor. Cut the back foot to a 45 degree angle, toes facing as forward and Press the back heel down into the floor. Your body is facing the left side, your front knee bent knee over ankle, shin vertical. Allow head, chest and pelvis to align. Extend your arms in a long line from middle finger to middle finger out at shoulder height and turn your eyes to rest lightly focused on your front middle finger. Feel a strong foundation of strength and stability in the legs as the back heel drives down and the front ball of foot presses into the floor, creating a lightness in your spine. Allow shoudlers to soften and melt down your back as arms extend. This is Virabradrasana 2, Warrior 2. Take 3 breaths here, deepening sit bones toward floor with each exhale. inhale straighten front leg, exhale reach forward through your right outsretched arm until you fold resting the right hand lightly onto the right shin and pressing yourself open, reaching the top left arm up towards the sky. Inhale get length in the spine and exhale twist open further peeling the top left shoulder open as if opening your front body up to the sky.
This is Trikonasana triangle pose. Keep energy in the legs driving back heel and front ball of foot into the earth. Hold for 3 rounds of breath.
Inhale lift a little through the top arm, exhale bend front knee again as in Vira 2 and lightly rest your right elbow ont o the thigh and extend and reach the top arm alongside your ear, creating a long line of energy from left heel to left fingertips in Pasvakonasa Side Angle Pose. Hold for 3 breaths.
Inhale lift the arms back up into Vira 2 arms, exhale deepen, inhale straighten for triangle, exhale reach forward and come into triangle, inhale lift up through top arm and bend right knee again, exhale extend arm for side angle, repeat this flow again once more, then from side angle, bring hands to floor, step right foot back into Low or High Plank with navel drawing into spine.
Inhale long, exhale lower to floor. Keeping hands next to chest, press lightly through tops of feet to engage legs and lift knees away from floor, Inhale look to your belly and peel it off the floor, drawing navel to spine and waving up the spine to offer heart forward as chest lifts, ensure shoulders soften down away from ears and elbows stay bent and close to your sides.
This is Cobra Pose. Exhale lower to floor. Take rounds of cobra, waving with your breath.
Inhale draw navel to spine, press into strong hands and lift up into Low Plank, exhale press back into Downward Dog. Take one round of breath here, really connecting through fingerpads index finger and thumb, pressing chest back toward thighs and sitbones to sky whilst heels drive into the earth. Hold here for 3 breaths. Inhale step left leg forward into Vira 2. Inhale up, exhale deepen for 3 breaths, focusing on strong foundations in legs and lightness in spine. Courageous, inhale straighten front leg and exhale reach forward with left arm and down to shin to press open and reach right arm up for triangle. Drive back heel to floor and press into ball of left foot. 3 breaths, then inhale lift and exhale bend knee and deepen into side angle pose, 3 breaths. Then flow through with 1 breath per movement, focus on opening the heart and expanding across the chest. Exhale right arm to floor, step back foot up so feet are hip width apart and drape chest over thighs, allow head and shoulders to surrender and soften, play with shifting weight back and forward. Hold for 3 breaths here in Uttanasana. Then bend knees deeply, draw belly in and spinal roll up, stacking vertebrae taking your time, with a deep full inhale reach the arms up and draw the hand down into the heart. Inhale as you draw arms up overhead and then exhale lightly touching hands to third eye – purpose, to the lips – peace- to the heart – love, repeat 3 times.