It is a New Year and perhaps a new beginning for some of us. As I sit here in my old bedroom, all I can think about are the past eight years of my life in Florida. I am now back in my hometown of Albuquerque wondering what this New Year is going to bring me and how I can positively move forward in a city that I have missed for so many years.
One of my most favorite memories in Florida was when I completed my very first teacher training. It was an intense yearlong journey that not only challenged me physically, but also mentally and emotionally. I never knew I could tap into my own self so deeply, that I could let go of baggage and find peace and happiness. But that is the true beauty of yoga. To me, yoga is life altering, yoga is peace, and yoga is freedom.
As we move into a New Year, let us open our hearts to new experiences and relationships. Let us forgive and forget things that no longer serve us. Find time for yourself and manifest your intentions and goals. When we talk about intentions and goals, love, relationships, letting go, we are tapping into our fourth chakra the Anahata Chakra. The Anahata Chakra is the center of self-love. Also known as the heart chakra. It is located in the heart center. It means to live your life with compassion and kindness. It means to cultivate a safe space to invite positive energy while radiating the same energy to those beings you meet and come into contact with on a daily basis. It means that your heart is open to others and you inspire kindness and compassion. This is the place where we feel the most. When Anahata is open and flowing freely, we are open to love and able to connect to the deepest places. This New Year, find time for self-love, whether it is a goal of taking one yoga class per week, reading a positive quote before you begin your day, or even taking the time to smile at every person you come into contact with. Make 2017 the year of love and happiness and write your own story.
If you are new to yoga or someone who has been practicing for years, I invite you to practice the gentle/restorative sequence below. It is suitable for practitioners of all levels. Remember to breathe and let go of anything that no longer serves you. If you have ever taken one of my classes, I always offer a heart-opening pose. To me, it is important to stretch the muscles in the chest and shoulders and allow openness in the heart center. Take your time practicing this sequence and be mindful of how you are feeling both energetically and physically. Feel free to use my notes as guidance, but also give yourself permission to come in and out of postures that do not feel quite right for you today. Only you know how you feel, listen to your body. Take a moment in each pose to notice how you feel and send your breath to any areas of tightness. Be mindful and enjoy.
Yoga for the Anahata Chakra (Heart Chakra)
Center (seated/supine) – focus on your breath, take long and steady breaths in and out through the nose, slow down the breath making it equal and soft.
Heart Opener – roll up a towel or small blanket and carefully lay on it so that the blanket/towel is along your spine just above your sacrum and between shoulder blades. Optional: lay here for 5 minutes.
Cat/Cow – Inhale cow, Exhale Cat (repeat slowly 5-10x)
Thread the Needle – relax the side of the face on the mat, focus on the shoulder stretch
Child’s Pose – knees widen towards the edges of the mat, big toes together, sit back towards your heels and slowly lower chest and extend arms. (Opt: sit on towel or blanket)
Table – shoulders in line with wrists, knees in line with hips, tops of feet flat on the mat
Extended Puppy Pose – extend arms and focus on melting the heart down towards the Earth, relax your neck and lengthen through the spine.
Cobra – draw shoulders down and away from the ears; open the heart and chest
Table – take 3 full breaths in and out through the nose
Child’s Pose – optional wide knees
Easy Seated Pose – sit on a folded towel or small blanket towards the very front to allow the pelvis to tilt forward.
Eagle Arms + Cactus Arms – hold each pose for 3-5 breaths, 3x
Supported Twist – use bolster or pillow to support torso as you twist onto it
Supported Bound Angle – use bolster or pillow and sit up against it, slowly lay back. Arms out to open chest and feet together to open hips. Opt: place blocks under knees.
Supine Knees to Chest – gently hug knees into chest and relax shoulders and head down
Bridge Flow – Inhale lift hips, Exhale lower down slowly – take flow 3x
Reclined Bound Angle + Cactus Arms – focus on heart center, close the eyes
Repeat Affirmation: “I open my heart fully to living. I receive love, I give love.”
Supine Spinal Twist – wring out negativity and breathe in positivity
Savasana – find peace and stillness and connect to the Earth
“Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.” –Jean Anouilh
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti. Peace.