In yoga classes, we are often instructed to “open the heart center,” but what exactly does this mean? Opening the heart is an opening to life itself, to trusting in the world, our family and friends, and all the beautiful things that life has to offer. If we release the ways we hold back in our bodies and our minds, we can open ourselves to noticing more about the people and places around us. Only then can we receive their teachings, and be totally open to growing together.
Sometimes we want to open to something new in our lives. Sometimes the pressure to open becomes very obvious, but we are not sure how to do it. On the first day of my Wanderlust Teacher Training in Squaw Valley, I knew I needed to open to the lessons of the training.
Opening occurs on several levels, physical, emotional, mental and more. We can prepare ourselves for change by making the choice to slowly move out and away from the rigid patterns in our lives.
Gently close your eyes, lift your spine towards the sky, roll your shoulders back and down. Mentally scan your body, taking note of any tightness in your body. If there is any pain or soreness, take the palm of the hand and touch it lightly to the body. Feel the heat transferred from the hand to the body part, and relax it as you slowly move the hand away. Notice how the energy has shifted.
Unresolved emotional hurts can hold us back from living life to its fullest. If there is something in your past that needs to be released, you can transform it into a healing lesson. You can write it down and physically release it by tearing it up, or you can share with a friend that you are ready to move on and let go. Hugging releases endorphins that make us happy and more receptive, so be sure to share a hug with your friend as well.
If you have chanting beads, you can hold them between your hands. Focus your mental energy on the beads, and then follow each bead mentally, repeating softly under your breath, “I am open.” Mentally visualize a flower of your choice. See the color, the petals, and even the wind that makes them move. Repeat the affirmation with the visualization.
To open, we have to loosen up and sometimes that means prying a bit, so we can crack a little bit. Little by little, we may eventually find the release of the things that hold us back. Cracking through our hesitation, we end up having more freedom to move, to act, to do yoga, and to receive all the other blessings in our lives.
Dr. Amy Champ is a scholar, yogini and writer dedicated to all the simple things in life. Studying yoga and ordinary people, her work is motivated by supporting women’s health and bringing people together in community.