Lift Your Heart - Yoga Sequence

If you're feeling the effects of winter, having a hard time breaking through some internal struggles, holding on to pain or simply need to reset, you're not alone. One of the most important things we can do for ourselves, on and off the mat, is to become aware of when we are out of balance and realize that we can change how we feel. 

Signs of an imbalanced heart: 

  • Unable to Give or Receive Unconditional Love
  • Selfish
  • Jealous
  • Hateful
  • Grief Stricken
  • Excessive Loneliness
  • Depression

Signs of a balanced heart:

  • Able to Express Love
  • Giving
  • Compassionate
  • Joyful
  • Content

 

 

If you're feeling out of sorts, I invite you to come to the mat and join me in this heart chakra focused practice that is guaranteed to balance and open your heart to life's possibilities.

Essential Oil:

Add one of the following heart-opening essential oils to a diffuser or add a drop to your wrists before you practice:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Tangerine
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Absolute rose
  • Jasmine
  • Bergamot
  • Sandalwood

Mantra:

Om Mani Padme Hum

The compassion Mantra. Om Mani Padme Hum is the mantra of Chenrezig. In the words of Kalu Rinpoche, "Through mantra, we no longer cling to the reality of the speech and sound encountered in life, but experience it as essentially empty. Then confusion of the speech aspect of our being is transformed into enlightened awareness."

Follow along below or take a minute to sit silently and simply listen.

Meditation:

Add in this beautiful heart chakra focused guided meditation before or after (or both!) the following yoga sequence.

Yoga Sequence:

Always listen to your body above all else. Any pose that does not feel right, come out of. 

Reclining Bound Angle Pose

 Image source: yoga journal

Image source: yoga journal

Our first pose, reclining bound angle pose, helps stimulate your heart and improves circulation. Additionally it help relieve symptoms of stress, mild depression, menstruation and and menopause. It is the perfect pose to begin our heart opening sequence. 

Come seated on your mat and place a bolster (folded blankets or another rolled yoga mat can be substituted) against the base of your sacrum. Gently lie back and place a blanket under your head for support and to lift your head above your heart. Bring your the pads of your feet together and allow your knees to open. Stay here for 5 to 10 minutes. 

Modifications: If you have a sensitive back, try placing a blanket or two under your hips. You can also bring your feet back onto the floor placing them towards the outer part of your mat and drawing your knees together. 

Supine Spinal Twist

 

Spinal twists help reduce tension, stress and cleanses your organs to help with digestion. 

Mindfully come off of the bolster, removing the props from you mat and come laying down on your back. Draw your knees into your chest and release the legs to the right side, head falls to the left. Stay for 10 breaths then switch sides.

Cat / Cow

Cat Cow Yoga Pose

Cat/Cow massages the spine and belly organs and gently awakens the body to movement. 

Come on to your hands and knees in table top. On your inhale, arch the spine and look forward as your draw your shoulders back away from your ears and allowing your heart to come forward. Exhale, round your spine as you tuck your chin and tailbone and gently press into the floor. Repeat 5 times. 

Reverse table top (optional feet extended)

 image source: yoga journal

image source: yoga journal

This pose stimulates your heart and energizes your body. 

Come seated with your feet in front and hip distance apart. Place your hands at your sides so your fingers are pointing towards your feet. On your inhale, press in to your heels and lift your hips up high, slightly tucking your tailbone. To begin, keep your head up (chin slightly tucked, Keep your inner thighs rolling down and open your heart up. Stay for 3 breaths and lower down, repeat two to three times. 

Go Further: 

If you do not have any neck complications you can slowly begin to drop your head back. You may also straighten your legs (come into this when you are seated and your legs are extended in front of you). 

Downward Dog

Allowing your head to drop below your heart can aid with those winter blues as it relaxes and soothes nervous system and shifts our perspective. Hold for 5 breaths.

Forward Fold

Forward folds allow us to go inward and reflect. 

Step to the front of your mat and bring your feet hip distance apart. Take as much bend to your knees as needed to comfortably fold forward. Take opposite elbows and hang for 3-5 breaths.  

Extended Mountain

From a forward fold, gently bend your knees as you come to standing, sweeping your arms up over head as you lift your gaze and lift your heart. 

Samastitihi 

 

Extended Mountain

Inhale, Sweep your arms up over head. 

Forward Fold

Exhale, bending at your hip creases, forward fold. 

Sun Salutation A

Sun Salutation A - Surya Namaskara A

Sun salutes Increases heart rate and stimulates digestion. Increases Energy, strength and vitality.

*click for video instruction of a beginner and intermediate Sun Salutation A sequence

Do 1-2 Sun Salutes to warm up

Low Lunge (Crescent Variation)

Lunges Increase energy while strengthening and stretching your legs. Hold for 5 breaths.

Step your right foot between your hands and make sure the ankle of the front foot is right below the knee (see image above).

Go Further: Lift back knee to come into High Lunge.

Plank

Plank is an invigorating and deeply grounding pose allowing you to anchor in to your foundation. From downward facing dog, glide forward into plank. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  

Chaturnaga

Cobra/Upward Facing Dog

Lowering through chaturunga from down dog (optional knees down), lift the heart through cobra or upward facing dog.  Allowing the heart to lift through will help elevate your mood, invigorate your heart, and relieve stress and fatigue. Hold for 2 breaths. 

Downward Dog

Lift back into downward facing dog for 3 breaths.

Low Lunge

Step your left foot between your hands and make sure the ankle of the front foot is right below the knee (see image below). 

Go Further: Lift back knee to come into High Lunge.

Plank

From downward facing dog, glide forward into plank. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  

Chaturanga

Cobra/Upward Facing Dog

Lowering through chaturunga from down dog (optional knees down), lift the heart through cobra or upward facing dog.  Hold for 1 breath. 

Downward Dog

Lift back into downward facing dog for 3 breaths.

Triangle 

Step your right foot between your hands and drop your left heel so your left foot is parralel to the back of the mat. Bring the left hand to the hip and begin to straighten the right leg. Open the heart and gaze towards the ceiling. Triangle pose increases energy, helps relieve stress and stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves. 

  • Modify: Place bottom hand on shin or block
  • Go Further:  Half Moon (optional foot grab) for 3 to 5 breaths.

Downward Dog

Allowing your head to drop below your heart can aid with those winter blues as it relaxes and soothes nervous system and shifts our perspective. Hold for 5 breaths.

Triangle 

Step your right foot between your hands and drop your left heel so your left foot is parralel to the back of the mat. Bring the left hand to the hip and begin to straighten the right leg. Open the heart and gaze towards the ceiling. Triangle pose increases energy, helps relieve stress and stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves. 

  • Modify: Place bottom hand on shin or block
  • Go Further: Half Moon (optional foot grab) for 3 to 5 breaths.

Downward Dog

Allowing your head to drop below your heart can aid with those winter blues as it relaxes and soothes nervous system and shifts our perspective. Hold for 5 breaths.

Plank

Plank is an invigorating and deeply grounding pose allowing you to anchor in to your foundation. From downward facing dog, glide forward into plank. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  

Child's Pose

Lower down into child's pose for 5 to 10 breaths.

Camel Pose

Coming through table top, sit back on your heels with your toes tucked and then lift your hips so you are kneeling. Bring your hands (fingers pointing down) onto your low back for beginners or if you have a sensitive back or slowly walk the hands to the heels for more advanced. Camel pose reduces stress and increases energy. Hold for 3-5 breaths. When you slowly lift up, the head should come up last. 

Hero Pose

Lower your hips towards your heels and extend hands towards knees keeping elbows straight. Lift through chest and lengthen through the spine. This pose improves circulation and relieves tired legs and increases confidence. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Close eyes and bring attention to the sensation of your breath.

Supported Bridge Pose

 IMAGE SOURCE:  YOGA JOURNAL

IMAGE SOURCE: YOGA JOURNAL

Come resting on your back with your feet hip distance apart, lift into bridge pose and place a block or several folded blankets under your sacrum. Optional: lifting your legs up. Supported bridge pose harnesses many benefits including strengthening the parasympathetic nervous system, relieves stress and mild depression, improves digestion and helps combat insomnia. Hold for 10 breaths.

Supine Spinal Twist

 

Draw your knees into your chest and release the legs to the right side, head falls to the left. Stay for 10 breaths then switch sides. Spinal twists help reduce tension, stress and cleanses your organs to help with digestion. 

Savasana

 Image source: yoga journal

Image source: yoga journal

Lengthen your legs out and draw your arms to your sides. Take 3 final deep breaths then allow the body to melt into the floor and your mind to relax. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Savasana calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression, relaxes the body, reduces headaches, fatigue, and insomnia and helps to lower blood pressure.