Thanksgiving is my favorite Holiday. It is the only American Holiday set aside to give thanks for ALL our blessings. While I am grateful for this Holiday, I think we should show (and feel) gratitude every day. There are several yoga poses that can aid us in this endeavor. While pretty much any heart opening pose or meditative pose will work, I want to concentrate on Supported Chest and Heart Opener.
Grab blocks, bolsters, pillows, blankets and whatever helps you to relax. Begin in a seated position. Place a block on the mat directly below under your shoulder blades. Place a block (or several blocks depending on your own flexibility and comfort) and/or a thickly folded blanket under your head. You may like to elevate the top of the bolster (where your head is) with blocks for a slightly gentler variation.
With your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees and slowly roll down onto the blocks and/or blanket using your hands and forearms to support you as you roll back. Rest your arms with palms facing up in a receptive and open state and slowly straighten your legs. Keep your arms extended alongside you or place a hand on your heart and one on your belly as you rest and breathe in this position.
Focus on breathing deeply through the diaphragm, allowing the breath to open your chest and heart for approximately 3 minutes. To transition out of this pose, slowly roll to the right and remove the props from the mat. Hug your knees to your chest for a few breaths, then make small circles by rolling your knees around – this should massage your lower back. Roll up to a seated position.
If you don’t have any of the props listed above, you can roll up a yoga mat or a towel and place it under your underarms. You can also try rolling a blanket into a long, narrow prop and putting it under your spine so it supports your back and head. This should allow your chest to gently open. The towel doesn’t have to be thick or bulky. The idea is to provide a small lift, which should give you some great results. More advanced practitioners may deepen the back bend by removing or re-positioning blocks into a lower level or letting the head go back past heart level.
Just as you can practice a figurative heart opening in your thoughts and emotions, you can also experience opening the heart space in your physical body. When you feel threatened, be it by pain, a challenge, or pressure to perform, you usually hold your breath or start to breathe in shallow, erratic patterns. This can cause muscle tightness in your chest and can restrict the normal movement of the diaphragm. By practicing slow, gentle expansive breathing while in simple, pain-free positions such as Supported Chest and Heart Opener you can combat the stress of the crazy holiday season or a regular day at the computer.
I am currently offering a holiday Special for you to give this gift of fitness and relaxation to yourself or a friend.
Opening the Heart
Yoga Sequence for Gratitude
7 Yin Poses Gratitude
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