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The heart chakra is associated with our ability to feel empathy, and to be compassionate for others. Here is where we deal with all matters of the heart, whether that be interpersonal (i.e. romantic relationships) or our compassion towards ourselves. It provides us with the ability to go beyond ourselves and to love unconditionally. It also makes a space for forgiveness.
This is the fourth chakra, and the fourth in my series of yin yoga chakra practices. In these practices I like to pair an affirmation with each yin pose. Repeat the affirmation internally a few times. Rather than forcing yourself to believe it, see how the words make you feel. If you have a positive reaction, you are likely doing alright in this area. If you have a negative reaction, or find the words hard to hear, this may indicate some work that needs to be done in this area.
Keep a pen and paper handy to journal any thoughts that come up, good or bad, to reflect on later.
The colour associated with the heart chakra is green, envision a green glowing light in this area with each of these asanas.
You will want to have two blocks handy for this practice. I also use a blanket here as I am recovering from a knee injury, if you have any discomfort in your knees you may want to have one as well, but it is not necessary.
As typical of yin yoga, hold each of these poses for 3-5 minutes. If you are new to the practice, you can start with a timer on the shorter end, and work your way to longer holds. If you feel any pinching ease out, or lessen the extent of the pose.
1. Reclined Hero Pose – Set one block up horizontally where the head will rest, and the other vertically in between where the shoulder blades will be. I set both at the middle height for this pose, but if you have neck problems you will want to have the top block up one higher than the other. Come to kneeling, with your ankles to the outside of your hips. Ensure your thigh bones are parallel, roll the shins and calf muscles out. Bring all of your toes to touch the mat. Slowly and easefully lower yourself down on to the blocks, adjusting blocks as needed. Let your arms relax. This pose should provide a nice opening in the chest and shoulders. If this pose doesn’t feel good for your knees, keep your legs straight in front of you, or in butterfly. Take a moment to get settled comfortably in to the pose, breathe in and out through the nose.
Affirmation: “I am worthy of love and acceptance.”
2. Puppy Pose – Come up to hands and knees in a table top position. Use a blanket under your knees if you want extra padding, as we will hold here for a while. Set your hips up directly over the knees. Maintain this alignment as you walk your hands forward, melting your chest and forehead to the floor. If you don’t make it all the way down to the floor today, you can always place a block underneath the forehead. Keep your hips lifted high, as in downward dog. Draw your low belly in towards the low back. Imagine your rib cage expanding side to side and front to back, opening with your breath.
Affirmation: “I feel compassion and empathy for all beings.”
3. Sphinx – Slither forward on to the belly. Bringing your forearms down to the mat, spreading the fingertips wide and palms flat on the mat. Think of lengthening the chest upwards, pulling the heart forward, and dragging the shoulders back. This should allow for a nice expansion of the heart. For your last few breaths here, you may opt to deepen the posture by pushing in to the palms and straightening the arms.
Affirmation: “I am willing to forgive and to be forgiven.”
4. Laying Chest Opener – Staying on the belly, shift a bit to the right side of the mat. Bring your left arm out to the side, aligning the elbow with the shoulder and bending it at 90 degrees. Plant the palm on the floor and roll on to the left hip, left shoulder, and left ear. You may find it comfortable to bend your knees here. Either use your right hand to push in to the floor, or bring it to rest on your low back.
Affirmation: “I listen to my heart and let it guide me.”
After holding for the desired length of time on your left side, gently ease back to the belly, shift towards the left side of the mat and start to set up to take the stretch on the right side.
Affirmation: “I feel a deep connection to others.”
5. Savasana – Flip over on to your back, settle comfortably on mat. Legs extended, arms open from your sides, palms facing up, eyes closed. Find stillness.
Affirmation: “My heart is resilient and capable of healing.”
Prefer to practice with video or audio guides? Check out the full practice video below.
Want more chakra yin yoga practices? Find them here.
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