One yogini sharing her path of discovery

Posts tagged ‘heart’

Finding Your Winter Heart

winter heart

While at a class the other morning I was reminded of the importance of opening our heart centers during the colder months. Here in Vancouver with these heavy clouds and lack of sun the desire to close inwards is oh so appealing. But when we completely draw in during the winter our heart center can suffer. You may notice shallower breathe, disconnection with others, less people smiling at one another on the street and more tension in the chest, shoulders, neck, and arms.

The phrase “open your heart” is uttered a lot in yoga classes. I know I say it when I am guiding and thinking it when I am practicing. The first time I ever heard it in a class it was something that resonated deep within. Even now after years of practice its still something I return to. But what does it really mean and what can we do to cultivate it during the winter when we just want to get cozy?


A lot of people resonate in the same way I do with heart-opening but the mistake that is commonly made with this cue is that instead of simply lifting up through the collar bone, people will collapse in their lower back and push out the rib cage. To help prevent this the first step is awareness. In the next few poses keep the idea of trucking the tailbone under, pulling belly button intowards the spine, lengthening the sides of the body, and the rib cage in.

Warm up

I find heart-openers the juciest when I am super duper warmed up, especially in my spine. So before letting go in a heartful backbend get your inner fire buring mobilize the spine. *Also feel free to wear lots of layers.

– Start with some cat/cow (marjaryasana/bitilasana) linked with breath to start to cultivate a little bit of heat as well as movment in the spine. Begin by finding your neutral spine and on the next inhale allow the belly to drop and the tailbone and heart to lift. Gaze remains forward elongating the back of the neck. On the exhale let the chin lower intowards the chest and press into the palms to help open up in between the shoulder blades and arc like an angry cat. *Explore with the breath. It may feel more comfortable to switch the inhale and exhales along with the movement. There is no wrong way. cat:cow  marjaryasana:bitilasana

Twist it out

– Twists are one of my favorite ways to begin to open up the chest and pectoral muscles that can tighten up during colder spells or with sitting a lot at a desk. Begin this “threading the needle” twist on hands and knees. Inhale as you lift right arm off of the floor and exhale as you take it under the palm that continues to rest on the mat. You can make this is flowing movement with breath or remain here lifting the left arm up towards the sky.

kneeling twist part 1     kneeling twist part 2

Lunge to the heart

– Begin with a low lunge letting proper alignment be the motivation before heart-opening to insure the low back is supported. Make sure the knee doesn’t come past the toes, tuck the tailbone under, and let the hips sick down. When you have found your Anjaneyasana on an inhale allow the arms (not shoulders) to lift to the sky, on an exhale let the arms gentle float back down. Now imagine a pendant on your chest that gradually lifts higher and higher towards the sky without comprimising the stability in the back.


Restore the heart

– There are a few different options for restorative heart-openers but this is one of my favorites because you don’t need anything special. *Make sure you are warm enough with socks a sweater, blanket for the body, and even an eye pillow. Just a a couple towles or blankets. Roll up one blanket and place another folded under the head insuring that the head doesn’t feel like its hanging down. Line up the bottom of the shoulder blades with the edge of the blanket allowing the sholders to rest in between the two blankets. Legs can straight but if the back is really talking to you than feel free to place something beneth the knees. Stay for at least 5-10 minutes. Breathe. * A similar pose can also be done with a bolster if its okay for the back.

heart with blanket

After you are done you can take the props out from underneath and allow the knees to pull into the chest to release the lower back.

Savasana (corpse pose) can shortly follow integrating the information. If it serves you visulize the color green while you are in rest. *Savasana is always an important part of practice even it hasn’t been a long one.

The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart

– Buddha

Happy heart everyone!


xo carly


Giving and Receiving Openly


As Christmas quickly approaches I got to thinking a lot about giving and receiving.


My awareness of being able to receive openly became noticed when my wonderful partner had a hard time excepting my compliments. It got me thinking about who else had this same challenge. I spent the next few days complimenting friends and family and out of the 5 people I gave compliments and gratitude towards 4 turned it down. Instead of saying thank you it was returned with a negative about themselves.


On the subject of give I thought back. I have always been a “giver”. People that are drawn to health professions usually are. I found I gave so much when I was working in that setting that I often felt drained and unable/unwilling to give in other situations with family and friends. I also got the sense that as the giver I was entitled to a reward for it. At work my reward was praise so in my relationships I expected the same thing for my giving nature. Because of this I generally was left feeling disappointed and angry when I wasn’t rewarded or appreciated for my efforts. Not good for anyone.

When I began to understand gratitude in its purest form the act of giving and receiving became a gift in itself. I stopped expecting to receive and enjoying to give. It also opened me to be more aware of the gifts that I receive each day like a smile from a stranger or a simple thanks from a friend. I realized that it truly goes both ways. The universe and our energetic body craves balance so learn to except, appreciate, and receive these gifts openly and feel the fullness of wanting to give back.


The Heart Chakra अनाहत, Anāhata Oh the heart. Since I could write endlessly about the importance of the heart chakra I will keep it simple. A lotus flower with 12 petals is the visual for this chakra. The element is air and the sense is touch. Balancing the ethereal with the physical as well as linking the lower 3 chakra points with the higher 3. This is the center for our compassion and trust as well as giving and receiving (ah, there it is). When our heart is closed or dense feelings of distrust arise as well as unable to receive. You May feel resentful or attached to things in the past. Other the other side when our heart is too open you pour out all of that energy in the desire to help others leaving nothing for yourself. So how do we balance?


1. Asana:  or


2. Meditation: I found this lovely posting on a meditation on giving and receiving. One day soon I will record my own.


3. Practice the act of giving and receiving during the holidays. Notice how your thoughts and emotions towards the acts change or develop.

Good luck. We are all deserving.

Namaste xo


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