lotus-healing-heart2Four simple asanas to heal your heart.

There’s nothing quite like the pain of a broken heart. Quite simply, it sucks.

When we are bruised and battered emotionally as well as mentally, our body can also quite literally feel like it’s been through the wars as well. Apart from feeling horribly sad, rejected, unattractive and all sorts of psychological damage, we may also be experiencing shallow breath, tightness in the chest, headaches and insomnia, aching neck and shoulders and in extreme cases of love trauma, palpitations and sharp deep spasms that feel like the organ itself is tearing apart. Not fun at all.

Think back to the last time someone you loved, left. Or you left them. Whatever the circumstance, it was no doubt pretty awful, but regardless whether you were the giver or the receiver of pain, the one ending it or the one being let go of, you are here now, hopefully okay and able to talk about it, reminisce, maybe even laugh about it. Well maybe laughing is asking a bit much, but you have survived and most likely loved again since.

‘Time heals all wounds’. I am a great believer in this. It has gotten me through some pretty dark moments so far, living in hope that I would one day feel complete again and not the jagged daggers ripping through my heart at the very thought of ‘him’ with ‘her’, and maybe even feel happy for the whole experience. See the gifts within yada yada.

Now after years of yoga, self reflection and lots of time spent journeying and transforming, I have learned that there is actually a conscious and connective way to ending love relationships, and that many of us who have either been dumped unceremoniously or initiated the ending, rather than caving into a delirium of anger, jealousy or self justifying pride, that it serves everyone better to calmly speak from love, albeit it confronting, and hold the other person with as much compassion as we are able. This is the ultimate yoga practice of Ahimsa, of nonviolence to self and to others, and what better time to practice it than during a relationship break down.

Ahimsa involves moving from the heart space and allowing that divine flame of unconditional love, acceptance, understanding and healing, to guide your words, thoughts and actions. It calls us to resist the temptations of third and fourth dimensional behaviour such as yelling, accusing, judging and abuse in any form, and respect the other person whom we have shared body, mind and spirit with, from the highest space possible.

I’m not saying this is easy of course, nor is it always possible, but we must try if we are to evolve.

Goddess knows I haven’t always moved in this way and have often fallen into the hatred, despair and hell hath no fury pit, before being able to shift my energy from “Fuck you!” to forgiveness. (Or ‘Fuck off, Namaste’ if you want my more yogic version). This process is also about honouring yourself as well as the other person because without clean, open communication and acknowledgment of the connection you have shared, neither of you can find closure or resolve your respective karma.

And believe it or not, this reflects your own inner dialogue and the conversations you have with yourself, every day, in every scenario, not just in relation to love and partnerships. If you don’t speak to yourself with love and acceptance, it makes it very difficult to speak with others in this way.

Luckily, yoga helps with all this. It is a multi dimensional gift that we have been given from the ancient sages to help better ourselves, from the inside out. With regular practice and attention to our intentions, we really can heal ourselves and hence affect, repair and deepen our connections with others.

So in light of all this potential available within and to us, and the challenges that obviously come with an impending break up ~ whether you sense it coming or are planning to move on yourself ~ I have put together a simple sequence to connect you with the divine love and lover inside so you can start burning off the human attachments and sorrows, and begin the transmutation journey towards acceptance and healing. It also infuses meridian, chakra and shamanic wisdoms with my own interpretations of each posture to give you maximum holistic support. All created with love.

There are four postures only, mirroring the four chambers of the heart, and you can do them morning, noon and night if you wish. They are safe for beginners as well as expectant mums, but if you are pregnant please be mindful of how long you hold each posture to avoid creating tension or over heating and over working yourself.

It begins with one pose to open the channel, followed by another to really dig out the wounding, a third to strengthen and heal on all levels after the cleansing, and a final pose to allow you to drop into higher heart energy and receive blessings, insights and unconditional love from Source, for in this space, everything becomes clear and all sadness transforms into joy. We just need to get out of our own way, out of our heads and into our hearts, to allow this.

So breathe, open up, be vulnerable… and well just keep breathing!

1 HEART FISTS

Do these at any time of the day or night laying down on your back on the floor, on a mat or in your bed and in between pillow bashing sessions. It doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you open your chest and connect with the gathering and releasing of energy from your heart out through your hands. Let that shit go!

Lay on your back, maybe with a rolled up towel or block placed horizontally between the shoulder blades, around the bra strap/upper back area, and stretch both arms wide, hands in line with the shoulders. In utero our hands grow out of the tissue of our hearts, creating and reflecting an intimate and direct connection to infinite love. Your hands express what is in your heart, what and who you hold, including yourself, and how open you are to receiving, sharing and giving. We can clam up or crack open; be close fisted or open handed.

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When you’re ready, conjure up all the memories, stories, dialogues and feelings attached to your particular situation, make deliberate fists with both hands, thumbs inside the fingers, and pull all of it up the arms into the heart. You will feel the muscles contract across the chest and in the arms and even tightness around the fascia of the heart as the energy gathers before dispersal. Feel that you are breathing everything into the fire of your heart for transmutation.

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Pause at the top of the inhale, swallow, let it build, and then with a long, conscious exhalation, empty out all the trauma attached on the breath and feel it leaving the heart space, trailing down the arms and into the palms that relax open. Soften here for a moment before taking another breath. You can breathe out through the mouth if that gives you a better release. Repeat as many times as you need, in unison with your breath rhythm.

Heart fists help to alleviate build up of emotional stress by moving the feelings attached in various muscles plus the heart itself, around the body so they can be evenly absorbed, dissolved then released. The blood carries our emotions, so when we flush it around instead of allowing it to stagnate in one place, weighing us down in pity and pain, we begin to create new opportunities to shift away from any tendency to wallow, and create the space to find peace and resolve.

2 ANAHATA STRETCH (variation)

This is another great heart connector that will really pull old blockages, resentments and sadness out of the upper back so you don’t move forwards harbouring resentments or swallowed down pain. Hold this for as long as it takes to really feel the challenge in your arms and shoulders, but soften into the neck and face. The trick is to receive the sensation and respond with the breath. This helps us cultivate the ability and intention to hear another person’s story/reasoning without shutting down or going into our own pain/blame body.

You are going to feel this intensely but the burn in the arms is good; this signals that the old crap your have been carrying around and harbouring is now feeding into the fire. Sit in the sensations of loss, pain, regret, I can’t do this, you (bleep), why me, I’m not good enough, all the inner dialogue reactions that bubble to the surface of your awareness, and just breathe deeper. Really go into the experience of where you are holding and where you are closing down, and then let loose with several cauterising, long exhalations. Dig, disperse, dissolve; and then do it again until the charge fizzles out. It will eventually, and the rest pose afterwards will be nothing short of enlightening.

Come onto all fours and then slide the left arm out in front of you and bending the right elbow out to the side, resting either your forehead or your chin on the top of your hand, whichever is more comfortable for your neck. Keep your hips above your knees with the thighs perpendicular to the floor. Roll the left palm upwards and externally to rotate the outer shoulder down toward the mat, opening up the shoulders/trapezius and freeing the neck. This also opens the heart channel and connects it to the liver lines that govern insight and intuition, both energies being intimately connected to the heart and our ability to resolve and dissolve emotional trauma. Turn your head to one side or keep your forehead or chin on the mat, whichever is more comfortable for you.

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Use every inhalation to lift the chest and broaden between the shoulder blades, and every exhalation to drop the heart towards the earth, working the outer upper arm and surrendering any burdens as you go. Use the elbow to the side for balance and as a fulcrum to open further. Every knot, attachment, painful memory, wound and worry will surface as you hover here with intention to set yourself free. Eventually the heart and chest will melt onto the mat and your whole upper back will expand. The softening afterwards is worth the work, so be brave and stay here as long as you can, without hardening up or reacting. Have a short pause and then repeat on the other side. Afterwards rest; childs’ pose never felt so good.

We hold many burdens and stresses in our shoulders that only serve to keep us stuck in resentment and anger. It’s like we have a cache of cocky gargoyles sitting up there whispering patterned thoughts and memories in our ears constantly, trying to undermine our sense of self worth and power.

This variation of Anahata stretch will literally pull those voices and old paradigm hooks out of your head, through the intensity of the sensations, and in the process, soften your reactions and agitations. It will also flush blood around the heart, lymphatics and nerve points in the neck and throat, bringing in vitality to replace despondency, and moving headaches, sleeplessness and frustrating aches and pains away from the upper back, neck and chest area. You can now swallow the reality pill a little more easily.

3 DOWNWARD FACING DOG

This posture is actually five postures in one ~ a standing pose, forward bend, arm balance, belly posture and inversion all rolled in together! Dog is also a great heart strengthening asana that will build organic and energetic integrity and restore emotional balance by cleansing and activating the glandular, circulatory and chakra systems simultaneously.

Going upside down and placing the mind below the heart sends a profound message to your body’s proprioceptors to drain what no longer serves and reset internal programming. The heart is the superior entity, not the gilded mind, and as a result your thoughts and responses will refine and align with heart integrity. It also flushes lots of feel good hormones around your system and gives you a fresh perspective ~ two things that are guaranteed to lift your spirits.

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Come onto all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Spread your fingers and press firmly into the whole palm, particularly index thumb to activate lung and colon channels; vitality and release points that help bring clarity. Tuck toes under and push into the hands, lengthening back along the sides of the waist and through the spine. Keep your neck relaxed, ears in line with inner arms and your gaze receptive.

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*In this variation of Dog, you are asked to push up and down through three parts of the pose, effectively creating a flow to make you work harder, but by doing so, you will activate your heart, whole organ body, muscles and meridian system more precisely, and this builds the heat needed to burn away excess and trauma from the heart. Your breathing will deepen and you will feel exertion after a few rounds. Do as many as you need and then pause in the final position to allow everything to integrate before resting down. The ensuing fatigue is really just your body softening into a deep state of relaxation and release.

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On an exhalation press the hips up into Dog and straighten both legs, but keep your chest connected to your thighs, giving a winching out movement, bone by bone, along your spine. Stop where the hamstrings tighten, even if you keep the legs bent that is okay, but don’t separate the chest and thighs as this keeps your spine long and protected. After a breath or two at your limit, slowly reverse out of the pose back to the floor, keeping the tail tilting up and the chest and thighs connected. You are going to really feel your legs and arms here, so engage your breath deeply as well as your resolve to keep aligned and sitting in the fire energy that will flare up. Shoulders stay broad and the heart stays open as you float up and down, connecting your intentions to your heart chakra and giving yourself permission to feel fully, express sound, let go of tears (or laughter sometimes, it’s all good release), and all with complete commitment. You are building courage, trust and love of self here, plus your ability to heal yourself, so doing three rounds with 150% focus is better than rushing ten, half heartedly (literally). Be a brave heart.

*When you are pausing in Dog, aim to get the heels to the floor but if the hamstrings are too tight, don’t anger them; keep the knees slightly bent. It’s important to not damage the matrix of ligaments that connect the upper insertions of the hamstrings with the pelvic floor in this pose, so as you tilt both sit bones upwards, tuck your tailbone (coccyx) downwards. This creates a subtle and safe nutation (angle) in the pelvis that keeps the integrity of the pose without strain or risk. Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to incontinence (vaginal and anal), loss of sexual organ power as well as poor breath quality because the root chakra/pelvic floor integrity helps draw the breath into the body and circulate it. Eventually this weakness could translate into feeling like you just can’t cope and that you’re not supported on any level.

Draw the breath up from your hands, along the arms, roll the shoulders and armpits to the floor, stretch out through the waist to the hips and then anchor it down the back of the legs into your roots, the heels. Shake out your neck to keep it soft and have the intention of expanding your whole body from the inner skin, to the outer skin. The arm action opens across the trapezius (as in Anahata stretch) and create maximum opening into the heart channel. As you lengthen the crown and neck away from the upper back towards the floor it will feel like a ‘turtle’ like action.

Keep both sides of the neck, throat and back of the neck, relaxed and even in length. Pressing into your pinkie fingers will reveal this connection immediately for you and link back into the heart space. Keep the flare of the ribs drawn in gently so the belly contains the lumbar spine and stop ‘hammock back’, a common sign that the digestive tract and pelvic floor are weak. If you wish to work harder, lift your toes to see the balls of your feet, and press the hips back further, from the hands.

There are lots of focuses obviously in this pose and plenty of opportunities to collapse, so try and stay relaxed yet alert and mindful. Hold and breathe steadily, feeling the power and heat building around the heart and circulating through the whole body. Stretch to your edge and believe you can expand beyond any previous limiting beliefs and restrictions. When you are able to soften in Downward Dog and perhaps even feel delicious and delighted here, you have moved closer to mastering not just the pose, but your mind as well as your Self. Rest and rejoice. Do some more if you wish.

Downward Dog offers a myriad of benefits, from developing breath and circulatory power to grounding and general body strengthening, but when your heart is broken, it will help recharge and rebalance your nervous system pathways that run along the back lines of your body, and which most likely have been given a bloody big shock.

This stretching out will help restore softness and suppleness to your whole body, a bit like pulling the kinks out of the hose ~ the hose being your spine that has collected knots and balls of stress in the form of rejection, pain and emotional trauma ~ and especially because the pulsing action in this mini sequence purposely pulls and pushes blood and prana (life force) along the pathway governing confidence, security and calm, you are effectively pumping out the old and replacing it with new awareness and energy on all levels. Once you lengthen and reset your spine, ease of body and peace of mind will slowly but surely return. Sometimes we have to pull ourselves apart and crack open completely, in order to repair and upgrade to new awareness and better health. Then the light within can shine.

4 LOTUS SEAL

The lotus flower is well known as the symbol of unconditional love and so with this mudra, sitting in silence and allowing your practice to land, you will connect with your higher heart knowing and align yourself with the divine energies and information you most likely will be seeking and receptive too, after having this heart cracking open, life changing experience.

I actually got a small lotus flower tattoo after a very traumatic separation many years ago because it symbolised to me that beauty, grace and faith in love will always be replenished if your roots are anchored, like the lotus blossom, in the deep nurturing waters and soil of mother earth. I had to find something bigger than myself from which to feed and be nurtured, and that was universal Mother; not my partner as I had mistakenly believed.

Come into a comfortable seated position, kneeling or sitting with cross legs and supported with a bolster or block under the buttocks. Find your neutral spine position by tilting your hips forward and backward slightly till you feel that your head is aligned above your heart and hips, without tensing the lumbar or tightening the belly. You should feel your breath drop and widen into the lower belly and pubic bone area when you are in your optimal position. Relax your shoulders, arms and jaw and close the eyes.

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Bring the hands to the heart with the palms together, starting in Anjali mudra, the meeting of yin and yang, the fusion of masculine and feminine divine. Take a few breaths into this space and connect with what it means to you; how you have been interpreting the male/female relationship, any conditioning you carry from your own experiences or via your parents, if you are carrying their stuff (as we often do) and whether any of these beliefs and patterns are serving your highest good.

When you’re ready and keeping the heels of the hands together, the pinkies and thumbs touching, flower the other six fingers open to shape a lotus bud opening. Keep your hands soft and receptive, as if you are holding a delicate golden orb, gazing upon a candle flame or precious jewel or anything else that symbolises grace, beauty and divinity to you. You may even see your guiding deity or power animal in this sphere, connecting to you in your time of need and offering you support. You may keep your eyes closed here or have them half open like Buddhas’ gaze, as you concentrate on the flow of your breath and receiving any information and insights through this deep heart connection.

In this meditative space, ask for what you want. Surrender all your pain, disappointment, heartache, everything, to the higher power that is shining upon you now through invoking this mudra. Ride the waves of your breath and the emotions that surge without judging what comes to you. When you feel you have received what you need, bring the palms back together, bow in namaste to your own inner divine light, thank those who came to work with you, and relax out of the posture.

Melt out now in savasana with some props under you and pop on some soothing tunes to really give yourself some attention, love and time to integrate the whole practice. You may like to keep a diary handy to jot down any insights that come afterwards. This is a great way to track your healing journey, plus it’s always interesting to look back later to see how far you have grown and remind yourself just how strong, connected and beautiful you are.

I have included a suggested reading list plus a few tracks here also that I resonate with and use regularly in my classes when I can feel the need for some heart soothing and healing, so I hope they also help you find a deeper sense of peace.

Some of the tunes may bring tears to your eyes and give you a deep heart release that way, as they still do for me, and others may uplift your spirit and soothe your heart as you flow along with them. Many native cultures believe that the heart is the bridge between Father Sky and Mother Earth. For these traditions, the ‘four-chambered heart,’ the source for sustaining emotional and spiritual health, is described as being full, open, clear, and strong. These indigenous traditions feel that it is important to check the condition of the four-chambered heart daily, asking: ‘Am I full-hearted, open-hearted, clear-hearted, and strong-hearted?’ Try and spend a little time every day attuning with this affirmation and feel your heart start to heal.

Through my own personal experiences I believe the only way to get over, move beyond and gain understanding and perspective after a break up, is to immerse yourself thoroughly in the sensations of loss and sadness, and feel them in all their raw fullness. Each traumatic tendril has a message and a hidden gift for you. Only when you release their charges fully and cut the stories consciously and completely, can you find your own path to freedom.

Ultimately both on and off the mat, the only way out is through.

We all know that yoga is a wonderful therapy with many benefits for body, mind and soul, but of course, if you feel you need more specific support or you suffer from any kind of psychological or bio chemical imbalance, please seek out professional help. It’s healthy to never adhere to just one way of being or healing for that itself is a form of limitation and control and leads to loss of personal power. I believe it’s our willingness to trust our gut instincts and transcend the challenges that surface that helps make us unique, resilient and ever expansive… and when you’re in that space of self knowing again, and you will be, true love will come flying in and knock you off your asana when you least expect it!

Namaste,

Denby X

 

Suggested reading:

Anything by RUMI and OSHO

The four agreements (Jose Luis Sanchez)

When Things Fall Apart (Pema Chodron)

The Untethered Soul (Singer)

Core of the Yoga Sutras (BKS Iyengar)

The Bhagavad Gita

 

Suggested playlist:

Magic (Coldplay)

Purnamadah by Shantala (The Love Window)

Lotus Heart by Desert Dwellers (Down Temple Dub:Waves)

Ong Namo by Snatam Kaur (DJ Nartak and Five Seasons remix)

Calm by Govinda (Worlds Within)

Closing Meditation by Shantala (Live in Love, Vol 2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE’S LIBERATION:

4 SIMPLE ASANAS TO HEAL YOUR HEART

 

There’s nothing quite like the pain of a broken heart. It sucks.

 

When we are bruised and battered emotionally as well as mentally, our body can also quite literally feel like it’s been through the wars as well. Apart from feeling horribly sad, rejected, unattractive and all sorts of psychological damage, we may also be experiencing shallow breath, tightness in the chest, headaches and insomnia, aching neck and shoulders and in extreme cases of love trauma, palpitations and sharp deep spasms that feel like the organ itself is tearing apart. Not fun at all.

 

Think back to the last time someone you loved, left. Or you left them. Whatever the circumstance, it was no doubt pretty awful, but regardless whether you were the giver or the receiver of pain, the one ending it or the one being let go, you are here now, hopefully okay and able to talk about it, reminisce, maybe even laugh about it. Well maybe laughing is asking a bit much, but you have survived and most likely loved again since.

 

Time heals all wounds, so they say, and I am a great believer in that. It has gotten me through some pretty dark moments so far, living in hope that I would one day feel complete again and not jagged daggers ripping through my heart at the very thought of ‘him’ with ‘her’, and maybe even feel happy for the whole experience. See the gifts within, another thing ‘they’ like to say.

 

Now after years of yoga, self reflection and lots of time spent journeying and transforming, I have learned that there is actually a conscious and connective way to ending love relationships, and that many of us who have either been dumped unceremoniously or initiated the ending, rather than caving into a delirium of anger, jealousy or self justifying pride, that it serves everyone better to calmly speak from love, albeit it confronting, and hold the other person with as much compassion as we are able. This is the ultimate yoga practice of Ahimsa, of nonviolence to self and to others, and what better time to practice it than during a relationship break down.

 

Ahimsa involves moving from the heart space and allowing that divine flame of unconditional love, acceptance, understanding and healing, to guide your words, thoughts and actions. It calls us to resist the temptations of third and fourth dimensional behaviour such as yelling, accusing, judging and abuse in any form, and respect the other person whom we have shared body, mind and spirit with, from the highest space possible.

 

I’m not saying this is easy of course, nor is it always possible, but we must try if we are to evolve.

 

Goddess knows I haven’t always moved in this way and have often fallen into the hatred, despair and hell hath no fury pit, before being able to shift my energy from “Fuck you!” to forgiveness. This process is also about honouring yourself as well as the other person because without clean, open communication and acknowledgment of the connection you have shared, neither of you can find closure or resolve your respective karma.

And believe it or not, this reflects your own inner dialogue and the conversations you have with yourself, every day, in every scenario, not just in relation to love and partnerships. If you don’t speak to yourself with love and acceptance, it makes it very difficult to speak with others in this way.

 

Luckily, yoga helps with all this. It is a multi dimensional gift that we have been given from the ancient sages to help better ourselves, from the inside out. With regular practice and attention to our intentions, we really can heal ourselves and hence affect, repair and deepen our connections with others.

 

So in light of all this potential available within and to us, and the challenges that obviously come with an impending break up ~ whether you sense it coming or are planning to move on yourself ~ I have put together a simple sequence to connect you with the divine love and lover inside so you can start burning off the human attachments and sorrows, and begin the transmutation journey towards acceptance and healing. It also infuses meridian, chakra and shamanic wisdoms with my own interpretations of each posture to give you maximum holistic support. All created with love.

 

There are four postures only, mirroring the four chambers of the heart, and you can do them morning, noon and night if you wish. They are safe for beginners as well as expectant mums, but if you are pregnant please be mindful of how long you hold each posture to avoid creating tension or over heating and over working yourself.

 

It begins with one to open the channel, followed by another to really dig out the wounding, a third to strengthen and heal on all levels after the cleansing, and a final pose to allow you to drop into higher heart energy and receive blessings, insights and unconditional love from Source, for in this space, everything becomes clear and all sadness transforms into joy.

 

It’s always handy if you are able to sense these things too before they happen but of course in reality that rarely ever happens, unless you are extremely switched on and connected to your intuition. Or psychic. Most of us get one nasty surprise when that short but sharp little phrase is uttered, “We need to talk.”

 

Breathe, open up, be vulnerable… and well just keep breathing!

 

1 HEART FISTS

Do these at any time of the day or night laying down on your back on the floor, on a mat or in your bed and in between pillow bashing sessions. It doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you open your chest and connect with the gathering and releasing of energy from your heart out through your hands. Let that shit go!

 

Lay on your back, maybe with a rolled up towel or block placed horizontally between the shoulder blades, around the bra strap area, and stretch both arms wide, hands in line with the shoulders. In utero our hands grow out of the tissue of our hearts, creating an intimate and direct connection to infinite love. Your hands express what is in your heart, what and who you hold, including yourself, and how open you are to receiving, sharing and giving. We can clam up or crack open; be close fisted or open handed.

 

 

When you’re ready, conjure up all the memories, stories, dialogues and feelings attached to your particular situation, make deliberate fists with both hands, thumbs inside the fingers, and pull all of it up the arms into the heart. You will feel the muscles contract across the chest and in the arms and even tightness around the fascia of the heart as the energy gathers before dispersal. Feel that you are breathing everything into the fire of your heart for transmutation. Pause at the top of the inhale, swallow, let it build, and then with a long, conscious exhalation, empty out all the trauma attached on the breath and feel it leaving the heart space, trailing down the arms and into the palms that relax open. Repeat as many times as you need, in unison with your breath rhythm.

 

Heart fists help to alleviate build up of emotional stress by moving the feelings attached in various muscles plus the heart itself, around the body so they can be evenly absorbed, dissolved then released. The blood carries our emotions, so when we flush it around instead of allowing it to stagnate in one place, weighing us down in pity and pain, we begin to create new opportunities to shift away from any tendency to wallow, and create the space to find peace and resolve.

 

 

 

2 ANAHATA STRETCH

This is another great heart connector that will really pull old blockages, resentments and sadness out of the upper back so you don’t move forwards harbouring resentments or swallowed down pain. Hold this for as long as it takes to really feel the challenge in your arms and shoulders, but soften into the neck and face. The trick is to receive the sensation and respond with the breath. This helps us cultivate the ability and intention to hear another person’s story/reasoning without shutting down or going into our own pain/blame body.

 

You are going to feel this intensely but the burn in the arms is good; this signals that the old crap your have been carrying around and harbouring is now feeding into the fire. Sit in the sensations of loss, pain, regret, I can’t do this, you (bleep), why me, not good enough, all the inner dialogue reactions that bubble to the surface of your awareness, and just breathe deeper. Really go into the experience of where you are holding and where you are closing down, and then let loose with several cauterising, long exhalations. Dig, disperse, dissolve; and then do it again until the charge fizzles out. It will eventually, and the rest pose afterwards will be nothing short of enlightening.

Come onto all fours and then slide both arms out in front of you taking hands to the top corners of your mat. Keep your hips above your knees with the thighs perpendicular to the floor. Spread your fingers and press

 

all knuckles down, rolling the energy from index and thumbs, up the arms to externally rotate the outer shoulders down toward the mat, opening up the shoulders/trapezius and freeing the neck. Turn your head to one side or keep your forehead on the mat, whichever is more comfortable for you.

 

You can also flex both hands with the fingers straight and strong as seen in the above image, with the chin on the mat to work into the lung points and arms more intensely. See how your neck feels.

 

Use every inhalation to lift the chest and broaden between the shoulder blades, and every exhalation to drop the heart towards the earth, working the outer upper arms and surrendering any burdens as you go. Every knot, attachment, painful memory, wound and worry will surface as you hover here with intention to set yourself free. Eventually the heart and chest will melt onto the mat and your whole upper back will expand. The softening afterwards is worth the work, so be brave and stay here as long as you can, without hardening up or reacting. Childs’ pose never felt so good.

 

We hold many burdens and stresses in our shoulders that only serve to keep us stuck in resentment and anger. It’s like we have a cache of cocky gargoyles sitting up there whispering patterned thoughts and memories in our ears constantly, trying to undermine our sense of self worth and power.

 

Anahata stretch will literally pull those voices and old paradigm hooks out of your head, through the intensity of the sensations, and in the process, soften your reactions and agitations. It will also flush blood around the heart, lymphatics and nerve points in the neck and throat, bringing in vitality to replace despondency, and moving headaches, sleeplessness and frustrating aches and pains away from the upper back, neck and chest area. You can now swallow the reality pill a little more easily.

 

3 DOWNWARD FACING DOG

This posture is actually five postures in one ~ a standing pose, forward bend, arm balance, belly posture and inversion all rolled in together! Dog is also a great heart strengthening asana that will build organic and energetic integrity and restore emotional balance by cleansing and activating the glandular, circulatory and chakra systems simultaneously.

 

Going upside down and placing the mind below the heart sends a profound message to your body’s proprioceptors to drain what no longer serves and reset internal programming. The heart is the superior entity, not the gilded mind, and as a result your thoughts and responses will refine and align with heart integrity. It also flushes lots of feel good hormones around your system and gives you a fresh perspective ~ two things that are guaranteed to lift your spirits.

 

Come onto all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Spread your fingers and press firmly into the whole palm, particularly index thumb to activate lung and colon channels; vitality and release points that help bring clarity. Tuck toes under and push into the hands, lengthening back along the sides of the waist and through the spine. Keep your neck relaxed, ears in line with inner arms and your gaze receptive.

 

*In this variation of Dog, you are asked to push up and down through three parts of the pose, effectively creating a flow to make you work harder, but by doing so, you will activate your heart, whole organ body, muscles and meridian system more precisely, and this builds the heat needed to burn away excess and trauma from the heart. Your breathing will deepen and you will feel exertion after a few rounds. Do as many as you need and then pause in the final position to allow everything to integrate before resting down. The ensuing fatigue is really just your body softening into a deep state of relaxation and release.

 

On an exhalation press the hips up into Dog and straighten both legs, but keep your chest connected to your thighs, giving a winching out movement, bone by bone, along your spine. Stop where the hamstrings tighten, even if you keep the legs bent that is okay, but don’t separate the chest and thighs as this keeps your spine long and protected. After a breath or two at your limit, slowly reverse out of the pose back to the floor, keeping the tail tilting up and the chest and thighs connected. You are going to really feel your legs and arms here, so engage your breath deeply as well as your resolve to keep aligned and sitting in the fire energy that will flare up. Shoulders stay broad and the heart stays open as you float up and down, connecting your intentions to your heart chakra and giving yourself permission to feel fully, express sound, let go of tears (or laughter sometimes, it’s all good release), and all with complete commitment. You are building courage, trust and love of self here, plus your ability to heal yourself, so doing three rounds with 150% focus is better than rushing ten, half heartedly (literally). Be a brave heart.

 

*When you are pausing in Dog, aim to get the heels to the floor but if the hamstrings are too tight, don’t anger them; keep the knees slightly bent. It’s important to not damage the matrix of ligaments that connect the upper insertions of the hamstrings with the pelvic floor in this pose, so as you tilt both sit bones upwards, tuck your tailbone (coccyx) downwards. This creates a subtle and safe nutation (angle) in the pelvis that keeps the integrity of the pose without strain or risk. Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to incontinence (vaginal and anal), loss of sexual organ power as well as poor breath quality because the root chakra/pelvic floor integrity helps draw the breath into the body and circulate it.

 

Draw the breath up from your hands, along the arms, roll the shoulders and armpits to the floor, stretch out through the waist to the hips and then anchor it down the back of the legs into your roots, the heels. Shake out your neck to keep it soft and have the intention of expanding your whole body from the inner skin, to the outer skin. The arm action opens across the trapezius (as in Anahata stretch) and create maximum opening into the heart channel. As you lengthen the crown and neck away from the upper back towards the floor it will feel like a ‘turtle’ like action.

 

Keep both sides of the neck, throat and back of the neck, relaxed and even in length. Pressing into your pinkie fingers will reveal this connection immediately for you and link back into the heart space. Keep the flare of the ribs drawn in gently so the belly contains the lumbar spine and stop ‘hammock back’, a common sign that the digestive tract and pelvic floor are weak. If you wish to work harder, lift your toes to see the balls of your feet, and press the hips back further, from the hands.

 

Lots of focuses obviously in this pose and plenty of opportunities to collapse, so try and stay relaxed yet alert and mindful. Hold and breathe steadily, feeling the power and heat building around the heart and circulating through the whole body. Stretch to your edge and believe you can expand beyond any previous limiting beliefs and restrictions. When you are able to soften in Downward Dog and perhaps even feel delicious and delighted here, you have moved closer to mastering not just the pose, but your mind as well as your Self. Rest and rejoice. Do some more if you wish.

 

Downward Dog offers a myriad of benefits, from developing breath and circulatory power to grounding and general body strengthening, but when your heart is broken, it will help recharge and rebalance your nervous system pathways that run along the back lines of your body, and which most likely have been given a bloody big shock.

 

This stretching out will help restore softness and suppleness to your whole body, a bit like pulling the kinks out of the hose ~ the hose being your spine that has collected knots and balls of stress in the form of rejection, pain and emotional trauma ~ and especially because the pulsing action in this mini sequence purposely pulls and pushes blood and prana (life force) along the pathway governing confidence, security and calm, you are effectively pumping out the old and replacing it with new awareness and energy on all levels. Once you lengthen and reset your spine, ease of body and peace of mind will slowly but surely return. Sometimes we have to pull ourselves apart and crack open completely, in order to repair and upgrade to new awareness and better health. Then the light within can shine.

 

4 LOTUS SEAL

The lotus flower is well known as the symbol of unconditional love and so with this mudra, sitting in silence and allowing your practice to land, you will connect with your higher heart knowing and align yourself with the divine energies and information you most likely will be seeking and receptive too, after having this heart cracking open, life changing experience.

 

I actually got a small lotus flower tattoo after a very traumatic separation many years ago because it symbolised to me that beauty, grace and faith in love will always be replenished if your roots are anchored, like the lotus blossom, in the deep nurturing waters of mother earth. I had to find something bigger than myself from which to feed and be nurtured, and that was universal Mother; not my partner as I had mistakenly believed.

 

Come into a comfortable seated position, kneeling or sitting with cross legs and supported with a bolster or block under the buttocks. Find your neutral spine position by tilting your hips forward and backward slightly till you feel that your head is aligned above your heart and hips, without tensing the lumbar or tightening the belly. You should feel your breath drop and widen into the lower belly and pubic bone area when you are in your optimal position. Relax your shoulders, arms and jaw and close the eyes.

 

Bring the hands to the heart with the palms together, starting in Anjali mudra, the meeting of yin and yang, the fusion of masculine and feminine divine. Take a few breaths into this space and connect with what it means to you; how you have been interpreting the male/female relationship, any conditioning you carry from your own experiences or via your parents, if you are carrying their stuff (as we often do) and whether any of these beliefs and patterns are serving your highest good.

 

When you’re ready and keeping the heels of the hands together, the pinkies and thumbs touching, flower the other six fingers open to shape a lotus bud opening. Keep your hands soft and receptive, as if you are holding a delicate golden orb, gazing upon a candle flame or precious jewel or anything else that symbolises grace, beauty and divinity to you. You may even see your guiding deity or power animal in this sphere, connecting to you in your time of need and offering you support. You may keep your eyes closed here or have them half open like Buddhas’ gaze, as you concentrate on the flow of your breath and receiving any information and insights through this deep heart connection.

 

In this meditative space, ask for what you want. Surrender all your pain, disappointment, heartache, everything, to the higher power that is shining upon you now through invoking this mudra. Ride the waves of your breath and the emotions that surge without judging what comes to you. When you feel you have received what you need, bring the palms back together, bow in namaste to your own inner divine light, thank those who came to work with you, and relax out of the posture.

 

Melt out now in savasana with some props under you and pop on some soothing tunes to really give yourself some attention, love and time to integrate the whole practice. You may like to keep a diary handy to jot down any insights that come afterwards. This is a great way to track your healing journey, plus it’s always interesting to look back later to see how far you have grown and remind yourself just how strong, connected and beautiful you are.

 

I have included a suggested reading list plus a few tracks here also that I resonate with and use regularly in my classes when I can feel the need for some heart soothing and healing, so I hope they also help you find a deeper sense of peace.

 

Some of the tunes may bring tears to your eyes and give you a deep heart release that way, as they still do for me, and others may uplift your spirit and soothe your heart as you flow along with them. Also added is a link to a beautiful heart mediation that I hope brings you clarity and healing.

 

Through my own personal experiences I believe the only way to get over, move beyond and gain understanding and perspective after a break up, is to immerse yourself thoroughly in the sensations of loss and sadness, and feel them in all their raw fullness. Each traumatic tendril has a message and a hidden gift for you. Only when you release their charges fully and cut the stories consciously and completely, can you find your own path to freedom.

 

Ultimately both on and off the mat, the only way out is through.

 

We all know that yoga is a wonderful therapy with many benefits for body, mind and soul, but of course, if you feel you need more specific support or you suffer from any kind of psychological or bio chemical imbalance, please seek out professional help. It’s healthy to never adhere to just one way of being or healing for that itself is a form of limitation and control and leads to loss of personal power. I believe it’s our willingness to trust our gut instincts and transcend the challenges that surface that helps make us unique, resilient and ever expansive… and when you’re in that space of self knowing again, and you will be, true love will come flying in and knock you off your asana when you least expect it!

Namaste,

Denby X

 

 

Suggested reading:

Anything by RUMI and OSHO

The four agreements (Jose Luis Sanchez)

When Things Fall Apart (Pema Chodron)

The Untethered Soul (Singer)

Core of the Yoga Sutras (BKS Iyengar)

The Bhagavad Gita