An Open Heart by Design

This month in my hatha classes (see schedule) we’re working our way towards Ardha Chapasana (Sugarcane pose).  Yes, that’s right, working our way towards, as there is much going on in this pose.
To access the fullness of Sugarcane a student needs to have core strength for balance and back-bending, long hamstrings and quads, open shoulders, hips, and a very open heart.
My hatha classes are level 1-2, but open to all levels.  So when I demonstrate our “fun pose of the month,” which is generally a level 2-3 pose like Sugarcane, I get a little glimpse of anxiety shining wildly from a few of my student’s eyes.
I assure them that we will most definitely be using props throughout the month to help them arrive at the fullness of the pose.  For example, this past week, we practiced Sugarcane on our knees and this week used a chair.  But even with the assurance of the props and assistance, I can still feel their tension.
Aha! So There was a reason behind designing my first lesson on opening the heart.
By the time we reached our modification of Sugarcane on the floor, my student’s open hearts had melted their fear.  By the time they got to Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) with the option to try the full Sugarcane, the mood had shifted even further from anticipation to excitement.
Yoga is funny that way.
 It’s a physical practice that oftentimes has an emotional response.  In life, as in yoga, it isn’t uncommon for one to harden the heart towards the new or unknown.  It’s scary to try something new!
At then end of my classes I challenged my students to pay attention to their hearts as they go about their week.  Perhaps, they will find themselves open to new people or situations.
I challenge you to do the same!  Try opening your heart physically to see how it effects you emotionally.  Here are my favorite poses to open the heart and prepare for Sugar Cane…
  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
  • Uttanasana (Forward bend with hands over head variation) -Use a strap instead of clasping hands if the shoulders are too tight.
  • Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana (Bound Side Angle Pose) -Bring one hand on knee and other hand to hip or small of back, if the full pose is too difficult.
  • Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2)signiture copy
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