This post is part of Sadhana, a 26-week exploration of each of the Namaste Yoga sequences. It’s never too late to join! All that is required is to try a new Namaste sequence each week – and don’t forget to post about your experiences to be entered in our monthly contests. Read all the Sadhana posts here or connect with others participating in Sadhana on our Facebook wall.
The physical organ that is the heart has four distinct chambers. Blood must be able to flow through each chamber with ease and efficiency for there to be balance in this most vital of organs. If an area gets blocked, the rhythm becomes irregular. The other chambers have to work harder, causing them more stress and more irregularity.
Stress and irregularity can hurt the heart. It can hurt your soul, too.
According to The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali:
Asana means a posture that brings comfort and steadiness… If you can achieve one, that is enough.
The heart, the soul, the body... the whole, need comfort and steadiness. That is what the Heart Opening sequence aims to bring. Beginning with the Heart Opening Breath Body Link, set to work opening all the channels of yourself. With calm and steady breath, begin to explore what it is to be fully open and experience the world through the eyes of calm and balance.
It’s time to find the strength and confidence in Warrior II. Kate guides you to lift the chest, the back of the skull, and press down with the feet. Feel firmly grounded and strong in this pose, as you are solid and square, extending into all four chambers of your body physically, and your heart figuratively.
With Lateral Angle, we begin to examine and open the body and heart, one side at a time. This is where you can really focus and take note of the ordinarily imperceptible differences of either side of your body. You may have more strength and confidence on your right side than your left, this is the moment to adjust for that. Feel the grounding stability of your hand as it presses into the floor. This will assist your balance if you find you need to adjust your legs in this pose. Focus on the rotation of your chest. Here you can really open and expand; reflecting on what it is to feel freedom in the living, beating organ that resides within.
Moving from Lateral Angle to Exalted Warrior can be difficult. You may find your feet wobbling and lifting as you rise from this low position, to one of such high heights! Focus on your center in this moment. Use the strength of your core, the fire in your heart and the strength in your front foot and leg to power into this confident and celebratory posture. There you are! Glorious!
Then there is the smooth, slow, even descent into Triangle pose. It's not a feeling of sinking, but of reaching out as you glide down. As your grounding hand finds the floor, your upward reaching arm is charged to reach even higher, the chest can open and expand even more in this moment. Now there is more room for the breath!
Glide your upward reaching hand down to cross your front arm and leg as you find Head-to-Knee pose. This is a moment to exercise some care and caution. It is very easy to do harm to the hamstrings and tendons of the back of the leg if your stance is too wide. Kate suggests you walk your back leg in, and this is well advised! An injury in this area can take a very long time to recover from. Once your stance is comfortable, feel the restorative capacity of this pose. Your heart is sheltered within the cove created between the back and the leg. Relax for a moment.
“The best way to relax, is to smile,” Kate suggests.
Come to Savasana, having opened and explored the chambers of the heart, the quadrants of the body, and the angles of the mind. The Gesture of No Fear is a call to keep your heart open, as you know the strength of it and have done the work to make it resilient and able to experience fully the joys and the sorrows of life.
“Freedom is not a concept in yoga, but an experience felt as our nature shines forth unburdened, unattached… free of the ego,” Kate says.
May your heart be open and free.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Heather Gregory is an avid Namaste yogini and has been practicing the sequences nearly every day for three years. We enlisted Heather to embark on Sadhana, our 26 -week journey, and blog about each sequence. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org