In a recent post, Be Your Valentine: 10 Ways to Show Yourself the Love, I discussed ten ways you can love and embrace yourself before anyone else. Now, it’s Valentine’s Day and I thought what better way to celebrate than to follow up with 20 Ways to Open Your Heart – On and Off the Mat.
When we think of the term, “open your heart,” it often suggests opening yourself up to love — romantic love. And that’s great. But what about all of the other ways you can simply open your heart to others, to gratitude, to joy? In yoga, we often talk about opening your Heart Chakra — one of the seven major energy centers of the body that’s located in the center of your heart (energetically speaking.)
This fourth chakra, associated with the color green, is the seat of our compassion and love. In the body, it governs the heart, lungs, circulatory & respiratory systems, and breasts. It also rules the arms and hands. Spiritually and energetically, it’s the center of our emotional being; where the upper and lower chakras meet. This is where love, joy, understanding, generosity and oneness originate. Someone with a balanced heart chakra is able to openly give and receive love. Conversly, a blocked heart chakra is associated with intolerance, guilt, rejection, low self esteem. Physically, some energy healers, believe a blocked heart chakra is associated with respiratory illness, heart disease, upper back and shoulder issues. So let’s get unblocked and rock that heart chakra on and off the mat.
Here are 20 Ways to Open Your Heart – On and Off the Yoga Mat:
- Give everyone you see a big smile, a wave, warm greetings and make eye contact
- Buy a stranger coffee
- Pay the road toll for the car behind you
- Ask someone you don’t know how they are, and mean it
- Show yourself some compassion on the mat, and be compassionate with your yoga classmates – leave the competition outside
- Volunteer at a senior living facility and give the gift of a warm heart and an ear – you might hear a fascinating story or two
- Listen with your heart, don’t worry about teeing up what you’re going to say in response
- Sink deeply and easily into Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose) to open the space between your shoulders and calm the mind
- Tell someone you love that you love them
- Tell someone you work with that you are grateful for them
- Put a fresh roll of toilet paper on the empty roll (sounds silly but karmically awesome)
- Spend 10 minutes in supported Matsyasana (Fish Pose); it opens the heart and ribs, stimulates muscles in the belly and throat, releases the upper back
- Set your neighbor’s recycling bin out by the curb
- Hug your family and friends with true affection
- Take your dog for a walk
- Buy a bag of dog or cat food for the local animal shelter
- Be the first to let the car at the stop sign go in front of you
- Shine your heart open in Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) or Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow or Wheel Pose)
- Donate to your favorite charity today and frequently
- Give gold star stickers to everyone in your life
While many of these gestures may seem silly or trivial, you’ll be surprised at the joy you can bring to someone else’s life with the little things. Opening your heart through yoga and karmic practices, is contagious and beneficial to everyone. Opening the gateway of your heart brings only positive results.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” – Aesop.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
-Your Charmed Yogi