In yoga class, what do you feel when you are instructed to open your heart, lift your heart, or draw your heart forward? Does this sound vague? What is an "open heart," and is that truly our intention? As a yoga teacher trainer, I like to understand how the language we use affects our alignment and how movement affects blockages. With this thyroid yoga sequence, I’ve found balance in my heart, so I can attract healthy relationships and establish clear boundaries with confidence, which ultimately has created the space to attract love, beauty, and freedom in all areas of my life.
This sequence helped to balance my heart chakra and, ultimately, my receptivity for intimacy and healthy relationships with those in balance as well. The freedom I feel has relieved inflammation in my body from holding emotions, especially within my thyroid and lungs, too.
First, set up your sacred practice space.
Use crystals and essential oils related to the heart and throat chakra in your yoga practice space and on your body. The heart chakra is located in the physical heart and governs love, kindness, and compassion. It’s represented by the colors green and pink, the stones rose quartz and watermelon tourmaline, and essential oils of rose geranium and jasmine are especially powerful.
For this sequence, you’ll also need two to four yoga blocks, a blanket, and a yoga bolster.
1. Restorative Bridge Pose
From a reclined position on your back, arms alongside your body, bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, hip-width apart, toes slightly pointing inward. Press your palms and feet actively as you lift your tailbone up toward the pubis. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Place one, two, or three blocks under your sacrum, low back. For additional support, place one block behind your heart to support your chest. Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum while lifting the top of the sternum toward the chin. Slowly, release down to your back and roll over to one side; ease your way up to center.
2. Bear Claw Twist
This particular breathing exercise increases circulation and expands the capacity of the lungs.
At the level of your throat, place the right palm facing the left palm and clasp fingers together, creating a tension on the palms almost as if pulling them apart. With every inhale, twist torso to the left. Each twist to the left sends circulation and blood flow to the heart, which is located on the left side of the body. Every exhale, twist torso to the right. Each twist to the right promotes the detoxification of the liver, located on the right side of the body. After three minutes, sit silently with your eyes closed and breathe deeply, noticing the effect of this breathwork on your physical and energetic state. Hold for 3 minutes with rapid inhales and exhales through the nose.
3. Eagle Arm
This powerful exercise strengthens your lower body while at the same time flushes chronic stress and stagnation from the lungs, stimulates the heart, cleanses the thyroid, and promotes overall balance.
Start by standing in tadasana, mountain pose, with feet hip-width apart. Then, turn your toes forward and make certain that your toes are facing directly forward and not out to the side. Next, reach your arms out to the side and wrap under your left and press your palms together if you can. If this is difficult, reach your fingertips up as high as you can on your lower arm or wrist without strain. Tuck your chin over your upper arm or elbow crease to flush your thyroid.
As you inhale, keep the arm wrap and lift elbows up and away from you. As you exhale, bend your knees, hinging at the hips, folding over your legs, and with bent knees, lift your sitz bones up toward the sky as your head releases down. Hold on to your left ankle or shin with your right hand, right ankle with your left hand.
Take three deep breaths in your forward fold, then as you inhale, wrap your arms back in eagle arms, left arm on top of right, lifting up, then returning to tadasana as you exhale. Now repeat with the other arm on top.
3. Low Lunge With Eagle Arm
From tadasana, mountain pose, step your left leg back into a low lunge, lining up your right knee over your right ankle. Lower your left knee to the floor, making sure to place it behind your hip. Place a blanket under your knee if needed. Ensure your hips and chest are facing forward. Wrap your arms in the eagle arm variation described above.
On an inhalation, raise your elbows up and away from you as you arch your spine, and on your exhalation, bow forward, drawing your elbows down and rounding your spine. Keeping your hips evenly facing forward will keep you stable and balanced here. Repeat the movement 5 times, then step forward into a forward fold, and repeat the lunge on the other side, with the left leg forward and the right arm wrapped on top. Step forward into a forward fold for 10 long, deep breaths.
4. Bump on a Log
This restorative yoga pose is known as "bump on a log," and it is one of my favorites for opening the door of the heart through the lungs. In addition to relieving tension in the digestive organs, this pose is also excellent for easing back pain and releasing breath.
Turning facedown on your belly is the perfect way to start the journey of looking deeper, past the thoughts and sensations, into the depth of your breath and your body. Slowing down and going internal is where the deep healing begins. Place the bolster or blanket right across the top of your hips and low belly with your head turned to one side, cheek resting on your hands or a pillow. Lie here for as long as you’d like.
5. Supported Savasana
Place a bolster under your knees for support and an eye pillow over your eyes. Apply Grace Alchemy, an aphrodisiac essential oil blend, to your heart chakra, and repeat the affirmation to yourself: "I attract healthy relationships and love with ease and grace. I am free to be me."
Feeling lost? This yoga flow will help enhance your practice of self-love.
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