Open your heart and relieve your stress
In my yoga classes I ask students to "open their hearts" while in poses, the literal instruction being to open the upper chest, spread the collarbones, and counter the effects of sitting and standing with a rounded back and shoulders. So what do our hearts have to do with it?
In yoga, we call the center of the chest, directly beneath the breastbone, the heart center. In yogic philosophy this is the location of a chakra, or energy center, and no matter what your philosophical inclination, you may have noticed that when you are stressed you feel tightness, pressure, or pain in this area.* When we feel anxiety, we tend to close in on ourselves, instinctively protecting the vulnerable organs located in our torso. When we are chronically stressed, and our bodies and minds are permanently in "fight or flight" mode, we move through the world in this protective posture, scared to make ourselves vulnerable, and, perhaps, unwilling to open our hearts and minds to new information.
So I invite you to pay attention to your heart center: notice if you carry stress here, or if your back and shoulders are always rounded. And consider: what would be different if you led your life with an open heart?
*Always have chest pain evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.
Originally published in my February 2014 eNewsletter.
To read more blogs, packed with tips on yoga, wellness, and pain relief, please visit mindbodyglobal.blogspot.com.
April 02nd, 2014
Diane Nickeson-Mendheim, MSW, LCSW