How do you open the heart in yoga?

Opening the heart is a subtle process that can take time. The more refined we become in our Yogic experience, the more refined our nervous system and intellect become.

This refinement responds to the somatic experiences of yoga – often physical back bends can aid the heart opening, if done gently, however a shared story or sound can be just as affective if not more. Consider this:

When someone is vulnerable to you, your empathy for them can create a pathway of heart opening for you. A more profound heart-mind connection can develop.

When you remember your heart being open last, was it when someone did something kind for you or shared an intimate, personal experience?

When you remember feeling humbled last, was it seeing something of great beauty or feeling your own limitations?

These are examples of how our hearts are touched by the fragility of our lives. Our hearts open with ease and naturally when we are safe enough to feel this fragility. A vulnerable facilitator can lead the way for others to have the courage to step into the unknown, a place where we have no control.

When we feel trust in ourselves, in life or in the Divine, our hearts can be free to experience the full range of emotions and ideas. This is the heart-mind connection in which the intellect still uses its discrimination while the heart is full of empathy. It’s known as “the thinking heart.”

It took me a long time to get this balance of vulnerability and healthy boundary for myself in relation to others.

On one end of the spectrum there is over-sharing, not knowing your audience or not being okay with an unkind response. Sharing your vulnerability means you are okay with outer responses; they cannot affect your inner peace and knowing. On the other hand, knowing there are some things you are not ready to share.

This is why heart-opening yoga teachers are working on their personal development. They become better facilitators when they know themselves and have a lot of experience with the effects of yoga.

In my experience in teaching public classes, a gentle back bend can cause a feeling of vulnerability. But the striving, big chest openers can sometimes over-ride the subtlety of vulnerability. More hearts have opened from what I vulnerably express, share and feel than from what shapes we go into.

Opening hearts requires you to open yours, learn when you are ready to share, and that takes time.

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