In the midst of life happening all around us, sometimes it can feel easy to forget the practices that nurture our hearts. We get caught up in the day-to-day tasks, the demands of all of the happenings in our lives and it seems like the practices for ourselves are the first ones to slip away.
The practice of nurturing your heart is an everyday exploration, a commitment to show up for yourself in all the ways that serve you best, knowing that each day it may look slightly different. With that awareness, we can explore various practices that adapt to what we need most in each phase of our evolution.
In Part 1 of Asana Practices to Nurture Your Heart, we explored various asanas that can bring in the qualities of self-compassion and self-nurturing.
In Part 2 of Asana Practices to Nurture Your Heart we’ll explore various asanas that connect you with the qualities of self-gratitude and self-love.
Some of the best practices begin with self-compassion, self-nurturing, self-gratitude, and self-love.
When our practices are rooted in these qualities we begin to bring all of our love and care back into our own hearts.
Asana for Self-Gratitude
Bring in these shapes to invite the qualities of self gratitude into your asana practice. As you move in and out of each shape, breathe gratitude into every layer of your being. Gratitude for showing up here, in this practice for yourself today.
Come to a comfortable standing position, allow your feet to land wherever it feels comfortable. That might be hips distance apart, wider than the hips, or feet connected. Allow your hands to rest by your hips for a moment and feel your feet grounded into the earth beneath you. Express gratitude for your feet, connecting you to the surface beneath you.
Begin to bring your hands to rest one on top of the other over your heart. As you hold your heart here let the warmth of your hands radiate to your heart. Feel the energy of gratitude travel from your hands into your heart, filling this space and allowing yourself to be the receiver of this expression of gratitude.
From mountain pose, inhale to reach your arms overhead. As you exhale, begin to fold forward and connect your hands to the earth, bend into the knees as much as you need to find your connection. When you’re ready, step your left foot to the back of your mat to come into a low lunge position. Use a block or any supports under your hands to raise the floor towards you. Begin to extend your front, right leg in any capacity that feels good. Take a breath in and lengthen your spine, as you are ready to exhale, fold forward over your right leg. Allow this humble bow forward to be a gesture representing bow forward in gratitude. Stay here for as long as you’d like before you switch sides.
Wide-Legged Seated Forward Fold
Make your way into a tabletop position to shift into a comfortable seat. Begin to extend your legs forward and bring any support under your seat that supports you best. From here, start to separate your feet so the heels rest wider than the hips. Allow your legs to come out as wide as feels good. When you're ready, take an inhale to create length and exhale to fold forward. Walk your hands as far forward as you’d like while maintaining a sense of ease and gratitude in your space.
Asana for Self-Love
To practice self-love on your mat, try some of these shapes and variations. Self-love can be practiced in any shape, at any time, both on and off of your mat. Allow each of these movements to be an act of love solely for yourself.
Thread the Needle
Begin in a tabletop position, let your knees stack somewhere under your hips and wrists under your shoulders. As you inhale, bring your right arm out to the right side and reach all the way up, turning your heart towards the sky. With your exhale, thread your right arm under your left and allow your shoulder and ear to rest on the mat. You might take your right hand to the left shoulder blade as if you’re giving yourself a hug. Let this embrace be a reflection of your love returning to you. Switch sides whenever you are ready.
High Lunge with Eagle Arms
Once you’ve completed both sides, come back into your neutral tabletop position. Make your way into a downward-facing dog when you feel ready. From downward dog, step your right foot forward towards your right thumb. Let your knee rest somewhere over your ankle, finding your place of steadiness and ease. Begin to reach your arms overhead on your next inhale to make your way into a high crescent shape.
To invite in extra self-love in this shape, begin to reach your arms forward. Cross one arm on top of the other and take the opposite hand to shoulder. Give yourself this hug and embrace the warmth and tenderness of receiving your love.
When you feel complete, switch sides and offer yourself the same embrace on the other side.
After you’ve made your way back into downward facing dog, bring your right foot forward towards your right thumb once again. This time, let your back, left heel connect to the ground and circle your arms up into a warrior two. Release your hands behind your back and interlace the fingers. Take a deep breath in to lift your heart towards the sky, as you breathe out bow the head and the heart forward towards the inside of your right leg. As you settle into humble warrior, notice any resistance or tension in the body. Where can you extend a little extra love in this shape? Remain here for any amount of time that feels supportive for your practice today. Switch sides whenever you’re ready.
Try to begin and end each of these practices with a short pause, a few intentional breaths to settle into the intention of each practice, and then infuse that intention into the rest of your day.
Allow for each of these shapes to be a guide for your journey in nurturing your heart. Remember that these practices are available to you whenever you need them most. Find the themes that land well for you and a practice that supports you best, whether it be meditation, journaling, asana, or anything else that you discover. Most of all, know that no matter what each new day brings, you are worthy of compassion, nurturing, gratitude, and love.