Every time we exhale, we let go of something. Have you ever thought about it? Try it right now – it only takes a minute! Without changing anything, start to notice your breath, becoming aware of the exhalation. Empty it out completely, purging all of the carbon dioxide from your lungs, from your life, preparing yourself to welcome fresh oxygen and new things that may come your way.
Breathing opens your lungs – and your heart.
It might be feeling ready to embrace who you are and what surrounds you. And this isn't something we do with our minds. That may teach us understanding, but it is the heart that shapes our experience of life.
When our heart opens, we are more capable of embracing the cycle of giving and receiving. This can have an enormous effect on our general well-being – after all, if this flow is interrupted, our whole system is affected. Our defences decrease, we start to feel depressed, less vibrant and alive ... in short, we might say it is the state of being open or closed to life.
An open heart can bring experiences of tenderness, affection and love into our lives, whether towards ourselves, other people and/or our surroundings and the world in which we live. The heart is the very nucleus of where we feel completely at peace with ourselves; it is our inner compass that tells us that everything is just as it should be.
But how can we open our hearts? It sounds very appealing, but it isn’t like flipping a switch. Here are three practices we use in yoga (although not exclusively), which will help you find the way to your heart.
Yoga places a lot of importance on the concept of being present in the current moment rather than allowing the mind to constantly wander from the past to the future. Staying in the here and now, the only moment that really exists and where the very essence of life lies.
Opening our hearts to change is possible in every tiny gesture, every single day. Try to stay in this state of awareness and openness to whatever may come throughout your day. Move in different ways than you are used to, do something differently when you go to the bathroom, wash yourself, eat, while you work, walk, enjoy ...Every single moment and every action can be the start of something new. At the end of the day, write down what has been new for you and which experiences will serve and continue to inspire you every day.
Up to this point, we have concentrated on starting afresh by looking inwards, cultivating the yogic practice of being present and listening. However, this does not exclude the ability to look outwards to seek inspiration from the endless array of possibilities that manifest themselves around us in the world outside.
Now we’ll turn to another yogic practice: observation. Open your eyes to the world around you and embrace it as an abundant source of inspiration for a new beginning. Observe with neutrality, with the curiosity of a child, and allow yourself to absorb everything that emanates.
Sometimes, interaction with other people gives way to new ideas, visions and projects. Open your heart to sharing and connecting with others! Embrace every encounter with sincerity, humbleness and heart. To nurture exchange between souls and uncover our true purpose.
You can also immerse yourself in a yogic practice to open up your whole being to a new beginning, ready to embody whatever is to come.
Yoga is often associated with physical flexibility. This may well be the case for some bodies, but it would be wrong to reduce this ancient and wise practice to postures and a flexible physique. Here, we are referring to flexibility in the sense of adaptability. Adaptability to what?
Humans have the innate ability to adapt to the environment in which we live – its temperature, climate, terrain, the social, political, educational and health conditions, relationships and so on. That extraordinary human capacity to respond with flexibility and pliability beyond our ideals and desires in order to survive and live a fuller, more peaceful life. Every one of us can open ourselves to this possibility, which is closely connected to opening our hearts.
The heart is what allows us to accept instead of endure or fight, and this acceptance is not rigid or narrow-minded, but rather nurtures flexibility towards whatever might come our way. We invite you to consider your ability to adapt and ask yourself some of the following questions:
We invite you to dare to let go, to free yourself, to open your heart and embrace change. Resistance will always creep in – after all, what is familiar to us already occupies an important place in our lives. But if you allow yourself to open up to the unknown, you will soon see how the flow of life swells within you. Because no matter how much we resist, we cannot remain unchanged. Life is pure movement.