I have been reading Deepak Chopra's Why is God Laughing, Here's the line that has stuck with me:
"Either you're a person wondering if you have a soul, or you're a soul who knows that being a person isn't real."Whoa, heavy stuff, right? That line hit me like a ton of breaks, right in my third chakra (For you non-chakees, this is the solar plexus, aka the spot right underneath your sternum where your ribs separate, aka the "bread basket." This is the place where we hold our self-identity and fears). So much of our lives are fear-based, but the reality is that we cannot predict the future. Yes, it might happen. Your worst fears might come true. But you know what? They also might not. Spending time worrying about it is taking you out of the present. Here. Now. Where everything is fine. Or it isn't. But it just...is.
When you feel fear overtaking your reality, one of the best ways to counteract the rising tide is with heart openers. These simple yoga postures will open up your heart, expand your chest, and allow more oxygen in to your body to help you think more clearly. Think about it: what do people who are afraid instinctively do? They hunch over, shoulders slump forward, chest collapses in. We do this naturally to protect our most vulnerable area, our heart and vital organs. But when this fear is only imagined, we are only perpetuating the cycle by assuming this position; we need to open up through our heart and chest, take some deep breaths, and invite life, right here and right now, in. So...here we go!
.easy seated pose.
Take a minute or two to sit quietly, and tune into your breath. Breathe in and out through the nose, and start to lengthen your inhales and exhales. When we are afraid, we often take short, shallow breaths which stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and can actually cause us to hyperventilate. See if you can match the length of your inhale to your exhale, maybe to a count of 4 for each. After a few of these breaths, see if you can make your exhale longer than your inhale; try inhaling for 4 counts, exhaling for 6. When you are able to do this for a few breaths, start to notice how you are sitting. Extend your spine straight up, tuck your chin slightly to elongate the back of the neck, and pull your shoulders up and down your back, away from your ears. Brings your hands into prayer position, and press your thumbs into your sternum. Feel the connection to your heart; think about it there in your chest, keeping you alive and working hard all day every day for you. Feel grateful!
.seated side bend.
Bring your left hand to the ground outside of your left hip, bend your elbow in towards you, and reach your right arm up and over your head, stretching through your ribs and chest. Keep your right hip anchored down, and really reach through your top hand. See if you can roll your heart up towards the sky a bit, expanding through your chest and ribs. Deeeeeeep breaths here...feel how the inhales stretch you out and open you up, from the inside out. Switch sides and repeat.
Laying on your stomach, bring your hands right under your shoulders, and press into your hands, lifting your chest. Keep your legs pressed onto the ground, and clench your butt to protect your low back. Only straighten the arms as much as is comfortable for your low back; you can even rest on your forearms. As you inhale, shine your heart forward - imagine it being lifted up and out, pulling the rest of your body right along with it.
From your stomach, push up to hands and knees and lower your hips towards your feet. You can take the knees wide apart, or keep them together, whichever your prefer. Keep your arms outstretched, lower your forehead down, and feel your heart melting down, connecting to the earth.
From your back, bend your knees, and extend your arms down your sides. Scoot your feet back towards your hips until your fingers can touch the back of your heels. Pressing into your feet, lift your hips up toward to sky, pushing up through your hips and chest. Keep your arms extended on the ground, and really push your heart open, feeling the tension across the chest and heart area melt away. Lower your self slowly back down, and pull your knees in to your chest, hugging them to you. Give them a squeeze - love yourself!
From a comfortable position, either seated or lying down, come back to focusing on your breath. As you inhale, imagine the word "here." On the exhale, imagine the word "now." As you do this, really connect to the sensations you're feeling; the ground beneath you, the cool breath at your nostrils, the hair along the back of the neck. The sensations that you are feeling here. Now. Continue with this as long as you can or would like. If other thoughts intrude, just let them go, and come back to Here. Now.
Whew. Now don't you feel better? Let's bust some fear together.