February Yoga Pose of the Month
A pose to help you focus on matters of the heart.
The month of February is focused on the heart — referred to the Anahata Chakra (A-na-hata Chak-ra) in yoga. February is also the middle of winter, a time of year that plants and animals conserve energy; plants become deciduous and animals hibernate. Perhaps, even us, as humans, should conserve our energy as well.
Therefore, February’s pose is about the heart — and it is a more passive pose. I like to call this pose Heart Melting Pose, but it is also often referred to as Extended Puppy Dog, Anahatasana (An-aha-tas-ana) or Uttana Shishosana (Oht-ana She-shoe-sana).
This pose opens the muscles around the heart center and the heart chakra. It also fights the rounding of our upper back and shoulders which is persisted by so many or our day to day activities like driving and typing on a computer or laptop.
The heart chakra is at the center of the seven chakra system. When it is closed or blocked, it affects the others around it too. Therefore, since it is right at the center, I think it is a most important chakra to keep open. This pose also keeps open Vissudha (Vis-soo-da) Chakra at the throat (creativity and communication) and Manipura (Ma-knee-pura) Chakra at the solar plexus (power and will).
The heart chakra has a relationship to breath. As you breathe into this pose, you will soften around the heart. It also opens the shoulders and it is a lovely modification to Downward Facing Dog, one of the most common poses in a yoga practice. It is an especially great variation for individuals with wrist issues since there is no pressure on the wrist. People with knee issues will want to have a blanket handy and people with neck issues might want a block.
Access the pose by getting onto your hands and knees (place a blanket or extra padding under the knees if they are sensitive). Creep your fingertips forward in front of you. Allow your forehead to rest on the floor and let your chest open up and lower to the floor as well. Keep your hips right above your knees. You can also place a block, bolster or a folded blanket under your heart if it feels better. From here, breathe and release into this passive pose which is about softening, surrendering and opening.