Open to Love

In yoga classes, we talk about heart-opening poses. Physically, it’s a way to open up chests that become collapsed in our modern society as we hunch over our computers, our cell phones, even our meals at the dinner table. In the wintertime, this posture is even more prevalent as we huddle against the cold, protecting our essential warmth.

But it is this collapsed posture that also closes us off from each other, often creating the emotional “winter blues” as we shut down and withdraw.

Perhaps this is why Valentine’s Day arrives in such a timely way. Certainly it may have roots in nature as the bird’s wedding day when some species are driven to find mates. But I like to think that it serves as a reminder to love when we may be least inclined to do so.

Ideas of romantic love might get all the commercial airtime and merchandizing attention, but to me, Valentine’s Day is a nudge to tell all of those we care for how much they mean to us.

At home, my family has its own, silly and sweet traditions of special meals, decorations, and thoughtful tokens of love, as well as an early morning visit from the mysterious Valentine Man who dispenses fractured cliches as rowdy, raucous odes over breakfast.

Bleary-eyed as we may be, waking in these dark mid-winter mornings, these visits are a gift that bring laughter and light.

As a consequence, we open our hearts just a bit more.

Our collarbones spread, our chests expand, our lungs flood with more oxygen, we breathe more deeply.

And in this free, open-hearted way, we let love in.

Try this for yourself, either sitting or standing tall, by simply crossing your arms behind your back, grasping opposite elbows. Roll your shoulders back and down. Close your eyes and breathe. Feel your chest expand fully with each inhale. Each exhale brings a settling in, a quiet trust.

Create a space for love: for yourself, your family and friends, for your community.

Allow yourself to shine.

 

On the evening of Valentine’s Day, I’ll be teaching a love-filled 5:30 p.m. class at Evolution Power Yoga. Join me with an open heart.

This Saturday, Feb. 16, share the love three ways at Evolution in a Penzi (which means love in Swahili) benefit celebration for the Africa Yoga Project. Bring your whole clan for Family Yoga from 10 a.m. to noon, creating art and making snacks in addition to a playful practice. Or participate in the community 108 Sun Salutation practice from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. as this simple repetition of movement creates joy while raising funds. And all are welcome to the evening Global Celebration Party from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., with live African drumming and dance, Kenyan cocktails and microbrews, silent auction and raffle, and music by Second Hand Suits.

 

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