For this month of cannabis-infused yoga classes I decided to offer a focus on chest-openers. Chest-openers can be backbends like upward facing dog or bridge pose, but can also be standing poses like tree or extended side angle. Either way, they're magic for reversing chronic forward hunching (the kind we do over a computer, a steering wheel, and a meal), relieving shoulder tension, and improving rib cage flexibility, allowing our lungs to expand larger and take deeper breaths with more ease as a result. And deeper breathing always means enhanced well-being and health.
Chest-openers are also called heart-openers, because beyond their physical benefits, chest-openers raise confidence and outlook, and help deepen feelings of love and compassion for ourselves and others.
With this in mind, last Friday's yoga practice begun with a short loving-kindness meditation supported by potent, euphoria producing Gorilla Glue #4 (One of my faves. My husband and I have a little baby of our own growing at home and she's looking mighty fine), cbd, topicals, and restorative fish pose. The perfect set-up to feel grounded and receptive for some heart-opening.
Below, you'll find the little loving-kindness practice we did, feel free to light up your favorite body melting flower to compliment the experience. This is a great practice to do in the morning to set the tone of your day, and to cultivate and share compassion, love, and empathy to yourself and others. I hope it serves you as well as it has me.
Find a comfortable position, whatever that looks like for you. You can be seated or even laying down. Feel free to prop yourself up in a passive heart-opening shape like reclined bound angle pose or restorative fish.
Close your eyes.
Allow your body to relax. Soften your shoulders, release tension from your face and jaw.
Start to notice your breath. How it moves, where you feel it
Bring your attention to your heart center, noticing your chest rise and fall with the movement of your breath.
Start to visualize your inhales drawing loving-kindness into your heart, filling your chest cavity, then eventually your whole body. See your exhales bring loving-kindness from your whole body into your heart.
Do this for a few rounds of breath.
Now, think of someone you love.
Visualize your heart space filling with loving-kindness with your inhale, then on your exhale send all of your loving-kindness to this person, thinking the mantra, “I wish you happiness, I wish you ease, I wish you love” as if you were saying it to that person.
Think of someone your have neutral feelings towards.
Inhale fully, taking loving-kindness up into your lungs. Exhale deeply and send all of your loving-kindness to this person, repeating the mantra, “I wish you happiness, I wish you ease, I wish you love” as if you were speaking to them.
Think of someone who you have less than desirable feelings towards. Focus on them while inhaling loving-kindness into your heart. Send them all of your loving kindness on your exhale, and repeat the same mantra.
Think of yourself.
Inhale, seeing your body fill with loving-kindness. Repeat the mantra and send all of your loving-kindness to yourself.
Think of all living beings. Take a long, even inhale of loving-kindness. Repeat the mantra as you release your breath and loving-kindness to all living being everywhere.
Take a few more rounds of breath, staying with these feelings after this practice for a while before doing some intuitive, gentle stretches, going onto your yoga practice, lighting up more herb, or moving into the rest of your day.