Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday Stretch for Sewists #21 - Melting Heart

This pose is known in Sanskrit by Anahatasana.  Say it slowly, emphasis on ahh (what you feel after doing itπŸ˜‰: Ana--hah--tah--son--ahh....  Asana, the last part of most yoga pose names, simply means pose.  This is also known as puppy pose; see Yoga Journal.

Bernie Clark states in his book, p. 246 "The Indian yogis noticed a correlation between our bodies and our heart. Don't be surprised if, during a deep yoga practice, emotions start to surface."  I often say in my classes that we have issues in our tissues; therefore, applying tension to deeper areas of our bodies such as within our hip joints, or in this pose, within our chest, spine, shoulders, arms, can stir up emotions, past memories, and thoughts. I love what Sarah Powers says, and I'm paraphrasing her, that the beauty of Yin is that we can allow these emotions to surface, we can experience them fully, without feeling the need to act out because of them.  And then.... (my own words), the magic happens: this deep-seated emotional baggage can leave the body, over time, probably not in one 3-5 minute hold however(!) and, you are then lighter, happier, more at peace.
Lake Erie, from my new vantage point, a few days ago
This pose inverts and 'melts' your heart, which, in the Daoist beliefs, is considered the supreme manager, overseeing all the workings of the body-mind. Sarah Powers writes, "Its radiance spreads out to every cell and expresses itself in our creativity, interactions and capacity for communication." Here's to a healthy heart and healthy heart chi (energy).

After hours of sewing, you may feel tight in the shoulders, along the arms, perhaps a stiffness in the wrists and definitely in the hips and knees, usually a tightness or stiffness across the pecs and collarbones... Sound familiar? Anahatasana can help with all of this.  Yup.  So get out of your chair, fold a quilt for under your knees and come down onto all fours. If you have trouble getting back up, do this by your sewing chair so you can use it to lean on to help you get back up.

Stage 1 Once you are on all fours, walk your hands forward, keeping them shoulder-width apart if possible, coming to rest on your forearms at first, keeping your bum high in the air and over your knees. Think of a right angle formed at the back of your knees by the backs of your thighs and your calves.  Maybe this is where you stay, letting your belly relax and hang, feeling an arch in your lower back. Toes can be tucked under or you can rest on the tops of your feet. Head can be in line with your spine, or perhaps you can rest it on one forearm. Breathe slowly, counting to 3 or 4 on the inhale and the same slow steady count on the exhale. Always come out of this pose on an inhale.
Do you see our new granite countertops?! ADORE!! Toe-kick under the cabinets still needs to be installed (and ordered from IKEA) as do the side panels to finish off the ends of the cabinets. Oh, and the backsplash tile too...  Oh, and install the dishwasher now... Just a few πŸ˜‰ more items for MacGyver!

Variation: You may like to rest your upper body on another rolled up quilt or two, and this modification may allow you to extend your arms. You may either rest on your forehead (Take your glasses off! Ask me how I know...) or on your chin, but that is fairly hard on the neck.
Send your butt backwards; here mine could go back a little more.

This pose works into the upper back, the shoulder blades and across the front of the chest. So, see if you can stretch both of your arms right out, palms flat, fingers spread for good energy flow. However, as I mentioned, you may find you need to rest your forehead on one forearm, leaving the other outstretched; just remember to switch arms at the halfway point. Relax your spine, your belly, and you will feel how this starts to tug on the tissues across the front of the chest, along the upper arms, mainly in the triceps, (back of the upper arms), the shoulder heads, and between the shoulder blades.

Hold for 2-5 minutes. Careful. Maybe at first just 1 minute per outstretched arm is enough. This pose could put strain on your neck, so be mindful; any pain or too intense sensations, back off, or try resting your forehead on a block, cushion, or an extra rolled up quilt. Same with tingling in the fingers or hands: this could indicate a nerve being compressed, so lower the arms to the goalpost position, or perhaps skip this and try Fish pose, which is similar for opening the chest. Any pinching in the back of the shoulders, adjust your arm position as noted.

If getting down onto and back up off of the floor is an issue for you, don't give up!  Don't give up on keeping trying to get down and back up, because it is so good for your body, and don't give up on doing a variation of this pose. Try this in a doorway:

I learned this from a massage therapist. Here, you put your arms on either side of the door, goalpost position, and slowly lean forward into the doorway without moving your arms. You won't quite get the backbend you get by doing Anahatasana, but you certainly do get a lovely pull across the front of your chest and a bit of a bend in the upper spine as your shoulder blades come towards each other. It doesn't look like I'm leaning much, and it certainly didn't feel like it, but holy Hannah, it sure felt strong in the arms and shoulders! Watch the head position; I am, ahem, leaning a little too much with my head here! It's not about your head going forward! Sorry about that, but there, you see I'm in need of tweaking all the time too.

Remember that Yin yoga works with the meridians, the energy highways in the body, those same meridians and trigger points used in acupuncture and acupressure. Therefore, a little pressure into your pointers will hit a trigger point on the Large Intestine meridian, into the thumbs, the Lung meridian, the pinkies, the Heart and Small Intestine meridians.
After you've held the pose for 2 to 3 minutes (work up to 5 over time), then either rest back in child's pose or lie down on your belly. If you've done it standing, maybe sit down and be still for a minute or so, noting sensations, breathing.

Ahh! That's better!  Have a good drink of water, and you're good to go for some more sewing!


  1. love those "under the photo" explanations!!! Granite tops looking great.

  2. I'll have to start really slow. I'm not sure my body every bended that way, even when I was in my 20's.

  3. WOW look at you stretch and bend. I spy new granite counter tops.

  4. That looks like a delightful stretch after sitting at my iPad this morning. I know what I am doing next!

  5. I always love these posts and really appreciate the time you take to type them all up and offer such clear explanations to both the how and why of the poses. (I admit to feeling like I can't possibly get it right though. I guess even done incorrectly, they are still beneficial, just maybe not as much as they *could* be?)
    The kitchen is looking fantastic :-)
    many blessings to you, Sandra ~ Tracy

  6. Beautiful explanation .... Great pics, love the kitchen snippets too....wish I could pop over to do some yoga with you πŸ˜€ hugs from across the water xxx

  7. Love the kitchen. And those aches and stiffness ? That's me tonight