4 Ways Yoga Taught Me To Live With An Open Heart
In a world where love didn’t always feel safe, yoga taught me how to live with an open heart again. As children, we view the world with wonder and awe, open to possibilities and seeing the good in every situation. I remember waking up as a child excited by what the day would hold. Every day was a new adventure. I didn’t lie in bed and ruminate over all of my problems and stresses in life. As we grow older, we experience pain and the conditioning of culture. As a result, many of us wake up and start to dread the day ahead. When this happened to me, I knew I needed tools to reframe my thinking and lead a more open-hearted life. This is where my yoga practice began.
Once I started practicing yoga regularly, I began to notice that my heart was very closed off to the world. I could literally feel a rounding in my shoulders, noticed a downward gaze, and felt a tightness in my chest. What I had done was close my heart towards new relationships, friendships and even towards myself. I learned that I did this as a means of protecting myself. I was afraid of being hurt anymore. I realized that if I was going to move through my pain, I needed to learn to open my heart and love again.
Here is how yoga taught me to live with an open heart:
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1) Yoga taught me forgiveness
In order to heal my pain, I needed to forgive others and myself. I needed to forgive those who hurt me deeply- those people closest to me that took their anger and disappointments out on me mentally, emotionally and physically. I also learned I needed to forgive myself. I was not the cause of other people’s grief, therefore, it was not my fault they hurt me. I did not need to accept blame for situations I did not cause.
2) Yoga taught me how to love myself
Before anyone else could love me, I first needed to love myself. I began my journey towards self-care. I started to prioritize my health and well-being over maintaining the well-being of those around me. I often felt responsible for the emotional well-being of those closest to me and it left me depleted physically, emotionally and spiritually. I developed a daily meditation practice and practice asana throughout the week. I began making better choices about eating and sleeping habits. Most importantly, I began to carefully curate who I chose to spend my time with as my energy is a precious resource.
3) Yoga taught me that the only constant in life is change
When I first started practicing yoga, I would experience periods of time where I felt light and free and happy. But those periods of time were fleeting. When this happened, I’d become so frustrated that the taste of happiness was gone and the pain resurfaced. I felt like a failure. I didn’t understand that just as you cannot cling to pain, you also cannot cling to happiness. Life ebbs and flows with our joys and sadnesses, just as the waves do in the sea. The only constant is the motion between the two states of being. Accepting this idea allowed me tremendous freedom on my journey to healing.
4) Yoga taught me to sit with my pain
For years, I ran from my pain by drinking, smoking or using drugs. As I grew older, I threw myself into work or travel to avoid sitting with my grief. I finally realized that in order to move through my pain, I needed to sit with it. Sometimes that meant letting all the tears flow, crying on the floor and letting the ground hold me. Sometimes that meant journaling for pages and pages to give voice to my pain. Other times, it meant simply breathing deeply through the toughest moments without running for a quick fix somewhere. It also meant that sometimes I needed to rely on others to hold space for me, to allow me to be vulnerable and feel supported. It was terrifying but I knew the only way out was through.
In one way or another, these teachings resonate with me daily. I actively chose to face my pain and live with an open heart instead of giving over to my fears of being hurt again. By creating an awareness of these teachings in your own life, you too can learn to open your heart towards yourself and those around you. As you begin to love yourself, you’ll notice your relationships will deepen and you will feel peace as your emotional state stabilizes. In following our hearts, our lives will start to feel like the adventures that they were meant to be.
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