Awaken Your Heart…The Yoga Way!

By Claire Diab and Dennis Boyle

Happy New Year to all! In this new year, we remember that life is not just to be lived but to be celebrated. With so much going on, it is important to remember the true essence of yoga. There are so many words to remind us of this. Yoga is connection, acceptance, kindness, appreciation, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, equanimity, peace, harmony, laughter, love, commitment, and so much more. To keep these things in our awareness and our hearts, Sun Salutations, a series of movements that flow with the breath, create space in our bodies for these words and their meanings to flow freely to us and from us–the words of yoga. Let’s make a commitment to nourish our body, mind, and soul this year and every year to come.

Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutations, is one of the best all-around flow of poses to nourish our body, mind, and soul. Commit to 4-6 Sun Salutations, each day, morning or night.

 

 

Claire Diab is an internationally recognized yoga therapist. She is the director of the Yoga Program for the Chopra Center founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon. She is an adjunct professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University. She is the author of several books and DVDs on yoga including “Yoga for Firefighters.”

Dennis Boyle is a retired fire director and acting chief with the West Orange (NJ) Fire Department. He was the recipient of the 1999 New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs “Fire Officer of the Year” award.

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Awaken Your Heart the Yoga Way!

6

By Claire Diab and Dennis Boyle

When the heart center is “awakened,” you feel connected at a deep level to all beings in your life. Yoga prepares the heart to release what is not useful and to open to that which is.

This “heart-expanding” asana, Matayasana or Fish Pose, is one of many variations. Start with this pose and try simple changes to find a way that works best for you. This pose is a gentle back pose that helps the flow of energy throughout the body and opens your hips and the space around your heart.

This variation of Fish Pose enlivens awareness in the body.

 

Instructions:

1. Lying on your back, place both hands over your heart. Bring your knees up so the soles of your feet are on the floor.

2. Now, slowly lower your knees toward the floor, opening at your hips. Open to the point where you feel tension, then gently pull your ankles toward your groin. Breathe deeply into your pelvic region while maintaining your awareness in your hips. Without straining, relax and release with each exhalation.

3. Repeat this process several times, gently releasing further with each opening. Then, slowly extend your knees and rest on your back.

 

Benefits:

  • Stretches the deep hip flexors and the muscles between the ribs.
  • Stretches and stimulates the muscles of the belly.
  • Strengthens the muscles of the upper back.
  • Improves posture.

 

Contraindications:

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Migraine
  • Insomnia
  • Serious lower back or neck injury

 

Modifications and Props:

Modifying Fish: The back-bending position in Matayasana can be difficult for beginning students. Perform the pose with your back supported on a thickly rolled blanket. Be sure your head rests comfortably on the floor and your throat is soft.

The First Variation of Fish pose in this article is one from a Series of Preparing for Freedom Poses from Dr. David Simon’s book Free to Love, Free to Heal featuring Claire E. Diab.

 

Photo courtesy of “Free to Love, Free to Heal” by Dr. David Simon

 

Claire Diab is an internationally recognized Yoga therapist. She is the director of the Yoga Program for the Chopra Center founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon. She is an adjunct professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University. She is the author of several books and DVDs on Yoga including “Yoga For Firefighters.”

 
 

Dennis Boyle is a retired fire director and acting chief with the West Orange (NJ) Fire Department. He was the recipient of the 1999 New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs “Fire Officer of the Year” award.