As my toes nestled into the soft sand and cool Atlantic waters gently caressed my feet, it suddenly became so much clearer.

Yoga changed my life in a very distinct way but I hadn’t yet understood quite what that way was. Until now.

Vacations, beaches and long solitary walks are good for your soul sometimes 🙂

I distinctly remember being asked a question my senior year of high school in AP English. My teacher, Mrs. Elias, asked us all how long we thought we could survive living alone with no contact to anyone or the outside world.

Piece of cake, I thought. I’d last forever! I seriously thought I could live for 20 years without seeing, talking to or hearing from anyone. Besides, I hated people. All they did was cause problems, annoy you and try to change the perfect order of things you’d created in your mind. I didn’t need people. I just needed my self.

Another example of my selfish, less evolved, super anal Type A high school self: when reading books about college majors my junior year, I was deeply disappointed that the description for journalists included “a strong sense of helping others.” This bothered me because I had no intention of helping anyone. I just wanted to write and be famous!

Every so often I remember these conversations and I find it quite funny now.

It’s obvious to me in hindsight that yoga changed my life by opening up my heart.

Today, my entire career is centered around helping people relax. Helping people feel confident in their life choices. Helping PEOPLE feel better, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. And this is what brings me more joy than anything else in the entire world.

My yoga practice, over time, destroyed a very large, stubborn wall I had built up to shield myself from pain. My yoga practice burst open my heart so that I could feel it all – the good and the bad. And I must say, life is much happier on the other side of the wall.

Living from the Heart

It’s no mistake that the heart is located at the very center of the chakra system. Three chakras below, representing the physical body and three chakras above, representing the mental body. Mix them together in just the right amount and you have the most delicious tasting chakra batter. Bake it at just the right temperature and for just the right amount of time, and you’ll be in heaven.

When activated, the fourth chakra is like the muffin-top (the noun, not the adjective) of an iced baked good. By far the best part, sandwiched right in between the meaty base of the treat and the fluffy, sometimes sickly sweet buttercream icing.

But it’s a delicate thing, and thus needs quite a bit of tending to. If there’s a stray thought here or there, angry words, a lack of basic needs being met in any given situation or lust on overdrive, the batter gets thrown out of whack and the resulting baked love won’t taste very good.

This chakra is the perfect example of how all the chakras are interrelated and equally important when we’re looking to craft a life full of abundance, joy and vitality.

Letting Go of the Fear of Love

Most of us are afraid of our heart. It’s risky business putting yourself out there in the world because someday you’ll get rejected and rejection might just be the worst feeling in the entire world.

But when we don’t open our heart, we close ourselves off to the good feelings too. We aren’t able to experience happiness and joy to their fullest extent. In time, one of two things will happen.

  1. We will mistakenly assume that the level of happiness and joy we currently experience is the best it’s going to get and settle
  2. Continue to seek our entire lives, constantly looking for something more without doing the right work to help us achieve what it is we’re looking for in the first place

Most of the time it’s not that we’re looking for more happiness or joy. We’re looking for more love. (Click to tweet)

Love is a tricky little thing. The most important aspect of fourth chakra love is that it’s a two-way street. Self-love is just as important as the love you receive. Without loving yourself, you’re unable to adequately give love to others. Without giving love to others, you’re unlikely to receive any back.

When we’re stuck in this hamster wheel, spinning around and around looking for more happiness and joy, we’re likely to give more of ourselves than we have available to give and neglect taking care of our own hearts.

We see this in the caregiving professions all the time – and this includes moms.

The result is always, always, always disaster.

So here is what I want you to do today. Take a few moments and answer the following questions in your head, or better yet write them down.

  1.  How do you take care of yourself?
  2.  Do you love yourself?

And now, complete the heart chakra yoga poses in the video below! I hope you feel better, more open and yes, more vulnerable.

Let me know in the comments below what you’re going to do to love yourself more today!

Image credit: Mikey a