Sudden Shifts: Heart Opening Challenge
“If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.” Stephen Covey
Yoga has both physical and mental benefits when it comes to matters of the heart. It can literally improve the overall health of your heart by reducing stress, lowering your blood pressure, improving respiratory function, heart rate, and circulation. It can also help stretch the chest muscles and open the heart chakra, which can help you cultivate joy, compassion and unconditional love for yourself and those around you. via YogaWorks
Are you ready to open your heart this month? Last month, I joined hundreds of women who signed up to participate in a 14 Day Yoga Challenge through their local YogaWorks Studio. We all joined, not only for our own health but also, in support of American Heart Association’s Rock the Red campaign for Women’s Heart Health. The challenge started on February 1st and will run through Valentine’s Day on the 14th. Every day, we have to attend a yoga class of our choice, read the daily prompts of encouragement, and apply them to our lives and our interactions with others. It has been a transformative process for me as each day brings new ways of seeing and doing the yoga postures, sudden yet subtle shifts in my perspective on things that bother me, and an opening and willingness to look within and embrace new ways of viewing the world around me. My experience is what is often described in Yoga as having a Beginner’s Mind; which is setting aside our prior beliefs and experiences and engaging/viewing the world through fresh eyes. The paradigm shift that occurs allows us to learn anew and adjust our lens to accept changing perspectives. It brings eureka moments and insights into our lives.
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be cured, and endure what cannot be cured.” BKS Iyengar
Yoga Daily Prompts
Day 1: Are you ready to open your heart?
Day 2: Take time for YOU
Day 3: Focus on the positive
Day 4: Spread the love
Day 5: Listen to your heart
Day 6: Connect to nature
Day 7: Halfway there!
How are you doing? Doing this daily practice of yoga has become a great blessing because, each day, I challenge myself to try a new class, let go of any fears and resistance I might have, and become more attuned to the new postures taught in class. As some of my closest friends and family know, I’ve had some challenges in the last three years that forced me to adopt a new way of being. An old injury forced me to consider new approaches to healing and has given me tremendous respect and compassion for those who live with constant pain. Taking this 14 day challenge was not an easy decision because, even though I do practice yoga, the commitment meant I would have to push past some of my fears around pain and how the human body handles it. With each passing day, I have found my body and my mind feeling the calm and steadiness that yoga can offer us when it is done correctly, with love — and not competitively.
“It’s not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.” Kristin Armstrong
The way of the Creative works through change and transformation, so that each thing receives its true nature and destiny and comes into permanent accord with the Great Harmony: this is what furthers and what perseveres. Alexander Pope
When the seasons shift, even the subtle beginning, the scent of a promised change, I feel something stir inside me. Hopefulness? Gratitude? Openness? Whatever it is, it’s welcome. Kristin Armstrong
Day 8: How are you feeling?
Day 9: Just smile
Day 10: Set an intention
Day 11: What If…?
Day 12: Breathe
Day 13: Almost there!
Day 14: Congratulations!
What is holding YOU back? As I prepared to write this post today, I looked again at the prompt for today – Day 10. It encouraged us to reflect on all the things that are holding us back in our lives, and to set the intention to let go, forgive, and move forward. Our lives are a compilation of our experiences; they include all our hurts, joys, imaginary slights and other lifelong narratives we share or mask. If you’ve lived life boldly, you’ve had your share of disappointments and each painful and joyful event leaves a mark deep inside of us. Our bodies hold all the memories of our experiences until we work at letting the pain go and embracing new joy in our bodies. Setting an intention to let bygone be bygone was very liberating and I believe it helped me choose this as my topic today. Do come back as I continue and complete the challenge. Namaste.
UPDATE: Finally, completion! It’s been a joyful ride filled with revelations. Until we learn to nurture ourselves, we won’t be fully present to nurture others. I’d like to invite you to make a commitment to choose one of your own. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Interestingly enough, the WordPress Daily Prompt for today is about sudden shifts in weather and, in a symbolic way, I feel the shifts I’m experiencing in this 14 day challenge are like sudden blasts of new weather conditions … only mine are more sunny with less hail. So, my tip today is to encourage you to believe in the ability of your body and mind to align itself for your own good, and to seek some form of exercise/physical outlet that can help you push past your “stuff.” Use the momentum to begin the process of healing yourself and helping others.
My fellow bloggers were equally creative with their selections. Check out how others interpreted the theme – Sudden Shifts –
This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Daily Post: Sudden Shifts You’re at the beach with some friends and/or family, enjoying the sun, nibbling on some watermelon. All of a sudden, within seconds, the weather shifts and hail starts descending from the sky. Write a post about what happens next. (If you need visual inspiration, this happened in Russia in 2014.)
Positive Motivation Tip: Believe in the ability of your body and mind to align for your own good. Then use it to help heal yourself and to support others.
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos either from my Personal Collection, PublicDomainPhotos, and/or via Wikipedia and