As physical yoga students we practice using our body to become more aware and in tune with ourselves in body, mind, thoughts and actions.

Over the last year, I’ve been doing lots of front lengthening in my own physical yoga practice while exploring the Ashtanga Second Series. Front lengthening is often the term described for back arching or back strengthening. And in order to back arch, we allow the front of the body to lift, lengthen, stretch and open.

It can also be expressed as lifting your heart or opening your heart. The physical act of strentching the front of the body can be very uplifting and energising and at the same time can also sometimes make us feel a little vulnerable as we begin to feel more open.

Gradually we learn through the practice of yoga to strengthen and ground as we open so that we are stronger in body and to allow the openness to unfold. And this happens over time with practice and when we are ready.

Our hearts are associated with love, being open, happy, care free and when our heart is lifted and open we can connect to the feelings of well being and connect to others more easily. Jack Kornfield, the Buddhist teacher writes in his book A Path With a Heart “love arises out of a sense of our own well-being and connection with everything”.

Being naturally introverted by nature, I’m always drawn to, admire and get inspired by those people that are truly open, able to express their feelings and share themselves with others with ease and at the same time have a good sense of being grounded (strong and earthed).

One such inspiring lady I was lucky enough to meet and experience as a friend and a yoga teacher was Ozge Karabiyik (Oz) who sadly passed away nearly a year ago. Oz when adjusting students would often say a lovely teaching mantra ……… “Lift your heart to the sun!”. This would bring a smile to her student’s faces, matching hers, as they became physically taller, lifted and open.

I continue to be inspired by Oz as she is often in my thoughts and I share her teaching mantra with my students.

The next time you’re feeling less than energetic or a little low “lift your heart to the sun”, breath deeply and see how this transforms the way you feel, think and be.