If you are looking for an in-depth talk about the Melting Heart pose (also known as Anahatasana and similar to Puppy Pose in yang styles of yoga), then you have landed in the right spot. In this article, we will cover everything there is to know about the Melting Heart pose, and we will end the article with a blissful 60-minute yin yoga sequence, which, of course, will include the Melting Heart pose.
This is a pose that really divides people! Some love this pose and others, well, it is not exactly their favorite pose. If you have very tight shoulders this pose might feel a little bit intense (but it will benefit you greatly!), and if you have very open and flexible shoulders this pose will probably feel very nice. The pose will give you a nice backbend for the upper and middle back while also opening up the shoulders and softening the heart. It is a pose with many benefits and while it can be a little bit challenging for some people we are sure you will come to love how this pose makes you feel after practicing it.
Remember, during a yin yoga practice feelings may arise to the surface. That is perfectly normal and nothing you should panic about. Simply observe the thoughts and emotions that may arise during your practice. Avoid analyzing, going into the emotions or pushing them away. See, if you can simply observe whatever arises with an equanimous mind. Remember; you are not your thoughts and feelings, you are just the one experiencing them. So breathe, and remind yourself that nothing is permanent, and whatever arises will eventually dissolve again.
A word on ‘good alignment’
Before we dive deeper into the Melting Heart pose we would like to take a moment to talk a bit about alignment in general, yoga teachers facilitating a space where students can tune in and listen to their bodies, and students taking responsibility for their own body and yoga practice.
If you have been practicing yoga for some time chances are you have heard at least one teacher talking about ‘good alignment’ but what is ‘good alignment’? Is it copying a picture you have seen in a book or on Instagram? Is it having every student in the room looking the exact same in any given pose? Should we all strive for the same aesthetic ideal?
No, we do not believe that is ‘good alignment’, and we don’t believe that you should ever strive to make a pose (any pose) look a certain way. There is no such thing as ‘universal alignment’. We all have unique bodies with different ranges of mobility, flexibility, and strength. We each come with our own story, and to think we can (and should) all look the same in a pose is simply delusional, and it will not lead to anything good.
Take The Melting Heart pose for instance. Some people have very open and flexible shoulders and they may easily place their heart center on the floor and perhaps place their chin on the mat. This will also lead to a deeper backbend. If you have less open shoulders you probably will not get as deep into this pose, and you may also feel much more of a stretch in the shoulders and an opening of the chest as opposed to a backbend. Everyone is doing the pose correctly, and they are working with the body they have.
To assume we should all look the same in a pose is unintelligent, and instead of working with the body, we are working against it. Now, this is not to say we should just dismiss alignment altogether. It is more about working with ‘functional alignment’ instead of ‘universal alignment’. This means we work more with each individual body and explore the pose and how it feels rather than thinking we should all have our hands and feet in the exact same place in a pose.
Start tuning in to your body and explore the pose and notice how it feels. Think of your yoga teacher’s cues as mere guidelines, and remember to listen to your own body. At the end of the day, you are the only one who can feel what is going on in your body and whether something feels right or wrong. Respect and listen to your teacher’s cues but remember that ultimately you are in control, and there are many right ways to do the same pose.
Melting Heart pose – benefits, contra indications, modifications & getting in and out of the pose
In this part of the article, we will dive into different aspects of the Melting Heart so you will feel confident and safe practicing this pose by yourself after reading this article. And remember; always, always, always listen to your body. If you feel any pain, slowly come out of the pose. Modify if need be, and respect your body’s limitations (both physically and mentally). Never force anything. Simply just let go.
- A lovely backbend for the upper and middle back
- Opens shoulders
- Softens the heart
- If you have a bad neck or have some kind of neck issues, this pose could strain it.
- If you feel any tingling in the hands or fingers, it could be a sign that a nerve is being compressed. Therefore if you feel any tingling, you may wish to adjust the arm and hand position, or perhaps you need to skip the pose entirely.
Getting into the pose:
Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Walk your hands forward and allow your chest to drop towards the floor. Keep your hips right above the knees. If possible try to keep your hands shoulder-width apart.
Coming out of the pose:
Either slide onto your belly or slowly walk your hands back to you again come on your hands and knees before coming into your rebound.
- If you experience any pain in the shoulder, try moving your arms further apart. Slightly bending your elbows may also help.
- If you have the flexibility (and your neck allows it) you can bring your chin to the floor instead of your forehead. However, be careful with the neck, as we are staying in the pose for quite some time in yin yoga so it could strain the neck. Listen to your body.
- If your knees and/or ankles are a bit sensitive, you can place a blanket underneath them.
- You can tuck the toes under.
- If you have tight shoulders, you may wish to rest your chest on a bolster so it’s easier for your body to relax and let go.
- You can do this pose with one arm at a time. Rest your head on the other forearm.
- Shoulder joint
- Compression for the upper back
- Mildly stresses the lower spine
Meridians and organs affected:
- This pose is wonderful for the Heart and Lung meridians that both run in the arms.
- The deeper you are in this pose the more you will stimulate the Urinary Bladder that runs on the backside of the body.
- If you feel a stretch on your stomach you are also stimulating the stomach and spleen meridians.
Recommended hold time:
- We recommend you hold the pose between three and five minutes. If you are very comfortable in this pose you can hold it for longer.
- If you are resting the chin on the floor you may not be able to hold the pose as long because of sensations in the neck. Always listen to your body.
A 60-minute Sequence with Melting Heart Pose
While the Melting Heart pose is a wonderful pose to do on its own either when you need a little work break or you just feel like opening up your shoulders, perhaps after traveling, driving, or computer work, the pose is also wonderful in a yin yoga sequence.
This 60-minute sequence is specifically made for the Heart and Small Intestine meridians (as mentioned earlier the Melting Heart pose targets the Heart Meridian). Both meridians run in the arms which means this sequence is great for opening up the chest and shoulders.
You can do this sequence on its own or after a yang practice. Whatever you feel like. Yin yoga can be done any time of the day but we personally love practicing yin yoga in the afternoon or evening as you don’t always feel like working or being super active (both physically and mentally) after yin yoga. Actually, yin yoga is a lovely way to decompress after a long day. It helps calm down the nervous system, and it helps you unwind and get ready for bed.
We have already mentioned it but we cannot stress this enough. Listen to your body while practicing, and if something feels off it probably is off. Pain is always a one-way ticket out of any pose. Respect, listen, and honor your body.
Always come in and out of the poses slowly and mindfully, and remember to do a rebound in between the poses where you just relax and refrain from moving. Simply just observe any sensations, feelings, and thoughts that have arisen after the pose.
Lastly, you can do savasana for as long as you like but we recommend you spend at least five to ten minutes in savasana. Savasana is just as important as any other pose so don’t skip it.
Now, let’s get to the sequence and we hope you will have a beautiful practice.
Note: you can always refer to yinyoga.com if you have any doubts about any of the poses.
5 min. meditation + Dan Tien breathing
Start in a comfortable seated position, close your eyes and notice your breath. Just sit here for a couple of minutes while observing your breath, without looking to change it. Now start deepening your breath and breathe all the way into your belly. Exhale fully. This is called the Dan Tien breathing. If possible, see if you can continue to do this deep belly breathing throughout your practice. It will help you relax, let go, and just melt into the poses.
After 5 minutes, slowly open your eyes and prepare for the first pose.
Toe Squat with reversed Anjali Mudra – 3 minutes
When you’re ready after your meditation, come into a Toe Squat with Reversed Anjali mudra on your back (this will stimulate the Heart meridian).
Rebound – on your back
Now, come into your rebound. It is very important that you come into your rebound on your back after Toe Squat (even though it might seem tempting to just slide onto your belly).
Child’s pose – 5 minutes
After your rebound come into a nice Child’s pose with your arms stretched overhead.
Time for a lovely rebound again. You can do this rebound on either your back or on your belly.
Closed Wing – 4 minutes each side
Now it’s time for Closed Wing which will be lovely for stretching the outside of your shoulders. Start on your left side, and stay for four minutes on each side.
It’s nice to do this rebound on your belly but if that’s uncomfortable for you, you are welcome to do the rebound on your back.
Melting Heart – 4 minutes
When you’re ready come into Melting Heart and stay for four minutes.
Enjoy your rebound before the next pose.
Open Wing – 4 minutes each side
After your rebound, it’s time for the Open Wing pose where we will also stay for four minutes on each side. Start with your left side.
Another rebound. See if you can just let go fully and observe what is happening in your body and mind after the pose.
Twist – 3 minutes each side
The last pose for this practice is any twist your choice. Make sure your arms are spread wide to each side here for a free flow of all the meridians which were compressed in our earlier poses. Stay for three minutes on each side, and start on your left side.
9 min. Savasana
Relax, chill out and simply just enjoy Savasana.
We hope you got in touch with your Melting Heart pose and enjoyed both this article and the sequence.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment, and we will get back to you.
Alex & The Yin Love Team
Ps: Interested in learning more and becoming a yin yoga therapy teacher?
See what Tara Kurian, Yin Yoga Therapy Ambassador in India tells you about her training experience.