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Standing Backbend opens the front of the body and expands the heart open. It’s the power of the legs, core and back muscles that allow a backbend to be safe and healthy for yogis. Once safety is established the heart can be opened for joy!

Over the past month I’ve been a member of the latest craze to the boutique spiritual fitness scene called ClassPass (www.classpass.com). Through ClassPass I’ve been able to try dozens of classes at multiple studios to discover many different methods of opening my heart and expressing my soul through movement.

Showing up at new classes reminded me of how uncomfortable it can be to open myself up to new places, people and experiences. In trying all of these fabulous new-to-me classes, I also was opening my heart up to new communities. I had the insight that perhaps I’ve been staying in the “usual places” with the “usual people” as a way to stay “safe” and closed off from the unfamiliar.

I’m a person who loves to get out of my comfort zone, grow, take risks and transform for greatness, but somehow ClassPass revealed to me a way I had been hiding. I moved to Minnesota a few years ago and have struggled to establish roots here. While sweating on my yoga mat next to new people, I realized that I had been hiding from growing socially in Minnesota in fear that I would eventually have to say sad goodbyes to people. In doing so, I’d partially closed off my heart.

I’m so grateful to have learned this about myself, because February is about opening the heart and expanding the range of people your heart’s vibe reaches. I’m ready to open up my heart to an ever-expanding community. Are you with me?

Let’s start with opening our physical heart in Anuvittasana. Stand with your feet 4-6 inches apart. Soften your knees. Lift the low belly up to support the length of the low back. If you have injury or pain in your low back, bring your hands to your low back for support and focus on lifting your heart rather than bending your back. Otherwise, bring your arms over head. Reach up through your fingers and chest. Press your hips forward. Lift and lengthen your chest upward. Reach hour hands toward the wall behind you. Your chin can stay tucked into your collarbones or open up to expose the throat. Repeat the mantra, “My heart is free.”

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Michelle Ploog is an ERYT (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher) certified in Kripalu Yoga and Baptiste Power Yoga that inspires students to live a life of passion and purpose. During her eight years of teaching, she has taught yoga to an array of students from professional athletes, celebrities, women in recovery from sex trafficking, and adolescents coping with depression.  She has coached and trained yoga teachers as a facilitator for multiple teacher training programs, featured workshops and immersions around the country.  Her intention for teaching is to create a transformational and opening experience for students to embrace their inner light of greatness. For more about Michelle, please visit www.michelleploog.com and facebook.com/michelleploog.

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