Yoga Poses for Heart Opening

In the spirit of February being the month of love, I wanted to share a few heart opening yoga poses that just may make you feel a little bit closer to living that "best life" goal you set back in January (that wasn't just me was it?!).  

I think so many of us walk around with our shoulders and ribcage completely closed, myself included. Often when I focus on this, I find that I've been sitting, or even standing completely hunched over. Sadly, my body has learned over the years to be a bit more closed than open, but luckily there are ways to re-train these muscles!

On the emotional side, all of yoga supports a healthy, open heart. During our lifetimes, we may go through many little (or large) traumas that wound us emotionally. Over time, this can lead us to close ourselves off as a form of protection. If we protect our hearts behind walls we can avoid getting hurt, and so begins this process of closing ourselves off, adding layer upon layer. 

The heart chakra is related to our ability to give and receive love. When it is closed or imbalanced, we find it difficult to feel love, compassion, grace, and peace. Instead, we likely feel anger, sadness or guilt. This imbalance can manifest itself emotionally and physically. 

Yoga in general promotes an open heart through almost every pose, but there are a few that I'll share with you here that can be done anywhere, starting today, to offer immediate ease. Demos are included in the links because...mama ain't got time to create a professional You Tube video!

Cow Pose : I love this pose and do it, along with cat pose (think arched back) every day as part of my warmup for my workout. This is a great heart opener and also provides a nice stretch for your back - especially first thing in the morning if you are feelings stiff!

Cobra Pose: Once again, another great opener for the heart chakra, and with this little flow you'll get some abdominal engagement as well. Multitasking is life, let's just agree on that right now.

Bridge Pose: I really like this variation of bridge pose because it offers opening through the chest as well as strengthening through the legs and glutes. If you are bendy, take this up to a full wheel to get a very powerful heart explosion!

Camel Pose: I'll admit that I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this pose. A note of warning -- it can be very intense both physically and emotionally. I'd start slowly and go from there. There is no need to whip yourself into a complex contortion right away to feel the full effects. This video from Kino Yoga will help you do just that!

There you have it! A few quick little steps you can take to open yourself up this month to love, happiness and energy. Give them a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.