4 Heart Opening Yoga Poses
Love is in the air. In the spirit of the month of Love, let’s talk about the heart. Heart opening yoga poses to be specific. All of these fab chest openers are practiced in our Soul Sweat sequence. These aren’t the only back bending, chest stretching poses we do, but they’re some of our favorites!
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana):
To begin, lie on your stomach. Bring your legs together, squeezing your inner thighs and buttocks, pressing the tops of your feet down in to the mat. You may even notice you knees lift slightly. Bring your hands to the mat directly below your shoulders. Squeeze your fingers together and relax your shoulders, pulling your elbows in tight to the rib cage. Take a breath. On the next inhale, lift up through the crown on your head and breast bone, chin up and away from chest, collar bones wide. Sink your shoulders down and back bringing the shoulder blades together. Use mostly the strength of your spine and core to lift and only put gentle pressure in the hands. Keep breathing. All of our spine series poses are chest/heart openers so if you feel your chest collapsing or your shoulders creeping toward your ears, ask for help!
Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana):
The third movement of our vinyasa flow. Beginning in your low push up (caturanga dandasana) inhale deeply and press in to your hands, lifting your chest up and through the arms. Shoulders are down and back, chin is up, away form the chest and hips pressing gently forward, buttocks and thighs engaged. The tops of the feet are shifted to the mat pressing down firmly and if it’s possible, the thighs and knees are lifted off the mat.. Keep lifting up and breathing. Remember, the shoulders are down, away from the ears so your heart can shine forward.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana):
This is a tough one! Part of our floor series, it’s the deepest back bend we do and really opens up the chest when done properly. Camel pose also fires up the energy in the body! Not a pose to be done before bed. Start on your knees, about 8 inches apart, tops of the feet to the mat about 6 inches apart. Bring your hands to your low back, fingers pointing toward the ground, shoulders down and relaxed. Take a big inhale and lift up from your chest, imagining there is a string attached to the sternum and someone is pulling straight up. Exhale and gently drop your head back. Try to keep your hips above your knees. If you can, drop one hand at at time to your heels, with your thumbs on the outside of the heel. Keep lifting up from the chest. Breathe. Relax your shoulders again.
Standing Bow Pulling Pose (Dandayamana Dhanurasana):
This is a member of our standing series. Some say it’s a variation on Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana). Start by shifting your weight in to your left leg. Bend your right knee, bringing your heel towards your hip and grab the inside of your foot or ankle with ALL five fingers together. No thumbs on the sole of your foot! Get a good grip. Inhale and reach your left arm up, bicep next to the ear and palm open. Engage your standing leg TIGHT and relax your right shoulder. Take a few breaths here and when your ready inhale and reach up through your left fingers, exhale and kick straight up as hard as you can in to your right hand. When you see your toes coming up over your head, drop your belly down parallel to the mat. Reach your left arm forward with just as much intensity as you’re kicking. Bring your chin above your left shoulder, let your right shoulder disappear behind you. Chin up. Gaze forward. Reach your fingers towards the bridge of your nose. Re-engage your left leg and try to drop your right up down to square them to the mat. Keep kicking and reaching and don’t forget to breathe.
We hope you enjoy these poses. If you have any questions about specific poses or need help outside of class with a pose, don't hesitate to ask one of our certified instructors at Soul Sweat Hot Yoga!