We naturally shield ourselves from previous experiences in our life by closing our hearts off in order to protect ourselves. It’s important that we encourage ourselves to reopen our hearts again so we are able to flourish and grow, surrendering to the present and allowing more room for joy to enter back in. These five heart-opening yoga poses will challenge you physically and mentally to help build a grounded foundation for a more open heart.
*Please listen to the wisdom of your body while practicing these poses. Also, please warm up properly before attempting these poses with a SUN A sequence.
Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose
Lay flat on your belly with toes tucked under. Zip up your legs, squeezing them together, hands by your ribs. Inhale and begin to push the Earth away as you peel your chest from the ground, keeping a micro bend in your elbows, pressing into the tops of your feet and making sure to keep your gaze at the top of your mat. Exhale as you slowly lower back down to the floor, resting your forehead on your mat. Flow through this a couple times. This is your Baby Cobra variation as you continue to warm up your spine. On your final inhale rise all the way up, extending your arms as straight as you can, pulling your shoulders back. You can hold at the top of this pose for a few breaths before releasing back down as you exhale.
Anuvittasana: Standing Backbend
Start standing at the top of your mat with feet hip distance apart. Inhale, your arms up above your head. Exhale, cactus your arms creating a 90° bend at your elbows, pinching your shoulder blades back and drawing them down your spine. Push your hips forward as you begin to lean back, and go as deep into this bend that your body allows. Hold here for a couple rounds of breath.
- For a deeper variation interlace your fingers above your head with the exception of your index and thumb, creating a steeple mudra. Extend your arms straight above your head and begin to lean back.
On your next inhale slowly rise back up to standing and exhaling to a forward fold, releasing your lower back.
Ustrasana: Camel Pose
Begin by kneeling on the floor with knees hip distance apart, pressing your weight into your shins and tops of your feet. Square your hips, with arms down at your sides. Inhale your hands to the small of your back, fingers pointing down. Exhale slowly start to recline back puffing up your chest and keeping thighs perpendicular to the floor. This might be enough for some, but if you feel comfortable you can slowly extend one hand down at a time to your heels. Keep your neck neutral or relax it by dropping it back, being mindful to not tense the back of your neck. Hold this pose for a few rounds of breath and when you’re ready to exit inhale your hands back up to your lower back, pushing your hips forward as you start to rise up, leading with your heart and allowing your head to lift last. Exhale into child’s pose.
Matsyasana: Fish Pose
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor. Inhale lift your pelvis and slide your hands beneath your bottom with palms facing down. Exhale lower your pelvis back down on top of your hands, squeezing your forearms and elbows to your side. Inhale grounding down into your forearms and elbows puffing up your chest and lifting your head up from the floor creating an arch in your lower back. (If your back is flexible enough the crown of your head should be able to rest on the floor. If your head is resting on the floor be mindful of not crunching your neck and allowing little weight pressing between your head and the ground). You can keep your knees bent or exhale, straightening out the legs, activating your thighs by pushing weight through your heels. Take a few inhales and exhales here. On your final exhale slowly lower your back down to the ground, drawing your knees to your chest, wrapping your arms around to give yourself a big squeeze, releasing your spine.
Urdhva Dhanurasana: Wheel Pose (Variation)
Lie on your back, knees bent, heels hip distance apart, and fingertips at your side. Inhale, placing your hands by your head. Exhale, pushing your hips up to the sky for wheel pose keeping knees pointed forward and legs parallel to each other.
Take another inhale in wheel pose and as you exhale begin to bend into your elbows as you lower your head to the floor gently, bringing your forearms down to the mat one at a time to frame your head, interlacing your fingers. Inhale expanding your chest. Exhale to soften. Inhale squeeze your shoulder blades together, drawing them down your back. Take a couple breaths in and out here. This variation will help guide you to eventually reach Two- Legged Inverted Stagg Pose.
On your last exhale release your hands and bring them back by your head. Slowly melt down onto your back and adjust yourself for savasana.