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Heart Openers in Yoga
Yoga heart openers are just one type of the various yoga poses that can often be broken down into pose types or categories. You may have seen or heard of opening poses, revolved, poses, hip openers, etc. My absolute favorite poses are heart openers (also sometimes referred to as chest opening poses).
In yoga, lots of
“Have only love in your heart for others. The more you see the good in them, the more you will establish good in yourself…”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Physical Benefits of Heart Openers
Physically, heart openers can combat our natural posture of rounded shoulders and a hunched spine. This is especially helpful for those who sit at a desk all day and work or have long commutes. Left unchecked, this can lead to chest pain or restrict your normal range of motion.
As we get older, hyper-kyphosis can occur. Kyphosis is the rounding of the spine that can restrict back movement. You may also feel pain traveling down your spine. Heart opening postures also open the pathways needed for energy to flow freely through the chakras.
Emotional Benefits of Heart Openers
Our heart pumps blood to our entire body and while it maintains our physical bodies our emotions (both negative and positive) also reside there. Whenever we feel happiness, joy, sorrow, love, sadness, grief, or hate, we feel it in our hearts. Our bodies store these emotions and heart-opening yoga poses can help to release those emotions.
Heart-opening yoga poses can help you expand your sternum, rib cage and the rest of your upper body. The more blood, oxygen and nerve circulation that is freed up can invigorate you mentally and physically.
When we open our hearts, we feel love and compassion and kindness. We allow ourselves to be open and free. Free to be happy, free to exist. We show the world our light and our love.
Types of Heart Opening Yoga Poses
There are tons of various heart-opening yoga poses. Many can be done while seated, laying down, on your knees and more. Some of my favorite yoga heart openers are:
- Camel (including half camel)
- Fish (including supported fish)
- Cow (from cat and cow)
- Dancer Pose
- Upward Facing Dog
The great thing about the variety of yoga heart openers is that they can be spread throughout your entire yoga practice. You can have some (cat and) cows and upward facing dogs in the beginning, bridge and/or wheel in the middle, and close out with supported fish (or any other variety).
There is no doubt about it. When you are in a heart-opening yoga pose, you are exposed. But think about the alternative. If you close off your heart, you block your heart chakra. A blocked heart chakra can result in an inability to love or be loved, an unwillingness to forgive or let go, and not being emotionally stable.
Acknowledge that the openness that comes with these poses might bring with it the vulnerability to heartache. While that fact is intimidating, it does not prevent us from allowing love to radiate from within, welcoming the potential for pain with the knowledge that it will pass.
When you open your heart, you open the door to infinite possibilities.
I absolutely love this yoga wheel to help expand my chest/heart when I practice. This specific one comes with a guide on a few sample poses as well!