There are many heart opening poses in yoga. These poses physically open the shoulders and chest, energetically creating a sense of opening through our heart center or heart chakra, an energy center that governs how we feel emotionally. When we feel balanced in our heart chakra, we can give love to ourselves and others without holding back or feeling depleted. You may find that the heart opening poses below give you an extra boost of energy or you may be more inclined to give someone a big hug! Enjoy a few of these to get the good vibes flowing!
1) Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Cobra pose is a great way to open your chest and shoulders, and strengthen your back, butt and legs. This is an extremely grounding backbend and a great
pose to warm up for some of the bigger backbends in yoga. This heart opener
will leave you feeling happier, invigorated and ready for whatever love is coming
Begin by laying down on your belly. Reach back through your legs and point your toes straight back. Bend your elbows and place your hands right next to your chest so that your wrists are in line with your elbows. Press down through the tops of your feet, your legs and your pubic bone. On an inhale, press through your palms and slightly lift your chest off of the ground. Draw your navel gently in and up. Soften your shoulders away from your ears and widen across your collarbones. On your exhale, slowly lower your chest and head back to the ground. Feel free to repeat this again two more times.
2) Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Bridge pose is a wonderful backbend that strengthens and tones your legs and
butt while opening your shoulders, chest and neck. This pose stimulates the thyroid gland, the lungs and improves your digestion. This heart opener will leave you feeling open, energized and rejuvenated!
Begin by laying down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet hip distance apart and parallel to each other. Place your arms by your side and let your fingertips gently brush the backs of your heels so that your ankles are in line with your knees. On an exhale, gently press evenly into the ground with your feet and begin to lift your hips off of the ground. Either hold onto the outer edges of your yoga mat with your hands or interlace your fingers underneath your back. Inhale and roll your shoulders under you so you are opening across your chest. Exhale as you press into the ground with your feet and gently press your shins back as you lengthen your butt to your heels. Inhale as you lift your hips up slightly higher and open across your chest. Exhale as you slowly lower down one vertebrae at a time lowering your spine and your hips down to the ground once again like you started. Feel free to repeat this again two more times.
3) Twisted Chair Pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
Twisted Chair Pose is a great way to open your upper back and chest, and
strengthen your legs and butt in preparation for backbends. This twist also aids in detoxing and toning your belly. This heart opener will leave you feeling strong, capable and willing to share some love!
Come to stand in Mountain Pose, bringing your feet together. On an inhale bend your knees (as if you were going to sit in a chair) and press your palms together in front of your heart in prayer. Exhale as you press down strongly through your heels and gently press your shins back as you sink your hips down a little lower into the pose. Inhale and lift your chest, widen across your collarbones, and draw your shoulders away from your ears. Exhale, twist your torso to the right, hooking your left elbow outside of your right thigh. Keep your hips facing forward and inhale to lengthen your spine. On your exhale twist your chest open a bit more to the right, lifting your sternum and softening through the shoulders. Inhale as you feel your waist lengthen evenly and exhale as you feel your navel draw in and up, twisting to the right. Stay for one more inhale and then exhale, folding forward over your legs coming into Uttanasana or forward fold. Repeat on the left side.
4) Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Bow Pose is a great way to open your hip flexors, belly, shoulders and chest, and strengthen your legs, butt, back and arms. This is an extremely grounding backbend because you are on your belly, which is why it’s important to breathe deeply while doing this pose. This heart opener will leave you feeling open, supported and stress free!
Begin by laying down on your belly. Reach your arms and legs straight back. Begin to bend your knees as if you were trying to kick yourself in the butt! Reach back with your right hand and grab your right foot, and reach back with your left hand and grab your left foot. Press your thighs and pubic bone down into the ground. Draw your navel gently in and up. On an inhale, begin to press your feet back to the wall behind you and notice how that lifts your chest off the ground. On an exhale, begin to lift your thighs off the ground any amount. Inhale and lift your chest, widen across your collarbones and draw your shoulders away from your ears. Exhale and slowly lower down to the ground, releasing your legs and arms straight behind you like you began. Feel free to repeat this again two more times.
5) Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
Wheel pose strengthens your legs, butt and arms, and opens your hip flexors,
belly, shoulders, chest and upper back. This pose builds stamina and strength
and creates mobility in your spine. It’s a challenging backbend but is a great
way to open your heart! This heart opener will give you a boost of energy and lift
Begin by laying down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet hip distance apart and parallel to each other. Place your arms by your sides and let your fingertips gently brush the backs of your heels so that your ankles are in line with your knees. On an inhale, reach your arms up over your head. Bend at your elbows and place your hands down in line with your ears, shoulder-width apart with your fingertips pointing toward your shoulders. On an exhale, press down through your feet and your hands and lift up lightly to the crown of your head. Draw your elbows in toward one another so they stay shoulder distance apart. Gently press your shin bones back as you lengthen your butt to your heels. Draw your navel gently in and up and widen across your chest. Inhale as you press into your hands and feet, lift your head off of the ground and try to straighten your arms. Firm your outer arms in and lift your sternum toward the wall behind you. Inhale deeply as you open across your chest. Exhale as you slowly lower back down gently drawing your chin toward your chest as your head touches the ground, followed by your shoulders, upper back, lower back, hips and butt until you are back down to where you started. Feel free to repeat this again two more times.