Yoga For An Open HeartPublished January 29, 2020 by Sheila Anne Murray
Heart-opening asanas can be a wonderfully effective way to tap into your heart space and become more in-tune with the universe and yourself. I recommend this practice if you are feeling boxed in, stuck in your head, or if you are simply looking to draw a deeper connection to the good energy around you.
From downward facing dog, inhale as you sweep your right leg to the sky. On the exhale, bring your right knee toward your chest and place that foot between your hands. Place your back knee on the ground, pressing the top of that foot into the mat. Inhale and sweep both arms toward the sky.
Now bring your arms to 90 degree angles, making a “cactus” or “goal post” shape. Inhale and take a baby back bend, shining your heart to the sky. Shift your focus from your lower spine into your heart space and think about pulling up as you’re leaning back; this will keep you from crunching into your low back!
Breathe here for about 10 breaths. If the cactus arms don’t work for you, allow your arms to spread wide, or straighten toward the back corners of your mat.
Return to downward facing dog and complete on the next side.
Start in high lunge (Crescent lunge) with your hips squared towards the front of the mat, and your back heel lifted. Inhale and sweep your arms overhead, palms facing one another. Exhale, length your tailbone toward the floor and reach back through your left heel. Allow your shoulder blades to shrug down your back and support your chest.
Inhale and on the next exhale, sweep your arms behind your back, below your hips to clasp. Inhale and allow a little baby back bend as your clasped hands drop closer to the mat and your heart space shines toward sky. Again, the more you think about your heart space shining up, the more you will protect your lower back — because you won’t be tempted to crunch down into it.
Exhale and allow the chest to fall to inside of your front knee. Your back heel can come to the ground — press through the outside of that foot, for extra support. Modify further by allowing the hand opposite the front leg to come down to the mat in a fist.
This pose is all about surrendering to the stability that you have within you. Breathe here into the spaces of strength and the spaces that are building heat, and imagine the expansiveness of your heartspace.
After 5-10 breaths, allow the clasped hands to stretch back and down toward the mat, while your hips and core body lead you back to an open-heart lunge. Then release the clasp.
Try this on the other side and clasp the hands the more uncomfortabler way — yes, this may be hard on your brain at first! 😉
Belly back bends
Lay belly-down on your mat with your hands on either side of your shoulders. Stretch your legs back, with the tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Hug the elbows back toward your rib cage.
Inhale, and begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, going only to the height at which you can maintain a connection with the mat and your lower body. Exhale and firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward, shine the heart forward.
Breathe easy here 5-15 breaths and lower on an exhale. Eyes can look forward and down; keep your head on straight versus tilting your chin toward the sky.
Open-hearted lying twist
Lying on your back, inhale knees to chest, then exhale and allow left leg to straighten and float to the mat. Hug in the right knee and pull it across the opposite side body, allowing gravity to do most of the work. Option to place a block/blanket/pillow under the bent knee if you have tight hips, or if it doesn’t come down to the mat. Inhale your right arm toward the sky, then to the left, allowing it to float down to the mat. Your arm can be straight, or at a 90 degree angle.
Breathe here for as long as you’d like. The goal is to be relaxed here as you allow your spine to ease into the twist and your heart to stay open to the sky.