Heart openers are the perfect yoga postures for the month of February. They offer benefits that are both physical and psychological.
The benefits for the body include:
- strengthen the upper back
- improved posture
- increase lung capacity of the lungs
- relieves tension in the back and shoulders
- increased blood circulation
- stimulates the thyroid and pituitary glands.
The benefits for the heart include:
- emotional release
- boosts confidence
- develops compassion
- relieves depression and feelings of isolation
So when your yoga teacher or your spouse or your friend or your physical therapist or your conscience tells you to ‘open your heart,’ you should! Here’s a fun sequence to get you there (it’s a little preview of Alison Aiken’s upcoming classes and workshops – Gentle Yoga for Arthritis and Yoga Therapeutics: Upper Back & Chest):
Supine with blanket roll: Warm up the heart by lying on your back with a rolled blanket placed just below the bottom corners of your shoulder blades. Breathe and release into the blanket.
Quadruped swimming arm circles: On hands and knees “swim” by reaching one arm back, up, forward, and down alternating sides.
Vajrasana with arms raised wide (Hero): Come into hero’s pose sitting on your heels. Inhale and sweep arms wide and over head lifting hips away from heels. Exhale bringing hands together in front of your heart settling hips back down.
Bhujangasana (Baby Cobra): On your stomach place hands under shoulder and lift head and chest forward.
Ustrasana (Supported Camel): On your knees reach hands back for two blocks behind you. Tuck your tailbone to lengthen your lower back and lift your heart up.
Matsyasana (Supported Fish): Place one block under your back at chest level and one under your head. Extend legs. Close eyes and breathe.