5 Heart Opening Yoga Poses and Tips

full body stretches yoga Feb 10, 2015
5 Heart Opening Yoga Poses and Tips

Opening our hearts in our practice and in our daily lives is prevalent during this time of year. I have recently dived into a daily backbend practice, which is exhilarating and brings a sense of vitality to my workout and practice. Backbends and heart openers are scary for lots of people. It requires vulnerability, a change in perspective, being upside down, and a pure openness to our hearts, lungs, and chest.

Most of our days are spent in forward flexion, meaning that the body is forward. Think about it: washing the dishes, on the computer, driving, sitting, cleaning, etc. Over time, this constant forward action results in a hunched back, a stiff upper chest, neck, and back, and ultimately discomfort. Adding heart openers and backbends into your practice reverses this daily hunching, and you proactively take a stance against a deteriorated spine. I encourage all my students to incorporate back work, shoulder stretching, and back-bending. This post is to inspire and encourage you to take action and counteract aging, which will ultimately uplift your entire being, mood, perspective, and thought process, and strengthen relationships with loved ones and yourself!

Benefits to Heart Opening Stretches and Poses: (from Yoga Journal)

  • Stretches the chest and lungs
  • Strengthens the arms and wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen, and spine
  • Stimulates the thyroid and pituitary
  • Increases energy and counteracts depression
  • Therapeutic for asthma, back pain, infertility, and osteoporosis

5 Heart Opening Tips and Stretches: 

  1. Move from the inside out, meaning that the backbend will start with a lift through your upper chest, sternum, thoracic spine, and belly.
  2. Distribute the extension as evenly as possible throughout the entire length of your back.
  3. Shoulder stretches will help open the chest, shoulders, and thoracic spine. (Check the 3 shoulder stretches below)
  4. Psoas stretches will enable an effortless backbend. (Check out the 3 quad/psoas stretches below)
  5. Judge your backbend progress by how much easier it is to sit, stand, and walk with your back tall and easily upright throughout the day. This erect posture will impart elegance and dignity to your entire being.

Shoulder Stretches:

5 Heart Opening Yoga Poses

NOTE: Below are advanced variations of heart-opening yoga poses. Please enter into the pose carefully and mindfully. Do not rush into the advanced stages. Do the above stretches along with these heart openers.

 Upward Bow (Wheel) Pose

Urdhva Dhanurasana


Daringly open, this pose challenges your proprioception, flexibility, and back strength. Back strength and flexibility are two sides of the same coin – contrary to popular belief.  Open your heart and pelvis up to the sky and become one with the celestial atmosphere.


Wild Thing


A pose that is undeniably flattering on any woman. Push your hips up to the sky for an ultimate psoas opener, and lean your head back with ease into the earth for two opposing energies. Go further with extension by reaching through your top arm and extending out through your toes, always leading the energy from your heart's center. Release and feel the anti-aging effects.


Hollow Back

Pincha Mayurasana

Lye back on any wall, tree, or post you see to open your heart up to the sky. This inversion will increase blood, leaving you feeling warm and cozy all over.


Lord of the Dance Pose


Open your heart to this receptive dance-like pose. Symbolizing cosmic energy, you’ll be a magnet for happiness and love after doing this pose.


Bow Pose


Superb back strengthener, while also invigorating and energizing. Open your heart up to the sky, and enjoy the uplifting and positive effects this pose has on your mind, body, and soul.

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