Below are five heart-opening yoga poses that will keep your Valentine’s Day love flowing to the end of the month. A heart-opening sequence offers many benefits, not only are they great poses to help alleviate our work week round shoulder computer slump that happens to many of us but they also offer us the opportunity to look inward. One of the core values of yoga, is that which pertains to self- study or in Sanskrit, Svadhyaya. This theme of self-awareness is often discussed and mentioned in yoga class as without it there would be no yoga; no union of mind, body, and soul.
Taking the time to truly look inward and get to know yourself is a profound experience one that offers the opportunity for personal growth so that you can experience life to your fullest potential. We can easily devote the time to friends and family during the week, so why not take the same time to invest in yourself and really learn all the factors that make you unique or dig deep and uncover what your heart really desires. Opening our heart center and becoming aware of what and how our hearts speak to us can open up new levels of understanding and a deeper love for life.
Bhujangasana, Cobra Pose: Lie face down with your legs straight out behind you. Place your hands on the floor, spreading your fingers, and hug your elbows toward your ribs. Inhale and begin to straighten your arms. Stretch your heart forward and bring your torso up. Concentrate on firming your shoulder blades against your back and lifting your stern so that there’s no compression in the lower back. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Release by lowering one rib a time to the mat, tucking your chin as you release your head.
Ardha Bhekasana, Half Frog Pose: Lie face down with your legs straight out behind you. Place your forearms on the floor. Lift your torso and head. Bend your right knee and lower your right heel close to your right buttock. Reach back and clasp the inside of your right foot with your right hand. Rotate your elbow toward the ceiling so that you can curl your fingers over your toes. Gently press your foot toward your buttock. If your flexibility permits, move your foot off to the side and push it toward the floor, being careful to keep your knee in line with your hip. Hold 30 seconds to two minutes. Then release, relax and reverse.
Purvottanasana, Upward Plank Pose: Sit up tall with your legs extended out in front of you, now move your hands several inches behind your hips with your fingers pointing toward your feet. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor with your heels a minimum of a foot away from your buttocks. Lift your hips until you come into reverse tabletop. Then, without lowering your hips, straighten one leg at a time. If possible, let your head gently drop back. Hold 30 seconds, tuck your chin and lower down.
Urdhva Dhanurasana, Wheel Pose: Lie on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor with your heels as close to your buttocks as possible. Bend at elbows and place your palms on the floor beside your head with your fingers pointing toward your shoulders. Press your hands and feet firmly into the floor, lift your torso and hips and come onto the crown of your head. Continue lifting your body, allowing your head to come up off the floor. Hold for five to 10 second. Lower to the crown of the head, tuck the chin and release one vertebra at time to the mat.
Supta Baddha Konasana, Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose: Fold and stack 1-3 blankets firmly. Bring a pillow to the top of the blankets that is 1-2 shorter than the blanket stack. Can also use a yoga bolster if accessible. From a seated position, line the blankets up with the sacrum and bring the soles of the feet together and open the knees out to the side (use rolled blankets,pillows or blocks underneath the thighs for support, optional). Lay back onto the stacked blankets with the spine and let the arms open into a ‘T’ shape to encourage passive heart opening. Stay in the pose 1 – 5 minutes, focusing on a slow, deep breath expanding the heart space. To come out, bring the knees together and roll slowly over to one side.