Blog Mental Health Yoga Heart Opening Yoga Poses: 10 Moves To Invite More Love And Energy Into Your Life

Heart Opening Yoga Poses: 10 Moves To Invite More Love And Energy Into Your Life

Spending hours hunched over a computer or smartphone can leave you feeling drained, both physically and emotionally. For those who are looking for a way to boost their energy and mood, try practicing some heart opening yoga poses. Heart openers help to improve your posture by lengthening the muscles in your chest and shoulders. They also can increase your flexibility and range of motion. But perhaps most importantly, these poses can help you feel more open, loving, and connected. Let’s explore what some of the best heart opening yoga poses are and how they can help you invite more love and energy into your life…

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1. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra pose is a wonderful heart opener that can also help to strengthen your back and improve your posture (2).

To practice a cobra pose:

  1. Lie on your stomach with your legs straight, feet pointed away and your palms placed flat on the ground next to your shoulders.
  2. As you inhale, begin to lift your chest off of the ground. Keep your hips and legs firmly rooted to the mat.
  3. Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths before releasing back to the ground on an exhale.

2. Upward Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Upward dog is another great pose for opening up your chest and shoulders while also strengthening your arms and back (2).

To do an upward dog:

  1. Start in a prone position with your palms flat on the ground and your legs extended behind you.
  2. As you inhale, begin to press up into an upward dog position. Keep your shoulders blades back and down as you lift your chest toward the sky.
  3. Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths before releasing back to the ground on an exhale.

3. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)

This simple pose is often performed as a warm-up, but it’s also an excellent heart opener. The flowing movement between cat and cow can help to increase your flexibility while also massaging your spine (2).

To cat-cow:

  1. Start in a tabletop position with your palms flat on the ground and your knees hip-width apart.
  2. As you inhale, drop your belly toward the ground and lift your gaze skyward, opening up your chest. This is a cow pose.
  3. As you exhale, tuck your chin to your chest and round your back toward the sky, pushing your back toward your heels. This is a cat pose.
  4. Continue to flow between these two poses, moving with your breath for 5-10 breaths.
See also
Relax Yoga Poses To Calm Your Body

heart opening yoga poses

4. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Camel pose is a beautiful heart opener that also can help to stretch your entire front body. If you have any neck pain, be sure to practice this pose with caution and refrain from turning your head to look up at your hands (2).

To practice this:

  1. Start in a kneeling position with your thighs parallel to each other and your knees hip-width apart. Rest your hands on your low back.
  2. As you inhale, begin to lift your chest and gaze skyward.
  3. As you exhale, lean back, reaching your hands toward your feet. You can also place your hands on the soles of your feet if you can’t quite reach your heels.
  4. Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths before coming back to an upright position on an inhale.

Read More: Lying Down Yoga Poses For When You Need To Unwind

5. Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

Wheel pose is an advanced heart opener that requires a great deal of flexibility and strength. If you’re new to this pose, you may want to practice with your feet against a wall for support (2).

To wheel pose:

  1. Start lying on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Place your palms on the ground next to your shoulders.
  2. As you inhale, press into your hands and feet to lift your hips and chest off of the ground, coming into an upside down “V” shape.
  3. Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths before releasing back to the ground on an exhale.

6. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Fish pose is a restorative heart opener that can help to relieve tension in your neck and shoulders. If you have any lower back pain, place a rolled blanket under your hips for support (2).

To fish pose:

  1. Start lying on your back with your legs extended and your arms resting at your sides.
  2. As you inhale, begin to press your forearms and elbows into the ground as you lift your chest off of the ground. If it’s comfortable for your neck, you can also open your gaze skyward.
  3. Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths before releasing back to the ground on an exhale.
See also
Lying Down Yoga Poses For When You Need To Unwind

7. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge pose is another great heart opener that can also help to stretch your chest, neck, and spine. If you have any lower back pain, place a rolled blanket under your hips for support (2).

To practice:

  1. Start lying on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Place your arms at your sides with your palms facing down.
  2. As you inhale, begin to press into your feet and lift your hips and chest off of the ground.
  3. Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths before releasing back to the ground on an exhale.

heart opening yoga poses

8. Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Supine spinal twist is a gentle heart opener that can also help to release tension in your low back. If you have any neck pain, be sure to practice this pose with caution and refrain from turning your head to look over your shoulder (2) .

To do a supine spinal twist:

  1. Start lying on your back with your legs extended and your arms spread out to the sides in a “T” position.
  2. As you inhale, begin to draw your right knee to cross over your body to the left. Ensure that your shoulders remain flat on the ground as you twist
  3. As you exhale, return your right leg to an extended position. Repeat on the other side.

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9. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

Bow pose is a deep heart opener that can also help to stretch your entire front body. If you have any lower back pain, place a rolled blanket under your hips for support (2).

To bow pose:

  1. Start lying on your stomach with your legs extended behind you and your arms resting at your sides.
  2. In a prone backend, reach your arms back to grasp your ankles as you lift your chest and legs off of the ground.
  3. Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths before releasing back to the ground on an exhale.
See also
Tabata Yoga: This Hardcore Workout Will Have You Sweating Up A Storm Within Minutes

10. Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

Sphinx pose is a beginner-friendly heart opener that can help to stretch your chest, shoulders, and abs. If you have any lower back pain, place a rolled blanket under your hips for support (2).

To do it:

  1. Start lying on your stomach with your legs extended behind you and your arms resting at your sides.
  2. Prop yourself up on your elbows as you begin to lift your chest off of the ground. Keep your gaze forward as you hold the pose for 3-5 breaths.

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What Is Heart Opening In Yoga?

Heart openers are a class of yoga asanas (postures) that open the chest and heart center. This term isn’t limited to postures, it also refers to breath-work, meditations, journaling and deep introspection that work together to open the heart chakra.

So what’s the heart chakra and how does heart opening help? Here’s what you need to know

The heart chakra, or Anahata in Sanskrit, is the fourth chakra. It’s located in the center of the chest and is associated with the element of air. The heart chakra governs our ability to give and receive love (4). When it’s open and balanced, we feel confident and compassionate. We’re able to connect with others and ourselves on a deeper level.

Unfortunately, many of us develop a “shield” around our heart chakra as a result of trauma or heartbreak. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. We may find it difficult to give or receive love.

This shield may also be physical when we’ve adopted poor posture habits such as slouching or rounding our shoulders. Our chest muscles and posture can become tight, making it difficult to take deep breaths (3). This can further compound the problem by leading to shallow breathing and feelings of anxiety.

Heart openers help to release this tension both physically and emotionally. They encourage us to breathe deeply, which helps to oxygenate the blood and calm the nervous system. They stretch the chest muscles, increasing our lung capacity and improving our posture. 

And on an emotional level, heart openers help us to release old traumas and pain so that we can open ourselves up to giving and receiving love once again. As we release the physical tension, we also create space for emotional healing.

See also
Why And How You Should Use Yoga Blocks In Your Practice

Read More: Sofa Yoga For Seniors Who Have Limited Mobility

Breath-Work For Heart Opening

In addition to asanas, breath-work is an important component of heart opening. The following breath-work exercises can help to open the heart chakra and encourage feelings of love and compassion (1). 

1. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)

Alternate nostril breathing is a simple but effective breath-work exercise that can help to calm the mind and ease anxiety. It’s also a great way to prepare for meditation.

To practice the alternate nostril breathing:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed.
  2. Place your right thumb over your right nostril and your left pinky over your left nostril.
  3.  inhale deeply through your left nostril, then close off your left nostril with your pinky as you exhale through your right nostril.
  4. Inhale through your right nostril, then close it off with your thumb as you exhale through your left nostril.
  5. Continue alternating sides for 5-10 minutes.

heart opening yoga poses

2. Lion’s Breath (Simhasana)

Lion’s breath is a playful breath-work exercise that can help to relieve stress and tension. It’s also a great way to release any excess energy before bedtime.

To do the lion’s breath:

  1. Start in a seated position with your legs crossed in front of you.
  2. Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing down.
  3. As you inhale, open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue.
  4. Exhale through your mouth, making an “ahh” sound as you close your mouth and return to resting position.

3. Heart Chakra Breath (Anahata Pranayama)

This breath-work exercise is specifically designed to open the heart chakra. It’s a good choice if you’re looking to release old emotional pain or trauma.

To do heart chakra breath:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed.
  2. Place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly.
  3. As you inhale, feel your heart opening as you expand your chest.
  4. Exhale fully, then repeat.

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4. Rolling Breath (Ujjayi Pranayama)

Rolling breath is a great way to calm the mind and ease anxiety. It’s also helpful in promoting deep, restful sleep.

Rolling breath:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed.
  2. Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing down.
  3. As you inhale, focus on the sensation of the air moving through your nose and into your lungs.
  4. Exhale fully, then repeat.

heart opening yoga poses

Journaling Prompts For Heart Opening

Alongside asanas and breath-work, journaling can also be helpful in opening the heart chakra. The following prompts can help you to explore your emotions and release any old pain or trauma that’s been holding you back.

  1. What does it feel like to breathe deeply?
  2. How does your body feel when you allow yourself to let go of tension?
  3. What emotions come up for you when you practice heart openers?
  4. What do you need more of in your life right now: love, compassion, understanding, or something else?
  5. How can you open your heart to others? How can you let go of judgment and criticism?
  6. What old emotional pain do you need to release in order to make space for more love and compassion in your life? 
  7. Who do you need to forgive? Why are you holding on to this resentment?
  8. What are some things you can do to show more love and compassion to yourself?
  9. How can you bring more light and love into your life on a daily basis?
  10. Who or what do you need to let go of in order to make space for more love in your life?

The Bottom Line

Heart opening yoga poses, breath-work exercises, and journaling prompts can all be helpful in opening the heart chakra. Not only do they give physical and emotional benefits, but they can also help to create more space for love and compassion in your life. Start with one or two of these practices and see how you feel – you may be surprised at the difference it makes.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing (2018, nih.gov)
  2. HEART OPENING YOGA POSES FOR UPPER CROSSED SYNDROME (n.d., nasm.org)
  3. Poor Posture Hurts Your Health More Than You Realize: Tips for Fixing It (2021, clevelandclinic.org)
  4. The Heart Chakra: Discover and Balance the Fourth Chakra (2021, artofliving.org)
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