Do you ever have days when your heart feels really big? Like, when the Grinch’s heart grew three times it’s size and broke the heart-measuring thing? Yeah, we do too. And it feels totally amazing! But you may have also experienced days when your heart doesn’t feel so hot. Not like breakup bad, but maybe like you’d rather work from home. Well, lucky for you, we know a thing or two about hearts and how to crack ‘em open with a little yoga. The next time you’re feeling a little ho hum, or even want to boost your energy, try out one or a all of the poses below.
This pose requires a bolster, which you can find in the props section of most studios. If you don’t have your own bolster and are practicing at home, you can always grab a pillow or two instead. Set your bolster or pillow behind you vertically and sit in front of it a few inches. You want enough space between your seat and the bolster so that when you lie back, the bottom of the bolster touches your low back, and your sit bones stay on the ground. Rest your head back and take your arms to your side or rest your hands on your belly. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall open. If this is too much on your hips, your can extend your legs long. Rest easy here for one to 10 minutes.
Cat cow is a classic, and opens the front and back of the chest. Come to a tabletop position, with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, and your hips stacked over your knees. From a flat back and on the inhale, tilt your tailbone up, draw your chest forward and lift your gaze to the ceiling. As you exhale, tuck your tailbone, round the spine and take your gaze to the floor. That’s one cycle. Repeat five to 10 times. If you have sensitive knees, you can do this exercise seated, drawing the chest forward on the inhale, then rounding the spine on the exhale.
Start this one out by lying on your back with your feet planted on the ground, hip-distance apart. Your knees should be facing up and you want to be able to brush the back of your heels with your fingertips. Extend your arms down by your sides and press your palms into the mat. Begin to lift your hips off the ground. Roll up through your spine to lift the chest as well, and tuck your chin in slightly toward your chest. Always keep your gaze to the sky or on your belly to avoid rolling the head and neck. You can clasp your hands under your back, pressing them into the floor, and roll your shoulders under you to get a deeper stretch across the chest. Hold for five to 10 breaths then slowly lower yourself back to the mat. Repeat one to three times.
Locust is another option for getting into the chest and front shoulders. Begin lying on your belly, legs extended and zipped together, and tops of your feet pressing into the mat. Interlace your hands behind your back. On an inhale, begin to reach your fists back and lift your chest off the ground (it doesn’t have to be lifted much). Slide your shoulder blades together across your back and keep your gaze forward, just past your nose or down to the floor. If you want to work your back muscles a little more here, you can float your feet up off the ground; just keep hugging the legs together. Hold the pose for five to 10 breaths and repeat one to three times.
This posture opens up the back of the part, which is said to be the place where we receive love. Find a comfortable seat, maybe on a pillow or folded up blanket, and extend your legs out long in front of you. To keep the legs engaged, make sure your toes stay pointed up towards the ceiling. Your knees can bend as much as is needed (and you can always tuck a bolster, pillow or rolled up blanket underneath your knees for more support). When you’re ready, begin to hinge forward at the hips, lowering your torso towards your legs. You can round through the spine and release your head and neck for added relaxation. Hold this pose anywhere from five breaths to 15 minutes.