Open Your Heart

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’ve probably heard the phrase “open your heart” or heard a pose referred to as a “heart opener”. These poses are great for you physically and emotionally. They are also a great reminder to open your heart to the world.

Have you noticed that many people today walk around with hunched shoulders? When you see someone very shy or insecure, you can tell right away because of how they kind of curl into themselves by rolling their shoulders over and almost guarding their heart. That’s our body’s defense mechanism. We want to protect ourselves emotionally, especially in uncomfortable situations, so we physically close off our heart space to the world around us.

Benefits of Heart Openers

Practicing heart openers can help counter that pose physically by pulling back the shoulder muscles and strengthening the back muscles so that you have better posture. They also stretch your chest muscles, abdomen, and other muscles in the front of the body that have gotten used to being shortened and are likely tight. When your body is in alignment and your front body isn’t drawn together, you will look taller, slimmer, and more confident.

Confidence is a huge benefit of heart openers. Often these poses are used to help heal people emotionally and allow a person to embrace the world instead of hiding from it. If drawing into yourself is a sign of insecurity then opening up the chest space counters that. By opening up, you area telling yourself that you are important and have something to offer. That you welcome what is coming and won’t hide from it. While it may sound silly, it does kind of make sense, right?

Camel Pose

Camel pose (shown above) is an obvious heart opener and probably one of the more vulnerable poses in the heart series. When you are in a full camel, you are completely open to what is happening around you and allowing yourself to relax into it. While this is a more difficult pose, there are many more that you can do to start out your heart-opening journey.

Getting into Camel Pose

If you want to try camel pose, you’ll probably want to try it on a mat or carpet. Sometimes it can put pressure on your knees. Then follow these steps:

  1. Start on the mat with your knees about hip-width apart. Check to see that your knees are directly under the hips.
  2. Place your hands on the back of your hips with your thumbs near the sacrum (the bony part at the base of your spine).
  3. Inhale and draw your belly button in toward the spine.
  4. Slowly begin to lean back while keeping chin tucked toward your chest. You can choose to stay here and untuck your chin to allow your head to fall comfortably backward, or you can move on to a move advanced position.
  5. If you choose to go more advanced, reach back with your hands to grab your heals. Then, untuck your chin and drop your shoulders toward the ground while allowing your head to hang backward. Do not lock your throat. You will know if you’ve locked your throat if you have trouble breathing.
  6. Now lift your chest toward the sky and life up through your pelvis while keeping your lower spine long.
  7. Hold for about 30-60 seconds and then get out the way you came in. First put hands back on your low back and then, using your abs muscles and quads, pull yourself up into your neutral position. Head comes up last.

Other Heart Openers

Although we focused on camel pose today, there are so many other heart openers out there. You can start small with poses like cobra, bridge, lunge with arms clasped behind you, or cow pose. Or, you could try more advanced poses like wheel or king pigeon.

When you think of heart openers, think about poses that open up your chest to receive what the world is giving you. Allow yourself to receive and grow. As we stretch out our front chest muscles and work on pulling our shoulders back, we not only exhibit confidence, but we also allow ourselves to accept confidence.

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  1. Patti Goodrum says:

    Nice and well written and helpful!
    I’ll give it a try!!


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