Valentine’s Day can be a time of joy and appreciation or a time for painful memories and feelings of loneliness to arise. Instead of focusing on the pain of past relationships and people that have hurt you, choose to focus on the ones that have been there and supported you through your ups and down; use Valentine’s Day as a reminder of how much you are loved. When I feel my heart is not open, I practice heart opening yoga poses as a physical reminder and a way to shift my energy to be more accepting to both receiving and giving love.
The heart chakra is the color green, located in the middle of the chest and extending to the palms of the hands; it is the energy center of love, forgiveness, compassion and self-esteem. When the heart chakra is open, you feel confident, compassionate and trust others. When it is closed off you may feel isolated from others, feel sorry for yourself and may even go into bouts of depression. It’s normal to go through ups and downs in life but it’s important to keep your heart open.
Here are some yoga poses to open your heart chakra:
1. Lie on your stomach, feet hip width apart, pressing your pelvis and tops of your feet into your mat.
2. Engage your inner thighs coming up onto your forearms. Stack your elbows directly underneath your shoulders. Pressing into your hands, visualize a ball between your shoulder blades, lifting opening your chest up towards the ceiling.
3. Gently draw in your naval towards your spine, creating a dome like shape. This will support and distribute the curvature of your backbend more evenly along the spine, releasing pressure from your lower back while simultaneously strengthening your upper back.
4. Hold pose for 10 breaths. On your final exhale, release to your belly, arms extended back by your side, turn your head to lie on your cheek, sway your hips side to side releasing your spine. Breathe for two breaths. Turn your head to the opposite side for two breaths; sway your hips side to side to balance out your pose.
Cow & Cat Pose
1. Starting in table top. Wrists underneath your shoulders, knees underneath your hips.
2. Chest lifts, belly drops creating an arch in your spine. Gaze up towards your eyebrows.
3. Hold pose for 5 breaths. Counter stretch by pressing your hands into the earth, round your spine into cat pose. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat 2-3 times.
1. Lie on your stomach, arms extending back by your side, palms facing down.
2. Pressing your pelvis into your mat, engage your inner thighs and core. On your inhale, legs lift extending through the ball of your feet and chest peels off your mat, extending your arms behind you, palms facing each other, gaze stays down at your mat to protect your neck. Holding the pose, not your breath, for three breaths.
3. On your exhale, lower down to your belly, arms extended back by your side, turn your head to lie on your cheek, sway your hips side to side releasing your spine. Breathe for two breaths. Turn your head to the opposite side for two breaths; sway your hips side to side to balance out your pose.
4. Repeat 3-4 times.
1. Start in a kneeling position, hip width apart. Tuck your toes under if you are feeling unstable. Bring your hands to your lower back, fingers facing down, elbows pressing back.
2. On your inhale, engage your inner thighs for stability. Exhale, lift your chest up and back. Visualize a beach ball in your mid back that you have to lift up and over to prevent from sinking into your lower back. Gaze shifts up towards the ceiling. If you have the back strength and flexibility, release your hands from your back and grab your ankles. Hold pose for 3-5 breaths.
3. Engage your inner thighs to lift out of the pose and come into child’s pose for several breaths to release the spine. Repeat 2-3 times.
1. Begin by lying on your belly, arms extended back; bend your knees in towards your glutes, flexing your feet.
2. On your inhale, lift your chest and extend your arms back, palms facing each other, towards your heels. The focus is lifting the chest up using your back muscles versus grabbing your ankles and cranking your body into an unnatural pose that is also bad for your lower back. Keep your gaze on your mat to protect your spine. Hold pose for four breaths.
3. On your exhale, lower down do your belly, keeping knees bent, move legs side to side to release lower spine. Repeat 2-3 times.
1. Start on your back, plant your feet into your mat hip width apart. If you are unsure if your feet are hip width apart, visualize “a ‘hundo’ bill between your feet, why should we visualize only a dollar bill?” as my mentor and owner of Lotus Yoga, Jen Hensley says. Extend your arms down by your side. Adjust your feet until your fingertips to slightly grazing your heels. Bring your hands up by your ears, fingertips pointing towards the front wall.
2. On your inhale, press your feet and palms into your mat, engage your inner thighs. Exhale; lift your hips up towards the ceiling and straightening your arms into full wheel. Hold the pose for three breaths.
3. Exhale, lower down. Resist the urge to hug your knees into your chest. Instead, keeping your knees bent, windshield wiper your legs side to side for several breaths. Repeat 2 times.