Yoga: Heart Openers
By Lisa Diers, RD, LD, E-RYT, Director of Nutrition and Yoga Services Manager
Today's Emily Program yoga blog focuses on the heart and opening the front of the body. For many of us, much of our time is spent rounding forward. Whether that's from typing, texting, reading, watching TV, videos, or from carrying "burdens on our backs." Many of us could benefit from a stretch in the front of our body to help reverse the effects of our daily experiences. Maybe you want to open your heart to receive what you need and let go of what no longer serves you. Or perhaps you want to experience the grounding and healing benefit of your heart beat. The beat that has been with you your entire life.
Whatever your intention, practice in a way that feels best for you- trusting the wisdom of your body.
Considerations for Heart Openers:
- For increased spinal support: consider practicing with your back leaning against the wall or seated on a chair.
- Practicing from a chair: This can provide both spinal and leg/knee support. If you are able, plant your feet on the ground. You may place yoga blocks or books under your feet for added support.
- You can practice this in your bed! Heart openers can sometimes help us feel energized or emotionally lighter. If you struggle from depression or low mood, a heart opener before you get out of bed may help you in starting your day in a new way.
- Practice at work or school! Periodically throughout the day, inhale your shoulders up toward your ears and exhale them back and down. Move in heart shape rotations. This can relieve accumulated tension and stress in the upper back, shoulders and neck.
- Recline on a bolster, pillows, flotation noodle or rolled up yoga mat: This can give you a deep stretch for the front line of the body. Consider covering yourself with a blanket or place pillows under your knees to increase comfort, support and a gradual stretch in the hips.
- Listen closely to the beat of your heart: Your heart beat has been with you from the beginning and it is always with you. The rhythm of your heart is unique to you. Slowing down to connect to this rhythm can be meditative, healing and grounding. Consider placing your hand on your heart, wear ear plugs or noise cancelling ear buds to deepen this connection.
Maybe this practice works for you. Maybe it can be a catalyst for connection, and you intuitively move in a way that feels good to you. Maybe this isn't for you. All of the above are okay. It is about the journey and what you learn about yourself in the process. Follow your heart and you can never go wrong.