Did you know that heart-opening yoga poses can actually release the stress and tension we keep bound up in our chest? They are the perfect go-to moves after a long day at the office or when you have something on your mind that you can’t stop worrying about. Add them into a Vinyasa flow or do a pose on its own. You will feel the pose’s benefits no matter what.
This simple and relaxing back bend will open your chest, neck, shoulders, and abs. It will also increase flexibility in your spine and make you feel centered and full of energy. Clasp the fingers together in a double fist, or for an even deeper stretch, rest the hands on the floor behind you. Hold the posture 10 to 15 breathes.
2. Half Camel Pose.
This Camel variation will open the quads, abs, and shoulders. From the Seated Heart Opener Pose, lift your torso so you’re standing on your knees. Reach your right hand back, placing it on your right heel or on the mat behind your right toes. Extend your left arm in the air. Shift weight forward onto your knees to increase the stretch in your quads, belly, and chest. Lower your head behind you and stay here for five breaths. Switch sides, holding for another five breaths, and then lift the torso up to release. Hold 5-10 breaths per side.
3. Wide-Legged Forward Fold
This forward bend stretches the lower back, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, and chest. Stand with your feet about three to four feet apart. Engage your abs by drawing your navel toward your spine. Interlace your fingers behind you. *If you can, press the heels of your palms together in a double fist. Actively pull your hands away from your shoulders to increase the stretch in your chest. Fold forward as you lift the arms overhead. Reach the top of your head toward the floor to lengthen the spine. Breathe for five breaths, keeping weight forward into the toes. Hold 10-15 breaths.
4. Twisted Extended Side Angle.
Here’s a variation that involves twisting the torso, so it also opens the chest and shoulders and strengthens your core. Begin in Warrior 2 with the right knee bent. Lower your right forearm so it’s resting on your right thigh.Reach your left arm around your lower back. *If you can, wrap your fingers around the front of your right inner thigh.Stay for five or more breaths and then try the other side. Hold 10-15 Breaths per side.
5. Upward Facing Dog.
A classic pose…Upward Facing Dog is one of the most satisfying heart-openers because you get to do it over and over again during a yoga class. Begin on your belly. scoop your chest forward, balancing on the tops of your feet and your hands, coming into Upward Facing Dog. *If it’s too much on your lower back, rest your hips and thighs on the mat. If it feels comfortable, lower your head back between your shoulder blades. Roll your shoulders open and actively release them down away from your ears, stretching through your chest and throat. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
6. Seated Prayer Pose.
This arm position can be used to help stretch the chest and the front of the shoulders. It’s great for anyone who deals with wrist pain, and great for the upper back. Start seated, spine long. On your exhale, bring your arms behind you, fingers pointing towards the ground, palms lightly together. Inhale and rotate your arms so your fingers point towards you, and then to the sky. Exhale and lightly press the pinkies into your back as you press your palms together. Collar bones broad, spine long. Breathe here, relaxing into the pose. Come out gently. Hold for 10-15 breaths.
Close this sequence by drawing your knees gently towards your chest, hands over your knees. Roll circles into the lower back one way, and then the other, for one minute, then rest on your back for a few more minutes to reset and restore.
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