Seated Heart Opener.
When we constantly slouch, in big comfy chairs, or our cars, over desks, for example, our chests gradually close. Our upper back stretches to accommodate.
This may give us poor posture, back and shoulder pain, and shorter breathing patterns.
By gently opening the chest we can release tension in these muscles, and begin to strengthen the muscles in the upper back. This will create a lovely foundation to support better posture, and stop us stooping.
These can also help relieve back pain, shoulder pain, and increase our lung capacity. They are great if you are suffering from anxiety, and are often complimented by breathing exercises.
We call these heart openers. It is also believed that by working with them in a conscious way we are saying “I open my heart”, “I welcome love”, “I am sharing my love”. We are working on our capacity to love and be loved.
Heart Openers are also said to improve our sense of confidence and lift our spirits. They literally help us to walk with our shoulders back and chin up. The very opposite of how we walk when feeling low and unconfident.
There are lots of postures which help to open this area. Many heart openers are back bends, to some degree or another. Those that are not may still put slight pressure on the back as they may cause you to arch a little along the spine. As such care must be taken. Especially if you are new to asana practice, or have existing or historical problems in this area.
The seated heart opener here is very simple, and can be easily modified for comfort and safety. Remember – if it is uncomfortable or hurts don’t do it!
Simply sit in easy pose. You can pop something, a cushion or folded blanket, under your bottom to lift your hips slightly, or take rock pose, if you find this more comfortable. Interlace your hands behind your back. On an inhale, straighten your arms and lift your hands away from your hips. Either look straight ahead, up to the top corner of the room, or if you have a happy neck and shoulders look up to the ceiling.
If you have very tight shoulders, pecks, and/or arms, you may struggle to interlace your fingers in the beginning. Simply modify by holding your wrists or lower arms. You can also grab a belt or towel, something to extend the the space between your hands to a more comfortable distance whilst the muscles gently lengthen in time with practice.
What a lovely time of year to focus on opening our hearts. Weather we are alone, or in a happy relationship. May we focus on opening our hearts to the love within us and all around us. If you hate Valentines Day, or look forward to it all year, focus on your own heart, and what love means to you. Perhaps give yourself a valentines gift, or write yourself a love letter!
Happy Valentines Day!