7 Heart-Opening Yoga Poses To Activate Your Heart Chakra | Liv

Celebrate Valentine’s Day this year with a little heart-opening, self-love yoga, which nurture both your body and mind! These seven heart-opening yoga poses are effective at opening the heart chakra (located in the chest) which is believed to be the energy centre of love, compassion, humanity and safety. When this chakra is activated, it helps you to develop selfless love towards both towards yourself and others.

Read more about chakras in our chakra reading review.

The most effective yoga poses for activating the heart chakra are backbends, as they open up the front of your body to allow for tension release and freeing up any energy blockages in this area. At the same time, they also improve flexibility, strength and balance, while on a mental level, reduce stress and anxiety.

Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior pose)

This pose stretches and opens up the front and side of the body, releasing tension and allowing for a freer deeper breath. It strengthens the legs and shoulders, and stretches the hips and inner thighs.

Getting into the pose:

  1. Start in downward facing dog. Step your right foot between your hands, come up to standing, keeping a deep bend in your right knee and your left leg straight. 
  2. Lift your right arm up towards the ceiling and lower your left hand onto your left thigh for support. Look up at your right hand.
  3. Engage your core, lift your chest up, relax your shoulders and lengthen through your spine.
  4. Hold for five deep breaths.
  5. Repeat on the second side.

Ardha Ustrasana (Half Camel pose)

This pose opens up the front of your hips and chest. It improves balance and builds strength. It is said to promote feelings of joy and freedom.

Getting into the pose:

  1. Start from a kneeling posture and extend your right leg out to the side, keeping your left toes tucked under.
  2. Slowly lower your left hand onto your left heel, ensuring you have a sturdy grip.
  3. Gently lift your chest up towards the ceiling and press your hips forward.
  4. Reach your right hand up and back.
  5. Hold for five deep breaths.
  6. Repeat on the second side.

Parivrtta Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Twisted Low Lunge pose)

This pose provides a deep hip stretch and spinal twist, stretching all the small muscles between your vertebrae.

Getting into the pose:

  1. Start with your right foot forward and your left leg behind you (in a low lunge stance). 
  2. Keep your left hand on the floor. Inhale to twist to your right and reach your right hand up towards the ceiling.
  3. Let your hips sink down towards the floor and keep your spine long as you twist. Aim for a smooth and even twist throughout your spine.
  4. Hold for five deep breaths.
  5. Repeat on the second side.

Parivrtta Utthan Pristhasana (Half Twisted Lizard pose)

This pose stretches the quads, hip flexors, chest and shoulders. It improves spinal mobility and can help to alleviate lower back pain.

Getting into the pose:

  1. Start with your right foot forward and your left leg behind you (in a low lunge stance). 
  2. Roll onto the outer edge of your right foot, allowing the right knee to drop out to the side.
  3. Place your left hand on the floor to support yourself, and lift up you left foot, holding it in place with your right hand.
  4. Lengthen through your spine and lift your chest up.
  5. Hold for five deep breaths.
  6. Repeat on the second side.

Camatkarasana (Wild Thing pose)

This pose stretches the front of the body and hip flexors, strengthens back and shoulders, improves balance, and energises the body – plus you get a nice change of perspective!

Getting into the pose:

  1. Start in downward facing dog pose and lift your right leg up in the air, opening up the right hip. Bend the leg and look under your left armpit to check that you can see your foot.
  2. Drop your right foot down to the floor, pivot on your left hand and left foot, and flip over.
  3. Once you have flipped over, press your left hand firmly down and lift your chest up towards the ceiling, creating a beautiful backbend, and stretch your right hand back.
  4. Hold for five deep breaths and then to come out of the pose, flip back over by bringing right hand down to the floor in front of you, and let the legs follow through so you end up back in downward facing dog pose.
  5. Repeat on the second side.

Vajrasana with Anjali Mudra (Kneeling with Prayer Hands pose)

This pose stretches the thighs, knees, ankles and feet. It opens the heart and chest, and helps to calm and stabilise the mind.

Getting into the pose:

  1. Start kneeling on the floor and place a blanket under your knees if required. Tuck your toes under. Lengthen your spine, broaden across your collarbone and relax your shoulders.
  2. Place your hands in prayer position in front of your face and drop your head back. If this isn’t comfortable, continue to look forward.
  3. Try to keep your weight balanced and running through the centre of your body.
  4. Hold for five deep breaths.

Salamba Bhujangasana (Supported Sphinx pose)

This pose stretches your chest and spine, as well as strengthens your upper back. It’s perfect for opening the front of your hips and counteracting all the flexion in that area due to sitting on the sofa, sitting in your car, sitting at your workspace – the list goes on and on!

Getting into the pose:

  1. Lie on your front with a cushion under your chest. Prop yourself up on your forearms, ensuring they are shoulder width distance apart and parallel. 
  2. Inhale to lift and extend your spine, and exhale to roll your shoulders back and down.  
  3. Hold for five deep breaths.

After you have completed all of the poses, counter pose by coming into Child’s pose. Finally, as with all yoga, do not force your body into any poses, move slowly, and do not practice these poses if you have injuries.  Consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.

Sarah Highfield is an International Yoga Teacher from Hong Kong, and the founder of Yogagise Yoga. Follow her on social media @yogagise. All photos: yogaandphoto.com. Outfit: manduka.com.

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