Three Restorative Heart-Opening Poses for February

I love February. In my head — thanks to years of greeting card marketing, I am sure — February is pink and red with hearts all over. All these warm hues and heart shapes help me remember the importance of practicing love.

In the physical practice of yoga, we practice love by stretching the area around the physical heart, namely the chest and upper back. This may sound a bit esoteric, but researchers have long known that our posture affects our mood. In yoga,we practice poses that open up the the areas around the physical heart with the hopes that doing so will allow us to open our emotional heart as well. When I’m feeling closed off or protective, I do heart-opening poses to help me reconnect with my emotional heart.

As adults, it’s easy to forget the importance of practicing love, so take advantage of the love that’s in the air this month. Make a Valentine’s card for someone, and try one of the heart openers  below. You’ll release physical tension, and you may release emotional tension as well. Each time you practice the pose, close your eyes and think about a person you’d like to show greater love toward–even yourself. Maybe with time, your practice will help you do just that.

Heart opening – three options:
Option 1: gentle opening with rolled blanket

Option 2: deep opening with sideways block

Option 3: deeper opening with block on higher height

How to: Place a rolled-up blanket or a block an inch or two below your shoulder blades. Lie down on the blanket or block. If desired, place a block or blanket under your head. Rest here for a few breaths with your arms at your sides and your palms facing upward. With an inhalation, raise your arms overhead so the back of your hands approach or touch the ground.  As you exhale, lower your hands to your sides. Repeat 5-10 times. To exit, gently roll to one side and remove the props.

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