If you have been to a yoga class, you have practiced heart-opening asanas (physical postures). You’ve also probably heard yoga teachers talk about “opening up the heart space” and “energy fromthe heart center,” You may have wondered what that means.
We also often talk about physical and emotional release in our practice. This usually comes from heart-opening asanas and working negative emotions that have manifested into muscle tension.
In the same way, we open our hearts and mind to things in life (new opportunities, paths, adventures); it’s the same for our physical bodies. Physically, a lot is happening in our heart space – bones, ribs, and sternum, all held together by soft tissues. Our aim in yoga is to keep our muscle tissue mobile and heart space included.
Feelings of anxiousness, pressure, challenge or emotional distress can translate to short, sharp breathing and, in turn, muscle tightness. By practicing pranayama (controlled breathing) and heart-opening asanas and exercises, we are encouraging mobility and opening in the ribcage and heart space by stretching the soft tissues in our body.
We are pairing a slow, gentle practice with more profound, more conscious breathing allows for more of a release, which is necessary for many of us who sit at desks and hold tension in our heart space. Also important for those experiencing stress or anxiety in day-to-day life, which is many of us.
Try supported fish pose, locust pose, or puppy pose for something more accessible. Try bow pose, upward plank, or wild thing for something a little more advanced.
You may notice how this changes your approach to these asanas when you come to practice next. If it’s not in a yoga class, perhaps you can incorporate controlled breathing and heart-opening stretches into your daily routine.