Heart openers for Valentine’s Day

Heart openers for Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! To honor the day, here are some simple yoga asanas you can do to help open your heart. These asanas can be done by anyone, and they are especially good for beginners. They can even be done during a break in your workday—no mat necessary!

  1. The Heart chakra is related to the element of air, so begin by focusing on your breath. Sit comfortably, lengthening out through the spine, and take a few deep, easy breaths, in and out through the nose. Imagine softening through the belly as you breathe. Imagine softening the space around your heart. Do your best to block out distractions as you turn your awareness inward. Don’t be frustrated if your attention wanders—just bring your mind back to your breath.
  2. Staying with this breath, begin to roll your shoulders. You can start with small movements and gradually make them bigger. Notice what it feels like. Are there sensations coming up? Do your best to breathe through them. Stay here for seven breaths or more. Now roll your shoulders in the opposite direction, and notice the difference. Stay with these movements for several breaths, then end by pulling the shoulders up to the ears and letting them melt down your back.
    Notice how your body feels. Now that you’ve loosened up the shoulders, you are probably sitting taller. As the shoulders continue to relax, your heart space begins to lift.
  3. Take a deep breath in and turn your head to the right. Let your chin come over your right shoulder, and turn your gaze to the right. This should be a nice stretch, but not a strain. Take three deep breaths here, then on an exhale slowly turn your head to the left. Take three breaths here, then bring the head back to center.
    Next, let your right ear drop towards your right shoulder. Be sure you are still sitting tall, with shoulders relaxed and down. Take three to five breaths here, allowing your body to soften. On an exhale, let your chin roll down to your chest, then roll the left ear to the left shoulder. Stay here for three to five breaths, then let your chin come back down to your chest. On an inhale, lift your chin back to center.
    Loosening up the neck helps to keep the breath flowing easily.
  4. Stand up and reach your arms behind you, interlacing your fingers. If you are unable to bring your hands together, then hold a yoga strap or a towel in one hand and reach for it with the other. If you are able, bring the palms together and straighten the arms. Imagine you have a weight on your clasped hands, and let your shoulders pull back and down. Lift your gaze. Take five to seven deep breaths here.
    To take this pose further, bring your chin down to your chest, and slowly roll down into a standing forward bend. Keep the feet about hip distance apart and bend your knees. Relax your neck. Let the hands and arms start to move away from your low back. Hold for three to five breaths. Then release the hands, and on an inhale, slowly roll back up to standing.
    This is an excellent shoulder stretch for relieving tension. Often shoulders tense up and roll forward when we try to protect our hearts. 
  5. >From a standing position, practice your backstroke. Bring your arms alongside the body, and on your next inhale, bring your right arm out in front of you, then circle it behind you. As the right arm completes the circle, the left arm begins, just as if you were swimming the backstroke. Move slowly, using the full breath.
    These circles help expand your range of motion and create more space in your body. Imagine expanding your wingspan and torso with each breath, and filling that space with light and love.

End with a few breaths of stillness. Bring your awareness back to your heart center, and let it be open to love and gratitude.

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