Winter is on its way. The weather is cold and it’s driving us inside and making us want to curl up as small as well can. One of the downsides to that is the body starts to close up and get quite tight. One area in particular is the heart space or the centre of the chest. As we contract to keep warm we hunch the shoulders, round the spine, and an open heart starts to close.
A perfect way to counter balance this is to work to open up the heart space. There are a lot of benefits of our heart opening poses. They open up the chest, helping with posture, they open us up emotionally, and they also heat and energise the body, which is beneficial for the cooler months.
Here are some of our favourites.
Bridge and wheel pose
Bridge pose and wheel pose are great ways to target the heart space and build some heat. In bridge pose we keep the feet (hip distance apart) and the shoulders on the mat, lifting the hips up towards the ceiling. To deepen, interlace the hands under the back, lifting the chest up a little higher. Wheel pose starts the same, but this time placing the hands down besides the head, pressing into the hands and the feet to lift all the way up. This variation builds even more heat, which is perfect for winter.
Camel pose is a strong back bend. Starting on the knees, place the hands between the glutes and the lower spine. From there the chest lifts up and then back, opening the entire front line of the body. As we keep the hips over the knees we can target the chest. To deepen, release the hands to the ankles and really press the hips forward.
This is a more restorative backbend and a great option if you want a more relaxing way to open the heart centre. Lying on the belly, place the elbows under the shoulders. It creates a gentle compression through the lower back, building heat and energy there. To deepen, lift up onto the palms.
Standing Bow (Dancers) pose
Dancers pose has a lot going on. It works to strengthen the balance, build core strength, open up the shoulders, and of course open the spine and chest. Standing on one leg, take the inside of the other leg with the same hand. Then kick back with that foot as you lift the chest up, working to open the heart space and the shoulders.