With the Valentine’s week being celebrated around the world don’t forget to start your day with these Chest opening yoga poses to reaffirm greater self-love.
Below are 5 poses to stretch the muscles of the chest and shoulders
Bhujangasana (The Cobra Pose)
The Cobra pose expands and improves blood circulation to the chest region. This is a heart opening yoga posture that opens up channels of energy and love in you.
- Start in the prone position, by lying flat on your stomach on a comfortable, level surface (preferably a yoga mat). Make sure your feet are together, with the toes against the floor. “Spread your hands on the floor and ensure you elbows are placed close to the rib cage. Close your eyes and inhale slowly.
- As you inhale, make a gently effort to push the chest forward and steadily straighten your arms. Deepen your stretch to create a graceful, even arc in your back.
- Your navel should be off the mat by maximum 5 cm, if possible. Ensure you’re stretching just as much as you can; do not force. Keep your shoulders broad, but relaxed. Lift from the top of your sternum, but avoid pushing the front of your ribs forward.
- Try to distribute the stretch evenly along your spine. Breathe calmly and hold here for 5 to 10 breaths. As you exhale, gently release your body back to the floor.
Adho Mukho Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog pose)
This is a heart opening pose that calms the system, energizes the body and channelizes the flow of emotions.
- Come onto your fours. Form a table such that your back forms the table top and your hands and feet form the legs of the table. As you breath out lift the hips up, straightening the knees and elbows, form an inverted V-shape with the body.
- Hands are shoulder width apart, feet are hip width apart and parallel to each other. Toes point straight ahead. Press your hands into the ground. Widen through the shoulder blades.
- Keep the neck lengthened by touching the ears to the inner arms. Hold the downward dog pose and take long deep breaths.
- Look towards the navel. Exhale. Bend the knees, return to table pose. Relax.
Setubandha Sarvangasana with Hands Clasped
This asana strengthens the core and low body, cultivating focus. To open the chest, gently bring the shoulder blades toward one another and clasp the hands together.
- Lie supine (lying down with face upward) on the floor. Take a few deep breaths to get grounded and relaxed. Bend your knees, plant your feet flat on the floor, and make sure the knees are hip-distance apart.
- As you push your pelvis up and forward, your knees should be directly over your heels. If you want to make sure you have the right distance between your shoulders and your feet, here’s a great rule of thumb: when you reach for your heels, your fingertips should just graze the back of your feet.
- Keep your arms extended on either side of your body with palms facing down. If you want to take it up a notch, clasp your hands under your pelvis, and as you come into the full expression of the pose, roll your shoulders in toward one another.
- Your chin should be slightly lifted away from your sternum for proper alignment while keeping your gaze forward to slightly up toward the ceiling.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand)
The Shoulder stand stretches the heart muscles by returning more venous blood to the heart and also stimulates the thyroid gland. Often called the ‘Queen of asanas’.
- Lie down on the back, with your feet together and arms next to your body. Keeping your head and neck on the floor, breathe in as you lift both legs to 90 degrees.
- As you lift your hips up toward the ceiling, place your hands onto your hips and walk your hands up toward your shoulder blades. Lift your hips up as high as you can, bringing your chest toward your chin.
- Keep your back supported with your hands and make sure that your feet end up straight above your head. Breathe slowly in this position and focus on the throat region. To come out of the pose,
- Slowly drop your feet towards your head and place your hands on the floor, keep your head on the floor and slowly role out of the pose.
Bitilasana Marjaryasana (Cat Cow Pose)
Coming on all fours, and gently moving the back in a rhythmic way, and taking the position like that of a cat or a cow, releases the tensions around the spine and shoulders and tightens the abdomen to make a stronger core.
- Place yourself in a tabletop positon (on all fours) with your knees directly under your hips and your wrist under your shoulders. The fingers should face forward and your feet should be on the floor with shoelace side of your feet on the floor.
- Now, engage your core and get comfortable in this position with your spine in the neutral position. Go for cow pose by inhaling and pushing your belly towards the floor. Lift your neck up and eyes to the ceiling. Your tailbone should also be towards the ceiling.
- After about a couple of seconds come to the cat pose by exhaling and extending your belly towards the ceiling. Rest your chin on your chest and look towards your nose.
- Keep your tailbone tucked in. Do this asana about 10 times. Try to keep your elbows and arms steady. In case you have neck problems, keep your neck in line with your torso.
All these asanas will help circulate blood smoothly and efficiently in the heart region.