yoga heart

We round out our weekly series on yoga with an Open Heart. What began with Yoga for a Powerful Core, taking on true empowerment, flowed into Yoga for Balance, equated to an all around poise in living. Week three focused on a “Yoga Butt” cum something greater. And last week wasYoga for Strong, Sexy Arms… more on that empowerment.

And now, your heart. All desires for a hot bod aside, any yogi will tell you: The act of physically opening your heart (backbends!) again and again leads to a truly emotional opening of your beingness. With arms wide open and heart bursting, this yoga sequence is designed to bring you into the awareness of an open-hearted approach to life. You may be surprised at how you feel after you keep meeting yourself on the mat and trying on an open heart.

Be sure to warm yourself up with a few Sun Salutations before proceeding to deep backbending, that way your spine is warmed up and ready to counteract all that sitting and slouching  you do, day in and day out. 

Begin lying flat on your belly, forehead down. Bring your palms up beside your chest. Press into the tops of your feet until your knees lift up off the earth. On your inhale, raise your head and shoulders. Keep length in the back of your neck by gazing forward and down. Let your back do the work here in baby Cobra, lifting your palms up slightly. Take a couple deep breaths, then exhale, release one cheek down to your mat. 

Repeat two more times, growing taller each time. You can begin to put a little more pressure into your hands each time. 

From lying on your belly, interlace your fingers behind your back. On your inhale, lift everything up, and lenghten into Locust. Let your arms reach up and back and your legs lift and reach out. Hug your legs in towards one another. Don’t forget that length in the back of your neck. And to lift your heart up high. Take a couple breaths, lifting, then exhale one cheek down. 

From lying on your belly, bend your knees and grab the tops of your feet or your ankles. On your inhale, kick your feet into your hands and lift everything up into Bow Pose. Hands and feet reach up and back. Again, don’t forget, the bend comes from your back, not your neck! Breathe, kick, lift. Exhale to lower. 

Press up to all fours. And come up onto your knees. Make sure your knees are hip distance apart, toes tucked under. Take your hands to your lower back. On your inhale, press your hips forward, lift your sternum. Start to bend back. If it’s available to you, release your hands to your heels into Camel. Only if it feels good on your neck, you can release your head back. Keep reaching those hips forward, lifting from the space behind your heart and breathing. To come out, bring your hands back to your lower back, lift up slowly and sit on your heels. 

To release your spine, roll onto your back and take Supta Baddha Konasana. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall wide. Place one hand over your heart and one over your belly. Let the effects of backbending and heart opening infiltrate your body.  

image: lululemon athletica