With spring coming, um, soon-ish, the month of Valentine’s Day is a good month to examine our relationship with love. Our body language can reveal whether or not we are open to love. Yoga can help us to be more flexible in our heart region through a simple and powerful tool: backbends.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to do a full backbend in order to get your heart center to relax. A gentle backbend is effective and beneficial.
In modern times, we spend a lot of time bent over computers and telephones. When was the last time you simply looked up? Let your head fall back and spread your arms in order to stretch the bones in your chest? It feels so good!
Here are four lovely, gentle backbends to help your heart be more open to love.
1. Baby Cobra (Bhujangasana)
Let’s start with something hot: a steamy desert feeling. Start prone on the ground like a snake in the dust. Put your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Lift your head and open your heart by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pull your belly button in and squeeze your legs together like a long snake tail. Breathe in and make your chest big like a cobra. Breathe out slowly.
2. Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
Working our way up to standing, we can open our heart by acting like a playful puppy. Begin on all fours. Slide your hands forward while keeping your tail in the air. Your arms are strong and straight. Stretch your spine by pushing down on your hands while you reach your chest toward the ground. Now you look like a playful puppy with your tail wagging in the air. Yip! Yip! (As an aside: being playful is a great way to attract love.)
3. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Begin on your knees. Tilt your head back and lift your chest upward. Press your hands on your lower back for support, either using your palms or pointing your fingertips upward. Keep your hips over your knees. Your toes can be tucked or untucked. Flex your thighs toward the back to build your gluteas muscles. If you feel flexible, reach toward your feet. Breathe slowly in and out and allow your chest muscles to relax.
4. Standing Star Pose
This pose is easy and natural – and if you’re not the timid type, can even be done in public. Stand with your legs wide apart and your feet firmly planted. Stretch your arms wide or up toward the sky. Make yourself look like a big letter “X”. Breathe deeply and imagine you are a big star in the sky. Open your arms wide in a loving embrace of whatever the Universe has to offer. To be this open requires confidence and love of yourself and others. Breathe in deeply. Breathe out completely.
Yoga is a curious practice because what you hold in your body is reflected in the world. Therefore the beauty of the practice is that you can use yoga to release tension in the areas where you struggle to “let go.” For all of us, it tends to be either fear (hips), stress (shoulders) or being open to others (heart region.) If you want to change one of these areas in your life you can use yoga to help you accomplish your goal.
This February, if LOVE is your goal… well, these are 4 good poses to add to Cupid’s arsenal. Enjoy and as always, please respond with any questions or comments. xoxoxo, Yoga Teddy Bear