In many belief systems chakras are a big deal. These seven points along the body form no less than the centers of our spiritual power. This past February was National Heart Month, in honor of that we’re focusing today on the fourth chakra, located in the center of the chest, just above the heart.
Also known in Sanskrit as “anahata” which means “unhurt, unstuck, and unbeaten” the heart chakra not only affects our ability to love, but inspires humans to be compassionate, generous, and devoted—when it’s open. If, on the other hand, your heart chakra is blocked, you may experience heart problems, fear of rejection, and the feeling that you’re unworthy of love. Not exactly something you want to put on your Tinder profile…
While certain meditation techniques can balance your chakras and improve your well-being, there are also plenty of yoga poses that can open your chakras and get energy flowing once again. If your love life could use a boost, try the following chest and heart opening poses. At the very least, you’ll fall in love with yoga all over again.
A gentle backbend that opens the chest, Sphinx Pose will help you receive more positive energy. To begin, lie on your stomach with your legs extended behind you, your elbows next to your shoulders and your forearms parallel to one another. On an inhale, lengthen through your tailbone as you lift your head and torso off the floor. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths, then release.
A simple but rejuvenating pose, Bridge will open your chest and keep your spine flexible. To get into Bridge, lie flat on your back with your arms at your side, palms down. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart, and close to your buttocks. Then, press your arms into the ground and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Hold for a few breaths, then roll down slowly to release.
Now that you’re warmed up, it’s time to dive into a deeper backbend. Fish Pose opens the muscles between the ribs, creating more physical space in your heart center. To get into it, lie on your back with your feet straight on in front of you and your arms at your sides. On an inhale, left yourself onto your forearms and tip your head back. Keep your eyes open in this pose—the opportunity to see the world from a different point of view is one of the best benefits of Fish Pose.
A pose that engages and stretches nearly every muscle in your body, Camel Pose will open your heart wide. It’s also a good hip opener, and will improve your posture (especially if you spend all day sitting at a desk). Begin by kneeling on your yoga mat, knees hip width apart and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Then arch your back and gaze up. Depending on your flexibility, you can place your palms on your hips, lower back, or heels. Hold and breathe deeply.
Also known as “peaceful warrior,” this is a vulnerable pose that opens you up and allows compassion and love to flow in. To move into Reverse Warrior, begin in Warrior II with the right knee bent, bring the left hand down to rest on the left leg, and inhale the right up toward the ceiling with a slight bend in your back. Hold for three or four breaths, then repeat on the other side.