The heart symbolizes love, but what exactly is an open heart? In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s take a look at the yogic practice of “heart opening,” and how incorporating heart openers into our practice can lead to pure love and a blissful state.

What Are Heart Openers?

“Heart openers” are movements in yoga that expand your chest and rib cage.

What Can I Expect from a Heart-Opening Flow?

Heart openers offer many benefits. Physiologically, we give our heart centers space to stretch and relax. Deeper breathing and a sense of calm are two physical benefits from these poses. Heart openers can also offer an important contrast to the pose many of us take for hours at a time at work: hunching over a keyboard, staring at a computer.

Heart openers are also a great way to practice not judging ourselves. The poses physically open us up and create a spiritual space for us to be any way we are meant to be. This openness can lead to many surprises, on and off the mat.

Heart Openers to Try in Your Yoga Practice

Heart openers are very accessible and can be done at every level of yoga.

Poses starting on the belly:

  • Cobra
  • Locust
  • Bow

Poses to try on your back:

  • Fish
  • Bridge
  • Wheel

Upright poses:

  • Camel
  • Upward-facing dog
  • Mountain

Chair yoga poses:

  • Dancer
  • Tree
  • Warrior I

Using blocks, bolsters, and binds, we can modify many traditional yoga shapes into heart openers.

A good heart-opening practice is energizing and freeing. When we open the heart, we become more mindful of our own truths. We experience ourselves the way we are, free from expectation. With that loving acceptance of ourselves in the moment, and with our guard down, it is then possible to spread our love to the world.

Why Should I Go to a Heart-Opening Yoga Class?

Let’s look at this question from a different point of view, and ask, “What do I want to open my heart up to?” The heart center symbolically holds our strongest energy for love and compassion, both for ourselves and others. Opening our hearts involves being okay with feeling vulnerable.

The journey to our true selves starts with optimism. When we show up to practice yoga, we intuitively want to embrace a wellness lifestyle. We want to be loving, kind, peaceful, calm, and happy people. But sometimes, it’s a journey to get to a place of comfortably being and breathing on our mats. Heart openers are an incredibly effective way to practice mindfulness and experience growth.

Judgement comes in many forms, from measuring ourselves against our expectations to outright criticism of ourselves and others. A heart-opening practice brings us out of a stagnant place and into the present positive moment with our body and breath flowing.

The journey of heart opening may be met with resistance. Being vulnerable sometimes hurts. By devoting ourselves to a consistent practice, we hope to create an environment in our bodies and minds that encourages and supports an open heart that we can lovingly share with the world.

Come join us at Collective Yoga in Virginia Beach for a heart-opening class, and let’s see where the journey takes us.