With that, February’s yoga sequence focuses on heart openers. As you move through these 5 poses, think about how an open heart can allow you to let in more love, light and gratitude during this beautiful season.
1. Tadasana Mini-Backbend
Standing at the front of your mat, ground all four corners of your feet into the mat, lifting your toes and then lowering them back down. Send the energy up your legs, tightening your muscles in your calves and thighs. Ensure that your tailbone is pointing downward toward the mat, drawing your abdominal muscles in. With your hands at your side, take a deep inhale and allow your arms to rise above your head. From here, feel your pelvic bone shifting slightly forward as you lean back into this pose and open your chest, arms reaching up and slightly behind you.
From Tadasana, inhale and lift arms overhead and then exhale into uttanasana, (forward fold). Inhale, rise up halfway letting your hands find your calves or knees, and exhale return your hands to the mat in a fold. On the next inhale, gently step your feet back into a plank position. From here, exhale and let your knees come down to the mat as you tuck your elbows in toward your body and lower down to the mat completely. On the inhale, keep your elbows in towards your body as you lift your chest and come into cobra pose. Your legs are still grounding into the mat, but your upper body from your belly upward are rising off the mat.
From your camel pose, return to a kneeling position. You can then come forward onto all fours, finding a seated position and then a reclined position on your mat. Once in your reclined position, you can bring the heels of your feet as close to your body as possible. Allow your hands to press palm down into the mat as you slowly raise your hips. If you would like a little more of a heart opener here, you can touch your shoulders under your body and bring your arms to clasp hands underneath you.
4. Fish Pose
From Bridge pose, straighten your legs and lie flat onto your back. Then, come onto your forearms. If you need assistance use a small block under your thoracic spine to help elevate you. Once comfortable, allow the top of the head to hang down to the floor looking upwards. You have the option in Fish pose to keep your legs straight or come into badakanasan with the soles of your feet touching one another. Hold for five breaths in Fish Pose.
As you return to downward dog from wild thing on the left side, allow your knees to come down to the mat. From here, you may need to fold the mat under you to remove the pressure from your knees as you move into a camel pose. After you find your comfort, rise up to a kneeling position and on the inhale, let your arms rise above your head. There are different variations of camel pose. You have the option of allowing your hands to come to your lower back as you lean back, opening up your chest. If you want more of an upper body stretch, you can repeat camel by allowing your hands to come to two blocks next to your legs, or all the way down to your heels. You can allow your head to fall gently back. In this pose, ensure that your hips are still above your knees, so your upper body is the only part of you that is reclining back in this position.
After this flowing sequence, transition out of camel into child’s pose by sitting back on your heels and bending forward over your legs. You have the option of a wide-legged child pose as well. Reach forward with your fingertips, allowing your body to stretch out from all of the heart opening you integrated into your practice.
Flowing through these 5 heart openers allows us to remove the physical barriers we sometimes tend to place in front of our hearts. If you think about how often you cross your arms, position a purse in front of you, hold a book up to your chest, etc.—it becomes apparent just how uncomfortable we are with leaving our hearts open and unguarded.
Heart openers are an expression of vulnerability, which is a nice and importance place to be from time to time. This vulnerability allows us to be more reflective and open. It provides us with the space we need to give real thought and intention to what we feel most grateful for. Think about this as you move through these heart openers this month.