The holidays are quickly approaching for many of us. It can be a time of the year that is marked with the hustle and bustle of buying presents, making meals, and working through family traditions. With all of the stress constantly pounding in the back of your mind, it can be difficult to receive the holiday season with cheer and an open heart.
If you’re struggling to approach the holidays with an open heart filled with gratitude and good tidings, try adding these three poses into your yoga practice to open the heart.
Bow pose is an excellent way to get a great backbend and open up the heart simultaneously. Start by lying on your stomach with the arms extended back by your sides. For a couple of rounds, warm up the spine, the shoulders, and the chest by simply lifting everything off the floor in locust pose.
As you feel ready, bend the knees and grab the feet with the hands, lifting everything off the floor. Focus on lifting the thighs off the floor and radiating the heart forward to send out positive energy and light.
King Pigeon Pose
This pose is excellent for yogis who have enough flexibility in their spine and thighs to reach back into the full king pigeon asana. Begin with the knees slightly less than hips’ distance apart and begin to lean backward. The head should be tucked into the chest until the shoulders and back can extend no further. Then, gradually release the head and elbows down to the floor, leaving the heart radiating upward.
If this pose is too intense, opt for a camel pose where hands simply reach back towards the feet. The heart will still open and extend forward, but it offers a gentler stretch for the spine and thighs.
Wheel pose is often worked into the end of sequences to help open the heart and boost energy before heading into savasana. Begin by lying on the back with hands up by the ears. When ready, push firmly into the hands and feet to lift up. Be careful that the knees and elbows do not play out in this pose. This can cause major damage to the joints and lead to painful accidental injury.
If this pose is too intense for you, consider taking an extended bridge pose to open up the chest before finishing your practice. A supported bridge can also be an excellent way to focus on the heart without the strain on the thigh muscles and back.
All of these poses can help you to open up the heart to receive the wonderful things the universe has to offer during this holiday season. Make them a regular part of your normal yoga practice and routine, holding them each for five to ten breaths. You may choose to hold them longer if the pose feels good to you. Over time, you will see an increase in your spine strength and flexibility in addition to the benefits of opening your heart.