By Gopi Rao
The heart area can often become contracted and even caved-in due to difficult and painful life experiences. When the heart area is not expanded, cardiovascular circulation can be compromised, neck and back problems can develop and a sense of lethargy may predominate an individual’s emotional state. Yoga poses that open the heart area are great tools for releasing tension and difficult emotions. Heart-opening Yoga poses also help to lift a Yogi or Yogini’s mood, alleviate depression and bolster energy levels. Two classical heart-opening Yoga poses are Ustrasana or Camel Pose and Dhanurasana or Bow Pose. Before practicing these poses make sure that practicing several Sun Salutations warms up your body.
Ustrasana or Camel Pose
Camel Pose is one of the most effective Yoga poses for opening up the heart area. Not only does Camel Pose expand the entire front side of the chest cavity, it also stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which promotes hormonal balance. Camel Pose also improves spinal flexibility.
To practice Camel Pose, start by kneeling on your mat. If your knees are sensitive, place a folded towel or blanket on your mat for added padding. Your knees should be approximately hip-width and your thighs perpendicular to your mat. Do not let your knees splay out, rotate your thighs towards each other and press the backs of your feet firmly against the mat for added support.
Place your hands on your sacrum, fingers pointing down towards your mat. Take one deep, full breath and with your exhale, slowly bend backwards until you reach your edge, which is the point where you feel a deep stretch but not pain. If you have any neck discomfort, keep your chin tucked into your chest. If your neck is not injured, and you are comfortable, you can drop your head back for an added throat and neck stretch. Hold the pose for three to five breaths. Repeat two more times. Release slowly as you come to an upright position. Rest for several minutes in extended Child’s Pose.
Dhanurasana or Bow Pose
Performing Bow Pose is one of the most effective ways to open and expand the heart-area. In addition, Bow Pose increases spinal flexibility stretches the upper arms, back and neck areas and develops upper-body strength. Bow Poses also stimulates the digestive fire and relieves a variety of intestinal discomforts.
To perform Bow Pose start by resting face down on your Yoga mat with your arms next to your torso, palms facing up. Turn your head and place your chin squarely on your mat. Take one inhale. With your exhale, bend one leg and then the other grasping each ankle with the respective hand. Hold your ankles firmly and press your legs against your hands to come up. Expand your chest like a peacock. Feel full and expanded. Hold for three to five breaths. Repeat two more times and then slowly release and rest in extended Child’s Pose for several minutes to stretch out your lower back.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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