By Danielle Barbera
I am sure many people have heard the benefits yoga can have on someone not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. Yoga can specifically strengthen the heart by increasing oxygen and blood flow to the entire body. Practicing yoga can help lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels, as well as heart rate, which can ultimately lead to a healthier heart.
There are specific poses geared towards opening your heart, called “heart-openers.” This term is often used to describe back-bending, chest-opening postures, but they dig so much deeper than that. Heart-openers are considered to be some of the most vulnerable yoga poses. Heart-openers are used because many of us develop a shield, or armor, around our heart-space from years of improper physical posture, and emotionally challenging or damaging experiences. Stiff muscles and inelastic tissues cause the bones of the chest to fix in place, and restrict the mobility and flexibility of the chest and space around the heart. This physical shield also restricts our emotional capacity to relate to others, and open ourselves to love, compassion, empathy, and gratitude towards ourselves and others.
Heart openers such as cobra pose, upward-facing dog, camel pose, bridge pose, fish pose, dancers pose and bow pose to name a few, can help use break down these shields. Therefore, we can live a happier, healthier life on and off our mats!