Having dabbled in a bit of yoga here and there for several years now, my New Year’s resolution to myself for 2019 was to make yoga a daily practice in my life. Nearly 8 months on, I have been absolutely amazed at the ways yoga has massively enhanced all aspects of my life for the better, most noticeably via regular heart opening poses and stretches.
Could You Benefit from Heart Openers?
An easy way to test this is to check in with yourself right now. Without changing position, quickly scan yourself to see how you are sat/lay/stood as you read this:
Is your back slouched?
Are your shoulders up near your ears?
Are you hunched over in the “text-neck” position so commonly seen these days i.e. leaning forward with head bent down?
Next, try self-correcting your posture so gently slide your shoulders downwards, away from your ears, straighten the back, lift the chest upwards and lift the head so the weight is evenly balanced across the neck, neither heavier in the front nor the back. In this better posture for the body do your shoulders round inwards towards your chest or outwards?
I would say that from my observations of people generally who do not practice stretches regularly to counter-act today’s modern-living hunched over computers, phones and other screens, most people’s shoulders tend to roll inwards. For me, that is a clear sign that some kind of heart opening exercises would likely benefit that person.
And this was me too until, over the last few months, I’ve noticed a gradual change in my daily posture whereby now my shoulders do naturally gravitate down my body turning out instead of in which has the effect of lifting my head, neck and chest and straightening my back as a matter of habit. Cue a lot less back and neck complaints, less headaches as well as a downturn in aches and pains generally. I would add that my posture up until my daily yoga practice was exceptionally poor.
What Are the Likely Benefits Then?
- Back pain lessened;
- Shoulders feel less tight;
- Neck pain reduced;
- Healthier spine generally;
- More flexibility in the rib cage making breathing easier and increased blood flow/better circulation;
- Better sleep quality;
- Improved digestion;
- More energy;
- Improved balance by using counteracting poses.
- Anxiety symptoms reduced;
- Depression symptoms reduced;
- Stress symptoms reduced;
- Mood elevated;
- Releasing of negative emotions in a safe environment and way;
- Increase in self-confidence;
- Better emotional and psychological balance;
- More loving and capable of receiving love;
- More open heart chakra;
- More compassion for self and others;
- Better connection to inner and outer world;
- Deeper connection to your “Higher Power”, “God” or “Universe” whatever this means to you.
I’ve listed all of these benefits from research I’ve conducted from numerous websites and only listed the ones that I genuinely feel that I have experienced for myself. I would also add that learning to breathe correctly through these poses and practising pranayama (see here if you’re unsure what this is: https://myholisticliving.co.uk/yoga-meditation/what-is-pranayama/) massively increases the benefits experienced.
If you think that you could benefit from improving your posture through heart opening poses then join a local class or head over to You Tube or similar to find a good online tutor who will walk you slowly through the poses in a safe and gradual way. As you may have noticed, my online yoga teacher of choice is Adriene Mishler, whom I strongly recommend especially for beginners:
Feel free to share this post with others that you feel might benefit from the contents. What about you – have you tried particular poses, stretches or exercises that have helped to improve your posture?
Always check in with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new exercise regime. Please note that I am not a yoga teacher nor medically qualified myself and therefore you should ensure you seek the guidance of both before undertaking any recommended practices.