Cue the Cues: Open Your Heart Center
BY BRIANNA OWENS & DEBBY SIEGEL
All those power ballads had it right, the heart is a complex thing. This 4-chambered muscle in your chest beats over 100,000 times per day to keep you alive. The heart or “heart center” is referenced consistently in yoga classes as this organ is housed the in the middle of our breathing center, our chest, and without it, no yoga… ok, or life.
When we hear cue “open your heart or open your heart center” in a yoga class this carries multiple meanings. The general intention of this cue is to dissolve restrictions of the heart—both around the physical heart center— through a lifting and spreading of your chest, lungs and rib cage; and on an emotional level through the symbolic heart center which is associated with a sense of connection and compassion.
The psychological benefits of opening the heart are centered around the symbolism of expanding compassion and connection to others, thus perhaps decreasing isolation, depression, and anxiety. By opening up the front of your body, you can release and break through stress.
Physiologically, heart openers help to tone the spine and increase the breathing capacity of the lungs. Improved breathing opens your mind and heart to new possibilities. Heart openers are energetic poses. Stretching your abdominal muscles and internal organs increases strength and feelings of trust. Heart openers relieve tightness in the back and shoulders. Other benefits include increased blood circulation and stimulation of the thyroid, pineal, and pituitary glands
In this 14 minute video, Brianna Owens, RYT guides Debby through a short series of accessible heart opening postures. To increase the benefits, try adding in some visualizations. Close your eyes and imagine that you could breathe from the heart, inhaling and exhaling from your heart center. Imagine the breath entering through the heart and spreading into the lungs, filling the lungs and expanding the rib cage. Imagine the lungs emptying the breath into the heart, through the heart, and out the heart center. Imagine this, visualize it, really feel the sensation of it. Inhaling and exhaling through your heart.
You might take this further by continuing as you bring to mind someone you care for, or someone you’d like to forgive. Or, bring to mind something you are passionate about and would like to invite more fully into your life. These are ways in which heart opening postures can help us both in a physical way and emotionally.
So grab a mat or blanket and spend about 13 minutes with Brianna Owens, RYT, and Debby Siegel, RYT, as they explain the cue, Open Your Heart or Open Your Heart Center with a little flow:
Thank you for watching!
Brianna Owens, RYT: Lululemon St. Louis’ newest ambassador, Brianna began her personal yoga practice in 2009 while training for her first half marathon, but it quickly became apparent to her that yoga would provide much more than mere physical cross-training. After practicing mostly Vinyasa-flow styles since then, she finally decided to take the teaching plunge in 2016 and completed her 200-hr training through Yoga Buzz St. Louis. Brianna provides encouraging affirmations and assists, playful movements, high energy playlists, and an endless supply of love. She firmly believes that yoga helps us unlock and fully accept our most authentic selves, and she can’t wait to be a part of your unique yoga journey! Brianna teaches seven classes a week at Practicing Yoga in south St. Louis and one at Joy of Yoga in Brentwood, MO.
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