An excellent way of making the most of this lovely feeling that grows inside you is to practice yoga opening poses. These poses will open up your muscles as well as your emotions and energy. That is why I recommend these four “heart‑opening” poses, which will help you make this seasonal transition with grace and love. These movements will open your heart, chest and shoulder areas as well as fortify you physically and psychologically. These opening poses, which we also call backbends or back extensions, have many benefits:
Tone, vigour, courage, self-confidence
Extension and flexibility of your spinal column
Stimulation of your spinal nerves
Opening of your chest and solar plexus
Stretching of the front of your body
Release of the tensions in your chest
Increased respiratory capacity and vitality
Before starting your backbends, it’s important that you loosen your spine with poses such as spinal stretches and twists, which you can see in one of my videos at myvirtualyoga.com (seven‑day free trial for new members): https://myvirtualyoga.com/video/basic-spinal-energy-series.
1) Cobra pose – Bhujangasana
Step by step
– Lie down flat on your stomach with your legs stretched out, the tops of your feet to the ground and your feet close together. Your forehead should be touching the ground.
– Bend your elbows, keeping them close to your body, and put the palms of your hands on the ground, on either side of your chest.
– Upon inhaling, lift your chest off the ground while pushing into your hands and keeping your pubis against the ground. Your hips should not leave the ground.
– Your abs are engaged and buttocks relaxed. Roll your shoulder blades back, and relax your shoulders. Your ribcage is open.
– Your neck stretches slightly towards the back, and your gaze is pointed towards the sky. Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds and then, upon exhaling, bring your body back down to the ground.
2) Bow pose – Dhanurasana
Step by step
– Lie down on the ground on your stomach with your legs stretched out. Your chin is also touching the ground.
– Upon exhaling, bend your knees, and lift your feet upwards. Upon inhaling, grab your ankles with your hands. Keeping your feet flexed, lock your ankles. If you aren’t flexible enough, open your legs a bit wider than pelvis-width; otherwise, they are hip-width apart.
– Your chin is still on the ground as you stretch the skin on your neck.
– Upon inhaling, bring your torso and thighs up by engaging the abdominals, and lean on your bellybutton.
– It’s important not to pull on your legs with your arms. Your arms should be relaxed. Your legs should be pushing into your hands
– Upon exhaling, you can lower your body slightly to the ground; when you next inhale, try to bring your upper body up a bit if your lower back allows it. Your gaze is focused ahead of you, and your head is in a neutral position. Be aware of the position of your knees, and make sure they are not too far apart.
3) Locust pose – Salabhasana
Step by step
You can put a folded blanket on your mat before going into this pose. Stretch yourself out on your stomach, your arms on either side of your body, palms facing up. Upon inhaling, bring your forehead gently to the ground.
Upon exhaling, engage your abdominals and bring your entire body up, from the top of your head to your pubic bone, and from your pelvis to your toes.
– Also, bring your arms up on both sides of your body while opening your palms and pointing your fingers up to the sky or holding your hands behind you. Your abs are still engaged and your neck is extended. Keep your gaze forwards, towards the sky. Take 5 breaths, and then release the posture. Stay on the ground for a few moments, with your head on the side, using your hands as a cushion.
4) Fish pose – Matsyasana
Step by step
– The Fish Pose is traditionally practiced with your legs in the lotus position (Padmasana), but we suggest the following version for beginners.
– Lie down on your back with your legs stretched out. Upon inhaling, lift your pelvis, and slide your hands under your buttocks with your palms facing down. Bring your pelvis down, and sit on your hands.
– Make sure to bring in your forearms and elbows slightly under your torso, and lean on your elbows.
– Upon inhaling, use your elbows as a lever and lift your torso up, bend your neck back, and lower the top of your head to the ground.
– Your legs are tense and close together, and your toes are pointing frontwards. Breathe through the top of your ribcage, and close your eyes. Your arms support most of your weight in order to relieve your neck.
– Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds.