Heart Openers and Back Bends

15th March 2020

In this week’s classes we are exploring backbends and heart openers.

Heart openers expand the chest and rib cage. These are particularly good postures for people that spend much of their day bent over a desk.

Many heart openers are also back bends which is why I am combining them in this class.

Back bends sound a little scary but our cervical spine (the part at the top) is actually pretty flexible. With back bends we therefore focus particularly on the upper and middle parts of the spine.

These postures help maintain a healthy spine, hopefully reducing pain and improving posture. They can help bring more flexibility to the rib cage which helps with breathing and allows for increased blow flow.

The physical practice of opening the chest (and the heart) brings to mind love and mental openness – something we can all benefit from.

Postures for heart opening and backbends

If you have come to any of my classes you will already be very familiar with the cat-cow stretch. Here in cow pose we are both opening the chest but also bending the back. It’s a great warm-up and a superb flow to work through at home.

We have also often worked in Sphinx which again acts as a heart opener and back bend. Think also of postures such as the hanging or baby cobra.

Bridge pose is a lovely heart opener which also works to engage the hip flexor muscles.

And of course postures such as reverse warrior, extended side angle and triconasana are working on opening up the chest.

Slightly more advanced postures that we will cover this week include camel – I have a lovely way of working on this with a partner which we might explore. We will also look at bow, updog and many others.

As always the lesson plan will flex and develop depending on who is in the class and how we are all feeling but a basic plan can be downloaded here.