The heart chakra is a favourite for many. Not only does it feel wonderful to tap into self love, self compassion, and understanding for both yourself and others, it also feels amazing to open the front side of our bodies too. As our chests are often areas we tend to collaspe, these heart chakra yin yoga poses are simple tools to use to expand our love and bodies. Join me on the mat for a yin practice or pick your favourite poses below as we practice opening and balancing our Anahata chakra.
Heart Chakra Basics
Location: Centre of your chest, between your breastbone and spine
Meaning: The heart chakra governs your love, compassion and understanding for yourself and for others. Emotions related to this chakra are attachment, rejection and fear.
Other names: Fourth chakra, Anahata chakra
Love affirmations? Try adding these heart chakra affirmations to your practice!
Heart Chakra Yoga
Join me for a heart chakra yin yoga sequence as I guide you into expanding your self compassion.
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Heart Chakra Yin Poses
Prefer to pick and choose poses for your own sequence? Try some of these and see what feels great in your body. And if you prefer a heart chakra practice with more energy, don’t miss my heart chakra flow and poses.
Supported Reclined Butterfly
We’ll begin in supported reclined butterfly as this is a wonderful pose to open the entire frontside of the body, but also to feel grounded and supported.
Bring the soles of your feet together so your legs form a diamond shape. Since this is yin, I recommend having your feet further away from your groin for a more relaxed variation. An option is to place blocks under your knees or thighs, at a height that’s comfortable for you. Bring a bolster, rolled blanket or towel, to the base of your spine and then lay back on it. Allow your arms to rest away from your sides and take up space.
Props in this pose are totally optional and you will receive the same benefits by laying flat on the ground. Allow your body to feel heavy and hold for 20-30 deep breaths.
Caterpillar pose is a wonderful way to let your upper body to just let go and be at ease.
Extend your legs out long in front of you, with the option to have them touching or with space between your feet and thighs. Flex your feet and engage your legs as you sit tall on an inhale. Exhale to let it all go and relax. Allow your body to roll forward, spine can curve as you fold forward. Keep your arms relaxed either inside or outside your legs.
A bolster can be used to rest your head on (see first image above). Or a bolster/towel/blanket can be placed long between your legs to rest on. A block may also come in handy here if your head isn’t touching the bolster or ground. Hold for 20-30 breaths and as you relax more into the pose adjust your props as necessary to give your body space to fold deeper.
Bow tie works into the heart meridian and while this pose may feel subtle, it most certainly aids in opening the Anahata chakra.
Come to lay on your stomach. Lift your chest of the mat slightly so that you can walk you hands in opposite directions to either side of your mat. Your arms will come to cross under your chest. Allow your head to be supported by your arms or opt to place a block under your forehead.
Relax through your legs. Breathe into the space between your shoulder blades to open the backside of your heart chakra. As you melt into bow tie pose you may be able to walk your fingertips out further. Hold for 20-30 breaths and then move into the next pose, angel, before moving onto the other side.
Angel pose also works well into the heart meridian as it opens your chest and the muscles around your heart chakra, your shoulders.
Begin by laying on your stomach. Extend your right arm out to the side and place your left palm under your left shoulder. Your right arm can also be bent like a goal post shape, or you may feel best angling it up slightly. Play with what works best for your shoulder.
Bring your left heel towards your glute. Push into your left hand as you roll onto your right shoulder and step your left toes behind your right leg. Your entire foot may be placed on the ground or you can bring your knees together (left foot still staying behind you). A bolster or block may be placed between your legs to ease the lower back. A block can also be placed under your head like a pillow.
You have the option to keep your left palm on the mat or reach your left arm up and over to drape behind your back. An additional arm variation can be to reach back with your left arm to your right palm and interlace your fingers. Hold for 20-25 breaths then move into bow tie on the other side, followed by angel on the left side.
Melting heart is an obvious heart opener and is, in my opinion, a must-do for any heart chakra practice!
Come to all fours, hips stacked over knees, shoulders over wrists. Keep your hips over your knees as you walk your hands forward and your chest melts towards the mat. Your chest may come to touch and if so, you can place your chin or forehead on the mat.
To add in a deeper shoulder stretch, place a bolster or blocks under your hands to give yourself more space under your chest to melt.
If your chest doesn’t touch or it feels like too much for you today, place a bolster under your upper ribcage, just under your chest to bring the mat to you. Hold for 20-30 breaths.
Camel pose is often practiced in vinyasa-style classes but it’s also a yin pose! The most important thing to note in this heart opener is to be gentle and pay attention to your body’s cues. Don’t force anything and when you need to release, please do so!
Come to stand on your knees. Begin by tucking your toes under or not. If you tuck your toes it means you won’t have to reach as far. Start with a straight spine and place your hands on your lower back, like you’re about to slide your hands into back pockets. Look straight ahead, engage your glutes to support your lower back and then begin to lean back with your upper back first. Once you’ve leaned back enough you may be able to reach back with one hand at a time to touch your heels.
You can always keep your hands on your back. This is still a variation of camel! Hold for 5-10 breaths, or however long feels good. To release, bring your hands back to your lower back and use your glutes and abs to bring your spine straight.
A more subtle heart opener, but still a heart opener nonetheless, supported bridge is a great option to continue opening into the front body.
Come to lay on your back and place the soles of your feet on the mat. Push into your feet to lift your hips enough to place a block or bolster under your sacrum, the spot when your spine ends/the upper cushy part of your bum.
Allow your arms to fall away from your sides. Hold for 10-20 breaths and then opt to stay just as you are or to move the block to a higher height or to extend your legs long. This may cause some pinching in the lower back. If it’s painful backoff. Hold for an additional 10-20 breaths.
To finish the practice come to lay entirely on your back body in the final relaxation pose, savasana. Allow your entire body to relax, feel heavy, and supported by the mat beneath you. To ease any lower back tension or for additional comfort, place a bolster or a block under each knee. Stay for 20-30 breaths.