“Opening your heart center can mean physically opening the chest and expanding the chest, shoulders, upper back and space inside the rib cage,” explains Montreal yoga teacher Barrie Risman. Or it can be more spiritual. Both are gifts.
Your ribs hold together a large cavity containing your lungs, heart and diaphragm, the biggest muscle in your body. Soft tissues such as ligaments and cartilage separate the rib’s bones. Tight ribs lead to shallow breathing and tight back; tight back leads to back and neck pain.
But loose ribs–now that’s something to om about.
Yoga poses that open the heart will help you keep those soft tissues supple, allowing your rib cage to expand with each breath and oxygenating your blood.
On a deeper level, Barrie explains, the heart center is “associated with qualities of unconditional love, balance and deepening our emotional connection with ourselves and others.” By opening our heart center, “we consciously expand the heart in the sense of transcending differences and becoming more aware of the interconnectedness of all things.” It’s a practice that “encompasses feelings of balance, ease, softness and forgiveness,” she says.
Treat yourself to a yoga class this V-Day and open your heart center. And as long as you’re handing out treats, maybe there’s a special someone you want to forgive?
about the photo:
Barrie Risman and Mona Keddy, pictured here, are the co-directors of Shri Yoga Montreal, the Shri Institute for Therapeutic Yoga and the Shri Yoga Teacher Training. Their classes are terrific.