Good Morning! Rise and Shine! No better way to start the day than with a good stretch and a beautiful heart opener. Heart openers, such as gentle standing backbends, are a wonderful way to wake up your body while greeting the day with compassion and gratitude. Waking up to a gentle backbend allows the body to prepare for all the countering physical activity it will be experiencing throughout the day. We more often find ourselves folding inward, hunching over a computer, sitting at a desk, bending over to pick something up, then we do find ourselves bending backwards in our daily routine. Giving time to daily heart openers will not only help reduce back pain and create mobility in the spine, but will also result in less shoulder tension, as backbends require the engagement of the shoulder blades along the black body. The engagement of the shoulder blades coming together, and moving down the back, results in a juicy opening through the front of the shoulders and a large expansion through the chest and heart space. It is here, in this space, that the act of the backbend is not only physical, but also takes on emotional and spiritual attributions. By opening our hearts, the anahata chakra, we are accepting more compassion and kindness, for ourself, for others, for what the day may bring, for what we can not change. Backbends allow us to face the unseen and the unknown with a bit more courage and grace by physically allowing us to practice moving away from the comfort zone of forward motion. They teach us trust, which is crucial for a truly open heart.
With all that being said I can’t imagine a better way to start my day! Who wouldn’t want to create fearlessness and kindness in themselves first thing in the morning, while waking up the entire back and font of your physical body!
Standing backbends are a great place to start. They are a very non aggressive way to begin moving through your spine and shoulders. Start standing in tadasana, arms over head, shoulders dropped away from ears, lower belly engage so that there is little to no sway in your lower back, toes spread wide and rooted into the earth. Inhale, stretch tall from the crown of your head, and then with your exhale allow your chest to lift by squeezing your shoulder blades together along you back taking your arms behind you like goal posts. The bending should not be happening in your lower back, but instead through the mid to upper back. The engagement of the shoulder blades lifts the heart skyward, you can imagine a string attached to your heart space, pulling it up towards the ceiling. This is a beautiful place to stay, but for a bit more opening through the shoulders and chest, rotate your arms down, allowing your hands to clasp together near the lower back, the extend them downward. This action further presses the shoulder blades closer together, and thus gives you extra lift through the heart. And of course always remember to keep breathing. Allowing deep expansion of the chest with each inhale, and a contraction of the shoulder blades a bit closer together with each exhale creating that awesome lift.
Hope this little yoga 101 was motivation to get up and open your heart and move your body this morning!