Heart Openers for Beginners
Your pectoralis major and minor muscles, alongside the transversus thoracis and Serratus anterior muscles make up the muscles around the heart (or of the chest). These muscles often work together to dominate the movements that support pulling, pushing and reaching. Without these muscles, the chest cavity would become more vulnerable to injury, the diaphragm would not be supported during breathing, the back would be in pain due to poor posture, and so much more. Along with strength training and cardiovascular exercises, stretching can assist keeping these muscles around the heart functioning optimally and feeling good!
Here are five heart opening stretches and poses for beginners.
Standing in the center of a doorway, raise each arms up by your sides at a 90 degree angle with your palms facing forward. Place your palms flat against door frame then slowly step forward with one foot. You should feel the stretch in the chest and shoulders, hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times,
Assisted block chest opener
Lying on your back, place a yoga block or firm bolster pillow in line with your spine just between your shoulder blades. Relax your arms by your side with palms toward the ceiling and a gentle bend in the elbow. Think about pressing your shoulders down toward the ground and shrugging them down away from the ears. Be sure to take fluid inhales and exhlaes. Hold here for 30-90 seconds.
TIP: If your neck feels uncomfortable in this pose, try using a rolled hand towel to support the base of your skull. This will allow your head to rest slightly back without the feeling of craning the neck.
Lying on your back with your legs extended out and your arms rested just under your low back with palms down, begin to lift your upper body by pressing your forearms and elbows into the ground. Actively press your chest upward as you tilt your head back, bringing the crown of your head down toward the floor, chin up to the ceiling and opening the throat. Continue to press into your forearms and hands. Do not hold your breath. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly return to start.
On all fours in a tabletop position, inhale and begin to arch your back pressing your sit bones and chest up toward the ceiling. Let your belly drop toward the floor and take your gave up toward the ceiling, allowing the throat and chest to open up. Exhale as you transition back to table top. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
Hand clasp opener
Clasp your hands behind your back near your glutes with fingers pointing down toward the ground. With arms straight, actively press palms together as you lift your arms up and away from the body allowing the shoulders to open. Gently press your shoulders down and away from the ears so that the chest begins to stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds and return back to start. Repeat 2-3 times.
TIP: If you have difficulty clasping and holding your hands together try using a hand towel or strap to hold.
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC
Health Advisor | Email Casey