Opening the heart is a common concept in yoga. The idea of opening the heart, or expanding the chest, creates an opening in areas of our body that tend to curl in.
It is natural for us to protect our hearts. We do so both literally and figuratively. Our ribcage is exquisitely designed to protect two vital organs: our lungs and our heart. Outside of our skull, nothing else in our body is surrounded by bone. Our bodies literally protect our hearts.
We also protect our emotions – not showing too much love or care for fear of embarrassment or hurt. We figuratively protect ourselves so we don’t feel the pain of rejection. Do we allow ourselves to harden or open?
As we age, the natural curvature in our spine curls forward. Our shoulders slump forward, and our mid-spine presses backward. Fish pose is a great posture to alleviate this natural slump.
According to B.K.S. Iyengar, the effects of matsyasana, or fish pose, are that the dorsal region is fully extended and the chest is well expanded. Breathing becomes fuller. The thyroids also benefit from the exercise due to the stretching of the neck.
- Lay on your back facing up.
- Support your weight on your forearms.
- Slide your hands, palms down, under your buttocks.
- Take a breath in and open your heart, lifting the top of your chest toward the sky.
- As you open your chest, allow your gaze to lift up and back.
- Your head might land on the mat, or it may be slightly elevated off the mat.
- Point your toes and take 5 breaths.
If you’ve been following along, month to month, fish pose is also the counter posture for shoulder stand. The series would follow a plow pose.