When we think about opening ourselves up for love, feelings of fear can sometimes kick in. “What if I get hurt?” plays in the background of our minds, whether we are conscious of it or not. To move through those boundaries, we must practice treating ourselves with more compassion, more trust, and most importantly, more love. Once we’ve got that down, we can then recreate those scenarios in our relationships, allowing ourselves to trust others and let people in.
The best place to start building love and trust within ourselves? Our yoga mat! This magic carpet of self-discovery allows us to move through physical boundaries, cultivating more trust, more openness, and more understanding of who we are and what we need to feel whole.
Here are five spirit-moving and heart-opening yoga poses that will expand your physical boundaries to create more opportunity in all areas of your life, including love.
The wall-assisted stretch opens up the chest and shoulders for more movement and space in the upper torso, preventing you from slouching and helping you to stand up taller.
Start this sequence standing up, facing a wall. Extend your right arm out, away from your body, at a 90-degree angle with your palm facing the wall. Keeping your right arm and shoulder flush with the wall, slowly walk your feet to the left. You should feel this stretch on your chest and the front of your right shoulder. Find your edge, and stay for 10 breaths.
This devotional warrior variation strengthens and stabilizes the lower body while opening the shoulders and chest.
The foundation for this pose is Warrior I. Start by standing at the top of your mat with toes pointed forward. Step your left foot back and bring your left heel to the floor with your toes out at a 45-degree angle. Bend the right knee over the right ankle. Straighten and strengthen your left leg, drawing the right hip back and the left hip forward to square off your hips. Reach your hands behind your back, and interlace fingers. Reach down towards the floor to create space in the shoulders and chest. Then slowly bend at the waist, and draw your hands up and over your back so the arms extend forward towards the floor. Keep your left leg strong and stable. Stay for five breaths. Slowly rise up, step your feet back to the front of the mat, and switch sides.
This pose is also called Lord of the Dance—fitting because it does regally open the chest and thighs.
Start by standing at the top of your mat, with weight evenly distributed between your feet. Bend the right knee, and reach the right hand back for the right foot behind you. Catch the right foot from the inside. Engage your left leg—lift your kneecap to keep the leg strong and sturdy. Slowly extend your right foot back and up behind you. Reach your left arm forward, and slowly kick into your right hand to lift your foot more and stabilize the balance. Breathe here for 5–10 breaths, and slowly release the right foot down. Return to standing, and repeat on the left side.
Bridge pose is a classic chest and hip opener. You can slide a block underneath your sacrum if you want to practice a more restorative version.
Lie on your back and bend your knees, placing the soles of your feet on the mat. On an exhale, lift your hips up towards the ceiling until your thighs are parallel with the floor, and wiggle your arms underneath you. If possible, clasp the hands together underneath the pelvis. Lift your chin off your sternum, but use your shoulder blades to lift your sternum up towards the chin. Stay here for 10–15 breaths, and slowly lower down onto your back. Repeat three times.
The name of this one says it all: legs up the wall. This restorative yoga pose relieves tired legs and lower back pain, eases anxiety, and is said to help with migraine headaches. Lay on a mat or blanket, or place a bolster underneath your hips for extra support.
Find an open wall space, and sit with your right hip facing the wall. Gently lie back and spin, so you end up with the back of your legs facing the wall and your back and shoulders down on the mat. You might need to scoot around to get your hips closer to the wall, moving the body into a 90-degree angle. Rest your hands on the sides of your torso with the palms facing up or resting on your navel. Close your eyes, and breathe through your nose. Stay here for one to five minutes. Then slowly roll to one side, and slide the legs off the wall, resting on your side for a few breaths.