I’m a sitter. A fact of modern day life – 9 hours on your tush at a desk. Take a moment now to imagine sitting at your desk. The way your shoulders are probably rounded forward, and spine curved, and dumping into your lower back. This shape has the physical impression of closing the heart, subconsciously blocking your energy and emotion.

Opening the heart through a backbend practise will open the shoulders and chest, waking you up, relieving stress and helping to connect to your Anahata Chakra.

The Anahata Chakra helps to connect the physical self with the spiritual self, with its natural element Air circulating compassion and love to the rest of your being and beyond. It’s pretty special.

I’m sharing with you today my heart opening flow sequence. Short and energising – best served in the morning sun before the complications of the day emerge.

Pranayama to begin your practise:

Bring yourself to a comfortable seated position.

Begin with one hand on the heart and one hand on the belly. Breathe in and breathe out.

Breathe in, and breathe out the day. Breathe out anything you don’t need here on the mat with you in your practise. Notice the natural rise and fall of your belly. See if you can feel your heart beating underneath your hand and connect with it for a few moments.

Feel safe here. Release today, and be in this moment with full awareness. Let your heart open with this practise and allow all the goodness of life’s energy guide your Anahata Chakra.

Be still here for a few breaths.

Reading from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra:

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, all of your thoughts break their bonds – your mind transcends limitation, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, wonderful world.”

Sequence:

Child’s pose / Balasana

Begin in child’s pose and feel grounded through the whole body. Notice your heart beat again here. Stretch the palms out in front of you creating length in the spine. Come to the fingertips and slightly raise the head from the ground.

Downward Dog / Adho Mukha Svanasana

Tuck the toes, press the heels of the palms into the mat and let the tail lift skywards to downward dog. Take any movement here that feels good in your downdog – pedal the feet, lift one leg and then the other opening out the hips, create space in the spine.

Dolphin / Ardha Pincha Mayurasana

Lower yourself down to the forearms, keeping them directly under and shoulder width apart, palms face down, and tilt the tailbone back up to the sky into Dolphin Pose.

Dolphin Plank / Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana

Engage your core muscles and float the hips forward pushing the heels long behind you into dolphin plank. Flow through Dolphin and Dolphin Plank 3 times before raising back onto the palms into the ground to draw back up to Downdog.

3 Legged Dog / Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana

From Downdog inhale lifting the right leg towards the sky behind you pushing through the heel keeping the hips square to the ground.

Crescent Pose / Alanasana

Exhale, Step the right foot through keeping it as close to the body as you can and helping it forward if you need coming into a low lunge before sweeping the arms either side of the body, inhaling and lengthening through to spine to come to Crescent Pose. Take care to lengthen first out of the hips before opening the chest towards the sky into a backbend.

Exhale, interlace the fingers together and place them onto the top of the knee pushing forward to open the left hip.

Inhale floating the hands back up to the sky into Crescent and place either side of the front foot and step the right foot back into Downdog. Repeat on the left side.

Forward fold / Uttanasana

From Downdog, walk the feet in towards the hands at the front of the mat and hang loose here. The knees can be bent to keep the spine long. Take opposite elbows and ensure the head and neck are loose by shaking yes and no. Rock a little side to side.

Equal Standing / Samasthiti

Inhale, draw the hands up either side of the body coming to stand and lengthening through the fingertips before exhaling and bringing the hands to heart centre. Take a moment to reset, roll the shoulders back with the blades siting flat. Notice your heart here. How does your energy feel?

Upward Salute / Urdhva Hastasana

Bring the big toe mounds and ankles together, inhale floating the arms up to the sky, bringing the palms together lengthening through the fingertips which may bring to a slight backbend.

Revolved chair pose / Parivrtta Utkatasana

Exhale, sit the tailbone back towards the ground, bending at the knees, ensuring the toes are visible in front of the knees keeping the spine long and the arms lifted and palms together. Keeping the hips square and knees together, twist from the middle of the spine, bring the hands to heart centre and hook the left elbow over the right knee. Keep your hands as close to the sternum as you bring your gaze over the right shoulder up towards the sky. Breathe here.

Revolved Side angle / Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

Inhale, engage your core muscles and pick up the heel of the left foot before stepping the left foot back into a low lunge but keep the torso lifted in the twist. Exhale, stay on your left toes, back knee is lifted and strong.

Crescent Pose / Alanasana

Inhale, release the left elbow and come out of the twist before opening the hands towards the sky, opening the fingertips into crescent lunge.

Warrior 2 / Virabhadrasana 2

Exhale, spiral the left heel to the floor at 45 degrees with the outer blade edge of the foot grounded into the mat and in the same breath open the hips to the left and the arms lengthen forward and back through the fingertips into Warrior 2. Rotate the hips forward and feel like you’re zipping up a pair of trousers to tighten your core. Glance at the knee to ensure it’s tracking in line with the toes and breathe here.

Reverse Warrior / Viparita Virabhadrasana

Inhale to reach forward and exhale to draw the front palm towards the sky and guide you into a back bend bringing the left hand to the back of the left leg wherever it will meet without dumping into the lower back. Gaze is towards the top fingertips which face back towards the body, lengthen the right side of the body with each breath.

Extended Side Angle / Utthita Parsvakonasana

Exhale to push into the back leg, draw the torso and spine straight and then inhale to bring the forearm onto the bent front thigh and sweep the left arm over by the ear. Stay strong in the core so as not to dump weight into the forearm. Gaze is towards the sky past the raised arm.

Flow between Reverse Warrior and Extended side angle on the inhale and exhale 3 times.

Warrior 2 / Vira 2

From Extended Side Angle open the arms out back into Warrior 2 stretching through the finger tips.

Low lunge / Anjaneyasana

Windmill the hands either side of the front foot coming into a low lunge, back heel comes off the ground. 

Plank / Kumbhakasana

Inhale, step the right foot back into a plank, drawing the belly in and back, heels of the palms spiral into the ground, shoulders stacked above the wrists.

Four Staffed Limb / Chaturanga Dandasana

Exhale, Lower through bent elbows holding just above the ground, elbows tight to the body, core engaged.

Updog / Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Inhale, Pull the heart forward coming to the tops of the feet, opening the chest, raising the knees off the ground, glutes engaged to protect the lower back, gaze towards the sky but keeping the neck long.

Downdog

Exhale, roll over the toes, draw the hips up and back, tailbone takes you back to Downdog. Stabilise the breath here, inhale and exhale.

3 Legged Dog / Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana

Inhale, left leg raises behind and steps all the way through between the hands helping it if you need into a low lunge.

Low Lunge / Anjaneyasana

Exhale, back knee comes to the ground, top of the foot comes to the mat, bend into the front knee to open the hip joint and arms sweep either side of the body raising to the sky opening the heart.

Runners Lunge / Ardha Hanumanasana

Inhale, drop the hands back towards the mat, plant the back toes onto the mat, and sit the hips back towards the heels, lifting the front toes towards the face coming into a calf stretch runners lunge.

Flow through rhudrasana and the runners lunge on your inhale and exhale 3 times.

Forward fold / Uttanasana

Exhale step the right let in to meet the left folding the belly over the thighs and hands reach towards the mat into a forward fold.

Upward Salute / Urdhva Hastasana

Inhale hands reach wide either side of the body raising up towards the sky lengthening through the spine.

Equal Standing / Samasthiti

Exhale hands come to heart centre, drawing the thighs up from the knee caps, symmetrical and grounded through the feet, shoulder blades down and back. Take a few breaths here before moving through the sequence into the right side.

Chair pose / Utkatasana

Draw the big toe mounds and ankles together, inhale, extend the arms up the sky and sit the hips back to towards the heels checking you can still see your toes in front of your knees, and that your knees and thighs are drawing tightly together.

Forward fold / Uttanasana

Exhale fold forward from the waist, straightening the legs, reaching the hands towards the mat. Inhale, straighten through the spine coming to a flat back, finger tips on the mat, or shins or thighs here creating length.

Low lunge / Anjaneyasana

Exhale right foot steps all the way back into a low lunge, hands are either side of the left foot.

Crescent / Alanasana

Inhale, Hands rise up towards the sky opening through the heart, slight backbend here, staying on the balls of the right foot, knee tracks in line with the toes.

Warrior 2 / Vira 2

Exhale, spiral the back heel down towards the mat, hands open wide extending out through the fingertips, dristy gaze down towards the left fingertips.

Humble warrior / Baddha Virabhadrasana

Inhale, interlace the fingers behind the body, and open the chest towards the sky coming into a small backbend.

Exhale, fold the body rotating at the hips coming to the inside of the front knee, keeping a deep bend 90 degrees, neck and head are loose here. Inhale to come back out.

Dancer / Natarajasana

Exhale, release the interlaced fingers and place onto the hips, and come back onto the ball of the back foot before bending into the front knee and drawing the weight over the front leg. Inhale, before stepping the right ankle towards the tail bone taking hold of the right ankle with the right hand and straightening the standing leg.

Exhale start to push the right ankle into the right hand drawing up towards the ceiling. At the same time the left arm lengthens up beside the left ear stretching through the fingertips extending in each direction. Be mindful of the lower back avoiding compressing and instead lengthening through the spine. Inhale here.

Triangle / Trikonasana

Exhale, release the foot back towards the ground about a walking step distance behind the front foot and bring both hands to the hips. Straighten both legs ensuring the toes are towards the top of the mat. Inhale, externally rotate the hips backwards and let this movement naturally draw you forward, keeping a straight spine, and shoulders rolled away from the ears, chest is open. Exhale, drop the hands to the inside of the left foot and rotate at the mid-spine, keeping the hips square and finally unfolding the right hand up towards the sky extending through the fingertips. Take an inhale and exhale here.

Low lunge / Anjaneyasana

Windmill the hands either side of the front foot into a low lunge, back heel comes off the ground.

Plank / Kumbhakasana

Step the right and left feet back into a plank, drawing the belly in and back, heels of the palms spiral into the ground, shoulder width apart.

Four Staffed Limb / Chaturanga Dandasana

Exhale, Lower through plank to the ground, elbows close the body, core tight keeping raised off the ground.

 

Updog / Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Inhale, Pull the heart forward coming to the tips of the feet, opening the chest, raising the knees off the ground, glutes engaged to protect the lower back, gaze towards the sky but keeping the neck long.

Downdog / Adho mukha śvānāsana

Exhale, roll over the toes, draw the hips up and back, tailbone takes you back to Downdog. Stabilise the breath here, inhale and exhale.

3 legged dog / low lunge

Left leg raises behind and steps all the way through between the hands helping it if you need, hands either side of the front bend knee.

Forward fold / Uttanasana

Exhale step the right let in to meet the left, rotating at the hips and folding the belly over the thighs, hands reach towards the mat into a forward fold.

Upward Salute / Urdhva Hastasana

Inhale hands reach wide either side of the body raising up towards the sky long through the spine.

Equal Standing / Samasthiti

Exhale hands come to heart centre, drawing the thighs up from the knee caps, symmetrical and grounded through the feet, shoulder blades down and back. Take a few breaths here before taking the same sequence but onto the right side.

Childs Pose / Balasana

Once you’ve completed this round, ease down to mat, sit the hips back to the heels and stretch the arms long in front of you bringing your forehead to the mat, child’s pose….and relaxxxxxx…

Reconnect with your heart, noticing how the energy feels now you’ve moved through the flow. Are you more connected? Are you knackered? Hopefully you’ll feel full of joy and sweat to take off your mat and into your day (with a shower).

You’ve done it! Exercise and finding oneself done for the day. Not too early for a heart boosting Bloody Mary is it?