By Gaylene Thoeny

If you have taken or seen a Yoga class you may have heard “Lead with your Heart Center” (or something else similar). The Heart Center in Yoga refers to the Heart Chakra. The Heart Chakra is the 4th of 7 Chakras (or Energy Centers in the body). These centers are often used as reference points in Yoga, Chinese Medicine, Thai Massage or other traditional healing methods.

We are referring to the area of the body in and around the heart and lungs, including the shoulders, upper back and chest. This area is known as the domain of human intimacy – and is associated with love, acceptance, forgiving, devotion, understanding, acceptance, peach, harmony, contentment, compassion and relationships. I feel the most important of all this is self-love, we can’t love and care for others if we don’t do the same for ourselves first!

The best thing we can do for ourselves is to open up the heart chakra, increasing blood flow to the heart, lungs and the rest of the body. This also can bring us better posture, bigger lung capacity, better circulation, making us feel better and making it possible to pass on these great feelings to others.

A simple way to open up the heart Chakra is a Chest Expansion:

1.) Starting in a neutral standing position or mountain pose

2.) Reaching out palms back behind each other

3.) Imagine that you are holding a giant beach ball behind your back

4.) Squeezing the shoulder blades together

5.) Inhaling into the expanded lungs

6.) Gazing gently up and forward and closing our eyes

7.) Taking as many breaths in and out as you feel comfortable

8.) Releasing arms down to your sides

This can be repeated as often as is comfortable. Also a great Yoga pose to use after driving, sitting at a desk or anything that makes us prone to hunching forward.

This article by Gaylene Thoeny, a 500-hour Registered Yoga Teacher, yogi and mom.  Gaylene specializes in yoga and lifestyle management. Creating a grounded life on and off the mat.