Yoga postures like this one are often referred to as “heart-opening” poses.
Physically speaking, they involve expanding through the chest, ribs, and front body and, among other things, stretch muscles that, for many of us, are chronically tight—like the pectoralis major and minor.
Energetically and emotionally speaking, they can feel empowering, energizing—and a host of other of what we might consider strong and positive feelings.
But they can also elicit feelings of emotional discomfort because of the way in which the postures force us to bear our vulnerable centers—where our hearts (and lungs) reside. Our arms and hands, our (perhaps) rounded shoulders, cannot as easily act as shields against possible assault.
While most of us are no longer facing physical threats to our daily survival, as our forebears, the instinct to “protect” ourselves can remain strong.
For most of us, the more insidious threats come in the form of emotional assault. Our energetic and emotional hearts are wounded far more often than our physical ones.
And so, our instincts tell us to protect. To retreat, at times. To avoid possible threats.
There is a link between our physical and energetic bodies, and the yoga postures are tools to explore these linkages.
Because we’re not often in the habit of moving through these kinds of postures, we can feel resistance or “tightness,” lack of mobility, when performing them—and it’s easy to attribute any difficulties we experience to the physical.
It’s worth exploring whether that is the whole story, or only a part. And if it’s not the whole story, can we be brave enough to put our hearts forward as we search for what lies beyond the edges of our current narratives—why we understand as true?