Chest openers are some of the most rewarding stretches in yoga practice. They are a great way to open up the muscles in the chest to reverse forward leaning posture and they are great for creating freedom and space around your heart.
It is important to maintain an open chest especially if you sit at a desk all day or if you are an athlete. If we’re hunched over a computer all day or not sitting in the correct chair, sharp pain between the shoulder blades or chronic feelings of tightness in the back may occur. This can create poor posture. So when we huch over, we are compressing the lungs, making them harder to expand with deep breaths. If you are an athlete, activities like lifting weights or strength training can shorten, tighten and dehydrate these muscles which can cause poor posture, which can in-turn, inhibit breath function.
Don’t worry though! Somestudies show how chest openers can help correct overly rounded shoulders and upper back pain, resulting in better posture, which can lead to better breathing.
You can use our Search Feature to search through all of our Yoga for the Chest classes on your own. To get you started without searching, we’re highlighting six chest classes in a variety of styles, levels and durations that will be sure to help open the chest and upper back to create freedom and space around your heart.
Open Upper Chest, Shoulders & Spine with Stephanie Snyder: This sequence is designed for the athlete (or anyone) who has tight upper chest, shoulders, and spine. Activities like swimming, weight lifting, and strength training can shorten, tighten, and dehydrate these muscles. This can cause upper back pain and poor posture that can inhibit breath function which will limit you in all ways. We will move through a vinyasa-based class that will open the shoulders, chest, and upper back to create freedom and space around your heart!
Open Your Upper Body with Jason Crandell: A class for all the desk workers, cooks, baby holders, body workers, car commuters–and, we’ll just about everyone else out there! This class is designed to open the chest while strengthening the upper-back, arms and neck. Consider this your “go to” 30 minute practice for balancing your upper-body from the day-to-day challenges of the modern world.
Rhomboid Strength with Tiffany Cruikshank: This class focuses on rhomboid strength to open the chest, cultivating awareness around the back of the heart to expand the chest. For those who struggle with backbends, learn how to use your strength to create the opening needed for the big chest opening postures and for those looking to work deeper into their backbends & chest. Useful for learning how to cultivate the strength needed to open yourself up to life.
Camel Poses Tutorial with Kathryn Budig: This chest opening tutorial focuses on Camel Poses and all of its close friends. We begin in a chest opener and get right into business. 2 versions of Camel followed by a Camel drop-back, Pigeon Droppings and two versions of Half Camel. Get ready to open your heart! Prop needed, block.
Rhomboid Flow with Jo Tastula: ’Rhomboids’ is the buzz word for this class. The rhomboid’s function is to pull the shoulder blade (and with it, your shoulder/arm) back and inwards toward the midline of your body, and in doing so bringing space and openness to the chest, lungs and heart. We do some very specific exercises to ‘switch on’ and activate these muscles (there are 2 each side) which may be very helpful to those of you with upper back stiffness, tightness and general lethargy. Get into Cow Face pose (gomukhasana) and postures with hands interlaced behind the back and twists to open the shoulders and chest. With this a nice steady flow through sun salutation variations (surya namaskar) to build head and strength.