Have you considered how well the heart and lungs are guarded? Surrounded on all sides by the rib cage, sternum, and spine – the heart and lungs dwell within a bony chamber designed to be both protective and expansive – just as our spirit and mind. There is an old saying, “Life is in the breath. He who half breathes half lives.” Heart opening is intended to protect and honor the breath of life or Prana and to prevent the thoracic cavity from becoming a rigid and restrictive cage to the lungs and heart.
When the thoracic cavity is immobilized muscles and soft tissues in that area start to lose elasticity. Nowadays we spend so much time seated, driving, texting, typing, and doing things that require spinal flexion, but seldom use extension and rotation.
Stress is another factor. Unfortunately, it’s common to be in a constant state of stress. It’s also possible to appear relaxed while our bodies are chemically in a fight or flight state. In that condition people have a tendency to hold their breath or develop the habit of shallow breathing. The pattern of deep, full inhalation and exhalation is then forgotten.
Let’s test the theory together. Take a few deep breaths – inhaling and exhaling through your nostrils and sit tall with your spine lifted. Make a mental note to continue those deep breathes as you finish reading this article.
Not too long ago, the yoga wheel made its appearance. They are an awesome tool for spine health, but they cost a pretty penny and are sold at a limited number of retailers. So this is for my folks who aren’t dropping $100 bucks on a yoga wheel at the moment or just want have a try before you buy experience. I know ‘DIY’ implies that you have to do some handy work to get a finished product, but this project only requires a trip to the hardware store and a few minutes of each day to put it to use.
Check this out…
This is a 6” PVC Pipe from the plumbing section of Lowe’s and it was only $12 bucks. It’s about half the size of traditional yoga wheels, great for beginners! Here are a few ways to use the wheel.
You can begin in staff pose with the wheel at the base of your spine and roll to a laying position or press up to bridge pose from a laying position and slide the wheel beneath you.
Remember to tune in to deep, intentional inhalations and exhalations as you are opening. Relax into each position for 2 to 3 minutes.
To remove the wheel, press into bridge pose and slide the wheel from beneath you.
Voila, an amazing and affordable heart opening, thoracic cavity expanding tool. Happy heart opening!
P.s. Remember those deep breaths we talked about a few paragraphs ago? Did you continue them or unknowingly return to a shallow breathing pattern? Food for thought, eh?