Too Tight to Stretch Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 6

Open Your Heart

25 min - Practice


Open the heart and melt into trust and joy. We use soft, forgiving "blanket boxes" to gently open the front body, bloom the heart to the sky in Baby Camel, release the hips and chest in Low Lunge, and flush the circulatory and lymph systems in supported Waterfall. You will feel expansive and receptive.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket (2)

About This Video


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Hello, friends. Thank you so much for joining me today. In this practice, we are going to focus on opening up our hearts. We're going to release some tension from the neck and the shoulders, the upper back, and those front ribs are going to find some spaciousness. So you're going to need two yoga blankets for this practice. You can also do this with yoga blocks, but I have found the blankets are so much more forgiving and squishy and yummy. So I'll invite you to play with me with the blankets today. So we're going to take our blanket into first folded in half. From the half fold, we're going to fold it into thirds. And then from the third fold, you're just going to cut it in half and fold it over again. So we've created this nice little what I like to call blanket box. And you're going to take both of those blankets into their box shape. You're going to set them on your yoga mat with just a little bit of space between them. This back blanket is going to support the head and this blanket is going to support the heart. Feel free to pause the video, get yourself set up. And when you're ready, join me on your back. So we're going to line up that first blanket that's closest to your body with the bottom edge of the scapula so that the full width of the shoulder blades are supported. Give a little wiggle and a good way to check in with that is to lift your arms up to the sky and make sure it feels nice and supportive for the shoulder blades. The hands are then going to come back and feel into that second blanket. And we're going to tuck it right underneath the head. And if this height doesn't feel correct for your head, that's the beauty of the blanket. You can lift it up a little bit higher. You can make it a little bit thinner. So see what feels good and correct for you. So as you allow yourself to set up and settle knees or bent feet to the earth, arms resting comfortably along your sides, go ahead and rotate the palms open. Feel free to close your eyes as that feels safe and comfortable. And we'll take a nice big breath in together and exhale everything with a and just allow yourself to land. Allow the earth support to hold you so that the heart can be wide and receptive. And once you feel like you have landed and you feel supported and comfortable, we're going to slowly start to open up our feet a little bit wider. So just give a little toe heel to the feet out to the edges of your yoga mat. And as the feet come wide, the inner thighs and knees are going to come together. And as they rest together, we're creating this nice little tent shape through the lower legs. Feel the sacrum really ground and connect to the earth. And then we're just going to do what we like to call tent knee drops by alternating one knee in towards the yoga mat and then the other. Full deep breaths. Few more like this. Listen to your body and then we'll rest back at center with inner thighs and knees touching. And to take a little bit deeper opening to the heart, perhaps it feels appropriate for your shoulders to come back either into cactus arm shape with elbows bent or maybe it feels nice to grab a hold of opposite wrists, opposite forearms, or even clasping opposite elbows overhead. Take another big breath in. And with our exhale, we're going to let both the knees drop over to the right side. Let gravity take over here. We're not trying to find a destination to the floor. We're just letting the limbs feel weighted. Big breaths into the left side rib cage and then inhale slowly back to center and exhale both knees over to the left side. And again, just allow yourself to hang with gravity.

Breathe a little bit more intentionally into that right side lung and then inhale back to center. Exhale releasing those arms from wherever you brought them back to the earth. We'll toe heal the feet together and then in your own time slowly rolling over to your right side. So as we come to our right side, we're going to rise up slowly and then transition into a tabletop position. So knees to the floor and as knees come to the floor, we're going to open up this first blanket box and we're going to take it wide and horizontal on our yoga mat. And that's going to be a nice little support for our knees. That second blanket box is going to remain in that square shape, hand stacked on either side of the blanket. So take a moment to set yourself up and with an in breath, let the head rise, the heart rise dipping through the lower back into the shape of our cow pose. And then with our exhale, squeeze and round slowly into the shape of our cat. And as you move through Cat-Cow, I invite you to bring focus and intention to the area around both the front side and the back side of your heart, finding a little bit more space between the shoulders. Feel those front ribs lift, return to neutral. Let your gaze drop towards your blanket so that the neck is nice and long. And with an in breath, we're going to take our right arm over to the side, extend it up to the ceiling. Look up with your gaze to open that heart. Take a couple more big breaths here. And with an exhale, we're going to thread the needle. So that right arm comes into this little gap between the blankets. And then that blanket is there to help catch my head. As you rest here, this may be absolutely plenty and where you stay. To take it a little bit deeper into that heart opening, lift that left elbow, start to open up the chest, feel your weight shift more over to your right knee cap, and then extend that left leg back with the toes curled under. Find your balance here. Take a pause and perhaps then that left leg lifts and rises towards the sky as far as it feels comfortable. And again, if you want to challenge your balance, we can allow that left hand to get light. If it feels unstable, place the hand back to the floor. Try again. Maybe this time that left arm expands. Soften the jaw, soften the neck. Take another big breath in and exhale, release the hand, release the knee and gently unwind yourself back to tabletop position. Inhale, lift the heart and gaze. Exhale, squeeze and round. Come back to neutral. Rise towards your blanket and take it to the left side as the left arm reaches over and then up towards the sky. Lift the heart, lift the gaze. It seems counterintuitive, but the more you push into the earth with that right hand, the wider we're able to expand up. Exhale, thread the needle, let that blanket catch your cheek, snuggle in, play with the twist as far as it feels comfortable for your back body. And then we'll experiment with taking our right leg long. See how this feels, the blanket is there, the floor is there to support you. Perhaps rising up through that right leg as far as feels comfortable and safe for you. Explore your balance. And when you feel ready, maybe that right arm reaches up as well. Big and wide and receptive. Take another inhale and exhale, returning to the earth, hand and knee, unwind. Inhale, lift the heart and gaze. Exhale, squeeze and round. Inhale back to neutral. We'll take this blanket box off to the side of our mat now as we rise up all the way onto our knees. Take a couple of nice big shoulder loops here to the ears and back and really again, feel that chest open big and wide, maybe even elbow arms.

And then we're going to take our hands to the lower back for some support. So fingertips are facing downward and I'm supporting around the very top of my pelvis, almost like I'm placing my hands into pockets if I was wearing jeans and you're going to put your hands into your pockets at your back. So feel into that support, root your knees down into the squishiness of the blanket. And we're just going to explore a little bit of baby camel pose. So starting off by lifting up through the ribs. I'm not even coming into a back bend quite yet. Just feel those ribs lift, feel the sternum and collarbones expand. And then begin to experiment with lifting the chin and the nose a bit towards the ceiling. Take a nice big open mouth. Exhale. This may be where you stay, but as it feels welcome to you, feel free to play with a little bit more of that back bend exploration, lifting and rising through the heart. Soften the jaw almost as if an invisible string is lifting our heart center to the sky. All the while supporting the low back. To come out of this, use that invisible string at your heart. Feel it lift your heart up first and then the head follows in line. Take a nice big exhale as your arms release from here. We're going to keep left knee down on the blanket and we're going to step our right foot forward. So we're just in this nice basic low lunge, hands to the top of the thigh. And we're just going to start to pulse in and out with our breath and just see what's showing up here through that left side hip flexor area. Full deep breaths. Next time we think forward into this low lunge, we're going to hold this shape and bring our awareness back to our heart. So again, first lifting the ribs away from the tummy and away from the pelvis. Feel the heart broaden and then the invitation is to interlace your fingers behind your head. So the head and neck have a little support. Elbows are broad. Feel that open the heart. This may be where you stay and breathe. To take it into a little bit more of that back bend exploration. Again, keep rising through the sternum. Start to tilt the chin and the nose to the sky. Coming as far back as feels comfortable. Feel the while supporting the head. Soften the jaw. Steady the breath. And to come out lifting the head with the hand support, drop the arms and we'll bring right knee back to meet left knee on that blanket. Give a little hip sway to loosen up. Bring some fluidity back into the pelvis with some little mini hula hoops and we'll take it to the other side. So right knee staying down. Left foot steps forward into our lunge shape. Hands can come to the thighs for a little support and we're just going to pulse in and out. And just see what's showing up. How is this right hip feeling similar? Does it have any tension that it can release or perhaps the side feels a little bit more open today? Just becoming aware. Next time we think into the lunge, we're going to hold that. Start to lift up through the ribs. You can even use the hands on the ribs to feel that expansion and lift. Heart is nice and broad. Hands are going to come behind the head. Interlace the fingers, support under the skull, elbows wide, either staying here or exploring a little bit more of that back bend by lifting the chin, lifting the nose and releasing the head. Steady breaths. Soft in the face, soft in the eyes. To come out, use the hands of support to lift the head, looking forward. Let the arms release and we're going to bring that knee back to the blanket. Give a little hip sway, a little hula hoop, loosen it all up.

And then we're going to start to transition back down onto our yoga mat and we're going to use our blanket block again. So as you come back to your mat, this blanket can go to the back of the mat as a little bit of support for your head if you'd like, but I'm going to invite you to bring it off to the side. So if it feels like you need a little bit of support for the head, it's there and available to you. We're going to take the second blanket square and that's going to support us under our sacrum. So as we come onto our backs, just take a hold of that block. Blanket block. We're going to root the feet into the earth as we bend the knees, start to lift up and we're going to slide that blanket box, that blanket square right underneath the pelvis and the sacrum. And just let yourself snuggle on in. Give a little tail wag. Let it feel nice and squishy and supportive. Make any adjustments that your body needs and then take the arms to where it feels restful and comfortable for you. Take a moment to allow yourself to land, to rest. Feel free to close your eyes as that feels safe for you. And just tune in to our low belly diaphragmatic breath here. Slowing things down and calming the nervous system. Can you feel perhaps a little bit more energy swirling around the heart center? And when you're ready, no rush. We're going to let the right knee lift up towards the belly, foot comes off the floor and then just feel it and make sure you feel nice and supported on your blanket box, your blanket square. And then let the left knee come up to join it. And again, checking in, make any little adjustments that you may need. And then with an in breath, we're going to let both those legs reach up and open to the sky. As you look up towards the feet, I'll invite you to take some ankle circles, release those little Rice Krispies and the ankles and toe wiggles. And then as you look at your feet, can you allow them to soften and relax? Open your gaze towards your own feet and what do your relaxed feet look like? Coming into what we like to call waterfall. So I love name, that name of this pose because it invokes the energy of that flushing, that releasing. So perhaps just closing your eyes here and envisioning that waterfall as you feel the flushing of your circulatory system and your lymph from this inversion. Slow, deliberate breaths. Staying here as long as it feels comfortable for you. And by all means, if the feet start to get cranky or your legs start to get cranky, feel free to bend the knees and then return. But when you're ready to come out, we'll slowly bend both of those knees and we'll let one foot at a time find its way back to the floor. Pause here for a few slow deep breaths back in the supported bridge pose. Can you tune into the subtle energy change from that inversion work so that the heart was able to receive the blood from the legs to give back to the heart. When you're ready to rise and release out of this, we're going to start to press the feet actively towards the earth. Gently peel those hips up away from your blanket. Let one hand reach down, grab a hold of it, and we're just going to slide it off to the side. From here, slowly rolling down, upper back, mid back, low back, tailbone landing last.

Take a big breath in. Take a cleansing breath out. And then we'll just gently let both those knees drop over to the right side. Let your head and your gaze turn towards the left side and just take a really nice easy passive knee down twist. Breathing slow and steady into the belly. Inhale, back to center, head and knees. And with our exhale, knees drop to the left, head gently turns to the right. Soften any effort, soften any grip.

Inhale, come back to center slowly. We'll lift up those knees for a hug. Just give a little counter for that lower back. A little rock and roll along your yoga mat. Whatever feels good, whatever you're craving to prepare for shavasana. So you have two blankets here at your disposal. Again, feel free to use one as a pillow under your head. Feel free to use the other one as some support under your legs or your knees. So finding the shape that your body is craving to land. Take your biggest inhale yet today to bring the breath all the way up into and under your heart. Open the mouth and let it all go. Dropping into stillness and effortlessness. Can you allow yourself just to simply be here? Open hearted and receptive.

Feel free to pause the video and stay in the sweetness of shavasana as long as you would like. But when you're ready to wake up, gently wiggle the fingers and toes. Maybe even circling ankles and wrists, maybe a little stretch and a yawn, a little wiggle of the hips. Whatever feels good, we'll bend the knees and gently roll over to our side. Pressing into the earth to rise up nice and slowly. And as we rise up and find a comfortable seat for you and your body, we'll allow the hands to stack over the heart center. And just take a moment to tune into your heart's needs and desires. To tap into your compassion and your empathy. To bring those qualities into the rest of your day and your interactions. Letting the hands join as we bow towards our own heart, honoring ourselves.



Sandra Židan
Lovely practice! Thanks! ❤️
Fabian H
2 people like this.
Lovely practice :))
Kari Sims Anthon
Sandra Židan thanks so much for practicing with me! So happy you enjoyed it. 
Kari Sims Anthon
Fabian H thank you! Hope to practice with you again soon! 
Lina S
2 people like this.
Very relaxing!
Kari Sims Anthon
Lina S so glad you were able to slow down with me :) 
Jenny S
2 people like this.
This felt soooo good and refreshing after a day of gardening…thanks Kari! ❤️🙏🏻🪴
Nina G
2 people like this.
Loved it, thank you.
Kari Sims Anthon
Jenny S wonderful! 🌱 
Kari Sims Anthon
Nina G thanks so much for joining me! 
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