mbg moves: A Quick Heart-Opening Yoga Flow To Stretch Out Your Back
If there's one thing we could probably all use a lot more of these days, it's some heart-opening yoga. These types of flows not only help open up your chest but also help stretch and bend your back in satisfying, necessary ways. To help show your back, shoulders, and chest a little love—I've put together this beautiful 12-minute heart-opening yoga sequence. I'm confident you'll return to it again and again for some much-needed relief.
Equipment: Yoga mat
Instructions: Move from one pose to the next, following the flow cues as noted.
Seated Cactus Arms
- Start by sitting on your heels, with your hands on your thighs.
- Inhale as you lift your arms up overhead to the sky.
- Exhale and bend your arms to form two 90-degree angles at the sides of your body, squeezing your should blades together.
- Inhale and return to start.
- Repeat for three breaths. Move into cat-cow.
- Place your hands on your mat, coming into a tabletop position.
- As you inhale, bring your belly toward the ground, bend your back, and allow your gaze to come up.
- Exhale as you curl and round your spine, bringing your gaze toward your belly button.
- Repeat for three breaths. Move into bird dog.
- From a tabletop position, extend your right hand in front of you and your left leg behind you.
- Bend your back, curl your body inward, and bring your knee to touch your elbow. Reach and extend.
- Move directly into tiger pose.
- Start with your right arm and left leg extended outward.
- Bend your left leg and reach for it with your right hand.
- Grab your foot and push it into your hand, opening up your chest.
- Hold for a couple of breaths, then release back to the ground.
- Repeat bird dog and tiger pose on the opposite side.
- From a tabletop position, sit back onto your heels.
- Peel your knees open. Reach and extend your fingertips forward, allowing your chest to rest on your mat.
- Hold for a couple of breaths. Move into puppy pose.
- From child's pose, bring your knees together.
- Walk your fingertips forward and bring your chest onto the mat.
- Allow your hips to lift high up toward the ceiling, opening up the chest and bending the back.
- Hold for a few breaths. Continue to cobra pose.
- From puppy pose, pull your body forward, allowing your hips to rest on the mat.
- Bring your hands underneath your shoulders. Pull your elbows in toward your body.
- Keeping your elbows bent, lift your chest up. Slowly lower back to the mat.
- Repeat for five breaths, holding the position on the last breath.
- Move through downward dog before continuing to the next pose.
Three-Legged Dog to Knee-To-Nose
- From downward dog, reach your right leg up to the sky.
- Then, curl and round your spine, bringing your knee in to meet your nose.
- From here, move into lunge.
Lunge + Cactus Arms
- Plant your right foot between your hands on the mat. Bring your left knee down to the ground.
- Rise to an upright position, with your hands resting on your front thigh.
- Extend your arms, reaching them up to the sky. Bend your elbows, bringing your arms into a cactus position.
- Hold for a couple of breaths. Bring your hands to the ground, move through a vinyasa flow, then repeat three-legged dog through lunge on the opposite side.
- From a downward dog, extend your right leg into the air.
- Bring your leg behind your body, letting your foot press into the ground.
- Flip your right arm overhead, and press your chest toward the sky.
- Return to your starting position. Continue to high lunge.
High Lunge + Cactus Arms
- Bring your right foot in between your hands, and rise up into a high lunge position, with your left toes pressed into your mat.
- Lift your arms up toward the sky, and slowly bend your elbows, coming into cactus arms.
- Hold for a couple of breaths, then bring your hands to the mat.
- Move through wild thing in the opposite direction. Repeat high lunge on the other side. Lower your body onto your mat.
- Start by lying on your mat, with your hands at your sides.
- Tuck your toes and push through your hands, lifting your chest upward.
- Slowly lower back down to the mat. Continue to bow pose.
- Start by lying chest-down on your mat.
- From here, lift your chest and feet up. Bend your knees, and grab your ankles from the outside.
- Press into your hands to lift your chest and thighs higher off the ground.
- Slowly release and continue to bridge pose.
- Swing your heels in front of you, and come to lie on your back.
- Bend your knees, and place your arms at your sides. Bring your heels close to your seat, so they nearly graze your fingertips.
- Inhale as you lift your hips up high, forming a straight line from knees to chest. At the same time, bring your arms overhead, and place them on the ground behind you.
- Exhale as you lower back down and return your arms to your sides.
- Repeat for three breaths. Continue to the next pose.
- Rock and roll your body to come up to a standing position.
- Ground down through your left foot. Bend your right leg behind you. Grab the foot from the big toe side.
- Reach and extend your left hand up toward the sky. Pull yourself forward. As you open up, push that foot into your hand.
- Hold for a few breaths, then come out of the pose. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Continue to chair pose.
- From a standing position, lift your arms to the sky.
- Slowly bring your hips back, as if you're sitting in an imaginary chair.
- Continue to lower down until you reach the ground.
- From here, lie down on your back.
- Come into savasana, your final resting pose, for as long as you'd like.
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Phyllicia Bonanno is a Sweat yoga instructor, wellness influencer and sound bath facilitator based in New Jersey and New York City. She has been practicing yoga since she was in highschool. She is an artist at heart and yoga has translated into a moving art and meditation for her.
You can find Bonanno teaching vinyasa flows, meditation, yin, and soundbaths. She also shares the gift of sound healing with the use of alchemy crystal singing bowls. Each of her bowls are infused with different crystals that connect to the chakras and deeper self. The sound of the singing bowls vibrate through the body allowing you to achieve an inner cleanse and calm throughout your whole being. Bonanno's mission is to inspire health and wellness in every individual in an accessible way. She uses her Instagram to share her journey and daily experiences showing how yoga is a lifestyle.