Like any good “will-they-or-won’t-they” romance novel, there are conflicting theories as to the origin of St. Valentine and how Valentine’s Day became the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. One legend tells of an imprisoned man, Valentine, who sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after falling in love with a young girl — possibly his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. According to the History Channel: “Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today.”
One thing, however, is certain: This month is a reminder to celebrate love. So in honor of February, let’s explore five yoga postures that improve heart health, happiness and overall wellness.
From standing position, bring your love and energy into your right foot and leg. Bend and lift your left leg. Place the top of your left foot in your left palm. Inhale to prepare, and as you exhale lean forward and kick the left leg into your left palm behind you. Continue to breathe, inhaling to prepare and exhaling to deepen the pose. Repeat on the other leg.
Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and your thighs perpendicular to the floor. Inhale, inflating your chest. Exhale, arch your back and rest your palms on your tailbone or heels. Continue to breathe, inhaling to inflate and open the front of the body and exhaling to deepen the backbend.
Lie on the floor with your legs straight and together and the tops of your feet your yoga mat. With your palms under your shoulders and pressing into your mat, draw your elbows in toward your ribs and gently push up, arching your back toward the sky. Hold for five to 10 breaths.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, legs hip-width apart and the soles of your feet on the mat. Get long in your spine and place a block under your tailbone. Experiment with the different block heights to find the one that is most comfortable for you. Press both shoulders down and gain length in your neck. With your palms facing the sky, visualize your chest broadening with each inhale and exhale as you breath. Hold the position for 10 to 15 breaths.
Reclined Goddess Pose With Breath Work
From a reclined position on your mat, bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall outward, placing a block or pillow under each knee for support if needed. Place a bolster or large pillow under your back, neck and head. Relax your shoulders, lengthen your neck, and let both palms rest on top of your heart. Close your eyes and focus on the connection of your hands and chest. Inhale, feeling your chest inflate. Exhale, feeling your chest deflate. Notice where your breath originates and try to initiate it from your navel, not your sternum. Hold the position for 15 to 20 breaths.
Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer, and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (bewellbecreative.com).