If you’ve ever suffered from anxiety, you’ve felt the effects in your chest. Calm yourself down quickly with this chest-opening routine to help you breathe easier.
When you’re anxious, one of the first things you’ll notice is how your chest tightens up, making it difficult to breathe all of a sudden.
Believe it or not, the reverse is also true: tight chest muscles can actually cause anxiety and stress! When your chest becomes tight from sitting for a long time or exercising, the shoulders begin to round forward, your chin juts out, and your traps get super tight. This causes your nervous system to start to shift into the sympathetic, fight-or-flight state where our adrenaline rises, panic sets in, and important systems of the body like digestion and reproduction shut down.
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Yoga poses that stretch out tight chest muscles and resets our posture are incredibly useful for calming the nervous system to bring us back into the parasympathetic, rest-and-digest, state where we feel calm and centered.
Take five minutes out of your busy day with this chest-opening routine that quickly reverses tightness and calms your nervous system. Grab a yoga block and a pillow or bolster to get the most out of these easy and gentle yoga poses.
Supported Fish | 1 min
Lying down never felt so good. This pose will quickly open up your chest and shoulders and melt your worries away.
- Place a pillow or bolster going longways up and down your mat and sit in front of it.
- Keep your booty on the ground and lower your back and head onto the bolster.
- Extend your arms out to the side to feel a nice stretch across your chest. You can keep the knees bent with the feet on the floor or lengthen your legs down the mat and let your toes open out to the sides.
- Close your eyes and relax here for 1 full minute.
Shoulder Pigeon | 5 breaths per side
Tight shoulders don’t stand a chance with this relaxing pose.
- Lie down on your belly. Reach your right arm straight out to the side so that the wrist is in line with your shoulder, palm facing down.
- Bend your left knee and press through your left palm to roll onto your right shoulder. Place the left foot on the floor outside of your right thigh and rest your cheek on the mat or on a pillow.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply for 5 slow breaths, feeling a deep stretch in the chest and right shoulder. Then roll back to your belly and switch sides.
Supported Standing Backbend | 8 breaths
This gentle chest opener will energize your body and calm your mind.
- Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Bend your knees slightly and engage your abs.
- Place your hands on your lower back and press down as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Inhale to lift your chest up towards the sky to come into a slight backbend. Breathe slowly here for 8 breaths as you feel your chest and shoulders open up.
Seated Cat Cows | 10 breaths
This simple sequence reconnects your breath to your body to calm your nerves and soothe your chest and upper back pain.
- Sit on a block in a crossed-legged position. Interlace your fingers behind your head and open your elbows out wide.
- Inhale to lift your chest up and back to come into a slight backbend for your seated cow pose. Gently lean your head into your palms to feel a stretch across the chest.
- Exhale to round your spine and bring your chin towards your chest to come into a seated cat pose. Close your elbows inwards and draw your navel in towards your spine. Make sure not to press your head down. You should feel a stretch throughout your upper back.
- Move with your breath to alternate between cat and cow for a total of 10 times.
Puppy Pose | 8 breaths
Finish the sequence with this relaxing pose that relieves chest tightness and puts your nerves at ease.
- Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees.
- Keep your hips stacked over your knees as you walk your hands towards the top of your mat. Lower your forehead down and extend your arms straight out in front of you.
- Close your eyes and relax here for 8 slow breaths. You should feel your chest, shoulders, and lats lengthening back out.