Working at a desk can create extreme stress in the body, especially in the chest and shoulders. Tension in the chest and shoulders not only takes its toll on how you look, but also can cause extreme pain. The muscles in your chest and shoulders when in fixed positions for long periods of time are in constant contraction, and often spasm. Furthermore, the aches navigate their way up to your neck, head, and face, causing even more trouble. The more you practice Yoga, the more you will realize how important it is that you try and keep your chest as open as possible. This will help alleviate pain and bring breath and prana (life force) into these most critical areas of the body.
Also, you might notice that you will feel more joyful, less in pain, and well, taller! The benefits of yoga chest openers are both physical and psychological. Chest openers, also called heart openers or back bends, counteract the all-too-familiar postures of hunching over a computer or steering wheel. By lifting your heart, moving your shoulders back and lengthening the front and back of your body, you decrease back pain and shoulder tightness, and improve your spirits.
Opening the chest helps to tone the spine and increase the breathing capacity of the lungs. It relieves tightness in the back and shoulders. Chest openers provide extra help for women, according to Sadhana Yoga, including regulating menstrual flow, relieving cramps and preventing prolapsed of the uterus. Men and women will both benefit from increased blood circulation and stimulation of the thyroid, pineal and pituitary glands.
So why we I have not always been opening my chest as fully as I am able? Well, for example, in some twists my emphasis may have been to try and catch my hands behind my back, even though I could feel it was collapsing one side of my chest. Of course there are a few poses like Malasana (the garland) where the chest will not be fully expanded. But now I feel it is my priority to be able to breathe properly – and that means having an open chest. Our lungs can lose their elasticity if we do not exercise them fully. This brings about fatigue and other health problems.