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During times of uncertainty, it’s easy to close off the heart. To brace emotionally, even physically—especially as the colder, darker days draw in. So we invite you to gently inquire, what or who could you open your beautiful heart to? Whether it be a person, a new healthy habit, or perspective. With a new year around the corner, it’s a pivotal time to reflect and begin anew. And while many aspects of life may feel in flux, look around you—yoga is still serving humanity in the way it’s always done. It is a practice that has withstood the test of time to deliver its gifts again and again.
Let’s dive into a beautiful heart opener, reverse prayer pose. A great pose to experiment with, either modify with fists if it’s inaccessible right now, or combine with tree pose, warrior I, or…explore!
Reverse Prayer Pose—Paschim Namaskarasana (PAH-sheem-NAH-mah-skar-AH-SUN-ah)
This heart-opening posture increases flexibility and strength in the arms, shoulders, and chest. The pose gets its name from the Sanskrit words paschim, meaning west, namaskar, meaning greeting, and asana, meaning pose.
Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
- Begin by standing in mountain pose (tadasana).
- Relax your shoulders and bend your knees slightly.
- Move your arms behind your back and join your palms together in a prayer position with fingertips facing downward.
- As you inhale, turn the fingertips inwards towards your spine and bring them to face upwards.
- Ensure that your knees are still slightly bent and your palms are pressed firmly together.
- Focus your gaze on one unmoving point and stay in the pose for 5-10 breaths.
- As you exhale, slowly turn your fingertips downward.
- Bring your arms to the sides of the body and slowly return to Mountain Pose.
- Opens the abdomen
- Stretches the upper back
- Stretches the shoulder joints and pectoral muscles
- Low blood pressure
- Arm or shoulder injury
Modifications and Variations
To modify: If placing the hands in a prayer position is not accessible, make a fist with both hands. Press your fists together with the top of the hands facing the sky.
To increase the challenge: Pull your elbows further back in space to increase the stretch.
Preparatory Poses and Follow-up Poses
- Sitting Half Spinal Twist | Ardha Matsyendrasana (Preparatory)
- Cobra Pose | Bhujangasana (Preparatory)
- Bow Pose | Dhanurasana Bow Pose (Preparatory or Follow-up)
- Standing Forward Bend | Prasarita Padahastasana (Follow-up)
While a regular yoga practice can result in improved health, know that it is not a substitute for medical treatment. It is important to learn and practice yoga under the supervision of a trained teacher. In the case of a medical condition, practice yoga after consulting a doctor.