Your heart chakra, located exactly where you think it is, is the center of unconditional love in your body.

An open, balanced heart chakra leads to gratitude for all that you are and have, a healthy, loving relationship with yourself and others, and the ability to give and receive love freely.

One of the ways to open and balance this important chakra is with heart-opening yoga poses.

Plus, these poses come with physical benefits as well as energetic ones. The open your chest, stretch and strengthen your upper back and shoulders, and improve your posture, among other benefits.

Read through the list of some of my favorite heart-opening yoga poses below, and give them a try to open yourself up to unconditional love.

1. Heart-to-Earth pose. Heart to earth pose, or puppy pose, not only opens your chest but also helps release tightness in your shoulders and upper back. Keep your arms stretching forward, palms firmly planted on your mat, or prop the arms up on blocks. To incorporate Anjali mudra, bring the palms to prayer overhead.

This pose also stimulates the energetic meridians of your bladder, heart, lungs, and stomach, improving the health and function of these specific organs.

2. Crescent lunge with bent elbows. You can opt to have your back knee lifted, for a more energizing version, or lowered, for a less intense version, in this pose. Bending your elbows to 90 degrees or deeper as you bend your back opens your heart chakra and feels great for your shoulders (as you can see in the photo to the right!)

3. Warrior 1 variation. Take warrior 1 pose with a shoulder opener to open both your heart and third eye chakras. Interlace your fingers behind your low back and slide your hands down your back leg as you gaze up at the ceiling. Don’t forget to breathe! (Pictured left).

4. Camel pose. This classic heart opener can feel very intense for some people, so don’t be afraid to modify! Instead of hands on the heels, you can bring them to your lower back or simply tuck your toes to bring your heels closer to your hands. If you have any sensitivity in your neck, keep your chin tucked instead of releasing your head back.

This can be a beautiful pose to incorporate some visualization into. As you inhale, imagine your breath flowing to a little green ball in the middle of your chest. As you exhale, the ball expands. With each exhale, the ball grows brighter and softer and bigger, until it envelopes your entire body with unconditionally loving energy.

5. Heart bench. This restorative pose is a heart opener and amazing back bend in one. All you need is two blocks! Set them up at different heights, the lower block running along the length of your spine right in between your shoulder blades, and the taller block right at the base of your skull to support your head.

6. Dancer’s pose. Open your heart and shoulders and stretch your thighs, belly, and hips while feeling like a queen in this pose named after the Hindu God, Shiva. This pose not only opens your heart chakra, but your sacral and solar plexus chakras as well.

7. Bow pose. Bow pose gets deep into your psoas as it opens your heart chakra, helping you release emotions energetically stored in the hips. These emotions can be really connected to your heart chakra, the center of love in your body, so releasing negative emotions holding you back also works to balance your heart chakra.

Which one of these is your favorite? Comment below and share how it makes you feel!