The Heart Chakra
Cue my favorite chakra of them all, Anahata. Or as it may be more commonly known as the 4thChakra. This chakra, located at the center of the chest, acts as bridge between the lower and upper chakras and when balanced, only then is it appropriate to explore the upper chakras that are associated with the higher mental and spiritual elements of ourselves. This appropriately symbolizes the integrating and unifying principle of this chakra that creates wholeness. The main themes of this chakra are pure and unconditional love, connection and (natural) beauty. The air element associated with this chakra is air, representing the spaciousness, connecting, and dispersing (love) energy of this chakra.
Name, Symbol & Meaning
Anahata, a Sanskrit term, can be translated as “unstruck place” which is also provides a beautiful metaphor for our heart that send the message that it remains ultimately unhurt or whole regardless of our personal experiences and beliefs. This chakra is also sometimes referred to as the “heart center”.
The heart chakra is associated with the color green and its symbol consists of two intersecting equilateral triangles that form a 6-pointed star within a circle surrounded by 12 petals. The intersecting triangles represent the unifying quality of the heart chakra – the unification of opposite energies and elements – male/female, lower/upper chakras etc. and re-enforces the integrative and connecting function of this chakra that exudes and supports its harmonious nature. Although the color associated with this chakra is often green, sometimes the 12-petals can be represented with a red color.
The Heart Chakra & The Physical Body
The heart chakra is generally believed to be located at the centre of the chest between the breasts (more centralized than our physical heart, residing slightly to the left of it).
It is associated with the cardiac and respiratory systems; whose function is strongly dependent on air and the proper function of breath. The heart chakra is also associated with the thymus gland, which is involved with the regulation of the immune system. Proper functioning of these physiological systems within our body require the connection and integration of several different tissues and organs within the body.
Associations, Functions & Characteristics
Seed (Bij) Sound: “YAM”
Key Themes:Capacity to love (ourselves and others), connection/integration, unconditional love, transcending personal identity and limitations of the ego, heart-centered discernment, appreciation of beauty in all things, deep & meaningful relationships, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, affection and devotion.
Physcial Association:heart, lungs, hands, arms, circulatory and respiratory systems.
Imbalance in the heart chakra often occurs as a result of events that involve a strong emotional trigger. In general, imbalance of the heart chakra, if not associated with a physical ailment or disease will often affect a persons capacity to love within various degrees. The following are just some ways in which a heart chakra imbalance might manifest itself:
Physical Effects of Anahata Chakra Imbalance:
· Circulatory and heart-related disease;
· Respiratory diease or dysfunction.
· Physically guarded or turned inwards
Emotional, Psychological & Spiritual Effects of Anahata Imbalance:
· Fear of intimacy;
· Feeling closed down or emotionally guarded;
· Being overly defensive;
· People-pleasing at the expense on one’s self;
· Seeking approval from others;
· Continuously playing the savior or victim role;
· Inability to forgive;
· Being antisocial or reclusive
Using affirmations during meditation or any other mindfulness practice is an effective way to address heart chakra issues and imbalance. Any affirmations that include any of the themes associated with the heart chakra will be very effective. Here are a few examples that you can use:
Ø I am open to give and receive love;
Ø I forgive myself and others;
Ø I accept all people/things as they are;
Ø I feel grateful;
Ø I recognize the beauty of nature;
Ø I am connected with all other human beings and living things.
Asanas for the Heart Chakra
The heart chakra really benefits from asana that involve opening up the front of the chest – backbends are especially effective. One of my favorite asana to practice to work on my heart chakra is Natarajasana (dancer’s pose). Dhanurasana strengthens the body and works as both a balancing pose and a heart-opener; and even though this pose targets the whole body, it’s especially effective in opening up the front of the chest to shine the heart forward. Dancers pose also strengthens the feet, ankles, legs, core, back and arms, stretches the abdomen, hip flexors and shoulders and improves balance and concentration.
Step-by-step instruction for Dancer’s Pose:
· Begin in Tadasana (Mountain pose).
· Press firmly and evenly through your feet and find your drishti point (focused gaze).
· Exhale bend your left knee, bringing your left foot to your buttock, and hold the outside of your left foot with your left hand. Firm your right hip in and engage your right thigh and knee to make the standing leg strong. Ensure both hips are square and facing forward.
· Keep your torso upright, your chest open and lengthen your tailbone down. As you inhale, push the left foot back into the hand, raising the leg so your thigh bone ends up parallel to the floor and the lower leg in a right angle with the thigh bone and vertical with the floor. You can lift your right arm up in front of you, parallel to the floor or a little higher next to the ear.
· Stay for 5-10 breaths.
· To come out of the pose, release the leg as you exhale. Repeat on the other side.
· If your balance is not great you can try doing this pose near a wall
· To help you get into the full expression of the pose, you can use a belt. Loop the belt around your left foot. Make sure the strap comes over your shoulder from the back. Then walk your hands down the belt, elbows pointing to the ceiling, hands behind the back, slowly lifting the foot.
· Locking the knee of the standing leg. You can keep a micro-bend in the knee to avoid this.
· This is a strong backbend, and this requires the body to be properly warmed up and prepared. Some prepatory poses for Dancer’s pose include other backbends such as: cobra, locust, sphinx, bow pose.
· You can hold onto your bent leg with both hands, to intensify the opening in the chest. However, your balance needs to be good for this.
· You can try to hold the foot from the inside - this changes the stretch in the shoulder slightly.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.