This week we continue our journey through the chakras continuing with the 4th chakra, or heart chakra. The heart chakra is situated in the center of the chest at the height of the thymus gland (behind the sternum). In Sanskrit this chakra is called Anahata, meaning ‘infinite’, ‘unhurt’ or ‘boundless’. The heart is the bridge between the lower triangle (the root, sacral and solar plexus chakras) and the upper triangle (throat, third eye and crown chakras). The heart chakra is related to being able to love yourself, being able to give and receive (love) with equal ease, feeling kindness and compassion for yourself and others, and feeling a general sense of belonging and trusting in your heart as an inner compass. It generally correlates to development from age 21- 28, historically the ages where we begin to form love bonds with those outside our family.
The heat chakra governs the heart, lungs, arms, hands and thymus. The element associated with Anahata chakra is air. It’s all about space and feeling t infinite, like the sky. It’s the door to our inner temple, our soul, the infinite part of ourselves. It’s where we transcend ourselves and the world. Its color is green, and its chant is YANG.
An imbalance of the heart chakra can be experienced as loneliness and separation, feeling like you don’t belong or fit in, or feeling disconnected. If you have grown up in an unloving environment or have been in an unloving relationship for a while, you may develop the sense that you’re not worthy of love. This could manifest itself as cold-heartedness towards yourself and/or others. At the other end of the scale, it could develop into an overactive people-pleasing attitude, willing to do anything for anyone for some attention or approval, to the detriment of your needs and wants. And carrying that to its logical conclusion, another imbalance often found in this chakra is resentment. When someone really hurts you, it hits you in the heart. If you cannot let go and forgive, you’re left with this weight on your heart that seems to be always present (a heavy heart). Sometimes we want to let go mentally, but emotionally we don’t seem to be able to shake the negative feelings, attitudes and habits. Most people can relate to this and I for sure have been there. Grief in all its forms resides in the heart chakra.
So, what can we do to bring it back into balance?
I know you’re sitting there and thinking, how the heck can yoga help me with grief, sadness, or feelings of unworthiness? Speaking from the heart ( no pun intended), it’s possible, but you need to be patient and kind with yourself. You need to be loving TO YOURSELF. And recognize that loving yourself through the process is an important step.
The heart chakra can also be aided by focusing on its element, air. Placing oneself in environments which have a strong sense of open space and fresh air could be highly beneficial — bonus points for a natural abundance of the color green! Plus, getting in touch with nature in general often has a freeing mental and emotional effect.
Meditation has been a huge lifesaver for me here. In the last year there have been plenty of things that can throw your heart chakra out of balance, and I for one, dealt with the death of a relationship, the death of a best friend, and a myriad of other things related to that, never mind a global pandemic, which had us all mourn so many things we missed in our lives.
I’ve used mantras such as :
I am blessed with abundance
I am worthy of love
I forgive myself and others
What is meant for me will not miss me
I know when to say no, so I can say yes to myself.
I can give and share without expectation.
And on my mat, I focused on heart opening poses, such as Ustrasana ( Camel), Natarajasana ( Dancer), Dhanurasana( Bow), Supta Badakonasana ( Supine Bound Angle) and Urdva Mukha Svanasana Upward Facing Dog) to slowly open my heart back up. It wasn’t easy, but day by day I started to feel better.
And during class, one of our teachers, Kat Wheatley, said something that will always stick with me, and really allowed me to let go of everything I was holding in : “ No feeling is final” . Such a simple phrase, but so very powerful.
So, remember that both the good and bad times are impermanent, so try and hold on to the good, and when you’re on the other side, remember, this too shall pass. Because once balanced, you feel loving, empathetic, open-hearted, serene, emotionally balanced, trustful and loved. If we can remain in touch with our hearts to do all things with love, the world and the people around us will be that much better for it.
So, this week’s assignment is think of three things to be grateful for every day, even if it’s just your bed, coffee and the sun rising. There’s something about thankfulness that seems to make the heart radiate love and positive energy and incorporating a habit such as reflecting or writing about gratitude every day is a powerful way to keep the heart chakra in alignment.
Until next week- see you on your mats,