When the “Anahata” or heart chakra is balanced, you will find compassion, which in itself brings kindness and goodwill towards yourself and those around you – loved ones, family members, friends, colleagues, or complete strangers. There is a sense of contentment, happiness, and inner peace.
You will have met someone like this, who just oozes calmness and serenity, they smile and the world around them smiles. Their happiness is contagious and fabulously settling and good for the soul.
When the energy of your heart chakra is flowing well, you feel grounded in your lower chakra, yet free as a bird. You are able to love without expectations and attachment, from a place of unconditional understanding.
By opening the heart chakra you are instantly increasing your self-respect and opening yourself up to love and a positive outlook on life.
Keeping your heart chakra in balance requires an ongoing commitment. By seeking freedom in the heart chakra, you remain open to finding a true connection with yourself and at a deeper level within your relationships.
What is the heart chakra?
In Sanskrit, the heart chakra is called Anahata, which means “unstruck” or “unhurt.” Its name implies that deep beneath our personal stories of brokenness and the pain in our heart, there is wholeness, boundless love, and a wellspring of compassion.
The heart chakra is associated with universal and unconditional love, compassion, empathy, tolerance, acceptance of oneself, and acceptance of others. It also links with trust, forgiveness, stability, and emotional empowerment.
Where is my heart chakra?
The heart chakra rests in the center of the chakra system. Its physical location is the heart, upper chest, and upper back, and it governs the heart, rib cage, lungs, diaphragm, and breasts.
Sprinkling of signs of emotional imbalance in the heart chakra:
- Problems enjoying satisfying emotional relationships
- Inability to balance giving and taking
- Feelings of bitterness, jealousy, and anxiety
- Making excessive demands on others to compensate for the lack of love one feels
- Struggle to find a way of expressing what one feels
Sprinkling of signs of a balanced heart chakra:
- Selfless love and compassion
- Abundance of compassion, kindness, and goodwill
- Sense of calmness and contentment
- Love makes the world go round.
Most of us at some point in our lives have experienced heartache or disappointment. It hurts and causes feelings of distrust, and a nervousness to let people get close to us again. We build up a wall around our heart, while shutting down emotionally.
It may not be a romantic relationship, it could stem from a friendship or family experience. Either way, when we find ourselves with a dependence on others for our happiness, the heart chakra is at risk.
While people with deficient heart chakra need to open to receive love more fully, those with excessive heart chakra find healing by slowing down to discover inside themselves the nourishment they have been seeking from others.
Awaken the heart chakra with yoga.
In many of these poses, the heart is positioned higher than the head. It’s wonderfully refreshing to let the mind drop away from the top position and instead lead with the heart.
1. Cat/Cow Pose
Cat PoseCredit: Caroline Layzell
Start in Table Top, shoulders directly above wrists, hips over knees.
Inhale and arch back (cow), extending chest and heart away from belly, reaching tailbone to sky.
Exhale and curl through the spine (cat), draw belly into spine, separating shoulder blades.
Repeat 5 to 10 times.
2. Cobra Pose
Lie on stomach, hands positioned next to your chest, legs extended behind you.
Inhale lift the head, chest, and ribs, extend the heart forward, and draw the shoulders together and away from your ears.
Keep a gentle bend in elbows.
Hold for 3 breaths.
3. Warrior I
Warrior 1Credit: Caroline Layzell
From Mountain Pose, step left leg back one leg length turning the foot to a 45-degree angle. Bring a gentle bend into the right knee, bringing knee above ankle.
Turn hips to be parallel to top of your mat.
Raise arms to the sky, palms facing each other, while expanding and lifting the heart to the sky.
Hold for 5 breaths.
4. Camel Pose
Camel poseCredit: Caroline Layzell
Bring the knees hip width apart.
Place hands on lower back for support. Inhale and lift your heart upwards, as you reach your hips forward to rest against an imaginary wall.
Draw your shoulders back and together as you slowly reach your fingertips towards your heels.
With control, slowly lower head back.
Hold for 3 breaths, and then lower to Child’s Pose. Repeat 3 times.
5. Reclined Cobbler Pose
Reclined CobblerCredit: Caroline Layzell
Lay on mat, bringing soles of feet together while dropping knees gently either side of the body.
Turn palms to face the sky, or rest one hand on your heart and one on your belly.
Lengthen through spine and melt into the ground.
Bring a block or bolster between shoulder blades, allowing head to fall towards the mat.
Stay here as long as you like.
BridgeCredit: Julia Lee
Lie on your back, bend knees and place feet hip width apart. You should be able to touch heels with fingertips.
Inhale bring hips toward the sky. Interlace fingers beneath hips, drawing shoulder blades together.
Expand and extend the heart.
Hold for 10 breaths, lower, repeat 3 times.
To modify, come into Full Wheel (see main article photo above).
The heart chakra is ruled by the air element and so exploring pranayama helps to open the heart chakra.
Alternative Nostril Breathing
Bring your right thumb to cover the right nostril, take a slow inhale. Close left nostril with third finger, and exhale through the right nostril.
Close right nostril with thumb, inhale through left nostril. Close left nostril and open right, and exhale.
Continue for as long as you like.