Connecting with how we love others and ourselves.

Over the last few articles, we’ve started an exploration of the chakras, the energy centers of the body. There’s thought to be seven main energy centers, which each connect to a different part of our lives, bodies and a “different consciousness”. As we go about our yoga practise, considering these chakras may offer a new avenue for connecting with our minds, bodies and energy. The next chakra, the fourth, is the one considered the midpoint between “mundane domains of existence” and the “higher levels”, which means examining the heart chakra, and the ones which come after will take us further from our physical connection to the earth and our body, and into a different type of consideration. 

The Heart Chakra

The fourth chakra is known as the heart chakra or the anahata chakra. The chakras name, anahata, means unstuck, which as explained by Michelle Fondin for Chopra“implies that beneath the hurts and grievances of past experiences lies a pure and spiritual place where no hurt exists”. Thus, if there is to be a place where only love and not hurt exists, potentially placing a focus on the heart chakra is what is able to get one in connection with this place. While it might be named for the heart, it is actually located just above and more in the center of the chest. In addition to the heart it includes the thymus gland, lungs, cardiac plexus, lungs, breasts, and lymphatic system. The heart chakra is connected with the color green, the element air, and the symbol of a lotus with a six pointed star in a circle with twelve petals. 

The Importance of the Heart Chakra

Like all the other chakras we have discussed thus far, there are thought to be important effects to our bodies and selves which can be felt when the heart chakra is blocked or unblocked. The main domains of the heart chakra are love, acceptance, and trust, three areas which hold importance in many, if not all of our lives. The state of your heart chakra might affect your ability to feel these emotions, or to give these emotions. As described by Yoga Basics, the heart chakra ideally allows for “unconditional love”. Whether you feel like you have an abundance of love in your life, or whether you are looking to find more love or become more confident in your ability to give love, you may want to consider the effects of the heart chakra. 

Again, like all the chakras, there can also be negative effects felt if the chakra is blocked, or over or underactive. In the heart chakra, these would likely manifest as the opposite of love, which you might think of as hate. The opposite of love in this chakra is often also described as fear.  Physically, you might find a blockage of this chakra to connect to circulation, blood pressure, or effects in your heart, lungs, chest, or arms. You might also find some mental or emotional connections in this time, which could be categorized as those which come from feeling a lack of mutual love with others or a fear that you won’t be loved, such as jealousy and loneliness. 

Unblocking your Heart Chakra

If you think that you could benefit from balancing your heart chakra, there’s multiple avenues to pursue which are thought to bring you closer to having a balanced heart chakra. During your yoga practise, focus on poses which open your chest and heart, and which bring energy to this area. This might include fish pose, pigeon pose, camel pose, puppy dog pose, or wheel pose for example. Mind Body Green explains visualization as an important tool for opening the heart chakra, especially if used along with ta mudra or hand gestures. Your diet may also be considered, as you can show yourself love through the self care of nourishing food, with a special focus on green foods and tea, or “heart opening beverages”. As explained in Chopra, “the best way to receive love is to give it” also, so if you are working on inviting more love into your life, try giving love to yourself and to others. Feel free to ask your yoga teacher next time you’re in class if there are ways you can modify your class to focus on your heart chakra, and focus on loving yourself and others as you go about your days.