The heart chakra or Anahata (Sanskrit for Unstruck) is the fourth chakra of seven in the body. The Anahata connects the flow of Chi between our lower and upper chakras. This complex chakra unites what seems opposite, integrating spirit and matter, healing both our emotions and our energy, uniting the masculine and feminine, bringing us back to the idea of harmony, love and connection.
The heart chakra is located at the center of your chest bone, and radiates back to your spine, between your shoulder blades. Anahata’s element is air and is associated with breath, movement and flow, and physically relates to your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, as well as your thymus, a primary lymphoid.
Spiritually, this chakra relates to compassion and connection, to love and intimacy, and to our ability to give and receive. Symptoms that correlate with an unbalanced chakra include having a hard time practicing regular self-care or setting boundaries, feeling isolated or unworthy, closing oneself off due to mistrust of others, or being hyper or hypo empathetic.
Balancing your Anahata can be a great part of healing old wounds and can even allow for grief. This chakra can be painful to work on, but healing from heartache can truly begin when we follow the breath in heart-opening practices. Since this chakra is incredibly complex, it is best to approach this journey of healing with a gentle attitude of “how can I love myself through improvement?” instead of “what do others think?”. A balanced chakra allows for a healthy sense of altruism and love of self that does not have to bend to social expectations.
Through each pose, lead with your heart instead of your head and envision a green light expanding from the center of your chest bone and radiating through the rest of your body. As always, allow your breath to be your guide.
- Cat/Cow to encourage balance and syncing in with your breath.
- Sun Salutation B to encourage the healthy flow of energy through your body.
- Your favorite bind or half-bind, to massage your inner organs.
- Camel pose to encourage circulation and to allow deep-rooted emotions to resurface through your upper chakras.
- Bridge, or your favorite backbend, to calm the mind and open your shoulders.
- Reclined cobbler pose. This is one of my favorite restorative poses, because it promotes a flow of calm through your body. You can do this pose supported with a bolster or blocks between your shoulder blades to further lift the heart. You may choose to end your practice in this pose accompanied by meditation.
Pranyama and meditation
- For breathwork, try Nadi Shodhana Pranyama or alternate nostril breathing.
- Affirmations to use for meditation: I love myself, I love others… I forgive myself, I forgive others… I accept myself, I accept others.