My public classes have just completed a week of exploring the anahata or heart chakra. In case you missed these experiential sessions on the anahata chakra, here are some highlights:
General Overview: You are capable of creating a sense of balance, compassion, and loving awareness through activating and balancing your anahata chakra. The anahata chakra is the energy center of the body that asserts that you area capable of healing wounds and giving/receiving love and gratitude. This chakra can be balanced by acknowledging whether you tend to give more love than your receive (or vice versa) and allowing yourself to receive more love (or give more). An in-balance anahata chakra allows you to deeply accept yourself and others and bring awareness into your actions. Balancing this chakra can also combat feelings of jealousy, unhappiness, and attachments to old wounds.
The anahata chakra asserts that “I AM LOVED, and I LOVE!”.
The anahata chakra rules the heart, circulatory system, thymus gland, and hands. It’s related to the color green, the element air, and the planet Venus.
To activate the anahata chakra through yoga, practice opening the heart (front and back). Is to strengthen the shoulders and practice a cat/cow style spinal movement in various postures. A great way to start is to sit on the ground and inhale to open the arms wide. On the exhale, round the spine and draw the arms together, like you’re hugging a giant beach ball. Repeat on the breath for several rounds. Doing this movement will help you open the front and back of the heart, ultimately finding balance.
15 minute home practice to activate the anahata chakra:
Centering exercise: Start in a seated position with the hands in padma mudra (start with palms together and then keep the pinky and thumbs pressing together, but open the other fingers wide). Close the eyes and bring focus to the breath for several rounds of breathing. Next, as you inhale, envision bright, lovely light coming from all directions and residing in your heart. This heart light begins to glow with a green tint that brings a sense of peace and a sense of balance. With each breath, feel the balance between receiving light as you inhale and giving light as you exhale. By accepting the light, you are adding to it and radiating it out from your heart. Continue this breathing for several rounds. If you find this light visualization helpful, you can continue to use it throughout your practice.
Warm up: In a seated position, inhale the arms wide, opening the heart, and on your exhale round the spine and make a motion like you’re hugging a beachball, feeling the low belly draw up and in. Continue for several rounds of breath, pausing anywhere that feels good to you.
Come to hands and knees and flow through several rounds of cat/cow on the breath. Take care to notice the mobility of the shoulders around the heart. Lift the hips to downward facing dog. Inhale the right leg up and draw it forward to rise into warrior one. In warrior one, take several moments to roll the shoulders. Then, draw the hands behind the head to help the shoulder blades move together. Keeping this shoulder placement, engage the core as you lean back and lift the heart. Return to downward facing dog and repeat on side two.
Activate: Starting on your right side, come to anjaneyasana. Activate the muscles from the feet all the way up through the core, and then draw the hands behind the head, lifting the heart up toward the sky, while keeping the spine long. Lift the arms and hold for at least 30 seconds.
On an exhale, bring palms together and twist toward the forward (right) leg. Hold for several breaths and then lift the hips, making your way to pyramid position. Create length in the spine, and begin to fold, leading with the heart. Hold for at least 30 seconds before taking a twist. After several breaths, return to downward facing dog and repeat on the left side.
Lift the right leg and step into warrior two. Activate the muscles from the feet up through the abdomen, and spend a moment rolling the shoulders into a comfortable position on the back. This is a good time to do a cat/cow motion through your spine. After several breaths, bring stillness to your warrior two, drawing your hands together behind your head, like you’re reclining. Keeping this arm position, reverse your warrior for two breaths and then move toward parsvakonasana, keeping your arms behind the head. With each inhalation, create length in your spine, and with each exhalation, twist from your core, opening your heart more toward the ceiling. After 30 seconds or more, release the arms, straighten the front leg, and move to triangle. In triangle, continue to lengthen on the inhale and twist on the exhale.
Next, come to your knees. Inhale the spine long, and as you exhale, move into camel, pressing the hips forward and the heart skyward. Hold for several breaths and repeat up to three times.
Integrate: Come to a seated position and draw the feet together for butterfly. With each inhale create length in the spine, and as you exhale, relax and tilt the pelvis forward slightly, until you feel a stretch. Hold for at least 30 seconds.
Lay onto your back. Bend the right knee and draw it in toward the chest. On an exhale, draw the leg across the body for a twist, keeping the right shoulder drawing toward the floor. Allow the abdomen to totally relax. Repeat on the left side. Hug the knees in toward the chest for several rounds of breath. As you release toward savasana, take three rounds of deep inhalations and sigh them out. Rest for at least two minutes in this posture. (Optional: try a final rest with your back laying over a bolster, shoulders descending toward the floor. Feet can be in butterfly or out long.)