Opening your Heart to Living with Passion; Connecting with the Anahata Chakra
Chakras are a spiritually important place existing in the subtle body, where it is believed that energy is pulsating. This is a powerful metaphor that can enhance our lives, because when an area of our life is imbalanced, we can take action by focusing on the chakras.
There are seven main chakras in the body which run along a line from the coccyx to the crown of the head. The heart chakra is the fourth one, in between the solar plexus and the throat chakras.
The Heart Chakra
This energy center is located in the middle of the chest, right between the sternum and the back of the shoulder blades, where the heart is. It is also called the Anahata Chakra, which in Sanskrit means ‘unstuck’ or ‘unhurt’.
When our heart chakra is open, we can live a life where we love fearlessly and freely. The heart chakra is about compassion, inner beauty, and love. This is not to be confused with only romantic love, but rather a love of life, of Mother Earth, nature, of ourselves and yes, other people.
Its unique color is green, and it is an air element, further showing its strong link to the natural world. It is associated with passion and joy for life itself. There are many ways in which we can connect with the heart chakra and, in doing so, increase joy. The heart chakra encourages us to approach challenging situations with optimism, kindness, and understanding . So, the next time you are in a funk that you can’t shake, or you want to enhance your mood, try working with the heart chakra.
Connecting with the Heart Chakra
There are many different ways to connect and open the heart chakra. These include mantras, yoga poses, meditations, crystals, and essential oils. These can be combined to enhance their effect.
There are some beautiful mantras that are specifically for opening the heart chakra. While chanting them, visualize the area where the heart chakra lies. Picture a healthy, glowing green light emanating from the center of your chest.
Some specific mantras include:
- Yam: This is the ‘seed’, or single syllable mantra of the heart. When chanted, recite aloud so that the vibrations can be felt in the heart. Focus the mind on opening the heart chakra and being open to possibilities.
- Ong So Hum: This translates to ‘The collective consciousness, I am that.’ It is about recognizing the connection with the universal creative consciousness, honoring your creative power and appreciating the power and beauty in all beings.
There are hundreds of different heart opening poses in yoga. Basically, any asana which broadens the collarbones and opens up the chest is a heart opening pose. You should always include a few in any sequence or yoga practice. While performing these asanas, keep the mind/body connection by focusing all attention on the heart chakra and visualizing it opening wider and creating more space.
Poses to stimulate the heart chakra include:
- Bow Pose (Dhanurasana): This is one of the more intense and strong heart openers. Lie face down on the belly. Bend the knees so that the soles of your feet face the ceiling and bring your arms behind you to hold the ankles. Do not let the knees splay to the sides. Press the feet into the hands to create a lift, which in turn, will create a beautiful opening across the chest, making space for the heart to open.
- Camel Pose (Ustrasana): Again, this is an intense pose, but there are lots of variations, so it can be adapted to any level of your practice. Kneel on your mat with knees hip distance apart. With a long spine, reach your arms behind your back so your hands may hold the heels. Instead of simply bending the back, imagine your chest lifting up to face the ceiling. This makes for a really deep opening, creating space for the lungs. Breathe deeply through this pose. There is the option to tuck the toes under to lift the heels a little higher, making the pose a little less intense. You can do one arm at a time to make it gentler still.
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): This is a gentle heart opener and a nice one to include at the beginning of your practice to warm up the chest. To do this pose, lie on the belly with the hands under the shoulders. Gently lift up through the crown of the head. Make sure the toes stay on the ground, actively pressing into your mat. Inhale deeply and enjoy.
Essential oils help to anchor us in the present moment and can have a powerful effect on our feelings. Warm these oils in a diffuser or mix with a carrier oil and apply to the skin (always do so with great care, as some oils can be too strong to apply directly). These oils have earthy undertones, including florals that occur in nature. Some specific oils include:
- Ylang Ylang
I love to blend oils together to enhance their healing qualities. Try mixing rose and neroli for a nice heart chakra mix, or jasmine, ylang ylang, and rose for an earthy and floral mix. Feel free to play around with blends and find one that you love.
Having gemstones nearby can also be a great way to connect with the heart chakra. There are many different specific crystals that can be used to connect with Anahata. As the heart chakra is green, some common crystals that are associated with the heart chakra include:
When to Invoke the Heart Chakra
When the chakra is ‘blocked’ so to speak, we feel like we cannot live passionately, because we cannot connect with others and the world around us. Situations may seem hopeless or wholly negative. We feel alone in the world and may tend to isolate ourselves.
When we feel like this, using tools like yoga, meditation, and essential oils can help us set a solid intention. Our intention is to rediscover passion, to find beauty in nature and people, and above all, be kinder to ourselves. When you find compassion, don’t forget to fill your cup first; this doubles the love you’re capable of pouring into the world. This is the power of the heart chakra.
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Stephanie Johnson, CYI, Yogini Soul Staff Writer, is an elementary school teacher, yoga teacher, meditation student and writer. She is looking for ways to explore this beautiful, crazy life that we have been gifted and to live it with meaning. Stephanie fell in love with yoga as a teenager and has since traveled across the globe in search of gaining knowledge and experiences to deepen her understanding of yoga, from her home country of Australia, to India and across Asia, to Chile, in South America, where she now lives with her partner and two sons. Connect with her on Instagram.