Opening the Heart Chakra

woman sitting while showing heart sign hands

Anahata refers to the heart chakra, but is more accurately translated as “unstruck, unhurt, unbeaten.” Located in the center of the chest, it’s obvious why this is the home of our generosity, forgiveness and compassion. It’s the beginning of our higher selves, as well, at least in comparison to the lower chakras (root, sacral, and solar plexus, which are more about how we physically feel and manifest outwardly).

Heart Chakra Balance

Like any imbalance in the body, when the heart chakra is blocked or overactive, we feel it differently. It can make us ignore boundaries or be more self-centered, or lead to emotional meltdowns. But when our heart chakras are balanced, communication, love and empathy flow freely. We’re less focused on what others are doing or how they’re trying to make us feel. We’re resilient.

Sounds to Open Anahata

The heart chakra resonates to songs in the key of D or 639Hz frequency. Chanting “ya-hm” can also bring balance. In yoga classes, I like to integrate sounds like this throughout the class to help address emotions and sensations arising from the activation achieved through movement. It’s also ideal to create a mantra related to the heart chakra, which might not be spoken out loud, but is still powerful. Nature Sound Retreat has some great tips for creating a mantra integrating words of affirmation. A mantra focused on the feelings you want to evoke – forgiveness, loving kindness, whatever it might be – is a powerful way to open your heart.

Movement for the Heart Chakra

There are plenty of yoga postures that are known as ‘heart openers,’ but some allow for grounding at the same time to make them more accessible. And it’s for that reason that I prefer to use the Padma mudra and not the slightly more complex anahata mudra in classes, tool

To create Padma mudra, start with hands at heart center in classic Anjali mudra or prayer hands. Keeping your thumbs and pinkies tight together, allow your other fingers to fan out, creating a lotus-like shape. According to Yoga Journal, Padma mudra:

  • Inspires purity and perseverance by representing the lotus flower floating above the muddy waters of desire, fear, and attachment
  • Reminds you of the natural beauty of your soul
  • Calms the mind

When it comes to yoga postures that open the heart chakra, I lean toward accessibility for framing sequences. Many heart openers are also considered peak postures because they’re usually intense backbends, meaning that it takes a a focused sequence to warm up the proper muscles and blueprint the movement effectively. Here are a few less intense heart openers to think about:

  • Cobra pose
  • Up dog
  • Bridge
  • Fish
  • Bow
  • Camel
  • Wild Thing

Movement is essential to feeling good about ourselves. It’s something I struggle to find in my sedentary lifestyle, but one of my goals is to increase my movement going forward.

Meditating on Anahata

I love this meditation from Wanderlust focusing on the heart chakra:

Interlace your fingers together, and place your palms over your own sternum. Close your eyes. Connect to the rise and fall of your breath.

See if you can feel and sense your own heartbeat, a constant rhythm that you live by, and can live from. Imagine your heart beating in your mind’s eye. As you sit here connected to the beating of your heart, this is your contemplation:

If you were to dissect your heart, to divide it into cells, each of those individual cells would beat independently. Now, imagine dropping one of your heart cells in a dish.

Now, imagine adding a cell from each of the hearts of those you love most in this world. Imagine that we also add a cell from those that you once loved but no longer do, or were once close to but no longer are.

Now, imagine adding a cell from each person who has crossed your path and shared a little bit of themselves with you, from the yogis you take class with to the check-out person at your grocery store to the man you sat next to on the plane to your neighbors, both the ones you like and the ones you dislike. From those living and those dead.

Imagine there is one cell from every person you ever encountered in this dish and each is beating on its own. You slide the dish under a microscope to observe the cells, and after some time, you witness something… the cells begin to shift until they all beat as one. And all of a sudden, you have one breathing, living organism pulsing with the beat of your life. Hearts have a pull on one another to beat in sync, in unity. 

If this is true, you can consider that because your heart is in such close proximity to the people around you, that your hearts have a gentle pull on one another. That your hearts are now connected.

And then, this sense of connection may ripple out, until you feel connected to anyone you’ve encountered, and then all of those who have encountered those people, and it continues. And now, you are connected to everyone.

And because we share this earth with one another, all of our hearts are connected. They all yearn to beat as one.

Finding Balance

These are some of the things I’m integrating into my chakra cleansing series. What elements do you like to incorporate?

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