What is the ‘Heart Chakra’ ?
- But first, what is a ‘chakra‘ … just like we have a pump, the physical heart, for circulating our blood through our entire body, there are spinning wheels of energy in our invisible energetic field, which circulate the prana or life force throughout our energy channels or naadis (fun fact—apparently there are over 72,000 naadis in our body!).
- There are seven main chakras, starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head— each chakra nourishes the physical organs, nerves, glands, cells in its physical proximity.
- The ‘heart’ chakra or the ‘anahata‘ chakra is the fourth chakra and it is located in the chest region.
How the ‘Heart’ Chakra affects our Quality of Life
- This chakra serves as a bridge between our body, mind, emotions, and spirit. It is our source of love, joy, forgiveness and other positive emotions.
- A blockage in the energy flow of the heart chakra can manifest physically as upper back pain, shoulder pain, chest congestion, bronchitis, asthma, heart problems, breathing difficulty, breast tenderness and pain …
- At an emotional level, when this chakra is unbalanced or closed, it manifests as sadness, depression, despair, an inability to trust, anger, over sensitivity— all of which affect our personal relationships
- In fact, I remember years ago, when I used to practice pranic healing (and yoga to me at that time was mainly a way to remain physically fit), a young woman came to me complaining of severe chest congestion and infection which was not healing despite a long course of antibiotics.
- Her complaint was purely physical, yet when I started working on her, I sensed a lot of grief held inside her. I asked her, “have your experienced a loss recently?”
- She looked startled and broke down, sobbing. ” Yes, I lost my job a month ago…”
- I encouraged her to cry more as I kept working energetically. It was vital she release all the pent up pain causing the block in her heart chakra—that had manifested as the respiratory infection. She left feeling much better; and reported back in a few days that her infection had cleared up!
- Almost all of us have been hurt at some point or another in our lives, and when we are unable to accept or move on from these setbacks, they tend to fester in the heart chakra limiting our ability to enjoy and flow with life—so a open heart chakra is key to our quality of life
- In fact people like me, who are highly sensitive (in fact there is actually a term for it, HSP—the highly sensitive person) , are relatively more affected by our environment, people and situations and unless we nurture our heart chakras regularly and clean the plumbing, we often feel crappy and unable to let go of our hurt and emotions .
A Yoga Sequence to Heal your Heart Chakra
Over the years, I have discovered that Yoga is the most profound system for working on all the different layers of our being in a safe and gentle way. The beauty of Yoga is that it allows room for creativity and integration with other mindfulness based practices as well.
I am now sharing the main protocol I follow during my ‘Open Your Heart Chakra‘ workshop, as part of a self-help series.
The practice needs to be done slowly and mindfully, so pick a time when you will not be interrupted. (Tip: Keep a box of tissues handy!)
Step 1: Set your Sankalpa or Intention
- Begin with Shavasana, corpse pose for upto 5 minutes. Let go physically, emotionally and mentally.
- Sit up and adopt a comfortable seated posture with your eyes still closed
- Take your awareness to the centre of chest, feel the energy, notice any thoughts or feelings
- Ask yourself—what do I need to forgive myself for? What guilt, regret, anger, hatred am I carrying towards myself or for others? What relationships need healing?
- Make a firm intention to release all this baggage today
Step 2: Practice Mindful Breathing
- Tell yourself – I am worthy of forgiving myself and others , it is safe to forgive, I am allowed to forgive
- Practice abdominal breathing for a while
- With each exhalation intend to release– anger, shame, guilt, hatred towards yourself and others
- With each inhalation take-in love, acceptance and compassion towards yourself and others
Step 3: Choose an Affirmation and Do the Heart Chakra Yoga Sequence
- Choose an heart-based affirmation such as —I accept myself as I am, I unconditionally love myself, I am deeply loved by the universe, I am surrounded by love, it is safe to give and receive love
- Practice the following Heart Chakra yoga sequence slowly and with awareness of your breath and accompanying emotions and thoughts. Take frequent breaks of Shavasana in between as and when you feel necessary.
- Keep releasing any negative emotions that come up
- Cry if you feel like, let the tears flow freely and continue with your practice if you feel like
- Allow your body to guide you, there is no need to go through all the postures.
- Sometimes if we are fully present with the practice, just a few postures done mindfully can take us inward deeply.
- If you start feeling emotionally overwhelmed, it’s okay, stay with the process and keep focusing on the exhalation. Continue with another few postures and see how you feel. Chances are you will start feeling better. If not, do Shavasana and call it a day (resume the practice on another day)
- Do Shavasana for atleast 10 to 15 minutes
Step 4: Sit Silently in Dhyana, Meditation
- Focus on the heart centre and image a beautiful blooming lotus there
- Meditate on the image of the lotus flower for a while
- Close the session with gratitude to the prana, life force for nourshing and healing you
- Be sure to have a lot of water that day to clear out emotional toxins and be gentle with yourself as you go about your day—you could also practice journaling to practice any painful memories that rise up
Take care and do write in to let me know how it went for you.