Anney in a Wild Thing yoga posture which awakens the heart chakra, in a green and grassy area.

Awakening the Heart

Today, we dive into the profound realm of the heart chakra, a sacred energy centre that holds the key to unlocking the vast potential of love, compassion, courage and connection within ourselves.  Read on for more on Awakening the Heart.

Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu‘- May all Beings Everywhere be Happy and Free, and may My own Thoughts, Words and Actions Contribute to this Happiness and Freedom for All.

The Anahata Chakra, A Gateway to Love

The heart chakra, or Anahata, is the fourth energy centre in the chakra system, situated at the centre of the chest. 

Anahata translates as ‘unstuck’ or ‘unhurt’ and symbolises a pure, eternal, and unchanging resonance. In the context of the heart chakra, Anahata represents a state of inner harmony, love, and balance that is untouched by external influences.

Emotionally, physically, and spiritually, the heart chakra is a powerful vortex of energy that serves as a bridge between the lower, more grounded chakras and the higher, ethereal realms.

Unveiling Love and Compassion

The heart chakra is associated with love, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, kindness and courage. When this energy centre is in balance, we experience a profound sense of unconditional love for ourselves and others. It is a space where judgment and resentment dissolve, making room for compassion to flow freely. The heart chakra invites us to embrace our authentic emotions and cultivate a compassionate heart.

You, yourself, as much as anyone else deserve your love and affection and when we connect to this space, we can begin to accept every aspect of ourselves with kindness, gentleness and unconditional love. The heart chakra is a place of knowing. Of knowing that we are loving, we are loved, we are perfect and we are whole. As we connect to our heart, we can notice how we think, speak and act to ourselves and to all others around us. We can observe where we can invite in more kindness and where we can let ourselves flow rather than resist.

Backbend or heart opener?

As a yoga teacher, I find the word ‘backbend’ can trigger a strong reaction of fear in people, including myself so I prefer to say ‘Heart Opener’ or ’Spinal Extension’  a ‘lengthening’ of the spine rather than a ‘bend’ and the implications of ‘hinging’ that the word carries.

I often guide my students through heart-opening poses, especially to counter the hunching of shoulders and upper-back all day long. Physically, these poses involve arching the spine backward, expanding the chest, and lifting the heart towards the sky. This exposes the front of the body, including the heart centre, which can create a feeling of vulnerability. In these moments, emotions may surface, providing an opportunity for release and healing. I remind them to breathe into the vulnerability that arises.

Why vulnerability?

When we look at awakening the heart, we need to also focus on our spine. The spine is considered the energetic highway of the body. Opening the heart stimulates the flow of energy along the spine, and this can bring to the surface stored emotions and tension. These moments provide an opportunity for release and healing.

Heart Openers encourage us to be courageous and to face our fears. Have you ever noticed your heart racing in Wheel (urdhva dhanurasana) or Bow pose(dhanurasana). They require us to trust in the strength and flexibility of our own bodies. The fear of falling or injuring ourself can also trigger a sense of vulnerability. The process of facing and overcoming these fears is an essential aspect of personal growth in yoga.

The back, especially the thoracic spine, tends to accumulate tension and stress. Heart Openers work to release this tension, but the process can be uncomfortable. As physical tension is released, emotional tension may also surface, making practitioners feel vulnerable.

The chest area is often considered a vulnerable and sensitive area. Societal norms and expectations around posture, especially for women, may contribute to a sense of vulnerability when opening the chest and heart in these poses. Despite these potential challenges, the vulnerability experienced while opening the chest area physically can be a powerful catalyst for growth and healing. Over time, as we develop trust in their bodies, cultivate self-compassion, and release stored emotions, the vulnerability may transform into a sense of strength, openness, and self-acceptance.

It is natural for us all to want to avoid being hurt and making ourselves vulnerable. It is part of our survival. However, being vulnerable is essential for authentic connection and personal growth. It allows us to show our true selves, fostering genuine relationships and empathy. Embracing vulnerability opens the door to self-discovery, resilience, and the courage to face and overcome challenges, leading to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

Physical Manifestations: Balancing the Heart Centre

Physically, the heart chakra governs the heart, lungs, thymus gland, and circulatory system. As we engage in heart-opening postures, we stimulate and balance the energy flow in this area. Practices that focus on the breath, such as pranayama, help harmonise the respiratory system, inviting a sense of ease and openness.

Nurturing the physical aspect of the heart chakra is an invitation to care for our bodies with love and respect. It is a reminder that our physical health is intricately connected to our emotional and spiritual well-being.

Spiritual Connection: Unity and Harmony

Spiritually, the heart chakra is a gateway to higher consciousness and the experience of oneness. As we open our hearts, we connect with the divine essence within ourselves and all living beings. The heart chakra teaches us that love is the universal force that unites us in a tapestry of interconnectedness.

In meditation, I guide my students to visualise a radiant green light at the centre of their chests, symbolising the awakened heart chakra. This visualisation serves as a reminder of our divine nature and the boundless love that resides within.

Awakening and Balancing the Heart Chakra: Practices for Harmony

To balance and nourish the heart chakra, consider incorporating the following practices into your yoga journey:

  • Heart-Opening Asanas: Include poses like Camel Pose, Cobra Pose, Bridge Pose, Wheel pose, Melting Heart pose and Bow pose to open the chest and expand the heart centre.
  • Pranayama: Practise conscious breathing exercises, such as Ujjayi breath or Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing), to enhance the flow of prana (life force energy) through the heart.
  • Metta Meditation: Engage in loving-kindness meditation, directing wishes of love and compassion towards yourself, loved ones, and even those you may find challenging. Repeat the mantra ‘May…. be happy, May…… be peaceful, May… free from suffering. Send all your loving kindness out to the World and yourself.
  • Affirmations: To cultivate a positive and nurturing inner dialogue, repeat affirmations that resonate with the heart chakra:
  • “I am open to love and compassion”
  • “I am loving, I am loved, I am perfect, I am whole”
  • “I deserve love”
  • ” I radiate pure love, light and compassion”
  • “Love and beauty surround me and flow into my life freely”
  • “I cultivate compassion and courage with an open and caring heart”

Radiating Love from the Heart Centre

Yoga is a journey of the heart and soul. How much can our asanas be infused with love, our breaths resonate with compassion, and our spirits dance in the harmonious unity of the heart chakra.

We can choose to live through love or through fear. When we choose love this means being available to both our inner and outer worlds. The openness of our hearts is nothing else but the vastness of pure awareness. Choose to move through love over fear.

“Your task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” -Rumi.

As we awaken the heart, we can open and become vessels of love, radiating its transformative energy into the world. Embrace the journey inward, and let the wisdom of the heart chakra guide you to a place of boundless love and connection. Love is our core, our nature, our very essence.

If you’d like more information on yoga philosophy please contact me or book here to practise with me in Marlow, Twickenham and online.

With love

Anney xx

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