Living Yoga | Balancing Your Chakras, Part IV: Heart

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Do you want to experience optimal health and true happiness? Work on balancing your forth chakra by expanding your heart, looking within, and lending a hand.

The fourth chakra, Anahata (heart), is located at the center of the chest. Anahata translates to “unstuck” or “unhurt.” It is where we find peace, harmony, love, and happiness.

Happiness seems to be the basic need of everything in the world, yet rarely does anyone find it. Why?

Happiness can be illustrated with a fable about the musk deer. Ancient scriptures tell of this animal that has a scented spot above its forehead that gives off the musk fragrance. The deer runs here and there in search of the scent, not knowing the scent comes from its own forehead.

Anahata chakraʼs element is air. Its sense is touch. Its color is green.

Air is expansive and will fill any space, yet it is gentle and soft. Love is similar as it is the expansion of the heart. To have this fourth chakra energy touch our daily life requires intent and practice. This begins within our self. Without the ability to love ourselves, we cannot truly experience love from another or give it to another. In loving ourselves, we allow the intent to generate the feeling of unconditional love within us, and then share this feeling with others.

Anahata governs the heart, hands, lungs, shoulders, breast, thymus, esophagus, and circulatory system.

A person with a healthy and balanced fourth chakra is physically fit, compassionate, and empathetic. They have a good sense of self-love and are helpful and intuitive. Someone unbalanced may be manipulative, have feelings of guilt, and be hurt easily. They may have a depressed immune system, be emotionally cold, lack self-love, and be withdrawn.

Opening your heart through asana, expanding your love through meditation, and lending a hand through karma yoga all help to jump start Anahata.

“It is slow but sure suicide to walk, sit, rest, talk, or lie down with a caved-in chest. The cells of the lungs become starved thereby, and maladjustments of the vertebrae often occur."  – Yogananda Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi

Practice back-bending/heart-opening yoga poses such as:

  • Ustrasana (camel)
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge)
  • Dhanurasana (bow)

Meditate on expansion of love:

  • Get into Savasana (corpse) variation lying on a bolster lengthwise with a folded blanket under your head for support.
  • Observe your breath.
  • Reflect on expanding the love in your heart.
  • Visualize an emerald green light at your heart center.
  • See this as warm healing energy.
  • Let this light fill your body.
  • Let this light expand beyond your skin into the room.
  • Let the light fill the building you are in and then beyond the walls of the building.
  • Let the light reach deep into the earth and expand to the universe.
  • Breathe love into the universe.
  • Bring awareness back to your heart center
  • Appreciate the expanse.

Perform karma yoga off the mat:

The root of the word karma is the Sanskrit kri, literally meaning "to do." Karma yoga includes any act done in the service of others. It teaches humility and oneness. Any given moment of our day we remain free to choose and we bear the responsibility of our actions.

The practice of karma yoga does not demand that you possess enormous wealth. You can serve with your mind and body. Treat every job as if you are doing it for the most important person in the world. Do volunteer work for a worthy cause, help a family member or friend, and provide food, clothing, shelter, medicine, or education to those in need.

Next up is Chakra V: Vishuddha

 

Photo by Tony Frantz