Yoga for the Heart Chakra

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

Yoga for the Heart Chakra becomes more and more essential in the critical times we find ourselves. Our heart is the essence of Yoga.

Love and your heart chakra

The heart Chakra

The heart chakra (in Sanskrit Anahata) is said to be the bridge between earthly and spiritual elements of our life. Through our heart chakra and bringing consciousness to this level, we can experience unconditioned love and only then do we transcend to be a yogi.

Anahata means "unstruck" or "unbeaten", and it is here where our ability for true compassion and empathy to every being lies. In yoga, the heart centre is also known as hridayakasha, which means the "space within the heart where purity resides". When Anahata Chakra gets awakened, we, therefore, experience universal unlimited love for all beings. We need to love and be loved more than ever. The last few months have been particularly challenging, and some of us may feel more tired than usual? It is completely ok to be tired. First, the days are shorter; it is getting colder; the news is not necessarily encouraging; some of us may be deprived of hugs, friends, and family.

Anahata is not to be confused with our biological heart. The location is at the centre of the chest, so not exactly where our biological heart is located. Many people practice kindness, but they are still selfish and expect something in return when Anahata is truly awakened; this kindness does not need anything in return.

Music, art, and literature are all important aids to awaken Anahata Chakra or to cure it. Again, we are right now deprived of creative arts, so it is even more important to ensure that we take the time to read, listen to music and maybe even take time to sing!

The element associated with this chakra is air. In our practice, we can open the chest area with passive or active backbends and feeling the vibrations by placing our hands onto our chest. Breathing in and out of this area also helps with the tummy being completely relaxed. Going for a long walk taking in the fresh air from outside is also another must right now.

On a physical level, anahata responds to the heart, lungs, immune system and the whole area of our upper thorax. In contrast, on a spiritual level, as mentioned above, Anahata, manifests as unconditioned love, compassion, but also forgiveness. When this area is closed, we may have difficulty breathing, experience heart pain, or suffer from chronic fatigue. Psychological symptoms may involve being overly critical of self and others, isolation and overall, we lack empathy or compassion.

So, to be able to forgive, listen and communicate are some metaphorical heart openers which come to my mind. Yoga is not only on the mat but also off the mat.

Anjali Mudra

Anjali means "offering," and in the East, this mudra is often accompanied by the word "namaste." Symbolically we unite our intellect with our heart in yoga by putting our forehead down to our fingertips. We draw together our palms at the location of our spiritual heart centre.

We all do it; teachers do it, students follow this, but are we honestly compassionate and kind? Are we willing to go through difficult times together? Are we able to form long-lasting, deep relationships regardless of little problems on the path? Or do we drop friendships, partners, teachers, jobs with the first difficulty we experience?

Over Critical

We all have maybe a friend or family member who is all the time overly criticizing and over-intellectualizing, or maybe knows everything better? Are they practising yoga? Yet they have this overly critical mind and forget to stay kind?

It can become quite tiring having people around you like this! Even thus, in Yoga, we learn that discernment, investigation, and enquiry is necessary, we should never forget our spiritual heart when we give critique. We have to stay open and listen to other people’s perspective; we can apologise, accept sincere apologies and speak about things. Our culture is obsessed with reproach; we are so quick in jumping to conclusions and take offence at each other. Rather than assuming somebody is ill-willed, can we not just admit that sometimes stuff happens?

Can you tolerate somebody’s foibles, can you admit yours? It is all part of opening your heart chakra; it’s not just putting a blanket underneath your chest to open your chest. It is taking this openness into life.

This trend of overly critical people combined with the instant need of self-care is, in my opinion, a disease of our neoliberal society. The emphasis on the "I" and instant gratification, instant request for answers and instant abandonment of people or things that do not "serve" us any longer.

Self-care is a slogan full of rituals that tell us how to take care of ourselves, because "we are apparently worth it". As we seem to be nearly all burnt out (including yoga practitioners), we believe it. With this, we forget that we have more than 100 trillion cells that make up our “I”. Not only that, but we are tiny and insignificant if it comes to the whole planet. Yes, we should care for our own wellbeing, but why not care to be more loving, compassionate, and forgiving too?

In yoga, there is no separation of head and heart; you are one whole. Can you be a positive and kind person in this society? A person who is not afraid of confrontation, willing to listen to other people’s perspective and not abandon a friendship or partner or other living beings so quickly for having differences? The best relationships are those that have mastered this effective communication and learnt from each other in times of conflict! Peaceful conflict resolution is a skill that we need more than ever! Overcritical minds and self-absorbed people are plenty.

To be real, honest (without being hurtful) and kind! We need more people to be able to forgive, go through all parts of life (not only with rosy glasses on and if it feels pleasing), being able to communicate and tackle things. To face obstacles is where learning is taking place and where we start to embody knowledge.

Want to start a self-development course that emphasises discernment and self-enquiry, but at the same time, does not forget the heart? My 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Enrolment is open. Sundara Yoga is all about self-development, philosophy and history of yoga, functional anatomy, and physiology. You learn what to do with your muscles rather than hundreds of muscles names. You learn how to protect joints and different ways of flexibility, strength, and relaxation. You will learn how to circulate energy and communicate more effectively with your body by stretching and tensioning less! Your trillions of cells will thank you for this.

You learn how to look at yoga in the context of history and how it has constantly changed its meaning and purpose. Be part of keeping its essence alive but learn how to adapt to a modern body. You learn about recognising limitations and how to reach the full potential by doing less!

We don't focus on ONLY teaching you to be another Vinyasa Yoga Teacher (there are plenty out there), but to be an authentic, loving, caring yoga teacher able to adapt to people and not impose a sequence, style or other bondage on them. All 11 weekends are only on a Saturday and Sunday, so you are free to work from Monday to Friday.

We mentor you afterwards! So, it is not just thanks for your money, here is your certificate (there are people out there who start to give certificates after only a few years of teaching), we care for you! You will develop your own practice and become a knowledgeable and compassionate teacher!

If you want to find out more, send me an email. This course is fully recognized by Yoga Alliance Professionals (200 hours). Follow your heart and dive deep into a self-enquiry without losing your heart! The yoga alliance professionals have high standards, and we keep those standards high.

If teaching is not for you, I offer every Wednesday at 6 pm a general Hatha flow and relax class. In January, a 6-week beginners foundation course and if you are already a teacher but would like to learn more about the business of yoga, I have just this for you too.

#BrightonandHove #yogateacher #yogateachertraining #thebusinessofyoga #selfcareandcareofothers

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