May 12, 2017

The Heart Chakra, or anahata chakra is the fourth chakra in the chakra system. Explore it's properties and practice a heart-opening vinyasa flow!

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The chakra exploration continues, as we make our way up to the heart chakra – the fourth chakra, or anahata chakra.

If you haven’t read up on the first three chakras, make sure you check those out:

The Root Chakra (Muladhara Chakra)
The Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana Chakra)
The Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura Chakra)

Anahata Chakra Overview

In Sanskrit, anahata means ‘unhurt’, ‘unstruck’, or ‘unbeaten’. Don’t you just love that? I think it speaks to the resilience of the heart. The heart chakra is where your love, compassion, kindness, and joy are strengthened.

As I’m sure you’ve deduced, the anahata chakra is located at the heart. Not slightly to the left where the physical heart is located, but right in the center of the chest, where the spiritual heart is said to reside.

The element of the anahata chakra is air, so in addition to affecting the heart, this chakra affects the lungs. If you’ve been following the chakra posts, you can start to see the elements working together.

The first chakra’s element is earth – it’s steady, grounded, and tangible. The second chakra’s element is water – bringing about fluid creativity. The third charka’s element is fire, which is needed to transform that grounded creativity into positive action.

Now we have air, which helps us to integrate and disperse love, compassion, and connection with all things. Like air, love is everywhere; it’s all-pervasive. We just need to be open to seeing it.

The heart chakra forms the bridge between the lower chakras of physicality and experience, and the upper chakras of spirit and expression. You can see this in the elements – they are becoming less tangible; harder to hold.

Related: The Third Chakra – The Solar Plexus Chakra, or Manipura Chakra

The Heart Chakra, or anahata chakra is the fourth chakra in the chakra system. Explore it's properties and practice a heart-opening vinyasa flow!
Pin now, read + practice later!

OVERACTIVE HEART CHAKRA

When the heart chakra becomes overactive, we lose our personal boundaries. We might find ourselves always putting the needs of others before our own.

This is when we start to make unhealthy choices…in the name of love.

This can manifest physically as a fast heart rate, palpitations, or heart burn. You might also experience interpersonal relationship issues like codependency, manipulative behaviors, feelings of unworthiness, or a lack of trust in yourself or others.

UNDERACTIVE HEART CHAKRA

Many people have an underactive fourth chakra. Most of us have experienced a lot of heartbreak on this journey of life, and that can cause our heart chakra to shut down.

When your heart chakra is underactive, you feel like it’s hard to get really close to anyone. You hesitate to let anyone in. Does this sound familiar to you? Because boy oh boy does it ring some bells for me!

In an effort to protect our hearts we close them off from connection; from giving and receiving love. This closes off our ability to be compassionate, empathetic, and kind. It also closes off our ability to forgive.

FINDING BALANCE IN THE ANAHATA

When your fourth chakra is balanced, you feel surrounded love, compassion, and joy. You feel connected to the world around you ❤️ You are able to feel love for yourself and others in equal amounts.

Even when tough things happen, you can still see the compassion and kindness in others. You are able to forgive easily and freely. Can you think of anything we need more in this political climate?

If you feel that you’re constantly putting others before yourself, then your heart chakra is likely overactive. Find balance by practicing some self-love.

Take that love you’ve been giving to others and focus some of it back on yourself. You can do this by doing one thing every day that’s just for you. Take a relaxing bath; treat yourself to a massage; practice a self-love meditation. Remember that you are worthy of love.

If you’re feeling closed off; like your heart has shut down, then your anahata chakra is probably underactive. I won’t lie to you, energizing it takes some work.

If you’ve been building walls and defenses around your heart, it’s not always easy to knock them down. But you can start by loving yourself first.

Show love and appreciation for yourself, giving yourself the love that you want others to give to you. Then spread that compassion to those around you. A loving-kindness (metta) meditation is the perfect way to do this.

Whether your heart chakra is overactive or underactive, yoga practices that focus on heart-opening (like the class below!) can be helpful in bringing balance.

 

Related: What is a Chakra? A Guide to the 7 Chakras

LET’S FLOW

The practice for the heart chakra all about heart openers. These are also known as backbends, but I prefer the term ‘heart opener’.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word ‘backbend’, my mind immediately goes to a puffed up chest, ribs splayed out, booty popped back, all lumbar spine action (you know what I’m talking about?).

‘Heart opener’, on the other hand, conjures up images of lifting the sternum skyward. Of finding an opening in the chest and creating the bend out of the upper back, which is a safer way to backbend.

So here’s the heart-opening anahata chakra sequence for you to try at home. As always, if you’d like a downloadable pdf of this sequence to save for later, you can grab one below!

And if you’re a more visual person, you can scroll down to the video below to practice this class with me!

 

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  1. Start on back with two blocks underneath you
    – one just below the shoulder blades and one under your head. Stay for 90 seconds
  2. Remove block and hug knees towards chest; give them a squeeze
  3. Roll up and back a few times and come into tabletop
  4. Cat/Cow x5 -> Thread the Needle (twist): 5 breaths per side
  5. Down dog -> Plank: x5
  6. Plank pose: 5 breaths -> Lower slowly to belly
  7. Cobra waves x5 -> Press up to plank -> Down Dog: 5 breaths
  8. Walk hand back to feet: Ragdoll -> Clasp hands behind back: 5 breaths each
  9. Chair pose -> Fold forward, take arms back: Flow 5x
  10. Walk hands out to Down Dog
  11. Surya Namaskar C
  12. Chair pose on toes -> Fold forward, take arms back: Flow 5x
  13. Low lunge -> Side lean -> Palm down twist -> Reach for back foot (quad stretch) -> Ardha Hanuman (5 breaths each; R side, L side)
  14. Low lunge w/backbend (hands clasped behind back) -> High lunge (keep bind) -> Warrior 3 (keep bind) -> Dancer pose (5 breaths each; R side, L side)
  15. Camel pose x3
  16. Child’s pose (10 breaths)
  17. Seated twist: 5 breaths; R side, L side
  18. Seated forward fold: 10 breaths
  19. Headstand: 20 breaths
  20. Child’s pose: 10 breaths
  21. Supine twist: 5 breaths; R side, L side
  22. Happy Baby: 5 breaths
  23. Savasana: 15min.

 

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About the author 

Natalie

I am a yoga teacher who focuses on bridging the gap between what happens on the mat and life off the mat. Yoga is life – it is meant to be lived!

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