Firstly…what is a chakra? Literally meaning “wheel” in Sanskrit, a chakra is an energy point located in a specific area of the subtle body. There are seven in total, moving from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head. In ancient Hindu and Buddhist teachings, it is said that these seven points of the body are where our Prana (life force / energy) flows through, keeping us healthy and at peace providing each chakra stays open and aligned. However, if one or more become blocked, these energy flows are restricted which can result in mental, emotional and / or physical suffering.
The Anahata Chakra
Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day this week, I thought I would focus on one specific Chakra: Anahata (heart). In Sanskrit, Anahata literally translates as “unstruck”. The name indicates that, beneath the pain of past experiences, there is a pure and spiritual place deep within where no suffering exists. It is also believed to be the healing centre of the body; in many spiritual traditions, love is the healing force for all pain.
The Anahata Chakra is the fourth major energy wheel in the body, located at the centre of the chest. It includes the heart, cardiac plexus, thymus gland, and lungs; it is also responsible for the lymphatic system.
It is believed that when the Anahata Chakra is open, we feel loving kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others, our relationships are good, we are grateful, we forgive quickly and we are more accepting and empathetic.
However, many situations in life (illness, stress and emotional pain) can lead to a blockage resulting in feelings of anger, jealousy, grief, fear and hatred towards others and/or ourselves. This can greatly impact our self-esteem, it can cause us to become judgemental of those around us and, in turn, can create problems in our relationships. From a physical point of view, it is believed a blocked Anahata Chakra is also responsible for cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
How do we balance the Anahata Chakra if it’s blocked?
Through yoga (asana), any movements or poses that open up the chest, shoulders and upper back are believed to help, for example:
- Cat / Cows (Marjaiasana / Bitilasana)
- Extended Puppy (Anahatasana)
- Cobra (Bhujangasana)
- Low lunge (Anjaneyasana)
- Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Bow (Dhanurasana)
- Wheel (Urdhva Danurasana)
- Camel (Ustrasana)
- Dancers (Natarajasana)
- Wild thing (Camatkarasana).
Holding the hands in prayer at heart centre (Anjali Mudra) whilst meditating or during certain poses, can also help to stimulate the flow of Prana through the heart centre.
On a more everyday level, doing simple things to enhance love and compassion towards yourself and those around you can also release any blockages. for example:
- Smiling at a stranger
- Helping someone in some way
- Showing your appreciation for those you love
- Giving a compliment
- Allocating time for self-care
- Working on letting go of any grudges / forgiveness
- Repeating or writing down positive affirmations
“As you rise in the morning sun, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love”