Anahata - The Heart Chakra
In Sanskrit, Anahata means 'infinite', 'unhurt' or 'boundless'. It is the fourth chakra and it represents the connection between matter and spirit. Being an even-numbered, feminine chakra, the heart center naturally yearns to release and let go.
Anahata is associated with the colour green and it relates to the element of air. This chakra is all about space, feeling the infinite. It's the door to our inner temple, our soul, the infinite part of ourselves. It’s where we transcend ourselves and the world.
Location and Connection to the Physical Body
Anahata is located in the center of the chest at the heart level, and it affects the heart, lungs, chest, arms, and hands. Positioned in the middle of the seven chakras, the heart chakra is our source of love and connection.
Energy Connection to the Emotional/Mental Body
When the heart chakra is in healthy alignment we feel surrounded by love, compassion, and joy and connected to the world around us.
The heart chakra is related to being able to love ourselves, as well as being able to give and receive love with equal ease. It is associated with unconditional love, compassion, and joy. Anahata is also an integrating and unifying chakra, it is our healing center. All the most spiritual traditions recognise love as the ultimate healing force. The energy of Anahata allows us to recognize that we are part of something larger, that we are interconnected within an intricate web of relationships extending through life and the universe.
When misaligned, poor circulation, high or low blood pressure, and other heart and lung conditions can result. Other physical symptoms can include shallow breathing, asthma, and other lung diseases.
On the emotional level, an imbalance of the Anahata chakra can be experienced as loneliness and separation, feeling like we don't belong or fit in, feeling disconnected. People who grew up in an unloving environment or have been in an unloving relationship for a while, may develop the sense that they are not worthy of love.
Another imbalance often found in this chakra is resentment. When someone really hurts us, it hits straight in the heart. If we cannot let go and forgive, we are left with the weight on our heart that seems to be always present. When the heart chakra is deficient, we may experience feelings of shyness and loneliness, an inability to forgive, or a lack of empathy.
Some signs that the heart chakra is overpowering our life can include co-dependency, possessiveness, jealousy, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
How can yoga help?
Asanas that enliven the heart chakra include passive chest openers in which we arch gently over a blanket or bolster, shoulder stretches such as the arm positions of Gomukhasana (Cow Face) and Garud
asana (Eagle Pose), and backbends. People with deficient heart chakras need to open to receive love more fully, so doing backbends will help develop the trust and surrender we need to open the heart fully. When we feel fearful, there is no room for love, and our bodies show contraction (hunched shoulders, bowed head). When we choose love, the fear melts away, and we open up. In many back bending poses, the heart is positioned higher than the head, and it is refreshing to let the mind take the back seat and instead lead with the heart.
For the excessive Anahata, forward bends are the best antidote, because they are grounding and foster introspection. In this way, those with excessive heart chakras find healing by slowing down to discover inside themselves the nourishment they have been seeking from others.