By: Stephanie Heino
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on how to balance your chakras through meditation. However, that is not the only way to open up your chakras and to live a balanced happy life; chakra yoga poses are also very effective in doing this. By opening the heart chakra you will instantly increase your self-respect, and you will open yourself up to love and gain a more positive outlook on life. All we ever want is to love and be loved, that is our ultimate goal in life. That very human desire creates an immediate and deep connection with the heart chakra. Not only is it located at center of your physical heart, it also marks the transition from the lower three chakras (which are associated with relationships to the society around you, your loved ones and yourself) to the higher chakras that relate to enlightenment and to connection with the Divine. The heart chakra is the bridge between the earthly and the eternal. To open our heart chakra we have to know what throws it off balance. Keeping it in balance requires a deep and ongoing commitment, not just a one time thing. It can be difficult not to let your heart harden when a loved one passes away, when a partner or friend hurts you, when you solely depend on others for your happiness and someone lets you down, or when you unleash negativity on yourself on a regular basis. But that only leads to isolation and even more pain for yourself. By seeking freedom in the heart chakra, you remain open to finding true connection with those around you and with yourself.
The color green represents the heart chakra. Green represents harmony, creativity, abundance, health and is also representative of nature, offering new energy and revitalizing your body. The best heart chakra yoga poses are those that open the chest area while breathing deeply, as well as poses that draw energy into the heart. Let me show you how to practice 4 asanas to assist you in opening your heart chakra and start love yourself and others in a way that feels freeing and secure:
Ustrasana (Camel Pose). Kneel on the floor with your legs hip width apart. Press your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor. Place your hands on the back of your hips. Inhale and slowly lift your heart up and allow your hips to move forward. Draw your shoulders back as you breathe into the posture then together once you are in the asana. If you are more advanced or flexible, you can lower your hands to your ankles or your Achilles tendon. Hold for 3-5 breaths then take a moment in child’s pose.
Benefits: This heart-opening pose stretches the muscles of your chest.
Sphinx Pose. Lie on your stomach, with your forearms flat on the mat, elbows under the shoulders and legs together. Press forearms down into the mat and inhale as you lift your head and chest off of the mat, keeping the neck in line with the spine. Bring big toes together and zip all the way up your legs engaging the gluts. Keeping your elbows close to your side using your arms to press the mat away, keeping your shoulders out of your ears. Hold here for 6-10 breaths then, again, relax in your child’s pose.
Benefits: This gentle backbend opens your chest, helping you to feel the receptiveness associated with the heart chakra.
Bidalasana (Cat Pose). Start on your hands and knees. Position your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Have your fingers fully spread with the middle fingers pointing straight ahead. Make your back horizontal and flat. Gaze at the floor. This is your “neutral” positioning. Take a deep inhale here and on the exhale begin to tilt the pelvis in. Do this by gently pulling the abdominal muscles backward toward the spine, tucking the tailbone under, gently contracting the gluts. Press downward with your hands so you stay lifted away from the shoulders, and press the middle of your back toward the ceiling, rounding your spine upward. Curl your head inward. Gaze at the floor between your knees. On the inhale offer up your heart center while tilting your tailbone up towards the ceiling and lifting your gaze. Take this flow as much as you like!
Benefits: This arching pose helps to soften and release tense muscles in the neck and back that keep you from letting your heart open.
Matsyasana (Fish Pose). Begin on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. If you are experienced in the pose, you can bring your legs into Lotus Pose. Either way, inhale, lift your hips slightly and place your hands, palms down, under your hips. Lower your pelvis onto your hands. Inhale and press into your elbows and forearms to lift your upper back and gently place the crown of your head on the floor. Be careful not to let your head take too much weight. Remain in the pose for 15 to 30 seconds before releasing and hugging your knees into your chest.
Benefits: This deep backbend opens the intercostals muscles between the ribs, creating more physical space in your heart center.