If you’re a yogi, chances are you’ve heard your instructor mention the seven chakras throughout your practice. The seven chakras are the main energy points in the core of our bodies that maintain physical and spiritual alignment. Each chakra is associated with a different part of the body, from the bottom of your spine to the top of your head. Every chakra serves its own purpose. While practicing yoga, we access these chakras meaningfully; for example, Vishuddha, or the throat chakra, is responsible for communication and self-expression sacral chakra, or Swadhisthana, is responsible for sexual expression and desire. In yoga, the idea is to liberate the seven chakras to create a free flow of energy that will cause us to be more physically and mentally balanced. Over time, our chakras become blocked by traumas, stresses, and bad habits like poor posture and unhealthy eating. A blocked chakra comes with biological and emotional side effects, like self-doubt and isolation. If you’re someone who struggles with compassion, building connections with people and is looking for help with strengthening your confidence and self-assurance, you should work on balancing the “Anahata.”
What Is Anahata?
Anahata is the 4th chakra and is represented by the heart. In Sanskrit, Anahata translates to “unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten,” it symbolizes openness and vulnerability.
Anahata is associated with the color green because green symbolizes growth, healing, balance, and renewal. Its element is air, thanks to its objective of being open and free-flowing. Anahata is considered the most influential of the seven chakras and is linked to receiving and giving love. Research suggests that accessing Anahata will open up your heart and mind to things you couldn’t perceive before, causing increased awareness and intuition. At its core, the Anahata supports understanding of ourselves and others and is the key to balanced and fulfilled relationships.
The Gateway To Unconditional Love
Tuning up the Anahata helps us to live harmoniously. When the Anahata is blocked, it affects our relationships with ourselves and the relationships we develop with other people. New York Vinyasa Yoga Instructor Jenn explains how a blocked Anahata shows up in our lives: “When this chakra is blocked, we experience emotional instability and feel lack of love and compassion towards ourselves and others. We experience feelings of despair, hate, envy, mistrust, and anger.”
In yoga, the best way to balance the Anahata is through backbends and chest opening poses which access the heart’s center. When you open up the chest and shoulders, your heart is exposed, connecting you with your true sense of self; this breeds feelings of vulnerability and defenselessness. Heart-opening flows are described as uplifting and energizing and will inspire you to feel more childlike, helping you be more receptive to people and the world around you. This kinder, gentler you will feel calmer and more serene, opening yourself to acceptance of yourself and others.
Looking To Balance The Anahata? Try These Five Yoga Poses
Balancing the Anahata is the gateway to unconditional love for yourself and others. Restorative yoga instructor Jenn (IG @thebxyogi) recommends the following yoga poses for anyone who wants to unblock the Anahata (naturally, if you’re new to yoga, take it easy. And it’s a good idea to always check with your doctor first if you have any underlying conditions):
- Bridge pose This chest opener is great for beginners and is a perfect way to open the heart. With Bridge pose, you lift the hips and groin towards the sky with your arms and hands pressing down into the ground, which opens the heart, creating space in the chest and shoulders.
- Fish pose A simple pose that can be done anywhere from your yoga mat to your mattress, this backbend literally lifts the heart. Using your forearms to anchor you, lie on your back and arch your chest up towards the sky while pressing the head and hands down.
- Cobra pose This backbend not only lifts the heart but strengthens the abs, too! To perform a cobra pose, lie flat on your belly and lift your chest off of the ground with little to no weight in your hands. Squeezing the thighs together will help you activate muscles in the abs, allowing you to lift the chest higher without putting pressure on the lower back.
- Sphinx pose This gentle backbend is an easy heart opener with benefits in the chest, abs, and spine. While pressing your open palms and forearms into the ground, you’ll lift the heart and chest, pushing your pelvis into the floor. Keep the shoulders relaxed and away from the ears to get the full benefits of this beginner backbend.
- Wild Thing: Note: This backbend is for more advanced yoga users and requires strength and flexibility in the shoulders and hips. To perform Wild Thing, start on your back and straighten your right leg. Press your left foot into the ground and use your right hand to lift your chest and hips towards the sky, reaching up and over the head with the opposite hand.
Yoga has many physical and psychological benefits. Anyone looking to promote feelings of compatibility, openness, and self-confidence should start by balancing the Anahata. Namaste.