Have you ever wanted speak more clearly and directly from the heart? Have you, at some point, looked at your relationships and seen some not-so-easy-to-look-at parallels? Do you have an outsized reaction to any sort of rejection? Do you want special powers?
And can you make the short jump from science to the science of spirituality?
Then getting to know your heart chakra might be a good way to spend some time.
Let’s get real though. The term “chakra” itself has been thrown about so much in popular culture that it has become the term used when wanting to poke fun at new-ageism, or when wanting to evoke mirth at the silliness of yogic philosophy and myth. So before focusing on the supposed attributes of one chakra in particular, it will help to discuss the chakra system seriously and as a whole: the story of where the idea came from and how it works within the “subtle” body.
The 7 Chakras
Many belief systems, such as those originating from Tantric, Hindu, Chinese, and Thai to name a few, describe a system like the chakra system we talk about nowadays in Western yoga classes. However, many of these described more chakras, or less chakras, or lesser chakras, etc. The system that we talk about today describes the 7 main chakras: the first chakra, “muladhara”, the second chakra, “swadhisthana”, the third chakra, “manipura”, the fourth chakra, “anahata”, the fifth chakra, “Vishuddhi”, the sixth chakra, “Ajna”, and the seventh chakra, “Sahasrara”. They are located in the center of the body starting with the first chakra in the tailbone and ending with the seventh chakra right above the crown of the head.
Many of the above-mentioned cultures have professed the belief in energy systems within the body. Because you cannot see these systems like you can see organs and tissue, we differentiate by calling these energy systems “the subtle body”.
You can think of chakras like energy whirlpools within the subtle body. It is where energy, carried down through hundreds of thousands of little streams in your body called “nadis”, swirls in together and gets pushed back out.
Each whirlpool/chakra corresponds to different emotions and has different attributes due to it’s location in the body.
When “cleansing the chakras” is discussed, it means clearing stale, un-useful energy from these whirlpools, or focusing on a certain chakra for a specific result. You can learn more about this process with An Introduction To the Chakras and How To Balance Them.
Getting To Know Your Heart Chakra
In Hindu belief systems, people are prone to repetition because of the laws of karma and fate. The heart chakra can help you make decisions based on your higher self, not the unfulfilled emotions and desires of lower nature (or karma). This is correlates with the phrase we use today: “speaking from the heart.” This makes the heart chakra a powerful one, as it is the one that can jolt you free – out of your karmic ruts.
Emotionally, it is also associated with love and compassion, charity to others, and emotional healing. Therefore it can have a large impact on relationships.
Meditation on this chakra is said to bring about certain siddhis. Siddhis are a very cool aspect of hindu and yogic beliefs – they can loosely be translated as “powers”. A lord of her heart chakra is said to gain powers of compelling speech, influence, and a powerful empathy. Therefore, with these siddhis, she can have a sort of omnipotent control over others.
Become a Lord of Your Heart Chakra
Does being a lord of your heart chakra sound good? If so, you can become one with 3 different practices. Your heart chakra is awakened and balanced by asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breath), and mantra. It is purified by the energy you devote to these tasks.
Heart-opening yoga poses are plentiful and have the side-effect of making you feel a sort of physical and emotional high.
Anusara Yoga, a limb of Ashtanga yoga of which there are many, is a yoga style that was specifically constructed with the purpose of heart-opening through asana. An Anusara sequence will have many poses that cause your shoulders to retract and your collarbone to widen. Warrior I is a common pose in many yoga styles; in Anusara yoga you would focus on widening your arms, widening your collarbone, leading with the chest, and pulling the shoulder blades down and back which causes your chest cavity to push slightly forward:
All back-bending poses are intrinsically heart-opening. An asana series heavy on back-bending will certainly open your physical chest and help you open your heart chakra.
The breath is said to carry energy through the subtle body. In that way, breath can be considered the most important aspect of the subtle body: when your breath is stuck, your energy gets stuck and stagnates.
The opposite of stuck breath is rapid, disordered breathing. This is “fight or flight” breath and it leaves the subtle body in a state of constant turbulence.
Therefore evening out the breath is of great importance in cleansing all chakras, and of course, the heart chakra in particular.
For pranayamic breathing, the inhale should take exactly as long as the exhale. To see the pinnacle of even, slow, pranayama visit YouTube to watch BKS Iyengar, the father of Iyengar Yoga, take 1, simple, epic breath, keeping in mind that it might have taken lifetimes for him to perfect it. There is no better lifetime than this one to start pranayama, however, and Breathing Made Easy gives you a very practical start.
Mantra helps you keep your focus and is therefore mostly a tool for meditation. There are many, many mantras that focus on your heart chakra. The Anusara invocation is a great one that deals a lot with devotion as well:
Namah Shivaya Gurave
If you are interested in healing more through meditation, Meditations That Heal is a short online course that can help. Besides general meditation, however, mantra can also more directly impact your chakras because the vibration of certain sounds produce certain results in the subtle body. And thankfully, these mantras are very simple: Yam is the mantra and sound that correlates with the heart chakra, so you can simply just repeat this sound and feel the vibration that it produces.
Through these practices, you may become a lord of your heart chakra: speaking from your heart, repairing your relationships, and experiencing influence over those around you. After you master the heart chakra, don’t forget about the other 6 Chakras!