Anahata or heart chakra is the energy center of the heart, emanating love, compassion, and joy. Individuals build connections with others from this place, acting with generosity, self-love, respect, and kindness. Many cultures and spiritual traditions accept love as the ultimate universal truth — the element that connects everyone by melting barriers and showing them how they form part of something greater than their individual selves. For this reason, anahata energy promotes deep healing and acceptance of both the self and others.
Read on to learn more about the heart chakra as well as five yoga poses to help you maintain a healthy, balanced anahata.
About the Heart Chakra
An underactive heart chakra may restrict or block the energy flowing through the heart, which can negatively affect your overall sense of well-being. Signs of an underactive heart chakra include:
- A Lack of Empathy
- An Emotionally Distant or Loner Lifestyle
- Difficulty in Forgiving Oneself and Others
- An Overly Critical View of Oneself and Others
Conversely, an overactive heart chakra can feel like a torrent of energy exploding through the heart center, draining you of vital energy necessary for your optimal health and well-being. Signs of an overactive heart chakra include:
- A Lack of Boundaries (Saying “Yes” When You Want to Say “No”)
- No Sense of Self or Personal Identity
- Self-Neglect in Any Form (Giving too Much Energy Without Nurturing the Self)
The heart chakra has a long association with the color green or, sometimes, pink. People can help to heal their heart chakra by visualizing one of these colors in a spinning wheel of light at their heart center while meditating. Other ways to heal the heart chakra include spending time outdoors, intentionally recognizing your connection to Mother Nature and all beings, and appreciating the way the Earth supports you and your life. Physical activity — including yoga — provides a positive and powerful way to engage, move, and balance the energy moving through the heart chakra.
Try these five yoga poses to help you heal and balance your anahata chakra:
1. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
- Start by standing upright on your knees with your knees and shins a hip-distance apart. (Make sure to place the tops of your feet down on the mat and point your toes straight back.)
- Bring your palms together at your heart center.
- Inhale and draw your tailbone in and down, which may cause you to pull your navel in slightly, and press your hips forward.
- Engage your abdominal muscles and begin to arch your heart upward.
- You can keep your hands in prayer position at first and then experiment with leaning back to open your heart forward as you keep your hips over your knees.
- Hold here for five full breaths.
- Come out of the pose and rest in child’s pose for a few breaths.
- Come back up onto your knees and see if it feels good to reach your hands back to touch your heels as you arch your heart upward.
- Hold the camel pose for five full breaths before relaxing again into child’s pose.
2. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
- Lie down on your stomach with the tops of your feet touching the floor and your forehead resting on your mat.
- Keep your legs together and bring your palms to the floor under your shoulders, pulling your elbows close to your torso.
- Inhale deeply while pressing into your hands and bringing your head, shoulders, and chest off the floor. (Stay low at first as you continue to squeeze the sides of your body with a deep bend in your elbows.)
- Hold here for at least five full breaths.
- This could be your entire cobra pose.
- Feel free to practice here for as long as needed.
- (When Ready) Push your hands into the floor to straighten your elbows and peel your whole upper body off the floor to come into a deep backbend.
- Relax your shoulders away from the ears, allowing your neck to extend as you keep breathing.
- Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
Note: At the end of cobra pose, lie flat on your stomach and fill the back of your body with several full breaths.
3. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place the soles of your feet on the floor so your fingertips can just reach your heels.
- Keep your arms by your sides and press your palms into the floor.
- Inhale and lift your hips upward, engaging your core muscles.
- Reach your heart toward your chin with this movement.
- Keep your head planted on the floor and direct your body and energy upward.
- Interlace your fingers behind your back, if desired, to open your heart center and shoulders even further.
- Hold here for five to 1o full breaths and then lower your hips down to the floor.
- Extend your legs on the floor, reach your arms overhead, and stretch as you inhale.
- Now, exhale and hug your knees into your chest.
- Repeat this pose three to five times before resting on your back.
4. Melting Heart Pose (Anahatasana)
- Begin on your hands and knees.
- Keep your knees under your hips and either walk or slide your hands forward, sinking your heart toward the floor.
- This is a Yin Yoga pose, which people usually hold for a minimum of three minutes.
- Set a timer before you begin and allow yourself to melt into the pose for three to five minutes.
5. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
- Lie on your back, keeping your legs together on the floor and your arms by your sides.
- Press your forearms and elbows into the floor and lift your back and shoulders off the floor. (You may want to move your elbows closer to one another at this point.)
- Hold here for several breaths and consider practicing this as your entire fish pose.
- Or, if it feels good on your neck, tilt your head back and direct the crown of your head toward the floor.
- If the crown of your head touches the floor, make sure your forearms and elbows still support your weight.
- Hold here for at least five full breaths.
- Come out of the pose by lifting your head, tucking your chin, and then relaxing your back down to the floor.