The Heart Chakra

Moving through the world with an open heart can seem scary because most of us have small or large things we carry and try to protect. We believe in some way we are flawed or broken, bad, deficient or unlovable. To protect these ersatz secrets, we maintain vigilance not in the present moment, but over our wounded past. Often we carry the sense memory of these wounds and wrong-doings in some part of our torso and this creates patterns of holding and guarding that lead to a collapsed posture, tight shoulders and chest, shallow breathing and the slump of a “closed heart.”

Moving the torso in the ways required for backbends often has the effect of stimulating  some of these areas, giving us the opportunity to digest those sensations in the present moment and free up our posture, energy and consciousness to stay more fully present.

The heart chakra, called “Anahata,” or “The Unstruck” in Sanskrit, is the connection to who we are before taking on roles, projections and agreements. This simple, core presence is always accessible in any moment. Beliefs and habits of thinking, posture, eating or moving can put restrictions on how we express this presence, but cannot change it.  

During this practice, imagine a glowing green light suffusing the area behind your breastbone, all the way to your back. On exhalation audibly, softly or silently repeat the syllable “yam,” pronounced /yum/. Yam is the seed syllable associated with the Heart Chakra; feel its vibration.

Things you might want to have handy: Yoga Mat, Yoga Towel or Blanket, Yoga Strap, Yoga Bolster

It is recommended to perform the warm-up before starting this routine.

Step 1: Vinyasa or Sun Salutations
Duration: 2-12 repetitions
Pose Review: Vinyasa or Sun Salutations

In each pose, and through the transitions, maintain your awareness in the area of your chest, breathing deeply and expanding fully.

Step 2: Crescent Lunge
Duration: 3-12 breaths
Pose Review: Crescent Lunge

Step back 4-5 feet with your left foot so that back heel raised so that your back knee is pointed to the ground. Lift your heart and raise your hands along your ears.

Step 3: Revolved Side Angle Pose
Duration: 3-12 breaths
Pose Review: Revolved Side Angle Pose

Draw your hands down in front of your chest as you turn from deep in your belly and place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee to complete this twist. Keep your hips level and core engaged as you stretch the front and sides of your body.

Repeat Steps 2-3 on the other side.

Step 4: Child’s Pose
Duration: 3-12 breaths
Pose Review: Child’s Pose

From your knees, reach your hands out in front of you on the mat and lower your forehead to the mat, stretching your spine and abdomen and breathing fully to expand your torso.

Step 5: Camel Pose
Duration: 3-12 breaths
Pose Review: Camel Pose

Walk your hands back and lift your hips above your knees. Join your hands behind back and lift your sternum as you draw up through your center. Reach your hands down behind and arch back through your upper back more than from your mid-low back as you press your legs and hips forward. If your hands reach your heels, take your heels.

Repeat steps 4-5 for another 5-12 repetitions, focusing on the area where your ribs come together.

Step 6: Wheel Pose

Duration: 3-12 breaths
Pose Review: Wheel Pose

Recline on your back and begin by drawing your knees into your chest and rocking back and forth a few times.

Place your feet on the floor, knees pointed to the ceiling. Place your hands, palm down, shoulder width, on the mat by your ears. Your fingers will point to your feet. Exhale, lift your hips.  Keeping a broad chest, inhale deeply and exhale, press your hips up even more as you lift your heart up and straighten your arms. Draw your shoulder blades together on your back, and press into your feet. Feel a green, glowing warmth in your chest spread over your entire body.

Step 7: Shoulder Stand

Duration: 5-25 breaths
Pose Review: Shoulder Stand

From a supine position, press your elbows into the ground, draw your knees in and extend your legs up and overhead. Bring your hands to your low back and support it until your breath stabilizes. Reaching up through your toes, slowly bring your hips over your shoulders until your shoulders, hips and toes are in a line perpendicular to the ground. Breathe with your chest, keeping your core muscles fully engaged.

Step 8: Plow
Duration: 5-25 breaths
Pose Review: Plow Pose

Lower your feet behind your head without lowering your hips toward your chest. Maintain long side bodies. Reach your hands behind you and bring your hand together with straight arms.

Step 9: Fish
Duration 5 breaths
Pose Review: Fish Pose

Unfurl through your core until your hips are on the ground. Bend your knees and bring your toes to the ground. Pressing your elbows into the ground, lift your heart up until you are balanced on your sitting bones and sacrum and reach the top of your head back to the ground. Reach your arms up.

Perform the relaxation sequence to complete this routine.