Anahata is a Sanskrit term that refers to the Heart chakra. It is translated as “unstruck” or “unhurt.” In other words, the essence of our hearts lies beyond the vicissitudes of everyday life and the unpleasant or even down right hurtful experiences that we all suffer along our journey through life. Although February is the month of love, chocolate, Valentine’s Day cards, and that sought after romantic date with our perfect partner; it can also highlight the lack of romantic love in our lives if we are not in the most ideal of romantic relationships.
For some Yogis or Yoginis, the emphasis on finding and keeping an ideal romantic partner can bring up a deep sense of loss for a relationship that seemed so perfect in the beginning, but then became unsustainable as time went on. This deep longing for a perfect romantic partner, who offers us unconditional love and unquenchable support all the time, can propel many of us into less than ideal partnerships. When these partnerships dissolve, our hearts may feel deep grief and loss for months, or even years to come.
Often a closed Heart chakra will correspond with a constricted Throat chakra as well. This is experienced as tension or tightness in the front of the throat area, which extends all the way to the collar bone and into the jaw line. A closed Throat chakra pinches off the flow of energy and prevents us from speaking our truth freely and fluidly. The first step to opening up your Heart and Throat chakras is to become aware of any muscular tension or constriction in those areas. This is easily done through the practice of back bending poses and pranayama exercises.
Back bending Yoga poses move our bodies into postures that require the release of muscular tension, in order to move more deeply into the postures and hold the poses for an adequate amount of time. Pranayama, or Yogic breathing exercises, help to bring fresh oxygen and a sense of spaciousness into the heart and throat areas. A wonderful beginning Yoga asana to help unlock unnecessary constriction in both the front and the back of the Heart chakra is Anahatasana or Heart Asana. This posture is also known as Extended Puppy Pose because it is a modification of Downward Facing Dog.
* Anahatasana or Extended Puppy Pose
To practice Anahatasana, or Extended Puppy Pose, come to Mountain Pose at the front of your Yoga mat. Take three full, complete breaths. Breath through your nose and make sure that you are inhaling and exhaling completely. At the end of your next exhale, bring your hands up to Prayer Position in front of your Heart chakra. With your next inhale, raise your arms over your head and beginning flowing through a series of three to five Sun Salutations to warm up your body in preparation for practicing Extended Puppy Pose. If you are not familiar with the movements of the Sun Salutations, please refer to a Yoga instructional book, DVD or reputable Yoga website.
After you have completed three to five Sun Salutations begin your next Sun Salutation, and as you complete your practice of Downward Facing Dog, drop to your knees on your Yoga mat in preparation to practice Extended Puppy Pose. Extended Puppy Pose is exactly like it sounds, it is the same movement a puppy makes when he or she wakes up from a nap and begins to stretch. With an exhale, extend your arms out in front of you and parallel to the sides of your Yoga mat with your palms face down. In this Yoga asana, you will feel a great stretch all along the front of your torso, heart area, throat, upper back, and shoulders.
Keep breathing deeply and fully as you sink your Heart chakra towards the floor and gaze at a point a few feet in front of your Yoga mat. If you have a neck injury, you may wish to modify the pose by keeping your head and neck in alignment with your arms and gazing at a point on your mat between your extended arms. As you hold the posture and breath deeply, try to soften into the pose and allow your breath to penetrate and soften any areas of muscular tension. Witness any thoughts, images or memories that arise and hold them in your awareness with great compassion, self-love and forgiveness. When you are ready, release the posture and rest for a moment in Child’s Pose before continuing on with the rest of your Yoga practice.
© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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