“With anahata (heart chakra) awakening, one develops non-attachment to worldly things, and a constant feeling of optimism, understanding that good and bad co-exist, but there is also a world beyond this duality” – Sw. Satyananda.
Yoga works on many levels, from the purely physical, to the emotional and even into the unconscious realms of the mind and psyche. Whatever we do with the physical body has an effect on the mind and emotions, and that likewise a particular mind-set or set of beliefs will have its effects (good or bad) on the body.
So, to ?open the heart?, we have various tools to use in yoga. The yoga postures or ?asanas? are our physical tools. Amongst the asanas, it is the backbends that stretch and open the chest and lungs, and strengthen the heart. Stimulating the spine, which houses the spinal cord (as we do in backbends) also creates more of a feeling of being alive and present in the body. Thus backbends are energizing postures, alleviating fatigue. Opening the heart area physically also creates feelings of courage, strength, and openness.
We can also use non-physical tools in yoga, such as visualization and sound vibration, to go straight to the subtler layers of our being, the energy body and beyond. In yoga it is believed that there are seven energy centres called chakras within the energy body, lined up along a central energy channel that corresponds to the spinal passage in physical space. They are like junction boxes, holding high levels of the vital force, and distributing it throughout the body. Anahata chakra (the heart centre) is located in the spine directly behind the centre of the chest. Anahata chakra governs our experience of love, compassion for others and devotion. Certain yoga practices work to directly open anahata chakra. Those who have a balanced and awakened anahata chakra experience the same love for all, and have a deep sense of love for, and being loved by a divine presence. There is an attitude of non-judgment; the higher mind begins to awaken, and the good, aswell as the not so good, is perceived in all, no matter which is uppermost.
The following practices work in different ways to ‘open the heart’.