Having read previously about the Heart Chakra, we have learned that, when off kilter, the heart chakra can create feelings of possessiveness and co-dependency or, quite the opposite, a dysfunctional heart chakra can cause a person to close off and isolate themselves as a shield from possible rejection.
Relating to emotional issues such as love, empathy, joy, inner peace and relationships, physical symptoms caused by an imbalance in the heart chakra can present themselves as upper back pain, respiratory issues and breast problems.
Situated at the centre of the chest, quite close to the physical heart, this chakra bridges the three lower, physically related chakras to the upper, spiritual chakras.
Approaching everything you do, including yoga, with a sense of love, forgiveness, and compassion can help to mend a poor performing heart chakra.
Here are some poses that can either stimulate the chakra to increase energy or release excess energy. Hold each pose for five, slow deep breaths.
Cat / Cow (Marjaryasana / Bitilasana)
A lovely movement for warming up the spine and relieving tension in the back and neck, this pose can help relax the mind and aid in breathing. The gentle movement also helps to create more space around the heart across the chest and the upper back.
From tabletop position, inhale with a flat back. As you exhale, lengthen the tailbone downwards, tilting the hips forwards, rounding the spine and dropping the head. On the inhalation, extend the hips back and up slightly as the belly dips down and lift the head. Move through both poses for a couple of rounds.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana helps to strengthen the muscles in the back and improve on the suppleness of the spine as well as open across the from of the chest, broadening the collar bones. A gentle backbend, cobra can help build awareness around restrictions in the lower, middle and upper back.
Rather than lifting straight into it, visualise extending through the crown of the head before gently raising the upper body and opening across the heart space. If you feel a pinch in the lower back, raise your hands off the floor for a moment. The upper body will naturally find a comfortable height before gently placing the hands back down.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Another pose that really helps to create space across the front of the body, kneeling on your mat with, hips directly over your knees, place the heels of your hands on your lower back, fingertips pointing downwards.
Encourage your shoulders and upper arm-bones back and inhale to lift your chest. Slowly, begin to lengthen through the spine and lean the torso back, keeping the hips above the knees. From here, extend your right hand back and place it on your right heel. Do the same with the left hand making sure that your hips are still above the knees, press your thighs forward.
If it is difficult to reach the heels, turn your toes under. If not too much of a strain, lengthen through the back of the neck and gently drop the head back. Stay here for a couple of breaths and then bringing your hands to your hips and leading with the chest, lift your torso to an upright position.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Bridge pose helps to open the chest and increase circulation relaxing the mind and calming the nervous system. Within this pose, make sure your feet are hip distance apart and enough of a distance from your buttocks so that your knees don’t extend past your ankles when you are in position.
They should be directly above the ankles and not splaying outwards or collapsing inwards. Squeezing a yoga brick between your knees can help with this. If you want to increase the challenge, interlace your fingers to clasp your hands beneath your pelvis and.
As you encourage your chest towards your chin, roll your shoulders in towards each other to open across the chest. Release any tension in the buttocks and press into the feet and keep the thighs strong to lift the hips.
Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Lie on your mat and bend your knees, bringing the soles of the feet together and letting the knees release out to the sides towards the floor. If you wish, you can place a block underneath each knee for support.
Place your palms on your belly, letting your elbows rest on the floor. Inhale and with each exhalation, allow your body to get a little heavier.
Hopefully after a yoga practise combining these positions, you'll feel back on track and more emotionally grounded.