Taking Care Of The Heart

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! Before you do the eye roll, I want you to remember the intention behind it: Love.

While I don’t believe we need a specific day of the year to give and receive love, it does serve as an excellent reminder that we could all do with a little more love in our lives.

In the yogic philosophy, the heart is not only a physical organ, but also serves as an energetic center known as a chakra (pronounced chalk-ra). We have 7 major chakras in the body that span from the bottom of our tailbone up the centerline of the body to just a few inches above the crown of our heads. The 4th (and middle) one is called the heart, or anahata, chakra.

When the heart chakra is open and strong, we are able to connect more readily with the essence of what it means to love and be loved. In Anodea Judith’s book Eastern Body Western Mind, she says, “The basic issues we encounter in the heart chakra deal with balance, love, and relationship. Through balance we find a center from which we can love, through love we form relationships, and through relationships we have the opportunity to transform the self-centered ego of the lower chakras into awareness of the larger realm in which we are embedded.”

Throughout life, different experiences can lead to vulnerability and wounding, which in turn can weaken the flow of energy through the heart chakra and keep us from fully experiencing the highest form of love: self-love.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, let’s all take some time to focus on the heart. Here are a few things you can do to help support your heart chakra this week:

Meditation + Mudra

Many of us are familiar with meditation. If you have tried it before, you have probably experienced the challenge, but also the ultimate sense of peace and calm that meditation brings. This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to take 10 – 15 minutes to sit and meditate on the heart chakra. After taking a few minutes to focus on your breath, begin to imagine a bright green ball of glowing light in the middle of your chest. In your mind’s eye, see the ball growing brighter each time you inhale, and feel it expanding each time you exhale.

For the last few minutes of your meditation, you can also work with a mudra that encourages an open heart. Mudras, very simply, are hand positions that help direct our energy and awareness, delivering physical, energetic, and emotional benefits. The Padma mudra, placed in front of the heart chakra, helps us tap into a sense of unconditional love.

Yoga Asana

The physical branch of yoga is also an excellent tool for shaking up stagnant energy. As you may have guessed, the best poses for supporting the heart chakra are those called….drumroll please….heart openers. Big heart opening poses serve us best when we practice them earlier in the daytime as they tend to be a bit stimulating. Before moving into peak heart opening poses, I recommend moving through 15 – 20 minutes of vinyasa practice that includes sun salutations with baby back bends and cobra/locust pose thrown in to help prepare our bodies.

My favorite heart opening yoga poses are:  Setu Bandha (Bridge)  Ustrasana (Camel)  Matsyasana (Fish) and Dhanurasana (Upward Facing Bow).

Acts of Kindness

This year, use Valentine’s Day not as an opportunity to buy heart-shaped paraphernalia or candy that will break your teeth, but as a chance to truly commit to acts of self-love. Self-love means something different to each of us, but acts that really help me connect with my heart chakra energy are things like:

  • Look at yourself in the mirror when you wake up and say, “I love you. You’re a wonderfully unique being.”
  • Cook yourself one delicious meal and eat it slowly, savoring its goodnes
  • Rub your feet at night before you go to bed
  • Give hugs to family, friends, or coworkers
  • Buy yourself something you would really enjoy, like a plant or a new journal
  • Pamper your body with a bath, hot shower, foot soak, face mask, etc.

Whatever it is you choose to do for YOU this Valentine’s Day, infuse your actions with loving kindness and compassion. The more your heart chakra is strengthened, the more you can give and receive love in turn.

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tyler johnson
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That’s interesting that you could do yoga poses that would be good for your heart. I would think that would be a good way to both get some exercise and relax, which I would think would both be good for your heart. I’ll have to think about giving that a try and see if that would help me reduce the chance of heart disease.

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