November 3, 2013

The Heart Center. {Chakra of the Month}

The heart chakra is this month’s energy center.

This is the fourth post of a seven-part, seven-month series, Chakra of the Month! Read about the firstsecond and third chakras.

Oh, the heart!

Love expresses itself in so many ways—forgiveness, compassion, kindness, friendship, romance, generosity and gratitude are among them.

When our heart center is out of alignment, we may experience greediness, jealousy, irritation, a lack of appreciation or even hatefulness.

Only with mindfulness and an open heart can we honestly give and receive love, care and concern.

The element of anahata chakra is air. By practicing pranayama, we can balance and heal this chakra. It’s also ideal to practice outside in the fresh air when possible.

Here are some other ways to open our heart center:

Bend Over Backward.

All yoga back bends are heart openers. Do yin and/or gentle restorative back bends such as lying over a bolster with your soles together and knees wide in supta baddha konasana (reclining cobbler’s pose).

If you’re more intermediate to advanced, do deep back bends in which the heart is above the head, like camel, bridge and full wheel.

Send Love to Others.

In meditation, practice the Tibetan Buddhist metta technique. In general, cultivate gratitude through daily actions, words and intentions.

Be Aware.

Being mindful is an act of love. Self-love, for you are giving your attention to what you are doing and accepting yourself anew in each moment. Mindfulness shows our love for others, too, through mindful listening and speech. It expands our awareness to all the sentient beings in this wacky universe.

Be Centered.

The heart chakra is at the center of the body and the center of the seven chakra system. It is where the lower chakras of grounding, sensuality and drive and the upper chakras of expression, intuition and enlightenment overlap.

Being centered in the heart means having our minds in the present moment as much as possible, fully experiencing what we are experiencing, fully doing what we are doing in the moment.

Sitting tall, lifting the crown and lengthening the spine—whether in a yoga pose or just sitting around your house—is another way of centering ourselves.

Love Creative Expression.

Be creative. Write. Draw. Paint. Play an instrument. Sculpt. Sing. Dance. Express your unique personality as a way of opening and sharing your heart.

Know What You Need

By being self-aware and knowing what we need and who we want to spend our time with, we become happier and more loving. For example, I need to read, meditate, walk and spend time in nature to feel relaxed and optimal. Knowing this, I arrange my life to be able to do these things that I love as regularly as I can.

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Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a heart-centered writer, teacher and creator of Yoga Freedom.

She has been a columnist on Elephant Journal since 2010 and has self-published inspiring books. She incorporates dharma, hatha, yin, mindfulness, chakras, chanting and pranayama into her teachings and practice. A former advertising copywriter and elementary school teacher, she is now a freelance writer and translator. Michelle learned yoga from a book at age 12 and started teaching at 22. She met the Buddha in California at 23 and has been a student of the dharma ever since. Michelle is now approaching her forties with grace and gratitude.

Join Michelle for a writing and yoga retreat this summer at magical Lake Atitlan in the western highlands of Guatemala!