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Fourth Chakra: Heart

Road to Wellness

By Diane Utaski · September 15th, 2004 · The Road to Wellness
This column is part of a series to help understand the Chakra System, the seven energy centers in the body. An overview of each can be viewed at citybeat.com or cincyoga.com.

Sanskrit Name: Anahata

Location: Located "medially" at the heart area, upper chest and upper back. It's the center of the chakra system, integrating the world of matter below and the world of spirit above. It governs the blood and circulatory system and heart health and influences the immune and endocrine system. Through the heart chakra we live with awareness of our feelings instead of being stuck in our heads.

When Balanced: This chakra attends to the quality and power of love in our life. We're in touch with our emotions of compassion, acceptance and fulfillment. Underneath pain and heart ache is a natural reservoir of harmony and peace. Organically we feel broadness in our chest area and lightness and ease in our breathing.

When Unbalanced: The effect is sadness, shyness, loneliness, passivity, insensitivity and emotionally closed.

Our bodily dysfunctions are lung disease, stroke, hypertension, respiratory problems, asthma, arthritis and cardio-vascular problems.

This is our personal space that reminds us of the healing powers of loving ourselves and others. This might involve slowing down and nurturing ourselves instead of depending on others or opening up to accept help and allow others to embrace us.

Yoga postures are therapeutic to helping balance and maintain healthy chakra functioning. Some of the poses that benefit the fourth chakra have chest focus. They help us move energy with fuller breathing in the lungs to release and let go. Physically opening this area also gives space to our heart and lungs to function optimally.

Here's an easy one to practice before you go to sleep and when you wake up.

The Bed Backbend: Lay on the bed on your back with your top of your shoulders coming to the side edge of the bed. Your head will slightly drop over. If you have any neck issues or discomfort, bring your hands behind your head to support it. You can also bend your knees and have your feet flat on the bed. Start here and breathe a few easy breaths to relax and let go of any fear. Then gradually start to scoot yourself a little more over the edge, letting your head (and arms if you like) drop in the direction of the floor. Stop here and direct 10 breaths into your heart space and pay attention to your emotional feelings.

Feel the power of your heart being above your busy mind. To come back up, scoot yourself back onto the bed and roll to your side slowly, using your arms to help you. Don't try to sit straight up. If you like, you can use one of the following to help enhance your experience while you're in the posture.

Color: Green -- Visualize this shade and its slow vibration in the opened area.

Sound: Yam (rhymes with yum) -- Repeat this over and over, drawing out the letter "m."

Mantra: "I love" -- Repeat this slowly and mindfully (aloud or to yourself).

Ask DIANE UTASKI a question by e-mailing her at diane@cincyoga.com. If your question is chosen, win a free yoga class at the Cincinnati Yoga School.


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