Philosophy of Yoga

How to Open the Heart Chakra – The Fourth of the Seven Chakras

Know your Heart Chakra, and learn how to open your heart. Learn a simple breathing exercise to open your heart.

What is Heart Chakra?

The Heart Chakra is the fourth of the seven Chakras .

Once we bring stability by activating the Root Chakra, feel connected by healing the Sacral Chakra, and expand the positive energy by awakening the Solar Plexus Chakra, we are now ready for more significant, more profound, and more substantial Chakra – the Heart Chakra.

Deep within each one of us, we find our heart. Within our heart, we discover the seeds of inner peace awaiting to be released. That’s what the Heart Chakra does. It is the center of love – pure unconditional love – different from the sexual and passionate love we experience in the Sacral Chakra. This love is not dependent on stimulation. Instead, it is experienced as a state of being, bringing love and compassion to whatever comes into our life. It is a divine presence of empathetic connection rather than an extension of our need or desire.

Heart Chakra

What is the power of Heart Chakra?

The element of the fourth Chakra is the air that represents freedom, openness, freshness, lightness, and softness. Air, the gaseous state of matter, differs from other elements – Earth, Water, and Fire. Earth stays rigid and fixed. Water sits at the bottom of the bowl. Fire moves upward but always clings to its fuel. Air disperses, yet, there is a sense of equilibrium, calm, and evenness. When balanced, this Chakra helps us feel pure and stay intact even during adverse events because of its state of being in harmony with oneself.

Opening the Heart Chakra helps us develop compassion, connection, and understanding for those around us. Helping or healing others also arises from a simple state of empathy, which is the center of the Heart Chakra.

Lastly, air represents breath or prana. In yoga philosophy, prana is vital energy between the mind and body. Whole systems of yoga have been built on breathing techniques, called pranayama, which is designed to expand consciousness and purify the body. When the thoughts are quiet, the breath is calm, and a soothing and healing rhythm runs throughout the whole mind and body.

What happens when we ignore Heart Chakra?

When this Chakra is overactive, we act in self-sacrificing. We would do anything in the name of love and compassion.  However, this lapse in boundaries can go all the way to absolute self-exploitation or even self-destruction. At the same time, when we cling to what or who we love, we might suffocate those whom we love. Remember: 

  • If you are continuously overextending yourself,  you train others to take you for granted, making them lose respect.
  • Out-of-balance “give and take” hurts your relationships. For example, if you say ‘yes‘ even if you do not want to, you will end up resenting others for asking you, even though you were the one who said yes.
  • Self-sacrifice does not always serve the other person.  If you continually do everything for those you love, you deny them the experience of caring for themselves.

Likewise, nothing blocks a Heart Chakra like past experiences of abandonment and rejection. These can come about when a parental figure disappears from your life or after a trusted friend or partner cheats on you or leaves you unexpectedly. It can make you dwell on past experiences, holding onto grudges, experiencing trust issues, and struggling with commitment issues.

At the same time, if you have difficulties feeling empathy for others than usual, it is a sure sign of a Heart Chakra blockage. It may be a defense mechanism to keep yourself from attaching to others or a symptom of emotional burnout. In any case, checking in with yourself to see how you can open up your Heart Chakra can help you get back to equilibrium.

What is the mantra for opening Heart Chakra?

Learn to let go and move on. Letting go removes some blockage, lightens your heart, and can restore your hope and optimism.

Learn to focus on yourself. Self-care is the key: the remedy – boundaries. Establishing and maintaining healthy limits can help you avoid overextending yourself – be it in your personal or professional life. 

Always remember that sharing love and doing good deeds for others is one way for you to feel loved, needed, and appreciated. “Understand that you own nothing. Everything that surrounds you is temporary; only the love in your heart will last forever.”

Tiered Approach to Self-care tips to open your Heart Chakra

The first rule of kindness is to be kind to yourself.”

  • Physical Self Care: Start with the basics – clean yourself, eat healthy foods, integrate exercise, and sleep well.
  • Intellectual Self Care: Learning something new can recharge your brain and make you excited about not knowing everything.
  • Professional Self Care: Have a work-life balance. It is also part of making your day-to-day as efficient as possible.
  • Financial Self-Care: Keep track of what you are making and what you are spending. Personal self-care might not be applicable if you are struggling with debt, unemployed, or don’t have enough money coming in.
  • Spiritual Self Care: Running, lifting weights, yoga, or meditation – have your version of spiritual self-care. Get to know yourself and your thoughts!
  • Social Self Care: Social interaction can help you feel fulfilled, validated, and loved. At the same time, set boundaries.  Focus on communicating clearly when you need to pull it back. Try to practice reaching out when you need help or company.
  • Environmental Self Care: Take care of your environment. How clean is your home or the surroundings? Checking off this basic can help you feel more grounded in your space.
  • Emotional Self Care: Take some time to think of the activities that make you feel emotionally fulfilled.

Importance of Breathing – Pranayama

A typical pair of lungs can hold about two pints of air, while the average person breathes in about one pint or less per breath. Aside from maintaining essential life functions, the breath is one of our most powerful tools for transforming ourselves: burning up toxins, releasing stored emotions, changing body structure, and changing consciousness.

  • Sit down in any comfortable position
  • Take a normal breath and see how much more air you can add to it.
  • Notice how it feels to breathe deeply. Watch the path of your breath, making both inhalation and exhalation as full as possible
  • Breathe deep into your belly, then into your chest, and finally into your shoulders and throat. Exhale, reversing the order, and repeat several times
  • Notice what parts of the chest feel tight and how it constricts the breath
  • Give those parts some gentle massage. Freeing up the chest and upper back through massage or emotional release helps to deepen the breath.

While basic yoga poses such as the cobra, fish, and chest opener poses are great for opening the Heart Chakra, I have found the following pose very helpful. Instruction for the pose in the video below.

Here is the magic of Color Green

Heart Chakra
Bija Mantra: YAM

Green is universally associated with nature and the natural world. Spending time in natural green environments or even looking at pictures of green scenery in nature has been linked to stress relief, better impulse control, and improved focus. Culturally, green indicates a situation is safe (a green light) or related to success (green tick mark). This may be another cultural influence since green is commonly associated with financial success—even money itself is green.

Mantra for Heart Chakra

The Bīja Mantra (Seed Mantra) of the Heart Chakra is YĀM, the sound of spiritual awakening. Here is a video that we found helpful.

And lastly, do not forget to save this positive Heart Chakra Affirmation

Summarizing Heart Chakra

Sanskrit NameAnahata
Inner StateCompassion, Love
RightsRights to love
Outer ManifestationGaseous
Other Body partsLungs, heart, pericardium, arms, hands
MalfunctionAsthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease
Seed SoundYam
FoodsLeafy greens and fruits
GunaRajas or Sattva

This is a part of the Chakra Series blog. We will write about different Chakras and what Asanas you can practice to stimulate them.

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