Have you ever felt stuck? In a rut? Between a rock and a hard place? In the middle? Like a giant molar is stuck up there, above the gum line...... like Aidan was feeling quite recently? ( I just had to work in this picture. Do you see the size of that thing? And the effects of the feel good meds?)
We've all been there. Caught between two places and not sure how to get over the hump. It happens in our relationships with other people, in our careers, and while working toward our goals. Sometimes even what seems like it should be a pretty simple task feels unattainable.....like cleaning out a closet or organizing photo albums. No matter where or how we get stuck, there's a common thread: The desire to become Unstuck. And no matter how hard it is to become Unstuck, the pure relief and lifting of a weight on us when we break through is exhilarating.
Anahata is the Sanskrit word for the process of becoming unstuck. It is also the name of the 4th Chakra, the Heart Chakra. The placement of the heart chakra is between our three lower (related to matter) and three upper (related to spirit) chakras, in the position to balance both of our worlds, so to speak. So, if you feel out of balance, your Heart Chakra might need your attention.
According to Yoga Journal, signs that your Heart Chakra might be stuck or blocked can be both emotional (lonliness, a resistance to forgive, feeling unworthy, lack of trust toward others or self, co-dependence) and physical (poor circulation, high/low blood pressure, lung/chest issues) in nature. Unblocking a chakra might not cure all that ails us, but it can help us feel better physically and emotionally. So, let's dive in and and discuss how to nurture our Heart Chakras. Whether you feel stuck or not, taking care of yourself can only improve your quality of life. (As always, I say that yoga is for everyone in whatever form works for each of us. If you don't buy into the idea of the chakras, then think of this as a blog post about heart opening to help you move through a tough spot. The yoga police are not going to come for you if you are not down with the Chakra talk. As long as you take away something that helps and/or interests you, then mission accomplished.)
Becoming Unstuck: Finding the State of Anahata
The Heart Chakra is associated with Air. Breath is such an important part of any yoga practice. Both during your practice and during other parts of your day or evening focus your breath through your heart center with deep, calming breaths. As you do, picture the air around you as a positive force that lifts you up and provides peace or maybe even a layer of Love, which is a Heart Chakra emotion. This is a good way to calm the mind during anxious moments and to help find calm for sleep.
Wear some Emerald Green! It's the color of the heart chakra and is said to awaken and strengthen it. Wear it near your heart for even more good vibes.
Use some (or all!) of the following essential oils or actual flowers: Jasmine, Lavender, Rose ....... and Young Living oil blends Joy and Believe. Apply them to the heart center or diffuse them in the room. Find your own combination that makes you feel peaceful or happy. (and if you need oils, oh boy, I can help you there....)
The demon of the Heart Chakra is Grief. If you are dealing with loss in your life, the road to becoming unstuck means letting yourself work through those grief stages. (To paraphrase a favorite children's book The Bear Hunt.....'Can't go under it. Can't go around it. Must go through it.')
Touch is a sense associated with the Heart Chakra. A hug from a friend, wrapping yourself in your favorite sweater, petting your cat or dog, treating yourself to a massage, or any touch sensation that soothes you can help. Knitters are familiar with the power of touch, which is why we hoard so much lovely-to-touch natural fibered yarn. Am I right, fellow knitters?
Accepting and offering Compassion is a healing Heart Chakra practice. Simple acts of kindness towards others who we know and toward strangers as well as accepting kindness from others is heart healing. And more important than we admit to ourselves sometimes.
Yoga poses that are said to be good for the Heart Chakra include those in the category of Heart Openers. Simple Sun Salutations offer gentle heart openers and all over stretching to awaken our bodies (See the July 24 blogpost for a video demonstration).
Here are a couple of others to try:
- Gentle Seated Backbends (at work, while sitting at a stoplight in your car, etc): Inhale your spine long (and avoid arching your back). Exhale your heart forward as you lean your shoulders backwards and lift your face to the sky. Inhale back to sitting back up.
- Bridge Pose: Lie on your back comfortably. Bend your knees and place your feet solidly on the floor about hip distance apart. Place your arms on the ground at your sides, palms down. Inhale deeply. On the exhale, lift your hips, making a straight line of your torso from hips to shoulders. Picture your knees as headlights, pointing straight up and out (no dipping in or splaying out of the knees). Lift your chin away from your chest. You can stay here or lightly rock from side to side, tucking your shoulders in as you do so and bringing your hands together beneath you. Nice, deep breaths here. To come out of it, rock your shoulders back out from underneath you and gently lower your hips to the ground on an exhale. Sit up slowly.
- More: The July 3 blog post was dedicated to heart openers. Take a look back for more, if you'd like.
Let me know how it goes or if you'd like some more heart openers or Heart Chakra stuff. We will work through the other chakras for everyday benefit in future blog posts.
Wishing You Wellness of the Heart Chakra!
I plan to make some changes to the Yoga in the Park schedule. Please let me know if there is a class time or type that you'd attend, and I will try to work it in. This fall, I'll spend more time putting the final touches on my Yoga in Schools Workshop and Yoga for Athletes program. Please let me know if you have interest in either or if you know someone else who might. I'm also still looking for a donated space to do Free Yoga for Caregivers. I have not forgotten about it! If you think you know of a space, please let me know. Thank you again for supporting my fledging yoga space and for encouraging it to grow. I appreciate each and every one of you. <3
Chakra image courtesy Pixabay.com - Aidan's tooth image is mine and has not been photoshopped at all (!!)