yoga for the heart

Yoga for the Heart

The Anahata Chakra & The Hrit Chakra

(This post contains affiliate links.) The heart centre (or Anahata chakra) is known as the psychic centre of transformation. When our energy is focused through the Anahata chakra, then creativity and compassion abound.

Yoga for the Heart.

Within the Anahata chakra sits the Hrit chakra – a minor chakra which is said to be the seat of intuition and is also known as the ‘sacred heart’. The Hrit chakra absorbs energy from the sun and provides heat to the body and all of the other chakras. It is also said that within the Hrit chakra sits the Wish-fulfilling Tree, which symbolizes the ability to manifest what one wishes to happen in the world.

Dru Yoga: a ‘Yoga of the Heart’

Dru Yoga is often called a ‘yoga of the heart’ because many Dru postures and sequences are designed to stimulate the nadis (energy pathways) around the heart centre – thus activating ‘heart power’ to engage and heal.

From a physiological perspective, our thymus gland, which is the seat of our immune system, is located very close to the physical heart, just under the sternum. The location of the thymus gland makes it directly affected by the energy fluctuations of the Anahata chakra. Hence, by caring for the heart through Dru Yoga movements, we massage and nourish the physical organ, and stimulate the Anahata chakra, which in turn will work energetically to stimulate the thymus gland and begin a deep healing process.

The following video shows Dru Yoga’s ‘Energy Block Release 3’ sequence, which is also called ‘Awakening the Heart’. This sequence works on the heart area – in particular the Anahata chakra and the Hrit chakra –  nourishing your warmth, compassion, forgiveness, self-love, personal empowerment and inner joy.

The HeartMath Institute

It was back in 2002, during my Dru Yoga Teacher Training, that I was first introduced to the work of the HeartMath Institute by Dr. Helena Waters – a clinical psychiatrist and one of the instructors on the Dru Yoga Teacher Training course at that time.

Research by the HeartMath Institute suggests that the electrical field generated by the heart is 60 times greater than that of the brain and using this ‘heart energy’ to transform is a key factor in Dru Yoga’s effectiveness as a therapy.

The HeartMath Institute aims to help people bridge the connection between their hearts and minds, and deepen their connection with the hearts of others, by achieving a state of coherence which they describe as follows:

Coherence, in any system, from the human body to social affairs, refers to a logical, orderly and harmonious connectedness between parts of a system or between people. When we speak of heart-rhythm coherence or physiological coherence, we are referring to a specific assessment of the heart’s rhythms that appears as smooth, ordered and sine-wavelike patterns. From a physics perspective, when we are in a coherent state, virtually no energy is wasted because our systems are performing optimally and there is synchronization between heart rhythms, the respiratory system, blood-pressure rhythms, etc. Among the many benefits of personal coherence are increased composure, more energy, clear thinking, enhanced immune-system function and hormonal balance.

Each of us is capable of achieving, increasing and maintaining our personal and social coherence. One of the simplest and quickest paths to personal heart coherence is through the intentional self-generation of positive feelings such as compassion, care, love and other renewing types of emotions. In contrast, we can quickly become incoherent when we experience attitudes and emotions such as anger, fear and anxiety.

Indeed, Dr Dean Ornish and many other eminent scientists today are showing how, when we feel loved and have close caring relationships (with ourselves and others) our immune systems are stronger, and we can resist diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and many degenerative conditions more powerfully.  When we are happy, we are also more resistant to invading bacteria and germs. (Incidentally, Dr Dean Ornish’s Programme for Reversing Heart Disease is a must read if you or anyone you love has heart disease).

In order to increase coherence, the HeartMath Institute uses the ‘Quick Coherence Technique’, which they describe as follows:

Step 1: Heart-Focused breathing. Focus your attention in the area of the heart. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual. Suggestion: Inhale 5 seconds, exhale 5 seconds (or whatever rhythm is comfortable).

Step 2: Activate a Positive Feeling. Make a sincere attempt to experience a regenerative feeling such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. Suggestion: Try to re-experience the feeling you have for someone you love, a pet, a special place, an accomplishment, etc., or focus on a feeling of calm or ease.

This ‘Quick Coherence Technique’ is used in conjunction with research-based and scientifically-proven biofeedback tools which train you to make the shift to coherence. In fact, over 250 independent peer-reviewed studies have been published on HeartMath technologies and methodologies.

If you are looking to invest in one of the HeartMath Institute’s biofeedback tools, you have a choice of three products:

  • Inner Balance™ for iOS and Android is designed to be used with a phone or tablet.
  • emWave®2 is designed to be used with your computer.
  • emWave® Pro is also designed to be used with your computer, but allows multiple users and is therefore ideal for families or healthcare professionals.

This video will help you to discover which of the products is right for you:

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If you would like to read more about this fascinating subject, The HeartMath Solution is a very informative book.