The heart invites one to discover its mystery, loving wildly and unabashedly, surging forth with desire and promise regardless of paralleled demands of the mind. Without limitation, the heart reaches out into the world and reveals goodness, a sweetness, capable in all beings. Compassion resides in the heart and when left unexamined may become a space where sorrow blossoms and spreads. Tending to the heart is expressed in the tenderness and care we give ourselves and extend outwardly to others and to the world around us. Seeking the truths of the heart is to examine our inner longing and vulnerability, the tools and practices that bring us back to the deep seat of quiet within ourselves. Our vulnerabilities may be subject to exploitation via anger when we lack the awareness or direction in how to proceed. Asking for help, looking to communities for support, and exposing vulnerabilities might be successful in leading one to a path where shedding fear and witnessing desire is finally possible. To get stuck in a cycle of fear, lack of commitment, or loss of perspective, is part of the process in unearthing the courageous heart.
Clara and I discussed the unstruck heart on the #practicewithclara podcast where we explored the heart’s capacity to expose vulnerability, establish truth, and ultimately, enhance the spread of compassion unto ourselves and others. The heart is a symbol of spiritual transformation where love and receptivity become the tools for inner alchemy. In this article, I’ve provided heart-opening practices and a
The Unstruck Heart: Anahata Chakra
The epicentre of the human body, the heart represents our spiritual evolution and ability to transcend the physical realm. The fourth chakra, Anahata is the middle of the seven chakras positioned along the spine and located at the centre point of the chest where the heart resides. The heart is where spirit and matter collide, bridging the gap between thought and action and delivering our deepest desires to the material realm as we unearth and respond to our inner truths. Anahata translates from Sanskrit to English as the unstruck, expressing this idea of a space that is pure, fresh, unhurt, and clean. Free of grief and past sorrows, we become free to accept and explore the many ways to give and receive love.
The element that expresses Anahata chakra is air, which represents spirit, lightness, spaciousness, and equanimity. Air for the yogi, relates to one’s vitality. The Prana, or breath, is the lifeforce contained within and how our life force is created and sustained. Our breath is the initial way we link the ethereal realm with the physical realm through the energetic exchange in breathing. The practitioner who develops and controls the breath through pranayama techniques may attain higher states of awareness and consciousness. In yoga, we focus on the breath to nourish the body, settle the mind, and stimulate the nadis-energy lines, including the chakras along the spine. The evolution of our bodies and minds rely on breath, from bringing oxygen to the lungs to removing toxins, releasing emotion and purging negative energy, the breath is the gateway to addressing the subtle body and crucial factor in maintaining wellness.
The sacred space of the heart leads us toward the power and immanence of love, the importance of establishing relationships with others and ourselves, and the means to heal old wounds and traumas. We are drawn to love, relationships, and a desire to let go and heal, and yet it requires a deep commitment to a practice that helps us address our vulnerability, fears, and pain. Working with the heart chakra asks that you delve deep into your own inner truth and address what you need. Examples of some insights that might surface include: asking for help and expressing humility; letting go of a relationship that no longer serves; receiving past pain in order to heal the wound and move forwards with more integrity.
Our hearts may be our guides in providing access to a deeper intuition that’s felt. You cannot rush, rationalize, or dissect the desires or the lessons of the heart. The heart’s compassion and innate knowledge surpasses any judgements imposed by the mind, but together, the wisdom of the heart and the focus of the mind may deliver the devotee to a place where healing is possible, connection is intensified, and a deep understanding of the yearning we all share in accepting ourselves and each other is made possible.
Space Within: A Mantra for Peace
A practice, purpose, teacher, or guide may assist you in your development of the heart chakra, in listening to its wisdom and honouring your inner truth. The heart’s freedom and play surges forward when we embody what it means to be human and take responsibility for our own happiness. A happiness that’s achieved when we heal, accept and receive all that is coming, and strive for balance. Happiness within is quickly transformed to happiness without, extending to all corners of our environments and those around us. When we’ve compassion for ourselves only then may we extend our compassion to others. It starts inside and moves outward as we gain clarity, confidence, and recognize our contribution to our evolving reality.
Light up your heart chakra with a mantra for peace to all beings and elements in the universe: Join Clara and her 300-hour YTT students for call and response before diving in together in this mantra for peace.
Open Your Courageous Heart: The Anahata Playlist
A curated collection of heart-opening practices, the Anahata Playlist invites the practitioner to feel and express beauty within the body through dynamic movement and breath. Open your heart, strengthen your back, visualize a lotus symbol at your heart centre, and dedicate your practice to Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty.
Heart Wide Open
Move your body to feel and connect to what’s inside, this backbending-focused yoga class opens the hamstrings and chest, and strengthens the back and deep core muscles. Flow through a series of lunges, balancing postures, and twists, before taking a variation of camel-pose from a low lunge.
A Neat Bow
A faster-paced vinyasa practice to open the front and lateral/side body while preparing you to explore bow pose, camel pose, and wheel pose. Clara guides a dynamic sequence to build heat and strength before back-bending, before cooling down with hip-openers and twists.
Explore the movement of your spine in a fluid vinyasa sequence that targets the side waist, strengthens the mid back, and inner thighs. This class is simple, short, and smooth, with opening for the heart space and shoulders as your enhance the flexion and extension of the spine.
Beauty Within and Without
Discover your natural fluidity and balance in this Prana Flow inspired class with Clara. A practice dedicated to Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty, you’ll start seated for a brief meditation and mudra for beauty. Enjoy a smooth and slow flow with fun transitions as you explore leg balancing poses to build strength and stability.
Discover the Devotion of the Heart
Practices of the heart require a deep devotion in heart, body, and mind. When we commit to ourselves and choose to move from the sacred space of the heart, we step into our inner truth. Honouring and moving from the heart takes time. It may take years to recognize our fears, vulnerabilities, and sorrows. It may take years to shift these energies into courage, resilience, and positive forms of self-expression. Be patient and cultivate a practice for devotion to stand firm in what you feel and believe is true. Devote yourself fully to this transformation. Dedicate yourself to this process of revealing your courageous heart and fostering relationships with others that feed this process.