by Katherine Girling, ERYT200/RYT500
With Valentine's day approaching and an abundance of heart-shaped imagery all around us, we'd like to talk about the heart as it relates to our favorite subject: Yoga! The human being is said to have three hearts. One is physical, and can be dissected by a surgeon’s knife. The psychic heart is the heart that is led by an orderly mind. The spiritual heart has control over both heart and mind. It is not subject to sorrow, pain or misery.
According to the ancient yogis, there are two hemispheres in the human body—the upper and the lower—and there are seven spheres (chakras, or wheels). Anahata chakra, the spiritual heart, connects the two hemispheres. It is said to be located in the physical heart, a few inches to the right of the sternum. Anahata is the seat of the soul and the center for consciousness and compassion. It is associated with the ability to make decisions outside the realm of karma. In Anahata, we make decisions ("follow our heart") based on our higher self, not the unfulfilled emotions and desires of the lower chakras. As Anahata awakens, we obtain complete emotional balance and the ability to communicate externally as well as internally. We also develop non-attachment to worldly things and a constant feeling of optimism, understanding that good and bad coexist, but there is also a world beyond this duality. After ridding ourselves of attachment, the mind becomes relaxed, free and peaceful. Through the process of yoga, we can learn how to influence the chakra system to assist us in more effectively and more consciously creating our reality, to reveal the magic that can liberate, empower and illuminate our lives.
On a physical level, yoga helps keep our hearts healthy. When we are slouched all day, boobing out on the couch or slumped at a desk, we are compressing our internal organs, including the heart and intestines. The strangling effect is as strong as if they were tied with tourniquets. This impairs the circulation of blood and lymph, starving our tissues of the oxygen, hormones and enzymes they need to function properly. By practicing yoga - especially twists - we squeeze blood out of organs and muscles, allowing fresh blood to rush in, carrying nutrients and new life. The heart fulfills its purpose. Healing begins.
Just a few more reasons to keep practicing, keep sharing, keep growing. From our Anahata to yours, happy Valentine's day!