by Kara-Leah Grant
It’s Day 17 of my forty days of a heart-opening kriya. Every day I hit the mat and do seven postures in a specific order. Often I do other asana, pranayama and meditation as well. But no matter what, there is always the consistency of the heart-opening kriya to anchor me in my home yoga practice.
So, is it working? Is this yoga practice opening my heart chakra?
Before I answer that, I want to take a step back and define what that question actually means. So often we toss around words assuming that we all know what they mean… yet each of us can be assuming different meanings.
Let’s look at each element of that question and make sure we’re all on the same page.
What is a Yoga Practice?
A yoga practice is the use of a tool or technique to bring us into a state of being, we’re we are fully present, rather than stuck in our minds, thinking. We’re not in the past, we’re not in the future. We’re not judging. We’re simply present.
A practice can consist of many different kinds of tools, including but not limited to asana (postures), pranayama (breath work), meditation, mudras (hand postures) and chanting.
What is a Chakra?
A chakra is an energetic centre residing in the subtle body. It’s not material, or made up of matter. Generally in yoga, we focus on seven main chakras which lie along the spine, starting at the bottom and rising all the way to the top.
The word chakra means circle or wheel. Anodea Judith describes chakras as:
…a center of organisation that receives, assimilates, and expresses life force energy. Chakras… refer to a spinning sphere of bioenergetic energy emanating from the major nerve ganglia branching forward into the spinal column.
What is the Heart Chakra (Anahata Chakra)?
The Heart Chakra is the fourth chakra, and is located in the chest area. It’s usually represented by the colour green, the element air and a circular flower with twelve green petals.
The heart chakra is about loving and being loved – it’s the way we form relationships. This is where we feel grief, abandonment, fear of intimacy, rejection, betrayal, loneliness, isolation and depression. On the flipside, it’s also where we feel compassion, empathy, love, altruism and peace.
The Heart Chakra is about giving and receiving love, our ability to be open and present with people, and our ability to feel connected and at ease with people.
What does opening the Heart Chakra mean?
This is where it gets tricky. I did a quick google search to read up on an open heart chakra, and the one thing that felt most clear was that most people are just making this up. They’re not necessarily speaking from experience, but sharing what they’ve heard or what they’ve read. In other words, it’s all heresay.
Instead of quoting this source, or that source, I’m going to give you my intuitive response from my own experience. It doesn’t mean it’s right, but it’s what I can offer. It’s an experiential understanding.
I would suggest that there are three states that concern us when we examine chakras – open, closed and balanced.
An open heart chakra is when we can feel the emotional flow of both ourselves and every being around us – people, animals, plants… Sometimes though this information is overwhelming and can become far too much, making a person actually retreat from their body and heart and into the mind, to avoid feeling all the different emotions. Because of this, an open heart chakra can sometimes be an unhealthy or difficult place to be. Sometimes, when our heart is wide open, we have a lack of healthy boundaries, and we can be in co-dependent relationships.
A closed heart chakra is when we feel withdrawn, antisocial, cold, shut-down, critical, judgemental, lonely, or isolated. It’s like being trapped inside a prison of our own making. It can feel really awful, like the entire world has gone grey and we can’t find the light switch.
A balanced heart chakra is when we feel open and at ease, connected to life and those around us, but also able to easily discern what emotions belong to us and what emotions belong to others. We’re centered in our own selves. We feel worthy of love and we feel safe in opening up to give and receive love with others.
While we often talk about wanting to open our heart chakra, a more accurate word to use would be balance – I’d like to balance my heart chakra. This ensures we’re neither in deficiency – closed down and cold -or in excess – feeling everything and with poor boundaries. Often, when we’re out of balance, we can flip between deficiency and excess. This was certainly my experience when I was in a co-dependent relationship.
What are the symptoms of a balanced Heart Chakra?
When we are in balance, we will feel love – actually feel it. We will also feel balanced. We will have the capacity for self-awareness. So often, if we have poor boundaries – ie. we struggle to know where we end and other people begin – we also have low self-awareness. We’re not aware of our Self as a separate entity.
This I know well too. I remember with clarity the first moment, about a year or so into my co-dependent relationship when I realised that what I was feeling was not actually my emotions, it was the emotions of my partner! Well! What a revalation. Identifying those emotions as not mine meant I didn’t get caught up in reacting to them as if they were mine. Relief!
A balanced heart chakra also means we accept ourselves. Acceptance is love after all… we’re not judgmental or critical of ourselves with all our human flaws. Our relationships also reveal our heart chakras. Just as a co-dependent relationship often reveals a heart chakra in excess, so too does a balanced loving relationship reveal a balanced heart chakra. Obvious really!
Finally, when our heart chakra is balanced, we’re easily able to be intimate. We can reveal ourselves as who we actually are with those we love. We can allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
Is the Heart-Opening Kriya Working?
Yes! Mostly definitely. I’m on Day 17 and I can feel it working. I’m noticing greater ease around people in general. I feel softer and more open and simply more delighted at how wonderful people are. There are more feelings of love perhaps, but the biggest indicator for me is that greater ease. It’s like a relaxation, a giant Ahhhhhhhh… and there I am. It feels delightful.
And all this from practicing the same seven yoga postures for one minute each, every day. That’s it. Seven minutes a day. A noticeable difference in my relationships and interactions with people. I’m stoked, and curious to see what unfolds over the next few weeks as I move toward completing this forty days. Stay tuned for more on the heart chakra and this kriya!