If you are familiar with chakras, then you can tell from my logo that I love chakras.  The rainbow-colored spheres within my logo are representative of the chakra system within the body.

If you are unfamiliar, here’s a quick lesson:  There are seven energy centers called chakras (literally “wheels”) that store energy/life force/prana.  They are along the spinal column and correlate to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column.  Each has a different relationship to a gland in the body’s endocrine system.  Each stimulates different organs and systems in the body.  Hatha Yoga activates these energy centers releasing the energy that flows through the spine.  Yoga helps these energy centers/nerve bundles to function correctly clearing blocks that may be there.  Each chakra also is associated with a mental/emotional focus.  In each newsletter I’ll highlight how you can work with a particular chakra to correspond with the season.

We’re focusing on all things heart centered this month, so the heart chakra is on-deck! Do you follow your heart even when your head is telling you otherwise?  That’s a tough one.  We are often encouraged to follow our heart and not our head, but sometimes we may feel we have to defer to “logic”.  Sometimes, however, your heart is so strong; your logic has to agree with it.

As a personal example a year and a half ago, I was faced with a decision regarding my full-time employment.  Economic changes were causing the powers that be to rearrange my duties of nine plus years.  Economic times being what they were, the most logical choice would have been to stay with full time employment, but my heart would not let me choose that option.  I knew I’d be very unhappy with the new arrangement—enough so that just the thought of it was affecting my health in a myriad of ways. That’s when logic had to side with health which happily sided with the heart.

See what I mean?  The heart was so strong, logic had to agree.  “Negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety (all emotions I was feeling) disturb the heart rhythm.  Positive emotions such as appreciation, love, or compassion produce coherent or functional patterns.  Feelings, distributed throughout the body, produce chemical changes within the entire system.” The Subtle Body, An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy by Cyndi Dale.

Ever wonder how often the heart wins out over the brain and perhaps why? Did you know that the heart has its own brain? “After extensive research, one of the early pioneers in neurocardiology, Dr. J. Andrew Armour, introduced the concept of a functional “heart brain” in 1991. His work revealed that the heart has a complex intrinsic nervous system that is sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a “little brain” in its own right. The heart’s brain is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells like those found in the brain proper.”
http://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/introduction.html.

The heart’s electromagnetic field (EMF) is also much stronger than our brains EMF which might explain the heart’s influence over the brain’s “logic”:
“The heart’s electromagnetic field (EMF) emits fifty thousand femtoteslas (a measure of EMF), in contrast to the ten generated by the brain.  Other research shows that when separated from the magnetic field, the heart’s electrical field is sixty times greater thin amplitude than the brain’s field.  Through this field, a person’s nervous system tunes in to and responds to the magnetic fields produced by the hearts of other people.”  The Subtle Body, An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy by Cyndi Dale.  (Let’s remember this when we want to speak “heart-to-heart”.)

“The heart’s electromagnetic field—by far the most powerful rhythmic field produced by the human body—not only envelops every cell of the body but also extends out in all directions into the space around us. The cardiac field can be measured several feet away from the body by sensitive devices. Research conducted at the Institute of HeartMath (IHM) Research Center suggests that the heart’s field is an important carrier of information.”  http://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/head-heart-interactions.html

Other “research conducted at the Institute of HeartMath (IHM) Research Center showcase the heart at a key intuitive center, responding even to information about the future.” The Subtle Body, An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy, by Cyndi Dale.

So following our heart isn’t exactly fool’s play and sounds an awful lot like intuition. The chakra of intuition and clairvoyance is the third-eye chakra, but wait a minute.  Cyndi Dale, the author of The Subtle Body, An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy, believes that each of the major chakras (she talks of twelve) house a different type of psychic ability. So while I almost added the third-eye chakra to this month’s focus, I decided to focus on the heart chakra only and its intuitive aspects.  Don’t we often refer to following our heart as following our “gut”, or intuition?  Enough said.  Isn’t your heart really telling you what you want to do—what you should do?  Sounds like intuition to me.

Clairvoyance and intuition “develop in a much wiser stronger way, naturally, along with the development of the heart chakra.  The more open one’s heart, the easier one finds it to understand others, and therefore to accept, forgive, and embrace them.  When this development is part of the evolution of the human heart, then intuitive abilities develop naturally, within a spiritual framework.”  Meditation, Path to the Deepest Self, by Michal Levin.

The heart is “an organ of communication that can potentially manage the body’s intuitive processes.  It’s organically capable of performing certain brain-like functions.  In fact, between 60 and 65 percent of its cells are neural, identical to those present in the brain.  Energy—information that vibrates—flows constantly between the heart and the brain, assisting with emotional processing, sensory experience, memory and derivation of meaning from events, and reasoning.

Under correct conditions, such as when a person consciously ‘centers’ or focuses in the heart, the heart begins to run the brain.  (Most typically, the brain runs the body.)  Entrainment or the management of the body through the heart rather than brain leads to higher functioning mental and emotional states, as well as a healthier body.  It also enables a person to screen the outer environment for ‘good messages’ instead of ‘negative messages,’ enabling a more positive relationship with the external world.”  The Subtle Body, An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy, by Cyndi Dale.

So we use our heart chakra—our heart’s energy system—to intuit the world, and by following the heart, you have a healthier body.  Just when you think your brain is running the show, research finds that the heart initiates the first response to incoming events.

So what are some ways to work with your heart chakra?  We already talked about how backbends alleviate depression in the yoga pose section.  The physical practice of yoga deepens your awareness of your body so you become more conscious of your choices.  Yoga helps its practitioners learn to trust themselves—to follow their heart. One of my overriding themes in my yoga classes is to listen to your body and honor what you find.

Yoga postures align your body in purposeful ways.  Your natural posture is an indication of your unique blend of emotions residing in your body.  Your body is a map of all that’s happened to you in your life.  Try this experiment:  Stand with your shoulders hunched down and head drooping toward the floor.  Likewise, let your gaze travel toward the ground.  Does this posture feel empowering to you?  No!  Now stand up and open up your heart center.  Focus on the love you feel for someone or something special and send that energy out your heart center.  How empowering does that feel?  Feeling sad?  Try changing your posture in a purposeful way by opening up your heart center and see the effects this has on your mood.  Now that’s using your heart center chakra for the good of the body!  My February 2010 newsletter highlighted a wonderful “Heart-Breath” exercise that explains this exercise in more detail, and is worth repeating here:

The heart chakra also influences the lungs so breathwork is another great way to work with this chakra. I found the following wonderful breathwork exercise called “Heart Breath” from one of my favorite yoga ezines: http://www.yogamint.com. The author is Siri-Gian Khalsa, Intuitive, Healer and Teacher of Soul Connection.

“Start with long deep breathing through your nose. Now, just on the exhale, feel as though the air that you are exhaling is actually coming out of your heart center. How does that feel? Do you feel movement in your heart? Do you feel your world opening, getting brighter? Are you feeling calmer and more peaceful?

Next, if you find that someone is bugging you, or even yelling at you, or if you are in a group that is not getting along, or your children are noisily unhappy, just do this fascinating Heart Breath. Consciously direct the opening, expansive space you’re feeling towards them. As you do, track the miracles of change happening before your very eyes. They happen subtly, but very naturally.

You are actually moving incredibly powerful healing energy with your breath. Don’t get uptight or try hard. That would block this beautiful healing breath. Instead, relax and calmly breathe out of your heart. This is your own essential healing breath. Use it all the time and watch your life become magic!”

Did the experiment above make you a believer that emotions reside in the body?  For those of you that can’t buy emotions residing in the tissues of the bodies, let me remind you of “the numerous reports of organ transplant recipients who later experienced changes in personality traits, tastes for food, music, activities…”  It’s in the repetition of holding an emotion within your body that embeds it into the tissues.

Paul Pearsall, MD, a psychoneuroimmunologist and author of The Heart’s Code, has researched the transference of memories through organ transplantation. After interviewing nearly 150 heart and other organ transplant recipients, Pearsall proposes the idea that cells of living tissue have the capacity to remember.”  For more examples of this, go to http://www.viewzone.com/memorytest22.html.

Louise Hay has written about this subject in several books.  Try You Can Heal Your Life for starters.  She includes a directory of ailments and emotional causes for each with a corresponding affirmation to help overcome the illness.

Another good book on the subject is Your Body Speaks Your Mind, Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness by Deb Shapiro.  She includes a system-by-system guide to your body that reveals what it is telling you about yourself.

Other ways to work with the heart chakra include doing what we love to do. This can be as simple as a few minutes spent enjoying the sunrise or sunset and as complicated as moving to a foreign land to take a job in the field of your dreams.  Both are energizing and activate the heart chakra.  Only you know the desires that reside within your heart.  Your dreams and desires are as unique as your fingerprint.

Start small.  Pick something small that you love to do that is easy to add into your schedule regularly, and do it.  You’ll not only feel a sense of accomplishment because you’ve added something fun to your life, you’ll also feel nurtured and loved.  That’s activating your heart chakra energy.

How about just enjoying the moment? Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that I may not be exactly where I want to be, but right here is pretty darned good.  Just having gratitude for where you are at can be very empowering and uplifting.  You can enjoy more joy in your life simply by noticing it. Let me repeat that again: You can enjoy more joy in your life simply by noticing it.  How easy is that?

“Play a game with yourself today, seeing how much delight you can extract from every situation. Find the richness within each interaction and experience that you have.  Savor the sweetness that today (and every day) brings you.”  Daily Guidance from Your Angels, 365 Angelic Messages to Soothe, Heal and Open your Heart, by Doreen Virtue, PhD.

Use the power of laughter to energize the heart.  “Laughter is sacred.  Laugh more, play more, and sing more to harmonize yourself with the natural world.  Even humming moves your vibrational chord outward to mesh with the universe and all of humanity.  (See last month’s newsletter for more on the many benefits of humming.)  Delight in the unfoldment of this great musical that you call ‘life.’ …A heart filled with gaiety, mirth, playfulness, and laughter is a heart filled with Nirvana-essence.”  –Laughing Buddha / Maitreya section in Archangels & Ascended Masters, by Doreen Virtue, PhD.  She goes on to say that when you are laughing, notice how your heart fills with warm love, peace, and utter security.

If I didn’t spend time simply being with my husband each day, I’d feel downright depleted.  There are those that say we’re joined at the hip, and they’d be right.  To some it might appear over the top, but until you’ve been there, don’t knock it; and once you’re there, you’ll feel your heart chakra expand with joy.  “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” –Friedrich Nietzsche.

Being with someone you love also connects your heart chakra to your root chakra as highlighted in my November 2010 newsletter:  Taking a few minutes to connect with someone you love—be it human or animal—can be very grounding. I know from experience that when I’m the most stressed, just feeling my husband’s arms around me provides the most nurturing grounding experience.  It’s immediate.

We send heart energy out whenever we hug or touch someone, but also when we hold them in our affectionate gaze. I’ve always been attracted to the eyes.  I think you can say a lot without saying a word just through the eyes.  So let your heart speak through touch—both physical and mental.  Get or give a massage, go dancing, or go for a walk with someone you care about.  Even going for a walk by yourself exposes you to the world and allows your heart to connect with others.  Remember:  to love yourself is one of the primary principles of healing.

Do something nice for yourself. Twice today in my inspirational readings I was reminded of this.  What did you immediately think of when you read the first sentence of this paragraph?  Do that.

Here’s my personal example:  I love touchstones—basically crystals, stones, or gems.  I have them everywhere.  Stones from the Earth, be they gems or river rocks, talk to me.  They each have a story, just as we do.  Their life on this earth gave them the form we now see, and this form contains the lessons of that life.   So the first thing I thought of when I read the suggestion to do something nice for myself was the beautiful natural stone necklace I saw at the magical retail store I teach at on Thursday’s in Anoka:  Krista Artista Gallery.  http://www.kristaartistagallery.com/ .  I don’t wear much jewelry now that I am teaching yoga full time, so I have not indulged myself in my passion for touchstones lately; and have a hard time justifying the spend on my new income.

Unwittingly I have been using the law of attraction wrong.  The more I focus on my income not being enough, the more “my income not being enough” I’ll attract.  Now that doesn’t mean I’ll buy the exact necklace I’m thinking about, but I am reminded that whatever you do for your inner self is always appreciated.  So allow more of what you love into your life to keep the flow going.  It doesn’t have to be expensive—just be kind to yourself.  That could mean taking care of your body through sleep, exercise, healthful foods, and protecting yourself from negativity. To have more energy, abundance, peace, purpose, and everything that you desire, nurture yourself.  You deserve it.  Making time for yourself pays big dividends.  I’ve quoted it before in my yoga classes:  the inner you needs the outer you to take care of you.  Give to yourself as much as you give of yourself.  That’s healthy heart chakra—balancing both giving AND receiving.

The ability to relate resides in our heart chakra. How well do you relate to others and they to you?  What are some ways you can work on improving those skills?  Just listening more can increase your ability to relate tremendously.  Listen with your heart.  That’s even better. Going back to laughter being the best medicine, make it a point to seek out those that aren’t smiling and go out of your way to put a smile on their face.  All that you can take with you is that which you give away.  Give a smile.

Breathwork and Visualization:

A small calm space:

“Finding a few minutes once a day to be silent in your own company will help you to see opportunities and new solutions that would improve the quality of your life.  Crystals can help to bring balance into our energy systems but it is up to us to maintain and build upon that state of balance.

Use some green stones to bring some of the qualities of nature into your home. (See the Gem therapy and the Heart Chakra section below for some heart chakra stone suggestions.)  Set a small space aside in a corner or on a table.  Keep it clear of everyday clutter, and arrange some of your favorite green stones there, together with a beautiful plant and a candle, or other items that help you feel calm and relaxed.

1.     Take two minutes a day to sit and look at the stones.  Sit comfortably in front of them, light the candle or burn some incense.

2.     Take up one or two of the stones and hold them in your hands, close your eyes and relax.  You are making a space in your mind, your emotions and your life for new things to enter.

3.     Open your eyes to look again at the stones and then close them again and think of the space you are creating in your mind.  Repeat if you wish.

4.     When you have finished, return the stones to their place.

The energy of any room in the home can be enlivened by having a small quiet space somewhere within it.

Green Breathing

This exercise easily creates a meditative state.  Using a green crystal as a focus of attention naturally calms the mind and acts as a support to the entire process.  Sit in a comfortable position and take a minute to settle yourself.  Have a green stone in front of you—the type is not important.

1.      Look at the stone, letting your eyes rest on it gently.  Keep looking at the stone and let your mind be aware of your breathing.

2.     After a few minutes, close your eyes and imagine you are breathing in the color green.  If you get distracted, open your eyes and gaze at the stone for a while longer, then close your eyes and breathe in the color green again.

3.     When you are ready, put the stone aside and relax a minute before returning to normal activity.”

Source:  Healing with Crystals and Chakra Energies by Sue and Simon Lilly.

Affirmations:

 

  • I am quiet and listen to my heat’s song.
  • I live in love
  • Love gives me wings
  • I am visible, and I matter
  • I stand in complete satisfaction
  • I embrace life in its absolute fullness
  • At this moment, I have all that I need
  • Each moment is a precious gift in BE-ing
  • I am free to enjoy every precious moment of pure love with my beloved.
  • I am love.  I am peace.  I am light.
  • I follow my heart’s desire for truth and goodness and love.
  • Joy is my reason for living.
  • I look for the joy in myself and see it in all things.
  • I delight in sharing my joy.
  • I let my heart shine.
  • I treat myself with love and respect.
  • I’m in charge of my schedule, and I’m generous with myself.
  • I deserve the same affection and care as everyone else.
  • I notice and enjoy how sweet my life is.
  • I count my blessings and am grateful for what I have.
  • I enjoy my experiences.
  • I listen to my heart.

Sources:

Goddess.com.au
The Book of Chakras, Ambika Wauters.

A Handbook of Chakra Healing, Spiritual Practice for Health, Harmony and Inner Peace, Kalashatra Govinda.

http://www.1lovespirit.com/affirmations-chakras.html

Power Thoughts, 365 Daily Affirmations, Louise L. Hay.

Power Mudras, Yoga Hand Postures for Women by Sabrina Mesko.

The Book of Chakras, by Ambika Wauters

Archangels & Ascended Masters, by Doreen Virtue, PhD.
Daily Guidance from Your Angels, 365 Angelic Messages to Soothe, Heal and Open your Heart, by Doreen Virtue, PhD.

Diet and the Heart Chakra: Green leafy vegetables help stimulate the heart chakra and are good for the heart.  I provided a couple of links to go to for juicing and soup-making in last year’s February 2010 newsletter not archived yet.  I repeat them here for ease of reference:
Try: http://www.healingdaily.com/juicing-for-health/juicing-recipes.htm, or http://dkmommyspot.com/nutrient-rich-vegetable-soup-or-how-to-make-soup-without-a-recipe/, or www.foodnetwork.com/topics/soup.  Other heart chakra nourishing foods could include green tea and green herbs such as basil and immune-boosting oregano.

Aromatherapy and theHeart Chakra : Scents associated with the heart chakra are some of my absolute favorites such as angelica, jasmine, rose, geranium, and bergamot.  There’s also lilac, lavender, orange blossom, neroli, and ylang ylang.  For the heart chakra’s influence on the lungs try eucalyptus and peppermint, among others.

If aromatherapy interests you, I use Young Living Essential Oils™ which are therapeutic, food-grade oils.  Please inquire if you are interested in purchasing a favorite scent and I can add your request to my personal monthly order.  Essential oils raise the vibrational frequency of the body. When the vibrational frequency of the body drops, we become more receptive to ill health: http://justalist.blogspot.com/2008/03/vibrational-frequency-list.html. Therapeutic-grade essential oils are great to have in your arsenal of health promoting natural products.

Gem therapy and the Heart Chakra: Gemstones amplify the energy when placed in contact with your chakras.  For those of you unsure on this subject, consider that it’s scientifically proven that everything is energy.  Nothing is really solid.  Why wouldn’t the energy of a stone work effectively with the energy in our bodies just as some research speculates that the energy of computers, cell phones, and microwaves may affect our bodies?  At the very least, I find that holding a favorite stone is like a talisman for me, or a “worry stone”.  As my favorite author, Wayne Dyer, likes to say, “If it’s a placebo effect, I’ll take two”.

Some Heart Chakra gems are:  Rose quartz, malachite, green tourmaline, ruby, green emerald and aventurine, among others.

“Green stones strengthen the main quality of the heart chakra, which is to grow and expand in a harmonious manner in such a way as to fulfill the individual’s core needs.  Personal space and freedom to be oneself are essential for wellbeing and health.  We can use crystals to help us achieve our goals in life, both by giving us quiet in order to see things more clearly and by encouraging growth of qualities we need.

..choose crystals to encourage qualities that are needed for you to succeed.  Encourage optimism and clarity with yellow crystals. Calm with green stones, ability to learn with blue, co-ordination with violet.  A clear quartz can reinforce your intention if it is programmed….Use some green stones to bring some of the qualities of nature into your home.”  Healing with Crystals and Chakra Energies by Sue and Simon Lilly.

If gem therapy interests you, you can find a great selection at www.crystallinelight.com or you can also link to her Web site from my links page at www.betterdayyoga.com.  I’ve known Jennifer, the owner, for many years and love her products!

Yoga poses for stimulating the Heart Chakra:

All yoga poses are essentially grounding and activate the chakras.  Poses that open your heart center area poses we emphasize here.  I highlighted cobra pose in this month’s “yoga pose”.  This is a great heart opener.  Others include Fish pose, Bow pose, Camel pose, and Yoga mudra pose done while standing, among others.