This article will be presented in 4 or 5 different instalments, this being the second. The first instalment was on the ashram blog on Jan 21st 2017. These articles were first printed in the British Wheel of Yoga regional magazine for the north east of England.
The first installment of this article illustrated how opening the heart space leads to a fulfilling and joyful life. At the same time, it recognized that our heart space can often be chronically closed. As a comfortable suit of armour, it can seemingly protect us and yet in so doing, it limits our inner spontaneity and freedom. Stepping free of such armour requires courage.
The opening of the heart space is supported by the clarity and spaciousness that arises from the Agya Chakra – the eye of intuition/ insight, and the self-empowerment arising from the Manipura Chakra – the navel centre. Without these twin supports, the opening of the heart can simply lead to becoming overly sentimental or emotional: this only keeps us on an immature level. It can be commonplace to talk about ‘coming from the heart’ yet, without skillful integration with these other chakras, such talk can easily be superficial.
It is a truism in life that if we give unconditionally, free of expectation of anything in return (subtle or otherwise), then we open the door to life giving back to us in abundance. Yet this can feel questionable when we feel depleted or unbalanced, bereft of the support of the Manipura and Agya Chakras.
The awakening of the Manipura chakra brings us a growing sense of self confidence, personal direction and self-empowerment. It enables us to step out into life with our feet grounded and head held high. Opening the heart space can leave us feeling temporarily vulnerable or exposed. A strong core arising from the Manipura helps to protect and strengthen us during this time. The Agya Chakra gifts us with greater clarity, discernment and spaciousness, which help us to cope with strong and challenging emotions and feelings without being necessarily overwhelmed by them. The clarity of the Agya helps to keep our ship afloat even on stormy emotional seas.
Both the Manipura and the Agya help us to explore the heart space more deeply with a greater confidence and trust.
The practices of yoga – including asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha, meditation and yoga nidra – offer us a priceless system for working on the chakras in a holistic and integrated way.
In the next article in this series we will highlight how to work skillfully with self-limiting patterns such as criticism/ judgement which tend to close the doors of the heart. We will also explore the abiding value of forgiveness and letting go, which in turn help open the heart space.
The Anahata Chakra is the symbol of Mandala Yoga Ashram – www.mandalayoga.net – which runs residential yoga courses to convey the authentic, inspiring and timeless teachings of yoga and spiritual life.