I have a dear friend who, despite not being into yoga at all, decided to go on a yoga retreat. I was delighted, of course, and was excited to hear how she got on. But when I saw her afterwards, she knitted her brow and said doubtfully: ‘The yoga teacher told me I needed to open my heart chakra. She said my heart chakra is closed. But I’m confused – how do I open my heart?’
Gosh. Why would you tell someone they needed to open their heart chakra without giving them the tools to be able to do it? So I am writing this post on how to open the heart chakra for my dear friend, and for those who may have been told similar!
Why is my heart chakra closed?
We are all born with our hearts wide open. We are full of love, trust, and openness. We don’t even know how to fear at this point. We are an expression of pure love. And then, as our conscious mind develops, and life inevitably happens, and we experience a few knocks and scrapes along the way, we might learn to close down the loving, trusting openness we had as a newborn baby. Fear, and judgement, and shame, and self-doubt might start to creep in. Our heart chakra closes. The good news? We can learn to open our heart chakra.
Heart chakra opening 101: Love yourself
Opening your heart chakra begins with YOU. The first thing you need to do to open your heart chakra is to start loving, nay, ADORING, yourself. You are a magnificent being of glorious light, unlimited potential and immense potential. Fall in love with yourself. How? Be alert for negative self-talk. As soon as you recognise it, change it to the opposite. For example, switch the ‘I’m not attractive’ record for the ‘I am amazingly beautiful’ one. Flip through the ‘I can’t do it’ track to ‘I can do anything’. Change the way you think about yourself, and it will start to become a reality.
If there’s one rule in this life, it’s be kind. This is the one sure way to leave the world a better place than when you entered it. HH the Dalai Lama will agree. Smile at people on the street, be polite, be as generous as you can be, give others the benefit of the doubt. Making the world a better place is something we can do just by projecting good energy.
Kundalini yoga to open the heart chakra
As a kundalini yogi, I can wholeheartedly say, with hand on heart, that kundalini yoga is the most effective way to open the heart chakra. There are some beautiful heart-opening kundalini yoga kriyas out there. Here is one, and a very lovely, gentle one it is too. It will support a beautiful incremental blossoming in the heart centre, establishing you fully in those heart chakra qualities of love, compassion, forgiveness and connection.
Eat more greens
The heart chakra is a bright spring green (pink in some traditions, yes). But that’s not why I’m suggesting you fill your plate with greens in order to open the heart chakra. An easy way to be kind to yourself, love yourself, nurture yourself, is through your diet. Fill up on fresh vegetables.
As autumn wraps us up in serious brrrrr, the tendency is to shut down and retreat into ourselves – physically with hands stuffed deep inside pockets, shoulders raised up around the ears, head hunched low against the drizzle, and emotionally because the colder months are prime introspection time. And while this is all well and good – we NEED this yin downtime to recuperate from summer’s yang – it’s important to keep our heart chakra open – and the cockles of the love factory warm and glowing – so we can beam our light into the world. And we can’t always drop into a heart-yawning full wheel at the bus stop.
Walk with your navel
One of the easiest ways to open the heart chakra is to walk with your navel, rather than your head. Our tendency, especially in the cold, is to lean forward when we walk. Notice how you lead with your head? Drop that drive down into the navel and lead with your abdomen instead. Imagine that there’s a rope looping through your belly, about 2cm below the belly button, that threads all the way through to the small of your back and is tied into a big, strong knot there. Now visualise someone (AKA the universe) leading you by this rope. Your abdomen is the first to feel the pull, and the rest of you follows. Not only is this GREAT for your posture and engaging your core as you walk, but your subtle self with follow the lead of your physical self and before you know it, your heart and navel will be leading the way in life – a much safer bet than your monkey mind calling the shots.