Bliss yoga – Anahata chakra’s balanced energy is passive, lunar, and feminine. It is one of the yin energies of the body and is stimulated by heart opening poses as well as a strong focus on breathing and restoration.
Exercises that stretch the connective tissues of the upper chest and back and increase blood and balanced energy flow to the heart and lungs stimulate the fourth chakra. The fourth chakra is connected to the thymus gland, which governs the immune system. Stimulation of this gland strengths our ability to heal ourselves and to do healing work on others.
The following outline is intended for students of bliss yoga that are familiar with basic poses and terminology in balanced energy.
Flowing Camel Pose (Ushthra Asana) in Bliss Yoga
Begin sitting between your heels, feet and knees hip-width apart and hands in anjali mudra, or prayer, at the heart. With the in-breath, rise up to kneeling. Open the arms and drop the head back, being careful to keep the hips over the knees. Retain the breath at the top of this pose so that the air held in the lungs helps to stretch the ribs open and strengthen the tissues of the lungs. The heart and thymus gland are also massaged. Bring the hands back together and come back to sit between the heels with the out breath. Do this movement slowly and carefully to avoid light-headedness. Repeat four to eight times for balanced energy.
Reclined Hero Pose (Supta Virasana), also called the Healing Pose (Paryankasana) in Bliss Yoga
Sit between the heels and place the palms on the mat a little behind you with the fingertips pointing towards you. Slowly come down onto the elbows, then onto the back. If flexibility in the knees, ankles, or quadriceps prevents this, place a bolster behind you against the sacrum and recline over it. You may also use pillows or rolled up blankets, just make sure that the length of the prop is as long as the distance from the sacrum to the base of the skull or longer.
Keep your tailbone tucked so that the pelvis is moving upward to help protect and flatten the lower back. The hands may extended above the head on the mat or in prayer at the heart. The former hand position helps stretch the side body and create space for the lungs while the latter creates an energetic loop between the hands and thymus gland that helps strengthen immune function.
Hold this pose for several minutes and come out of it slowly and gently as the knees and ankles need time to recover from this deep stretch.
Crescent Moon (Anjaneyasana) in Bliss Yoga
This can be done in a high lunge or in a lunge from the knee. Use shiva mudra in which the all fingers are interlaced except the index fingers, which point skyward. Create a long line along the front of the body by dropping the hips, rolling the shoulder blades together and down the back, opening the heart to the sky, and dropping the head and hands as far back as possible. Concentrate on breathing in the intercostal lobes of the lungs, the lobes between the ribs. This pose opens the chest and strengthens the lungs, heart, and thymus gland.
Warrior Chest Expansion in Bliss Yoga
This is another vinyasa flow, or movement with the breath, also referred to as a kriya. Begin standing with the legs wide, toes turned out 45 degrees. With the in-breath, swim the arms open shoulder height as if you were doing the breast stroke. With the out breath, squat deeply until the thighs are parallel to the floor and scoop the arms under bringing them straight and in front of you with the palms up. The sides of the hands are together.
Keep the spine straight and vertical as you move up and down. Do this movement eight to 12 times, concentrating on breathing as fully as possible. The breath should guide the movement. The opening of the arms helps expand the area under the ribs so that the breath can be full.
The heart chakra is the center of our body chakra system and connects the lower chakras that rule our physical beings to the higher chakras that rule our psychic and spiritual beings. A healthy fourth chakra brings us balance. Because it governs the immune system, it also empowers our ability to be self healing, which is among the greatest gifts of bliss yoga.
There are many other poses that stimulate the fourth chakra such as Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), Plough Pose (Halasana), and Half-Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) that can be included in a heart opening routine.