Breathe into, connect with, listen to or feel.
When asked to relate to our ‘heart’ during a yoga class we might sort of, but not exactly, know what is being asked of us. While we may intuit that we are being invited to connect with a deeper sense of self or an inner space of positivity, the heart can remain a vague and difficult concept to pin down. To clarify, the term heart can refer to one of three internal structures or notions in yoga.
1. Physical - The pulsating, blood-pumping, fist-sized muscle in the center of the chest, behind the sternum and between the lungs.
2. Energetic - The Anahata (lit. unstruck sound), or Heart, chakra is one of the seven primary energy centres in the body. It is located within the spinal column at the level of the sternum and the first thoracic vertebra between and below the shoulder blades, just above the physical heart. The anahata chakra is associated with the air element, and with feelings of unconditional love, compassion, and joy.
3. Transcendent – Hrdaya, as this level of Heart is know in Sanskrit, is the seat of Pure Consciousness, the divine essence within the human being. It is also known as the Self, the atman, or the “cave of the heart.” One of the traditional techniques to enter this most mystical and sacred core of our being is to meditate on the pauses between the breaths or even between thoughts, where our sense of separateness dissolves into an experience of sublime oneness.