Do Emotions Affect Heart Health?
There are contributing factors to the health of your heart. Experts say that eating more vegetables, working out, not smoking, and getting enough sleep can contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system. But more recent studies show that forgiveness can play a huge part in your heart health as well.
We all experience anger from time to time; it is a human response that when handled with care can be healthy, and in some cases, a necessary catalyst for change. But when we stay angry for an extended period of time, our bodies are eventually triggered to release stress hormones, such as adrenaline, which causes our blood pressure to rise, and our heart-rate to increase.
It is well known that stress plays a leading role in heart disease. And when we grip tightly to a powerful emotion such as anger, the physiological effects manifest similarly to stress.
Forgiveness Exercises the Heart Chakra and Leads to Better Overall Heart Health
Maybe you have experienced it: someone has done or said something so offensive or obtuse that your anger boils your blood, your face grows warm, your heart rate speeds up, and your fists grip tightly. It is not unnatural to be angry; it’s not even unnatural to be really angry for a bit of time. But when we are so angry that daily life is made less enjoyable, it is time to check-in with whether or not this emotion is serving us. Though we may be justified in our anger, and though it may feel satisfying at first to direct our anger towards the offending party, in the long run, as the Buddha says: “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent to throw it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.”
The immediate and delayed cardiovascular benefits of forgiving have become more apparent over the past decade or so, but to say to the offender that they are forgiven when they offer an apology can be very different from consciously releasing anger. However, when we come to understand that the benefits of forgiving those who have wronged us extend beyond the offender’s liberation to the potential to heal our physical hearts, we might feel more inclined to let go. Though forgiveness alone may not cure heart disease, holding onto anger has such a negative impact on our overall health, that forgiveness is essential for healing the impact anger has on the physical body.
Recognizing that it is time to forgive is the first step to healing, but this alone is not enough. The connection of mind and body is undeniable, and evidence suggests a strong connection between the anahata chakra and cardiac plexus in cardiac activity.
What is Anahata?
The anahata chakra is the fourth chakra, and it is located at the heart-center. “Anahata'' is translated from Sanskrit as unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten. The anahata chakra is responsible for unconditional love for self and others, compassion, and empathy. When the anahata chakra is open and balanced, one may be full of love and the ability to forgive.
How to Heal Anahata Chakra
When the anahata chakra is blocked, we may protect ourselves by withdrawing from love and allowing ourselves to become cold and rigid. There are several holistic heart health tips we can use to unblock the anahata chakra, including asanas for anahata chakra healing, heart chakra crystals, heart chakra affirmations, and anahata pranayama practices.
Asanas for Anahata Chakra Healing
There are several asanas we can utilize to promote anahata chakra healing. You can decide which ones are best for you depending on the present energy in your body. These targeted postures offer expansion of the space around or behind the heart.
Gomukasana- Cow Face Pose
This seated posture can be done with a strap if the bind is not available.
Bhujangasana- Cobra Pose
There are several variations of this pose, but in each variation it is important to continually lift the heart and soften the shoulders away from the ears.
Bitilasana and Marjaryasana- Cat/Cow Pose
These two poses are generally sequenced together. By synchronizing your breath to your movement you can utilize Cat/Cow to create a moving meditation.
Ustrasana- Camel Pose
You can take a very gentle variation of Camel Pose by placing your hands on your low back with your fingertips pointing down (almost as if you were tucking your hands into your back pockets), and gently lifting the gaze towards the sky.
Setubandha Sarvangasana- Bridge Pose
This is a great posture to support yourself in by incorporating props. To do so, you may use a block or a bolster between the sacrum and the earth.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana- Upward Facing Dog
This posture is often included in Vinyasa style classes sequenced after a chataranga and before a downdog, but it can be incorporated elsewhere.
Garudasana- Eagle Pose
Though this pose may ask you to balance on one-leg, it is possible to find more stability by using a block under the hoovering toe.
Matsyasana- Fish Pose
This posture could be made more restorative by utilizing a bolster underneath the length of the spine.
Heart Chakra Crystals
Heart chakra crystals can be used in meditation, or they can be worn. These crystals have been known for promoting the healing of the anahata chakra.
Rose quartz is one of the most well-known heart chakra crystals used to promote the anahata chakra. It is known specifically for increasing unconditional love and forgiveness.
This stone helps to cultivate compassion and is known for benefiting the heart, respiratory system, blood pressure, and circulation.
Jade is generally perceived to bring good luck, good health, wealth, and love. Jade is good for addressing stress and anxiety. The energy given off by Jade has been studied, and what they found is that far-infrared rays radiate from the stone and affect the body in a plethora of ways.
With its vibrant green color, malachite is also associated with anahata chakra. It is thought to assist in the regulation of what we permit to enter our lives, and what we might resist. It is also thought to promote love and security within your relationships.
Prehnite is another green stone associated with anahata chakra. It is considered to represent unconditional love, and it is thought to assist in controlling the emotions.
Heart Chakra Affirmations
Affirmations are declarations of what we choose to invite into our lives. They are powerful, especially when repeated aloud. When declaring your affirmation, you create space for your desire to manifest. You can use several affirmations throughout your day, or you may have just one affirmation that you return to throughout the day. The following are just a few examples of heart chakra affirmations, but always take the liberty to modify them according to your specific needs.
- I am open to give and receive love.
- I choose forgiveness.
- I am worthy of unconditional love.
- I forgive myself and I understand that my worthiness is not hindered by my mistakes.
- I choose to release my anger. I choose peace instead.
In the examples above, you can see that they all begin with an “I” statement, and they all directly relate to self. Feel free to say these out loud, or write them down somewhere where you will see it throughout your day. You may even write it down and take a picture of it to make it the background on your phone.
Can Balancing Anahata Chakra Help To Improve Overall Heart Health?
Forgiveness heals the soul, but it can also assist in healing the physical heart. When we come to understand the way emotional health partners with physiological health, it can motivate us to pay closer attention to what is happening in our emotional bodies. Building rituals around asanas and elements known for balancing anahata chakra can assist in balancing the emotional body, and in effect, improve the overall health of your physical heart.