Modern understandings of the heart are often anatomical and medical – relating to degrees of health and disease.
Few would contest that the heart is critical to health but limiting it to its mechanical functions ignores more innate understandings of this important organ of life.
The heart’s physical and literate centrality in our bodies and thinking affects our relationships and wellbeing in many ways and so accepting how elemental our hearts are, ring true.
Our emotions are generally understood to be influenced by our heart and to also directly affect the health of the heart. Think about it.. who can ignore the hearts place in love, joy and sadness?
In Yoga, we understand the ‘Hrydia’ or heart-centre as both a point of physical reference and a central energetic point – the first cell of conception. It is only a small step from here to understand the heart’s connection to body, mind and soul.
During yoga practice, we reference the heart through breath, movement, intention and attention for example in Anjali Mudra or hand placement over the Hrydia during many common asanas. A focus on awareness of the heart and its pulses throughout the body is a moment-by-moment reminder of prana (life-force) and energy moving constantly through our bodies.
The hearts constant expansion and contraction is a wonderful reminder and metaphor for growth and change at all levels – from cellular activity through to the rhythms of the ocean’s waves and tides. It can and is referenced within yoga therapy too providing a platform for healing on many levels.
Science and research continue to enlighten our understanding of the importance of the heart and its increasingly complex connections to notions such as intuition and self-fulfillment.
And while the power of the heart continues to inspire poems and wars that leave few of us untouched, the ability to simply place our hand over our beating heart and to take a simple breath at any time, returns us to a sense of peace and presence in our lives.