Anahatasana (Melting Heart Pose) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Asanas (Yoga Poses) Glossary

I. What is Anahatasana (Melting Heart Pose)?

Anahatasana, also known as Melting Heart Pose, is a yoga pose that stretches the chest, shoulders, and arms while opening the heart center. The name Anahatasana comes from the Sanskrit word “Anahata,” which means “unstruck” or “unhurt,” and “asana,” which means “pose.” This pose is often practiced in Yin or Restorative yoga classes to cultivate a sense of surrender and release tension in the upper body.

In Anahatasana, the practitioner begins in a kneeling position with their hips stacked over their knees. They then walk their hands forward on the mat, lowering their chest towards the floor while keeping their hips lifted. The arms are extended out in front of the body, palms facing down, as the heart melts towards the earth.

II. How to Perform Anahatasana?

To perform Anahatasana, start by coming to a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. From here, walk your hands forward, lowering your chest towards the floor while keeping your hips lifted. Your forehead or chin may come to rest on the mat.

Extend your arms out in front of you, palms facing down, and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Take a few deep breaths in this position, allowing your heart to melt towards the earth. Hold the pose for 1-3 minutes, focusing on deepening your breath and releasing any tension in the upper body.

III. What are the Benefits of Anahatasana?

Anahatasana offers a variety of benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. Some of the key benefits of this pose include:

1. Opens the chest and shoulders: Anahatasana stretches the chest, shoulders, and arms, helping to release tension and improve posture.

2. Stimulates the heart chakra: This pose opens the heart center, promoting feelings of love, compassion, and connection.

3. Relieves stress and anxiety: Anahatasana encourages deep breathing and relaxation, helping to calm the mind and reduce stress.

4. Improves flexibility: Regular practice of Anahatasana can increase flexibility in the spine, shoulders, and chest.

5. Cultivates surrender: This pose invites a sense of surrender and letting go, allowing practitioners to release emotional and physical tension.

IV. What Muscles are Targeted in Anahatasana?

Anahatasana primarily targets the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and arms. Some of the key muscles worked in this pose include:

1. Pectoralis major and minor: These muscles are located in the chest and are responsible for shoulder flexion and adduction.

2. Deltoids: The deltoid muscles are located in the shoulders and are responsible for shoulder abduction and flexion.

3. Triceps brachii: The triceps are located on the back of the upper arm and are responsible for extending the elbow.

4. Rhomboids: The rhomboid muscles are located between the shoulder blades and are responsible for retracting the scapula.

5. Latissimus dorsi: The lats are located in the back and are responsible for shoulder extension and adduction.

V. What are Some Variations of Anahatasana?

There are several variations of Anahatasana that can be practiced to modify the pose or deepen the stretch. Some common variations include:

1. Puppy Pose: In Puppy Pose, the hips are kept directly over the knees as the chest lowers towards the mat. This variation is less intense than Anahatasana and can be a good option for beginners.

2. Thread the Needle: In Thread the Needle, one arm is threaded under the opposite arm, creating a twist in the upper body. This variation targets the shoulders and upper back.

3. Supported Melting Heart Pose: Using props such as blocks or bolsters can provide support in Anahatasana, making the pose more accessible for those with limited flexibility.

4. Extended Puppy Pose: In Extended Puppy Pose, the arms are extended further out in front of the body, deepening the stretch in the shoulders and chest.

VI. How to Modify Anahatasana for Different Levels of Flexibility?

For those with limited flexibility, there are several modifications that can be made to Anahatasana to make the pose more accessible. Some ways to modify the pose include:

1. Use props: Placing a bolster or block under the chest can provide support and make it easier to lower the chest towards the floor.

2. Keep the hips lifted: If lowering the chest all the way to the floor is too intense, keep the hips lifted and focus on lengthening the spine.

3. Practice Puppy Pose: Puppy Pose is a gentler variation of Anahatasana that can be a good starting point for beginners or those with limited flexibility.

4. Take breaks: If the pose becomes too intense, come out of it and take a few breaths in Child’s Pose before returning to Anahatasana.

By modifying Anahatasana to suit your individual needs and level of flexibility, you can still experience the many benefits of this heart-opening pose. Remember to listen to your body and honor its limitations as you practice.