Complete guide to the heart chakra

The fourth chakra, also known as the heart chakra, or anahata (“unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten” in Sanskrit), is set in the center of the chest and connects us with our emotions, abundant love, true forgiveness, security, a sense of balance and harmony, compassion, gratitude, and deep sincerity. When not properly nurtured, blocked or, for one reason or another, out of balance, the heart chakra can bring up abandonment issues, codependency, jealousy and suspicion, feelings of isolation, neediness, and even not-necessarily-productive forms of anger.

Anahata is depicted as a lotus flower with twelve petals. Inside two triangles intersect, creating a shatkona. In addition to the heart and its physical and emotional fuctions, anahata is also connected to touch and its related actions, and thus is associated with the skin and hands. It’s also associated with the thymus, an organ of the immune system.

There are many ways to love and help lovingly heal this fourth chakra that we’ve compiled below. See what resonates and feels nurturing for you with regular practice.

Think heart-warming and heart-opening poses in your yoga practice to show this fourth chakra the tender and indulgent care it deserves. Ustrasana (camel pose), Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Uttanasana (forward bend pose), and Marjariasana (cat pose) are great basic poses to strengthen the heart chakra and help it to open gracefully and with self-compassion. Also try Dhanurasana (bow pose), Purvottasana (upward plank pose) or any of these for more challenge.

Gyan mudra is also associated with this chakra, especially when placed with the back of the hand against the lower area of the chest.

Affirmations and mantra
Because this is the heart chakra, affirmations of self-care, self-love and self-compassion are especially healing. Try: I love and accept myself exactly as I am. I am compassionate and balanced. I trust that my needs will be met lovingly and abundantly. (Feel free to tweak that to suit with what resonates with you, but do be mindful of using positive language– as in, saying what you want and not what you don’t want– and showing yourself gentleness through your language.)

Mantra “yam” is also chanted to connect with and support this chakra. You may also use a Tibetan bowl attuned to the fourth chakra or an f-note singing bowl (the key of this chakra) in your practice if that resonates with you.

The color associated with the heart chakra is green, which symbolizes harmony, creativity, health, abundance and nature. As a point to consider, it’s worth noting that green is the result of combining of yellow (the color of soul) and blue (the color of spirit). Green, nature’s signature color, is all about energy and revitalization. (Much like how we crave nature when we’re frazzled.)

Nourish your heart chakra with foods that vibrate the came color energy as this chakra: green. Kiwi, avocado, green grapes, pears, broccoli, zucchini, celery, peas, spinach, chard, kale, leeks, cabbage, lettuce, peppers, bok choy and collard greens. Author Deborah King adds, of food to nourish this chakra: “The fourth chakra is also about balance, and green veggies are neither yin nor yang in Chinese medicine, so they maintain the equilibrium that is essential to the health of this chakra. Try adding kale or spinach to your morning smoothie, or include a small salad with every meal.”

Staying with the vibration of green, look to jade, green tourmaline, emeralds, peridot, moss agate, chrysoprase, aventurine, green jasper, or malachite.

Breathe deeply, with eyes closed, and envision a green, vibrant seedling growing in the center of your chest in the spiritual body, leaves unfurling, growing and growing, with shoots and new leave reaching out in all directions. Then imagine a single green bud forming and growing bigger and stronger, right in the center of the chest, slowly opening and blossoming and growing more beautiful with each breath. Imagine letting go of anything that’s no longer serving you on each exhale and allowing the flower to blossom more and more fully with each inhale.

While we think about fire when we think of the heart, this chakra’s element is air. Nurture and care for it by breathing deeply and fully, by enjoying, facing and embracing the breeze of the day, or by putting the sunroof or top down on the car.