The heart chakra is the fourth chakra and is located in the centre of the chest, just above the breasts. It is associated with the colour green, and the element of Air, because it represents a lack of limits, as well as the breath. It has associations with the planets Mercury and Venus, representing love and loving messengers. It is linked to the hands as well as the heart and lungs - the circulatory and respiratory systems.
The heart area is the seat of love and compassion. It is blocked by hurt and grief. It is where we experience our feelings of self love and empathy - our "heart going out" to others and feelings of isolation and despair (heartbreak). As the central chakra in the system, it is key to the successful integration of the energies from the lower and upper chakras. During a Reiki treatment, the practitioner will remain grounded through the lower chakras while drawing in Reiki through the crown and the upper chakras, into the heart and out through the hands.
An unbalanced heart chakra can manifest as inability to be open in friendships and relationships, emotional withdrawal, a lack of empathy, and an inability to process grief. When this chakra is aligned, we are able to feel and express love for ourselves and others, we are able to forgive those who have hurt us, and forgive ourselves for our mistakes. We can process grief and loss appropriately, and recognise it as a universal human experience that is part of having loved. We recognise that the love we feel is infinite and unconditional.
The heart chakra can be balanced through spending time with loving animals, children, friends, family and partners. Loving kindness (metta) meditation is very healing and energising for this chakra. Healing and therapy should work on issues around loss, trauma, grief and forgiveness.
Asanas that open the heart chakra are Bhujangasana (cobra pose); Anjaneyasana (low lunge); Natarajasana (dancer pose); Anahata (melting heart pose).
You should always be suerpvised by a qualified yoga instructor when trying new poses.