Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
You’ve probably heard about chakras, the seven wheels of energy in the body that start at the crown of your head, and travel down the body to the base of your spine. When spinning properly, each chakra allows Qi energy to flow through the body. If these wheels of energy become blocked by stress, anxiety or emotional upheaval, your well-being can suffer. The fourth chakra, called anahata, is located at the heart. If it becomes gummed up or blocked, you may find it hard to develop and keep healthy relationships. So, what are the signs of a blocked heart chakra? And how do you go about unblocking it?
In Sanskrit, “anahata” means unhurt, unstruck and unbeaten. It is the fourth primary chakra and serves as our center of love for oneself and others, compassion, empathy and forgiveness. The anahata chakra is associated with unconditional love, compassion, and joy. It is the source of deep and profound truths that cannot be expressed in words. Anahata is a bridge between the lower and upper chakras integrating the manifest with the spiritual, says yoga teacher Stephanie Snyder.
Anahata is associated with the element air, says Snyder. (The first chakra is earth, steady and grounded; the second chakra, water, brings a fertile creativity; the third chakra is the “fire in the belly” required to transform that grounded creativity into positive action.) Air disperses and integrates spiritual understanding of love, compassion, and connection to everything you encounter. Air, like love, is within and all around us. We can embody this element by keeping our heart center open and our love free-flowing.
The anahata chakra is associated with the color green, which represents transformation and love energy. According to Sahara Rose, the colors and the symbols are reflective of the vibration of the chakras. The specific colors and symbols arose when the ancient rishis meditated on the energy of the chakras.
When the heart chakra is in healthy alignment you will feel surrounded by love, compassion, and joy and connected to the world around you. You will feel open to all experiences in life, and it will feel like challenges, especially in relationships, flow through you and are resolved with ease. An open heart chakra allows us to see all of the beauty and love around us, and truly connect to ourselves, our loved ones, and the natural world. This chakra also helps direct love back to ourselves to truly be able to love and accept ourselves and our bodies.
But if the heart chakra becomes blocked, you’ll notice the opposite, both physically, and mentally, says Snyder
Signs your fourth is blocked
Blocked chakras can affect the entirety of our being, notes Snyder. Symptoms of blocked energy can manifest as physical ailments or disease. The heart chakra directly affects the heart, lungs, chest, arms, and hands. When misaligned, poor circulation, high or low blood pressure, and other heart and lung conditions can result. Issues that can occur in the body can also include infections of the lungs, bronchitis, and circulatory problems.
Blocked energy can also have a profound effect on the nature of our mind and mental state. Mentally, an imbalanced heart chakra can result in problematic issues, such as co-dependency, manipulative behaviors, feeling of unworthiness, and an inability to trust yourself or others, says Snyder. Other signs your heart chakra may be blocked:
- You may tend isolate yourself excessively
- You feel lonely
- You hold grudges against people you love
- You frequently feel jealous
- You’re overly defensive
- You have a fear of intimacy
- You put yourself in the role of the rescuer or victim
- You find it difficult to trust others
How to balance the heart chakra
Though the heart chakra can become blocked, it can be brought back to balance through some of these simple tips.
- Feel gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal, writing down three things a day that you feel grateful for.
- Practice backbends of any sort. Start with the simple and subtle, such as Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose). Then try more intense Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), and Matsyasana (Fish Pose). When you’re warmed up, perhaps you take yourself into Karatkatasana (Wild Thing) and Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) and Ustrasana (Camel Pose).
- Take part in a loving kindness meditation.
- Use rose quartz and other heart-opening crystals.
- Drink heart opening beverages like rose tea and cacao
- Practice heart-opening affirmations.
Healthy and balanced chakra energy is vital for our mental and physical well-being. Our hear center relies on an open anahata charka for free-flowing love, compassion, and empathy. When you feel stuck in these areas, you can balance this energy center with simple tools to open your heart to the love and beauty always surrounding us.
Learn more in A Beginner’s Guide to the Chakras