Chakra Four, Anahata, has the Wind element installed in it, which is about compassion and the ability to be in a relationship.  Before one can be in a good relationship with another, one must learn to be a relationship with themselves.  We must learn to love our self, to be compassionate towards self, non-judgmental toward self.  When we judge self and others we cannot be in an unconditional love relationship.  We must also learn how to protect our selves when we open our hearts to others.  We cannot drop everything and rush to another’s aid at our own sacrifice.  Women especially fall pray to this and must learn to say no more often.  We must learn when and how much we can truly make ourselves available to another, even our own children, when they become needy, must sometimes have a boundary drawn for them.

 The physical location of the heart chakra is in the upper chest region, and it governs the function of the heart itself as well as the shoulder girdle.  If you look at the anatomy of the shoulder girdle you will see that it is designed to be very mobile and to allow for an astonishing range of movement.  Energetically it translates to an incredible ability of the soul to connect with not only the Self within it, but with other people.  However, when the natural mobility and resilience of the heart center is diminished, it often signals to us a trauma to the Wind element a sadness, grief, disappointment, as if the heart has shut down.  Or it could mean that the heart has been depleted and hasn’t been nourished for a long time.  When there is nothing to give, the heart chakra is capable of actually taking from the very essence of the person, taking from the body itself by braking down the immune response.  The body begins to attack itself when the heart is so depleted that there is nothing to give.

 The heart chakra is like a central crossroads, you can actually see via fascia and musculature that the X really does mark the spot.  Fascia and muscles connect the arm bones all the way into the scapula, into the vertebral column, and then vertically up into the neck and head.  It is a very well connected location, but due to its inherent mobility it is often unstable.  If you compare the hip joints and pelvic girdle to the shoulder socket and the shoulder girdle you will see that the former was designed for stability, while the latter is very different and was designed to mobility.  But the body trades mobility for stability and vice versa, so bringing good alignment, mobility, and at the same time strength to the shoulder girdle will ensure a healthy and happy heart center, one that is capable of giving and receiving love in equal measure.

 The main alignment instruction for the heart chakra is bottom tips of the shoulder blades moving towards each other, while the top of the scapula (another word for shoulder blades) must spread away from each other.  At the same time in the front the sternum needs to firm downward a little, so that the heart center is not thrust forward too aggressively – that’s the protective element of the Fourth Chakra – the alignment in the back body will open it, while the alignment in the front body will protect it.

 Health Issues related to the fourth chakra:

  • diabetes I (Insulin dependent), asthma, autoimmune diseases (lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis). 
  • High/low blood pressure
  • Heart ailments/attacks
  • Rotator cuff issues and other shoulder injuries
  • I would put such things as fibromyalgia in this category, too, because it is a case where the body mysteriously begins to ache and is “eaten away” due to the depletion of the heart
  • Emotions of sadness, depression, grief, loneliness
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Carpal Tunnel, because it begins with the weakness and misalignment of the shoulder blades (weak rhomboids)

 In your Yoga practice:

  • heart openers/backbends
  • bring compassion to others and to yourself, in your practice by not pushing too harshly, too aggressively, by resting often, and finding joy in moments both big and small
  • heart strengtheners: dolphin and dolphin push-ups, grasshopper (rhomboids)
  • bring compassion to self, Nyasam (finger slides and hand gestures)
  • breath coordinated with movement, control of breath, intentional pauses

 Pranayama: all breaths, alternate nostril, ujjayi, long pauses.

Watch a short Yoga practice designed to awaken your heart center!