The 7 Chakras
Chakra is Sanskrit for “wheel”. We have 7 main Chakras, or wheels of energy in our body, starting at the base of the spine and going up to the crown of the head. Each Chakra has its own color, sound, element and symbol (Figure 5.8). These invisible, swirling balls allow energy to flow through our body. When they become blocked, it effects us on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level, so it’s important to keep your Chakras balanced and free of blockages. They do everything from help define our identity (ego) to helping us understand everything about the Universe and all its interconnectedness.
1st Chakra: The Root Chakra
The Root Chakra, or Muladhara in Sanskrit, is located at the base of your spine and is the most physical out of the 7 main Chakras because it’s all about survival. Think of your Root Chakra as your foundation. If there are any blockages or imbalances in your foundation, it will effect all other chakras. So first and foremost, keep your 1st Chakra balanced!
A balanced Root Chakra will allow you to feel safe and secure in your surroundings. It will help you move through daily life effortlessly. However, an imbalanced Root Chakra will give you anxiety and can lead to depression along with physical ailments.
To balance this Chakra do things that ground you. Such as meditating, eating healthy, whole foods (especially red fruits and veggies), connecting to nature, and yoga poses that make you feel strong and rooted to the earth physically like Mountain Pose and Warrior 1. Also do poses which physically connect your 1st Chakra to the earth like Royal Pigeon (pictured). For meditation, a good mantra for the Root Chakra is “So…Hum” or “I am”. Find a comfortable seat with a straight spine, and your hands resting on your knees and palms facing down. Breathe deeply and silently repeating “So” on the inhales, and “Hum” on the exhales.
2nd Chakra: Sacral Chakra
Located a couple inches below the naval, its Sanskrit name, Svadhisthana, translates to “sweetness”. This is because your Sacral Chakra is where passion, pleasure and creativity come from. While your 1st Chakra is all about survival and is more physical, your 2nd Chakra is emotional. Effecting your feelings, ability to be creative and intimate, and how you connect to the rest of the world. Creativity comes from passion. So when your passion center is blocked, it blocks creativity. But when open, passion moves throughout you stimulating creativity and joy as you move through life.
When imbalanced, the 2nd Chakra can become repressed or excessive. A repressed symptom is disconnectedness to the world, including one’s own feelings. An excessive 2nd Chakra will make one extremely codependent/clingy.
To balance your 2nd Chakra, think of physically opening your hips and lower abdomen. Whether it’s with hip opening yoga poses like Low Crescent Lunge (pictured), Half Pigeon or Cow Face; or letting go of stagnant energy in the hips and lower abs through dance movement. Keeping your 2nd Chakra open physically, will keep it open energetically allowing you to experience all the pleasures life has to offer.
Another thing to help balance the 2nd Chakra: LET GO of what society says. We have been told our whole lives how we should and shouldn’t act, react, feel, dress, look, walk, talk…the list goes on. Your Sacral Chakra is what allows you to let go and live in the moment fully and freely. So do YOU! And forget what everybody else says!
3rd Chakra: Solar Plexus
Its Sanskrit name, Manipura, means “lustrous gem”. Located half way between your naval and sternum, its color is yellow or gold representing your inner fire, your identity, your Ego. It’s where all your self-worth stems from. Yesterday’s 2nd Chakra was all about feeling. Well today’s Chakra is all about DOING. An open 3rd Chakra allows you to pursue your life’s purpose. Giving you the ability to choose with confidence so you can move through life with action instead of reaction.
A blocked 3rd Chakra will result in low self-esteem making one either become reactive or inactive. Reactive symptoms include poor stress management, anger and sudden outbursts. Inactive symptoms will cause someone to not care and let life pass them by.
To open your 3rd Chakra, focus on self love. Love yourself from head to toe. See yourself worthy of achieving your goals and go after them! Don’t allow life’s bumps to discourage you. Know that no matter what, you are enough.
Asanas (yoga poses) for the 3rd Chakra would be any pose which physically stimulates the Solar Plexus, your core. Do and hold Boat Pose or a strong Warrior pose like Warrior 3. Also seated twists, and poses on your belly which connect the Solar Plexus to the Earth, like Bow Pose are beneficial to this Chakra. And regular core work will help build self-esteem!
4th Chakra: Heart Chakra
Its Sanskrit name, Anahata, means “unhurt” or “unstuck”. The first 3 Chakras are more about your identity in life, or the Ego, but from this Chakra on, it becomes more and more about Spirituality.
Your Heart Chakra is your center for love and compassion. You’ve heard “love is always the answer”? It is! Everything you do should stem from love, because love is your natural state – everything else you were taught along the way of this thing called life. Having an open Heart Chakra is so important for your Spiritual path because it allows you to see the interconnectedness of all beings.
A blocked Heart Chakra will make one judgmental, jealous, and incapable of true forgiveness. This will result in looking for external happiness, when true happiness comes from within.
To open your Heart Chakra, open your heart physically with yoga poses! Heart opening backbends will open the front of your heart, but you also want to open the entire chest cavity by stretching the space behind and on the sides of the heart. Adding poses with Eagle Arms and lateral folds like Crescent Moon Pose will get to these other parts of the heart!
To energetically open your Heart Chakra, focus on forgiveness. Not only forgiving others, but forgiving yourself. We can be so hard on ourselves sometimes. Once you learn how to truly forgive, there is nothing left other than love and compassion. You will be radiating love for all to feel. Try working with the following mantra:
“I forgive myself,
I forgive others,
I let go of all that no longer serves me,
I am free.”
5th Chakra: Throat Chakra
Located in your neck and shoulder area, its Sanskrit name is Vishuddhu. Although this Chakra is what gives you your ability to be speak your inner truth from a higher expression of communication, it also gives you the ability to listen and really hear what others are saying. After all, the greatest gift you can give someone is your presence.
Before I go further, I feel I should clarify something: Inner truth comes from a space of love and kindness. When I say “speak your truth”, stand up for what you believe in, but don’t give your two cents on everything or speak in a way that could cause harm. Always practice Ahimsa (non-harming) and Satya (truthfulness) each time you open your mouth. This is easier said than done, so try asking yourself the following questions before speaking:
1. Is it truthful?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Will it create harm to myself or others?
To have an open 5th Chakra, it’s crucial to have your first 4 Chakras also open! Like everything in the Universe, your Chakras are all connected. An open 5th Chakra will result in authentic communication and confidence and acceptance in who your truly are. While an out of balance 5th Chakra will result in doubt, insecurity, and inability to be honest with yourself and others making you unable to communicate who you are and what you stand for. It will also make you listen to others from a judgmental standpoint, or unable to listen at all. Another sign of a blockage in this Chakra can be Thyroid issues.
A great way to open your Throat Chakra is with Ujjayi Pranayama. You can do this Victorious Breathing while in a seated/standing/walking meditation, or during your yoga practice. Do poses that get into the throat and neck like Camel Pose, Shoulder Stand, Plow Pose or a Chin Balance. And open and seal your meditation and yoga practice with the sound of “HAM”. This is the sound of your 5th Chakra and will instantly help clear blockages in the throat.
6th Chakra: Third Eye
Located in the space between your eyebrows, its Sanskrit name is Ajna which translates to “perception” or “command”. This Chakra is all about sight, but not seeing the outer world with your eyes, but instead seeing the external and internal world from a witness’ standpoint. It allows you to observe so you see things for what they really are instead of what the mind creates. Your Third Eye is where all your intuition comes from. It connects you to that inner guru we all have. When you see with your Third Eye, you understand everything.
A closed 6th Chakra will make you unable to see beyond your problems. You see problems as a part of your identity instead of observing them and moving past them. You will have a difficult time finding any clarity and will feel out of touch with your spiritual side. Another aspect of an out of balance 6th Chakra is it can become too open and make one unable to tell the difference between reality and fantasy.
To balance your Third Eye, become a witness to your life. Understand things that go on inside and outside by observing. When something upsets you, step back, and get to the root of why you felt that emotion. Example: You got angry. So dig deeper as to why you felt this emotion. Anger normally stems from fear or pain. Once you establish this, keep digging deeper for where that fear/pain originated from. How? By asking yourself questions. Each time you get an answer, question it. Keep questioning yourself until there’s nothing left to answer. You’ll see, more often than not, it’s some ego thing, like an insecurity you buried and are completely unaware of. Once you figure out the root, it’s easy to let go. This is becoming a witness.
Yoga poses that help open your Third Eye are poses that set you up for Headstand, like Down Dog. Also, Child’s Pose is great for grounding and calming the mind, and connecting your Third Eye to the Earth. As you do your yoga practice, be a witness to what is happening physically, mentally and emotionally. Don’t attach to it, because whatever you are feeling it will pass. Simply observe.
7th Chakra: Crown Chakra
The last of the main Chakras, its location is at the Crown of the head. Its Sanskrit name, Sahasrara, means “thousand petal”. The Crown Chakra can best be described as the place where the Ego meets the Universe/Soul/Divine. Its sound is silence, because this Chakra goes beyond all time and space into the vast nothingness. When this Chakra is open, you feel peace, joy and pure bliss. You know how the Universe works and you are in complete harmony with it. The Universe is all about balance. Giving and receiving. The Crown Chakra helps maintain this balance by not only receiving positive energy, but it also puts positive energy back out there.
When blocked, the Crown Chakra will make one closed minded and unable to understand the Universe.
How do you open the Crown Chakra? Take care of the other 6 main Chakras (detailed in my previous 6 posts). Remember, just like everything in the Universe, all your Chakras are connected. When there’s an imbalance in one, there’s an imbalance in all.
Yoga and meditation are great for helping to balance your 7th Chakra. Try holding Headstand for a minimum of 8 minutes. Use the wall if you need to, but be sure to come out of the pose as soon as you feel any tension in the neck. This pose connects the Crown Chakra to the Earth, and the inversion brings fresh blood and oxygen to the head, helping to nourish your 7th Chakra. For meditating, take a seated or lying meditation and focus your awareness to your Crown Chakra.