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Chakras: Get to Know Your 7 Energy Centers
Chakra theory is a holistic paradigm that includes fields like psychology, physiology, astrology, and energy anatomy (how prana moves through the body). It also considers naturalistic elements such as color and sound. Chakra theory examines the interaction between the whole and the part and can also be called holistic awareness. The system encompasses every level of human nature from the intangible spirit to the tangible atom and everything in between. The following paragraphs offer brief summaries of the seven chakras.
First Chakra: Root (Muladhara)
Energetic Anatomy: Rootedness and connection to earth. The basic qualities of human nature, including biological family and early social environment. Group thought forms, authority figures, and tribal instincts. Primal energy. The past and present. Elimination of physical and emotional waste — that which no longer serves the greater good.
Physical Location: Located at the base of the spine. Also associated with the legs, knees, feet, ankles, toes, large intestine, elimination system, lower back, perineum, colon, prostate gland, skeleton, teeth, nails, blood, and bone marrow.
Balanced Root Chakra: Honors and accepts family history and personal upbringing; feels grounded and balanced. Experiences a harmonious relationship with the family of origin, society, and culture. Connected to nature, facilitating spiritual growth. Stands up for oneself and feels at home in the world.
Unbalanced Root Chakra: Tendency for tightness in the perineum, potentially caused by fear or other unresolved issues, inhibiting elimination. Overly intellectual lifestyle. Erratic colon function and constipation. Low back pain, sciatica, varicose veins, rectal tumors, depression, anxiety, stress, and immune-related disorders. Inability to find a place that feels like home; inability to make things happen (creative efforts blocked). Greed, hoarding, excessive weight gain, superstitious fear patterns.
Related Attitude: Knowledge
Yoga Poses: Focus body awareness on balance, centeredness, and presence. Feel the weight of the body over the feet, observing gravity’s pull, and feeling grounded to earth. Relax the perineum. Practice Root Lockto seal energy.
Breathing Exercise: Diaphragmatic breathing stretches the hips and base of the spine and helps to release root chakra blockages. Breathe deeply into the tailbone and into the root chakra.
Meditation Exercise: Imagine roots that connect you to the core of the earth. Visualize a red triangle (representing creative energy) or a yellow square (earth element).
Affirmation or Mantra: “I am safe and secure. I am grounded and stable. I belong here on earth at this time. My body is strong and healthy. Contentment with my life situation gives me abundance.”
Questions for Reflection: What causes you to feel ungrounded? What helps you feel grounded? What have been your most inspired experiences — times when you felt highly connected to yourself, to others, and to the earth? How can you reignite the essence of those experiences in daily living?
Considerations: Practice outdoors, to sounds of nature, or drumming.
Second Chakra: Sacral (Svadisthana)
Energetic Anatomy: Creativity and relationships. Relationships with your partner, friends, and co-workers, and how you maintain power and control within those relationships. Enjoyment and pleasure associated with food, drink, sexuality, entertainment, desires, and emotions. The moon influences this chakra, just as the moon pulls on the earth’s waters.
Physical Location: Located near the genitals. Associated with the pelvis, hips, sacrum, lower back, womb, bladder, kidneys, circulatory system, blood, lymph, gastric juices, and sperm.
Balanced Sacral Chakra: Balanced relationships with others including personal strength and a willingness to be vulnerable. Able to give and receive. Empowered. Honoring the opportunity to learn from every relationship, even from those that are difficult. Ability to express emotions. Balanced and healthy approach to food, work, and sex. Comfortable with sensuality. Creatively inspired and fertile, able to “shoot from the hip.”
Unbalanced Sacral Chakra: Addictive behavior toward food, sex, work, or relationships. Eating disorders, sexual dysfunction or disorder. Attachment to pleasure and aversion to discomfort. Financial worry or pressure — fear of not having enough. Inability to balance desires with discipline. Creatively “stuck.” Fear, anger, resentment, overwork. Obsessiveness, jealous, blame, guilt. Physically or emotionally abusive or abused.
Related Intention: Creativity, Fertility, Flow, Interdependence, Collaboration, Harmony, Sensuality, Sensual Awareness, Free, Vessel for Divine Creation, Connected, Friendship, Fun, Pleasure, Fruitful, Blossoming
Related Attitude: Duty, Knowledge
Yoga Poses: Cultivate awareness of the sensual aspects of each yoga pose through the senses of sight, sound, taste, hearing, touch, and movement. Moon Salutations explore the energy of the moon and its effect on human behavior and physiology. Practice yoga with a sense of pleasure.
Breathing Exercise: Diaphragmatic breathing
Sensory Mastery Exercise: Yoni mudra, symbolically closing off the senses with hands on face.
Meditation Exercise: The visual image and auditory sounds of water.
Affirmation or Mantra: “I allow myself to feel and experience pleasure. I am a sensual being. I embrace and celebrate my sexuality. I love and nurture myself. I embrace change. I am a part of the creation of the universe.”
Questions for Reflection: In what ways do you express your creativity? Is there someone in your life you are having difficulty with? What can you learn from the relationship? What is your relationship with yourself like? Do you embrace your own sensuality? Do you like who you are?
Considerations: Listen to flowing music or the sounds of water, like the ocean, a river, or a babbling brook.
Third Chakra: Solar Plexus (Manipura)
Energetic Anatomy: Manipura means “illustrious gem,” reflecting the vitality and energy of the “fire chakra.” Relates to self-assertion, self-esteem, ambition, and will. Ability to honor your “gut” wisdom and trust your intuition about personal and professional situations. Being the primary decision maker in your life. Self-confidence and personal empowerment.
Physical Location: Located near the stomach. Associated with the upper/small intestines, liver, kidneys, gallbladder, pancreas, adrenal glands, spleen, lower/middle back, muscles, skin, digestive system. Digestion and food metabolism (distinct from elimination, which is associated with the first chakra), the gastric glands, pancreas, and gallbladder.
Balanced Solar Plexus Chakra: Able to trust one’s instincts and make self-empowered decisions. Balanced identity, self-esteem, and self-worth. Vital, energetic, and active.
Unbalanced Solar Plexus Chakra: Poor posture, inflated ego, self-righteous, mild depression, sad, stressed, unable to trust others or oneself. Fear and anger, reflecting lack of personal power and feeling intimidated. Weak digestion, ulcers, and production of adrenaline.
Related Intention: Honor, Integrity, Self-worth, Self-care, Illumination, Self-assertion, Ambition, Willpower, Discipline, Empowerment, Power, Strength, Fortitude, Mastery, Clarity, Focus, Determination, Persistence, Achievement
Related Attitude: Duty, Mastery
Yoga Poses: Practice poses that open the solar plexus. When posture is hunched forward, the third chakra is cut off. Stand upright with shoulders rounded back and chest out; shoulder shrugs that involve rounding shoulders back and down on the exhale. Practice poses to build confidence, building heat and energy to fuel the fire in this chakra.
Breathing Exercise: Breathing into solar plexus (diaphragmatic breathing) soothes the adrenal glands and releases stress. Imagine gold light filling the solar plexus.
Meditation Exercise: Visualize light, perhaps in the form of the blazing sun or a ball of fire, radiate from this area into the whole body. Or concentrate on a candle flame (real or visualized).
Affirmation or Mantra: “I am powerful and strong. I live with honor and integrity. I manifest my dreams. I am enough as I am. Whatever I do is more than good enough.”
Questions for Reflection: Are there any events from childhood that damaged your self-esteem? Do you continue to engage in negative self-talk and, if so, what? When in your life did you feel the strongest and most empowered? What is a positive attribute or gift that others tend to notice about you?
Fourth Chakra: Heart (Anahata)
Energetic Anatomy: This is the balance point between the world of matter and the world of spirit (the lower “physical” energy of the first three chakras with the “metaphysical” energy of the upper chakras). The heart chakra is associated with emotions like love, kindness, jealousy, anger, and hatred. Involves love for oneself and life. Relates to compassion, forgiveness, and unconditional love.
Physical Location: Located at the heart, between the solar plexus and throat. Associated with the upper chest, upper back, lungs, heart, ribs, breasts, diaphragm, shoulders, arms, hands, mid-back, skin, immune system, thymus gland, and circulatory system.
Balanced Heart Chakra: Love, compassion, relationship, healing. Loving oneself in the form of self-acceptance.
Unbalanced Heart Chakra: Defensive, low self-esteem, egotistical, attached to outcome, needy, codependent, shy, lonely, unable to love or forgive self and/or others, fear of commitment, lack of empathy, cut off from emotions. Excessive behaviors like possessiveness and jealousy can manifest as heart disease and high blood pressure. Deficiencies express as shallow breathing, tense chest, lung disease, asthma, allergies, bronchitis, pneumonia.
Related Intention: Love, Compassion, Kindness, Generosity, Giving and Receiving Love, Unconditional Love, Forgiveness, Openness, Acceptance, Dedication, Inspiration, Hope, Trust, Healing, Humanity, Devotion, Nourishment, Surrender, Introspection
Related Attitude: Non-attachment
Yoga Poses: Develop trust; surrender to open heart fully; foster introspection.
Breathing Exercise: Diaphragmatic breathing. Practice simply feeling the breath, rather than thinking about or controlling it.
Meditation Exercise: Reflect on a loving relationship that kindles positive feelings. Feel the emotion in the heart chakra and allow it to radiate throughout the body. Try mindfulness meditation focusing on breath (air element).
Affirmation or Mantra: “I am open to the deep love in my heart. I love and I am loved. I give and receive. I am worthy of love. I am compassionate, forgiving, and patient. I embrace the good and bad in the universe.”
Questions for Reflection: What is your first memory involving unconditional love? Were you the giver or the receiver of this love? How did it make you feel? What do you love about life? About yourself? Finally, what ignites passion in your heart?
Considerations: Practice with air sounds, like flute music or wind through the trees.
Notes: Forgiveness is a spiritual act of perfection and can be a very physically healing act.
Fifth Chakra: Throat (Vishuddha)
Energetic Anatomy: Pure food, thought, and speech. Chanting, praying, or devotional singing to facilitate higher consciousness and uplift the spirit. Personal expression, thoughts, and opinions. Following one’s dreams; using personal power to create, with faith and knowledge. Recognizing the power of thoughts, words, and actions in creating reality.
Physical Location: Located in the throat. Associated with the neck, jaw, mouth, teeth and gums, esophagus, hypothalamus, and thyroid glands.
Balanced Throat Chakra: Strives toward purity in food, thought, and speech. Committed to truth and honesty. Communicative and able to express feelings, thoughts, and opinions. Ability to listen objectively and inquire rather than make assumptions. Self-mastery.
Unbalanced Throat Chakra: Neck tension due to lack of communication, creativity, or harmony with others. Lack of self-assertion from being ridiculed or criticized, particularly in childhood. Inability to express emotional needs, feelings, and opinions. Dishonesty and addictions. Weak throat chakra is reflected in a chronic sore throat; mouth, gum and teeth issues; scoliosis; stiff neck; tension headache; swollen glands; and thyroid conditions. Excessive throat chakra results in excessive talking, inability to listen, hearing difficulties, stuttering, addiction, judgment, and criticism.
Related Intention: Communication, Purification, Surrender, Willpower, Personal Expression, Creativity, Faith, Knowledge, Harmony
Related Attitude: Surrender, Mastery
Yoga Poses: To release tension in neck/shoulders, open throat, stretch and strengthen muscles in shoulders and upper back. Face, neck, and jaw stretches, shoulder shrugs. Neck and shoulder tension can be released by focusing on the throat (lips relax the jaw). Practice Throat Lock in forward bending poses. Shoulder Stand promotes blood flow to upper body, which nourishes the master glands, including the thyroid.
Breathing Exercise: Victorious breath
Meditation Exercise: “Om” (primordial sound, universal creation).
Affirmation or Mantra: “I speak truth. I express my feelings with clarity, sensitivity, and confidence. I listen to my own voice. I allow my creativity to flow. I effortlessly manifest my ideas. I acknowledge the power of words to create.”
Questions for Reflection: Do you clearly focus your intention and make choices that empower your ambition? What prevents you from communicating effectively? Why are you hard on yourself but not others?
Considerations: Practice yoga poses to music that inspires you.
Sixth Chakra: Third Eye (Ajna)
Energetic Anatomy: Ajna means “to perceive or command.” This chakra is the doorway through which higher wisdom and intuition enters. While the intuition of the third chakra is more practical, sixth chakra intuition is of spiritual significance, of life itself — finding the meaning and purpose inherent in all of life’s cycles, including disease and death (transcending states of self-pity). The visions one sees in the third eye can be manifested into reality by willpower. The third eye chakra is about focusing energy in positive directions.
Physical Location: Located on the forehead, between and just above the eyes. Also known as the third eye. Associated with the pineal gland, brain, eyes, ears, and nose.
Color: Indigo blue
Balanced Third Eye Chakra: Spiritual thinking and perception — views life situations as lessons for personal development. Clear vision and possible clairvoyance. Ability to see the truth in every situation. Focused, yet open to new concepts. Introspective, inquisitive, and personally accountable. Strong in spirit and empowered to fully engage in relationships and personal endeavors.
Unbalanced Third Eye Chakra: If underdeveloped, one can experience aimlessness, headaches, nightmares, confused thinking, and depression. If overdeveloped, there’s a tendency to intellectualize, to be aloof or disconnected from the heart. When unbalanced, typical indications are fear, inadequacy, insecurity, jealousy, blame, and paranoia. Also connected to brain tumors, hemorrhages and blood clots, blindness, neurological disorders, deafness, headaches, spinal difficulties, anxiety or nervousness, comas, depression, schizophrenia, grand mal seizures, emotional disorders, and learning disabilities.
Related Intention: Truth, Wisdom, Intuition, Awareness, Focus, Transcendence, Insight, Non-attachment, Spiritual thinking, Clear vision
Related Attitude: Knowledge, Non-attachment, Mastery
Yoga Poses: Poses that enhance visualization and focus attention.
Breathing Exercise: Alternate nostril breathing.
Sensory Mastery Exercise: Focus on the flame of a candle.
Meditation Exercise: Use visualization form of meditation where you concentrate on a visual image to focus the mind. Image can be real (open eye meditation) or imagined (closed eye meditation).
Affirmation or Mantra: “My mind is calm and open. I am at peace with whatever is happening in my life. I open to the wisdom within and from others. I listen to my intuition.”
Questions for Reflection: What activities help focus your mind? Do you listen to your intuition? How do you define wisdom? Can you look at a current “struggle” with spiritual perception? What are the gifts that this situation has to offer?
Seventh Chakra: Crown (Sahasrara)
Energetic Anatomy: Associated with the highest state of enlightenment, spiritual development, and thought, and with the highest vibration on the color spectrum (violet). The crown chakra is the entry point of human life force (prana) — an invisible current of energy that endlessly pours in, nourishing every part of the body. Just as the root chakra reaches down into the earth, the crown chakra reaches upward into the spiritual world. Sense of purpose and connection to the Divine. Attitudes, values, ethics.
Physical Location: Located near the crown of the head. Associated with the cerebral cortex, central nervous system, pituitary gland, and the master gland, which regulates all other glands of body. Also, the nervous system, muscle system, skin, and skeletal structure.
Sense: Beyond the senses
Sound: Ng, silence
Balanced Crown Chakra: Spends time in spiritual company and enjoys spiritual discussions. Spends quality time with oneself. Confronts addictions and engages in nourishing activities. Healthy, vital life force reflected in healthy body and clear mind. Awareness of where one invests their energy in life and mindful of personal values.
Unbalanced Crown Chakra: Blocked crown chakra: depression, confusion, rigid belief system, lack of belief, swaying from one idea to the next. Lack of spiritual connection to oneself, others, and the environment. Lack of faith and courage, negative attitudes, self-centered or selfish, unwilling to grow and change, inability to see the larger picture of one’s life. Nervous system disorders, paralysis, genetic disorders, bone problems, multiple sclerosis.
Related Intention: Awareness, Union, Wholeness, Presence, Enlightenment, Spirit, Integration, Purpose, Connection, Faith, Transcendence
Related Attitude: Knowledge, Mastery
Yoga Poses: Connect self with higher Self, balance energy of lower and upper chakras.
Breathing Exercise: Observe natural breath without controlling.
Meditation Exercise: Simply observe the different states of the mind and thoughts that arise. Continue to bring the focus back to the present moment. Enjoy the moments beyond thought.
Affirmation or Mantra: “I trust in the universal good. I receive the unlimited abundance of the universe. I am one with all beings. Universal energy flows through me constantly. Everything I need to know is revealed to me at the appropriate time. I am open-minded. My beliefs are non-violent.”
Questions for Reflection: What activities fuel your sense of connection to something larger than yourself? What are some ways in which we cultivate and strengthen the seventh chakra? What are some ways in which we weaken it?
The Pure Heart of Yoga: Ten Essential Steps for Personal Transformationby Robert Butera © 2009 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. Woodbury, MN. All rights reserved, used by permission and with the good wishes of the publisher.