Chakras: Get to Know Your 7 Energy Centers

Tap into your physical and spiritual sides to improve your health and emotional well-being
An excerpt from The Pure Heart of Yoga: Ten Essential Steps for Personal Transformation

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.

Sense: Smell

Sound: Oh

Food: Proteins

Color: Red

Element: Earth

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 Intention: Balance, Peace, Connection, Unity, Presence, Trust, Supported, Safety, Grounded, Nourished, Nurtured, Stillness, Security, Strength, Calm, Patience

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.

Sense: Taste

Sound: Uu

Food: Liquids

Color: Orange

Element: Water

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.

Sense: Sight

Sound: Ah

Food: Starches

Color: Yellow

Element: Fire

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?

Considerations: Practice meditation or yoga poses with a burning candle.

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.

Sense: Touch

Sound: Ay

Food: Vegetables

Color: Green

Element: Air

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.

Sense: Hearing

Sound: Ee

Food: Fruits

Color: Turquoise

Element: Ether/sound

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.

Sense: Sight

Sound: Mm

Food: Herbs

Color: Indigo blue

Element: Light

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

Food: Fasting

Color: Violet/white

Element: Thought

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.

Mountain Pose, Tree Pose, Backbend, Sun Salutation, Squat, Shoulder Stand, Cobra Child’s Pose, Headstand

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

The Pure Heart of Yoga: Ten Essential Steps for Personal TransformationPure Heart of Yogaby Robert Butera © 2009 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. Woodbury, MN.  All rights reserved, used by permission and with the good wishes of the publisher.

 

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empowerpeace
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User offline. Last seen 3 years 16 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/25/2010

Couldn't be more informative! Thanks so much for sharing.

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