There are seven energy centers in the body called “chakras.” The seven chakras parallel the spine, and each one has certain qualities and associations. However, it is important not to let any one or two chakras overpower the rest. Luckily, there are yoga poses that can help us balance this internal energy.
For the next seven weeks, I will be outlining how to balance each chakra with three specific yoga poses. But first, we need to understand each chakra and the emotions and characteristics it rules.
The first chakra
Chakra one, Muladhara, means “root” and “support.” This chakra is located at the base of the spine. The verb associated with the first chakra is “I am.” The first chakra is usually about survival.
When the first chakra is malfunctioning, one of the manifestations of that malfunction is obesity. Through the first chakra, we work to understand and heal our bodies. The challenge to us is to accept our body, feel it, validate it, love it. Eating is a first chakra activity. When we eat, we are nourished, and our physical body is supported. Eating grounds us. Meats and proteins are first chakra foods.
A well-functioning first chakra opens us to our power and stability and allows us to grow. We are grounded, and this grounding brings us rest and solidity and stillness.
The second chakra
The Second Chakra is called Svadhisthana, which means “sweetness.”
Its element is water. The inner state is tears. Some of the malfunctions include bladder or kidney trouble. The food associated with this is liquids. And the location of this chakra is in the area of the genitals and womb.
Some of the functions and qualities associated with the second chakra are emotions, sexuality, desire, pleasure, creation and procreation. Socialization is also a function of the second chakra. The verb that best fits this chakra is “I feel.” This energy is both emotional and sensual.
The second chakra is one of feminine energies. Not only are both sexuality and pleasure associated with this chakra, but also nurturing. Here is our desire for nurturing, nourishment, warmth and touch. Denying these desires causes serious imbalances in life. Overindulgences also will cause imbalances.
The third chakra
The third chakra is the Manipura chakra, which means “lusterous gem.” It is located in the area of the navel to the solar plexus. Its function is willpower. The verb associated with the third chakra is “I do.”
The glands and body systems it affects are the pancreas, adrenals, digestive system and muscles. When it malfunctions, the resulting problems can include ulcers, diabetes and/or hypoglycemia.
The solar plexus chakra has to do with “belonging.” If it is open, the individual will feel that he/she belongs to everything, firmly grounded to his/her place within the universe. It’s a mental chakra but directly related to the emotions, sinceMental understanding regulates one’s emotional life. If the chakra is open, one will be more likely to have a deeply fulfilling emotional life that does not overwhelm. However, that person might also be more susceptible to psychic “attack” or getting lost in the stars. Physical pain in the chakra stems from overuse.
If the chakra is closed, feelings will be blocked. A person might not feel anything and would not understand the deeper meanings of emotions and might not be connected to his/her greater life purpose.
The fourth chakra
The fourth chakra, called Anahata, is located at the heart. Its function is love. Its element is air. The inner state is compassion and love. The verb for this chakra is “I love.”
The gland associated with the heart chakra is the thymus, and the other body parts are the lungs, heart, arms and hands. When there is a malfunction of the fourth chakra, physical problems such as asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease and lung disease can result.
The love we feel at the fourth chakra is felt toward everything we encounter, because it is felt within as a state of being. At the heart chakra, our love is no longer one of need or desire. Love at the heart chakra is one of joyous acceptance of our place among all things, of a deep peace that comes from lack of need and of a radiating quality that comes from harmony within the self.
The fifth chakra
The fifth chakra is called Visuddha, which means “purification.” It is located at the area of the throat. Its function is related to communication and creativity. The glands that it affects are the thyroid and parathyroid. The other body parts related to the fifth chakra are the neck, shoulders, arms and hands.
The sense associated with it is hearing, and the verb associated with the fifth chakra is “I speak.” When this chakra malfunctions, you can encounter physical problems such as sore throat, stiff neck, colds, thyroid problems and hearing problems.
The sixth chakra
Ajna, the sanskrit word for the sixth chakra, means “to know,” “to perceive,” “to command.” It is located in the head, at or just above the third eye level. The element associated with Ajna is light. Its function is seeing and intuiting. The verb that corresponds with this chakra is “I see.”
The body parts affected by the sixth chakra are the pineal gland and the eyes. Malfunction of the sixth chakra can manifest in blindness, headaches, nightmares, eyestrain and blurred vision.
This chakra is actually in the brain, so its nature is very mental. One finds inner vision as part of this chakra, as well as actual seeing and outer vision. That is why mystic and clairvoyant abilities are also associated with the sixth chakra.
The seventh chakra
The seventh chakra — the crown chakra — is called Sahasrara, which means “thousandfold.” It is located just above the top of the head. The seventh chakra represents thought, and its manifestation is information. Its function is understanding, and the psychological state that it creates is bliss.
The verb that corresponds to this chakra is “I understand.”
The gland affected by this chakra is the pituitary. Other body parts affected by the seventh chakra include the cerebral cortex and the central nervous system. When this chakra malfunctions it can result in depression, alienation, confusion, boredom, apathy and the inability to learn or comprehend.
With the discovery and the opening of the seventh chakra, we transcend from the physical to something beyond — perhaps even a greater consciousness. After all, we are not our bodies, but our minds and souls. We are part of the collective consciousness. We are part of the Great Spirit.
Bee Bosnak is a Turkish-born, British-bred, fiery Aries. After spending half a decade in the mecca of yoga, Los Angeles, she decided to take a leap of faith and moved to Portland, OR, where she currently lives and teaches. Bee is a creator, a risk taker and a purveyor of laughter. Off the mat, she's a visual fashion stylist and writer for various online and editorial yoga magazines. She documents her yogic path on her blog beeyondyoga.com.