Chakra is a buzz word in the yoga community, but what are they really? The word Chakra means wheel and is used to describe energy centers that are within us. These energy centers are responsible for different physical, emotional and spiritual components within ourselves. As these energy centers spin, they either radiate balance or they can be out of balance (sluggish or over eager). When your chakras are balanced, we feel vibrant, healthy and peaceful. When they are not, we feel different out of balance characteristics which can be unpleasant, painful and not our best self. So, how does this connect to the ‘Yoga Practice’ we all know and love? Each of the asanas (poses) that we practice is designed to balance your chakra energies. The pranayama (breathing) and meditation also balance your chakras. Then if you add in other methods to balance (mantra, connecting with the elements, and journaling) you’ll be on your way to bliss! Although there are many chakras within you, below are the seven main chakras (from base to crown) studied with yoga philosophy.
1. Muladhara (Root Chakra):
This is your base and your foundation. When in balance, we feel secure, grounded, and stable. When out of balance, one might experience insecurity, trust issues, feelings of out of control, and can extend to the physical with muscular-skeletal problems or feet, leg issues. To balance practice standing poses or poses strong in the legs, pranayama with emphasis on the exhale, and restorative yoga. You can also chant the mantras “I NEED,” “I AM SAFE, I AM SECURE,” or connect with the earth by walking in nature and gardening.
2. Svadisthana (Sacral Chakra):
This is your center for emotional and sexual health. When in balance, you may experience a healthy relationship with your emotions as well as the ability to connect to your joy. When out of balance one may have trouble letting loose and having fun or the opposite, have too much fun. An out of balance sacral chakra may also be connected to reproductive issues, and sexual dysfunction. To balance practice hip opener poses, and flow with breath to movement. You can also balance by using the mantra “I FEEL JOY,” as well as connecting with water and its fluidity.
3. Manipura (Solar Plexus Chakra):
This is your center for personal will. When in balance, you may have a strong sense of purpose and be decisive and/or ambitious. When out of balance, one may be indecisive, feel lost or be too aggressive and pushy with their ideas and ways. An out of balance Solar Plexus Chakra may also be connected to digestive issues. To balance, practice core poses, twist poses, as well as Kapalabhati pranayama (skull shining breath). Another way to balance is using the mantra, “I CHOOSE,” and connecting with fire (safely, ie… campfires, candle gazing etc).
4. Anahata (Heart Chakra):
This is your center for love and connection. When in balance, you may experience belonging, generosity, forgiveness and love. When out of balance, one may feel lonely, bitter, jealous, and disconnected. An out of balance heart chakra could be connected to respiratory and circulatory issues. To balance, practice heart openers, and all pranayama methods (especially big expansive ones). You can also balance by using the mantra, “I LOVE,” and practicing forgiveness and love. The element for the heart chakra is air, so get outside, breathe fresh air and love yourself!
5. Visuddha (Throat Chakra):
This is your center for communication and self expression. When in balance, you may be connected to your creativity, listening and speaking your truth. When out of balance, one may have difficulty speaking up, or shutting up. One may also have trouble with connecting to their creative side and expressing themselves in healthy ways. To balance, practice throat openers and throat condensing poses. Practice ujjayi (victorious breath), listening, and communication in all forms. In addition, you could balance by using the mantra, “I EXPRESS,” and connecting with the element sound (music, instruments, and sound meditations).
6. Ajna (Third Eye Chakra):
This is your center for intuition and wisdom. When in balance, one may have a strong intuition, and have a deeper sense of faith and knowing who they are. When out of balance one may experience nightmares, headaches, visions, and a sense of being lost. To balance, practice inversions to change your perspective, meditation, and journaling. You can also balance by using the mantra, “I SEE.” The element for this chakra is light.
7. Sahasrara (Crown Chakra):
This is your center for spiritual connection and bliss. When in balance, you may experience moments of pure peace and bliss. This chakra is out of balance when any of the other chakra(s) are out of balance. You may use the mantra, “I KNOW,” and connect to the element of thought. To balance, practice meditation, asana, and any other methods that balance you as a whole person.
These are just a few ways to balance your chakras, there is always more ways and maybe you have a few of your own. Chakras part of the joy of the practice, just like other components in yoga, is there’s always more to learn and more ways to grow. We hope you enjoyed this glance over the chakras, and know that the true teacher and compass to balance lies within each and every one of us.