Chakras 101 - Get to Know Your Centers and Find a Balance
A chakra is an energetic wheel, or vortex of energy in the body. Each chakra has specific physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual attributes. The chakras are strongly correlated to the endocrine system, each one aligned with a particular gland in the body.
Root – Reproductive
Sacral – Adrenal
Solar Plexus- Pancreas
Heart – Thymus
Throat – Thyroid
Third Eye – Pituitary
Crown – Pineal
The chakras are party of the subtle body. The subtle body is made up of hundreds of nadis, or lines of energy by which prana (life force energy) flows. Similar to meridians in the Chinese system, nadis are the pathways for the chakra system. The chakras are aligned with the Sushumna nadi, which follows the cerebrospinal axis (brain and spine). Moving in a figure eight are the Ida and Pingala nadis. The Ida Nadi is associated with lunar or feminine qualities whereas the Pingala Nadi is associated with solar or masculine qualities. The Ida crosses at chakras 2, 4 and 6 whereas the Pingala crosses at chakras 1, 3, and 5. There are 7 main chakras. All are in the physical body except for the last; it rests just above the crown of the head. We start at the base, muladhara (root) chakra and move all the way up to the crown, sahasrara (crown) chakra. Each one has a unique color and each one has a certain number of petals that appear around the circumference of the chakra. Below is a breakdown of each of the chakras. We study the chakras to create more balance and harmony between the mind, body and spirit. We transcend the physical body through the upper chakras and develop a greater sense of self and purpose. We cleanse the body and ensure optimal health by balancing the lower chakras. The 4th (heart) chakra is where the two intersect. Through consistent practice we are able to better manage our energy and understand how prana moves through this ancient system.
MULADHARA – ROOT CHAKRA
This chakra connects us to Mother Earth. Therefore, it correlates with our basic survival instincts. When your basic needs are met, you feel safe and supported. This is a sign of a balanced root chakra. If you experience fear or scarcity, then you may have a hard time making decisions. This is a sign of a weak or imbalanced root chakra. Ways to balance this chakra are through meditation, a grounding yoga practice (think both feet on the ground or sitting poses), earthly smells such as sandalwood, and warm foods. I recommend going outside as much as possible to stay connected to nature.
SVADHISTANA – SACRAL CHAKRA
This chakra is the center of our sensuality, intimacy, sexuality and connection to pleasure. When we are connected to this chakra we feel creative, playful, joyful and have a strong sense of desire. Our desires are what give us motivation to pursue various paths in this life (with a person, career, hobby, interest, etc). It is important to have a healthy second chakra, as it is believed to be the home of our personality. Our second chakra is in balance when we have appropriate boundaries and do not overindulge in fantasies. It is the chakra most closely associated with water, so it is about embracing change and the constant flow of life.
MANIPURA – SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA
The manipura chakra is also known as the solar plexus or city of jewels. It is governed by the element of fire. This chakra relates to our personal power and ability to move desires into action. It is believed this is the center of transformation, governing our digestive organs where we transform food (nourishment) into energy for our body and cells. An overactive manipura chakra may plunge through life experiences with too much force and a lack of consideration for others. An under-active manipura chakra may shy away from new experiences and feel inadequate to follow their deepest desires. When this chakra is balanced you will feel willing and worthy yet not over-assertive with your actions.
ANAHATA – HEART CHAKRA
This is the chakra of love. It is associated with love, forgiveness, compassion, understanding and most importantly, connection – connection to oneself and connection to others. It governs our most vital life organs (the heart and lungs) thus when you breath in it is believed that you are drawing in life force energy (prana) which fills the heart and circulates through the entire body. When our heart chakra is blocked we feel isolated and alone. When it is overactive we may give all our energy away, leaving very little for our own wellbeing. A balanced heart charka will be able to give and receive love gracefully. Your arms are an expression of your heart chakra. When you’re feeling blocked you may cross your arms or appear closed off. When you’re open you may willing to give hugs, handshakes, a long embrace, etc. A great mantra for this chakra is “I am love”.
VISUDDHA – THROAT CHAKRA
The chakra of purity and communication. How pure are your words? This chakra governs our mouth, throat, jaw and ears. It is the place where we share our gifts with the world through communication and also take the time to intuitively listen. An imbalanced throat chakra may listen with expectation or speak harsh words of judgment. A balanced throat charka will be open, present, and speak words of loving-kindness. It monitors our thyroid thus regulating our hormones and immune system.
AJNA – THIRD EYE CHAKRA
The agni or third eye chakra is the home of our intuition. It is closely related to our intellect, insight, wisdom, and intelligence. When this chakra is open and balanced we feel connected; we are able to see the bigger picture of any situation yet are able to make decisions. We feel divinely guided and trust in the timing of our life. When this chakra is closed we are indecisive and lack purpose. This chakra connects us to spirit (or higher Self).
SAHASRARA – CROWN CHAKRA
Think of the crown of your head as a lotus flower with a thousand petals that just bloomed at the break of dawn. Divine white light flooded in from the skies above and filled your body all the energy you needed to feel alive and vibrant. This chakra unites us with the universal consciousness. It reminds us that we are all one, interconnected in this fabric of life. When this chakra is open we feel at peace, calm and centered. The crown chakra opens us up to the eternal, everlasting, universal consciousness, source, or God of your own understanding.
My own personal journey with the chakras has been quite meaningful and significant. I first started my journey working with an intuitive healer before diving into courses and texts written on the topic. Through personal reflection and meditation, I am now able to manage my energy and cleanse my body of negative holding patterns that may come from stress or past experiences. My mind, body and spirit feel awakened and alive. If you’re just getting started, two texts I recommend are Carolyn Myss’ “Anatomy of the Spirit” and Anodea Judith’s “Eastern Body, Western Mind”.