Chakras – the rainbow life force
Somewhere along your yoga journey you have probably heard your teacher speak about chakras. They might even have said something like: “Breathe in deeeeep and open your heart chakra to the sky’. But what exactly are chakras? How do they work? And how can you harness their power better? Fear not, I have you covered – let’s jump right in!
What are Chakras?
Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means ‘wheel’ or ‘disk’. Essentially a chakra is a spinning orb of energy or light. It holds your Prana or life force energy. When your chakras are open and balanced or aligned this energy flows freely. In this state of flow there is a calm that exists within you and your mind, body and spirit are in harmony. If one or more of your chakras are blocked or unbalanced it will manifest in your life; mentally, emotionally or physically.
There are seven chakras running along your spine, starting at the base and ending just above the crown of your head. Each chakra corresponds to different physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual states of being which in turn affect all aspects of your life.
While each chakra has a specific vibration and relates to specific states of being, they affect each other. Specifically, if lower chakras are blocked or in imbalance that will affect the chakras higher up. This is why when we speak about chakras and work on them, we usually start from the bottom and work our way up.
Base or Root Chakra (Muladhara)
The Root Chakra is your first chakra, it is what keeps you rooted, stabilised and grounded. This chakra is your foundation and sits at the base of your spine, near the pelvic floor and the first (lowest) three vertebrae of your spine. It has to do with survival and security, essentially all your basic needs like food, water, safety and shelter as well as financial independence. It also relates to your emotional states of feeling safe and releasing fear.
If your Root Chakra is blocked, you might experience anxiety and fear or uncertainty. Physically you might experience issues with your bladder and colon, or your lower back, legs and feet.
A balanced Root Chakra makes you feel confident that your needs are being (or will be) met. The message that this chakra brings is “I exist’. It is about meeting your needs and living proudly.
Bija Mantra: Lam (pronounced Laahm).
Stones: Hematite, garnet, red jasper, black tourmaline and bloodstone.
Sacral Chakra (Svadhistana)
The Sacral Chakra relates to your sensuality, sexuality and desire. It is also the centre of your creative energy. This chakra helps you to tune into your emotions and the emotions of others, increase your abundance, well-being and pleasure. Your Sacral Chakra is located in the middle of your abdomen, slightly below your belly button.
A blocked Sacral Chakra could manifest as stifled creativity and emotional instability. You might also experience sexual dysfunction (or sexually related guilt), depression, fear of change, hypersensitivity, codependency and addictive behaviours. It is often associated with feeling like you are not in control of your life.
A balanced Sacral Chakra brings feelings of wellness and abundance. You will find pleasure, joy and fulfilment in life. While living with passion. The message conveyed through this chakra is ‘I desire’.
Bija Mantra: Vam (pronounced Vaahm).
Stones: Tiger’s Eye, amber, carnelian, orange calcite, hematite.
Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura)
The Solar Plexus Chakra has to do with your personal power, it represents the ‘fire in your belly’. Your Solar Plexus Chakra is located near your stomach at the top of your abdomen, just below where your ribs connect to your sternum.
If your Solar Plexus Chakra is blocked, you might have low self-esteem and be indecisive. You could also experience shame and self-doubt.
If your Solar Plexus Chakra is balanced you will feel in control of your destiny, you will feel empowered and confident. This chakra says ‘I control’.
Bija Mantra: Ram (pronounced Raahm).
Stones: Amber, yellow topaz, tiger-eye, golden yellow labradorite.
Heart Chakra (Anahata)
The Heart Chakra relates to giving and receiving love and compassion and is located above your heart. It is here where the physical and spiritual meet and you can experience love, joy and inner peace. This chakra is the central chakra and connects the lower chakras (linked to materiality and the physical) with the upper chakras (linked to spirituality).
A blocked Heart Chakra can result in feelings of anger, jealousy, grief, fear of betrayal and hatred or holding on to hurts. It will hinder you from opening up to others.
When your Heart Chakra is balanced you are able to give and receive love and compassion. You are empathetic and love flows freely from you and to you. This chakra’s message is ‘I love’.
Bija Mantra: Yam (pronounced Yaahm).
Stones: Rose Quartz, emerald, malachite and jade.
Throat Chakra (Vishuddha)
The Throat Chakra has to do with speaking your truth- it gives a voice to your Heart Chakra. It is in the middle of your throat and influences how authentically you express your authentic truth.
When your Throat Chakra is blocked you will find it difficult to communicate your truth clearly. You might struggle to concentrate and worry about what other people think of you. Physical manifestations of a blocked Throat Chakra could include a sore throat, tension headaches, stiffness in your neck and shoulders and thyroid issues.
When your Throat Chakra is balanced and open you will find that you can easily and clearly speak your truth. You can ask what you need, and receive it. This chakra says ‘I express’.
Bija Mantra: Ham (pronounced Haahm).
Colour: Light Blue/Turquoise.
Element: Ether, sound and music.
Stone: Aquamarine, angelite, blue topaz, sapphire, lapis lazuli and turquoise.
Third Eye Chakra (Ajna)
The Third Eye Chakra is located between your eyebrows and relates to your intuition, awareness and higher guidance. It helps you to see the bigger picture and see deeper into things, past what is happening on the surface.
A blocked Third Eye Chakra could cause you to struggle to connect to and trust your intuition, remember facts and learn new skills. Physical signs of a blocked Third Eye Chakra could be headaches, dizziness and other issues relating to your brain.
A balanced Third Eye Chakra gives you strong intuition and perhaps even clairvoyance or clairaudience. This chakra’s message is ‘I am the witness’.
Bija Mantra: Sham (and Om/Aum).
Colour: Indigo, Dark Blue or Purple.
Element: Extra-Sensory Perception and Light.
Stones: Amethyst, lapis lazuli and azurite.
Crown Chakra (Sahaswara)
The Crown Chakra is located a little bit above the top of your head. It represents your spiritual connection and cosmic consciousness. This is where we experience and increase the feeling of being connected with our higher selves, others and the universe.
A Blocked Crown Chakra could make you feel isolated and disconnected. You could also just feel ‘normal’. By opening and balancing this chakra through regular practice you can generate the feeling of spiritual connection and enlightenment.
When your Crown Chakra is in balance you will experience a deep connection to everything and everyone around you. You will feel a deep sense of peace. This chakra’s message is ‘I am that I am’.
Bija Mantra: Soham (and Om/Aum).
Colour: Violet or Violet white.
Element: Thought and Divine Consciousness.
Stones: Clear Quartz, amethyst, selenite and sugilite.
How to unblock your chakras
If a chakra is blocked it can affect your physical body, emotions or psychology and even the reality you find yourself. Remember that we create our reality so if a chakra is out of balance or blocked, we manifest our world according to that.
As you work with each of your chakras you will slowly become familiar with how they feel when they are balanced – and when they are blocked. Through regular practice you will start to pay attention and pick up when things are not quite right which means you will be able to bring it back into alignment sooner. It will very likely also lead you to old wounds that need healing. Healing and unblocking your chakras is one way of healing these old wounds.
Meditation has so many benefits, and you can use this practice to balance and unblock your chakras. While meditating focus on each chakra in turn, starting with your Root Chakra. Visualise an orb of the corresponding coloured energy spinning in the area where the chakra is located. Red for your Root Chakra, orange for your Sacral Chakra and so forth. See the colour glow and become brighter as you breathe into each chakra. You could also place your hand on each area to bring your focus fully to that area. Imagining any dark spots in the colour of the chakra or any negativity fading or draining away while infusing it with an increasingly brighter light.
While meditating you could ask each of your chakras whether there is a message for you, follow your intuition and explore what comes up with gentleness and acceptance.
Absolutely everything in the universe is made of energy (to really get into it you can research quantum mechanics, but here is a short breakdown). The physical world around you consists of a bunch of energies all vibrating at different rates which create objects, people and experiences – yes, this hole gets very deep, Alice…
Each chakra also has its own unique vibration. The vibration of each Bija, or seed, mantra when said out loud correspond with the vibration of each chakra. So, when you speak a Bija mantra – and especially when you repeat it – you re-align the vibration of that particular chakra.
You can chant these mantras one after the other in repetitive cycles or you can focus on repeating each mantra several times before moving on to the next.
I have listed a Bija mantra you can use under each chakra above.
Crystals give off a specific vibration and you can use that to unblock and balance your chakras. I have listed some stones or crystals that can be used with each chakra but a general rule of thumb is to go with the same colour. Red stones for the Root Chakra, orange for the Sacral Chakra and so on.
You can use crystals by placing them on your chakra points. This works best if you are laying down either on your back or stomach – try doing this after or during Shavasana for a powerful cleansing.
You can also hold each stone as you work through the meditations and mantras I mentioned above.
Wearing your crystals is a way to bring their healing and balancing energy into your life even when you are on the go. Or simply place them around your home in the form of a healing chakra pyramid or crystal grid. Remember to cleanse and program your crystals every now and then to make sure that you harness as much of their energy as possible.
Yoga asanas organically increase the flow of energy in, and between the chakras. There are, however, a few specific asanas that you can do if you find one of your chakras is blocked.
- Root Chakra
- Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
- Knee to Chest pose (Pavanamuktasana)
- Sacral Chakra
- Cow pose (Bitilasana)
- Butterfly pose with forward fold (Baddha konasana)
- Solar Plexus Chakra
- Forearm plank pose (Phalakasana)
- Boat pose (Navasana)
- Heart Chakra
- Camel pose (Ustrasana)
- Standing bow pose (Dandayamana Dhanurasana)
- Throat Chakra
- Cat-Cow pose (Marjariasana and Bitilasana)
- Supported Shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
- Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Third Eye Chakra
- Child’s pose (Balasana)
- Dolphin pose (Mayurasana)
- Crown Chakra
- Corpse pose (Savasana)
- Downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Dancing is a fun way to unblock and balance your Root and Sacral Chakras. If you sing along to some high-vibrational and upbeat music, you add the benefit of working on your Throat Chakra.
If you would like to learn more about chakras a great little book is The Chakras Made Easy by Hilary C Carter.
This is down to earth handbook makes it easy to determine the state of your chakras through the use of a simple tick list. It also gives you practical techniques for healing each of the seven chakras to get you on your way to a more balanced life.
You might also like The Little Book of Chakras by Patricia Mercier. This is a beautiful colour-illustrated pocket guide to awakening and balancing the chakras, that is chocker block full of easy-to-follow exercises and activities to help you learn how to work with each of these powerful centres of energy to enhance all aspects of your life.
Balanced chakras = balanced life
Balancing your Prana or life force energy is a powerful way to create a peaceful and harmonious life. By harnessing the power that each chakra makes available to you, you can take control of your life and create the life you want. Are you ready to live a life in the flow?