You may have heard the term Chakra in your yoga class flying around a few times, but what are they, what do they do and how do the chakras relate to Yoga?
The word chakra is translated into ‘wheel’, and chakras can be described as energy wheels or energy centres, there are 7 main ones, and the first chakra sits at the base of the spine. The rest sit at different levels along the spine up the Sushumna, which is our central line of energy. The last one sits just above the crown of the head.
Each chakra corresponds to a physical part of the body, levels of consciousness and body functions, and each one is represented by its own colour, sound and element. If any chakra becomes blocked or unbalanced it is said to give rise to physiological, psychological, emotional and spiritual disorders, and as a result, we might not be able to live life as the best version of ourselves. However, a balanced chakra system can give us optimal health and it allows us to thrive and fulfil our full potential. With a balanced chakra system, the possibility of the dormant kundalini energy that resides in the base of the spine can flow freely up the Sushumna, and awaken us into higher states of consciousness. In essence, we live our day to day life more fully and have a greater capacity to evolve as human beings.
Check out a break down of each chakra below…
Mooladhara – Root Chakra
Moola = root
Adhara = support
Location: Base of the spine, between anus and genitals.
Symbol: 4 Petal lotus flower
The first chakra is at the root of the chakra system, and this chakra influences our whole existence, it deals with our physical identity, survival, stability, our ambition and self-sufficiency.
In the physical body, it governs our bones, teeth, nails, anus, prostate, kidneys, lower digestion, excretory functions and sexual activity.
If this chakra is out of balance, physically you may experience tiredness, poor sleep, lower back pain, digestion problems such as constipation, depression, immune disorders, obesity and eating disorders.
Mentally if this chakra is out of balance, you may feel afraid and ungrounded, feel anger, have low self-esteem, and be obsessed with comfort.
When this chakra is balanced, you may feel grounded and independent, committed and have energy and vitality, strength and have good working digestion.
Svadhishthana – Sacral Chakra
Sva = vital force
Adhistana = seat
Location: Above the genitals
Symbol: 6 Petal lotus flower with a crescent moon
The second chakra deals with our emotional identity, our desire, pleasure and creativity, it also deals with our procreation and personal relationships.
In the physical body, this chakra governs the sexual organs, stomach, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, spleen, the middle of the spine, upper intestines and the autoimmune system.
If this chakra is out of balance, physically you may experience lower back pain, tiredness, hormonal imbalances, menstrual problems, poor digestion, decreased libido, pelvic pain and urinary problems.
Mentally if this chakra is out of balance, you may feel irritable, shy, blame, sexual obsession, guilt, and a lack of creativity.
When this chakra is balanced, feelings of compassion, friendliness, intuition, satisfaction, will be present, as well as a sense of belonging.
Manipura – Solar Plexus
Mani = jewel
Location: Navel centre
Symbol: 10 Petal lotus flower
The third Chakra deals with our self-esteem, sense of belonging, our understanding of our emotions, personal power, thought, will and ego.
In the physical body, this chakra governs the small intestines, upper abdomen, liver, middle spine, kidney and stomach. If Manipura is unbalanced then physically you may experience diabetes, arthritis, colon disease, stomach ulcers, intestinal tumours, low blood pressure.
Emotional issues if this chakra is unbalanced could include, low self-esteem, depression, issues with self-image, fear of rejection, rage, perfectionism, and indecisiveness.
When we have a balanced Manipura chakra we feel energetic, confident, have good mental focus and are decisive, productive, and digestion works well.
Anahata – Heart Chakra
Anahata – unstruck
Location: Heart centre/centre of the chest
Symbol: 12 Petal Lotus flower
The fourth Chakra deals with love, wisdom, mental patience, compassion, social identity, forgiveness, emotional empowerment and issues of the soul.
Physically this chakra governs the heart, circulatory system, rib cage, lungs and diaphragm, shoulders, arms and hands. If this chakra is out of balance, physical conditions may include, upper back and shoulder problems, asthma, heart conditions, shallow breathing. Emotional issues if this chakra is unbalanced include, difficulty with love, confidence issues, moodiness, jealousy, anxiety, anger, lack of hope and compassion.
When our Anahata Chakra is balanced, we are more compassionate, empathetic, optimistic, motivated and have a felt sense of completeness.
Vishuddha – Throat Chakra
Vishuddha – purification
Symbol: 16 Petal Lotus flower
The Fifth Chakra deals with our communication, how we learn to take responsibility for our own needs, creativity, self-knowledge, intuition, creativity and expression. Physically this chakra governs the throat, thyroid gland, vocal cords, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, mouth, teeth and gums.
If this chakra is out of balance physical conditions may include, sore throat, thyroid dysfunction, stiff neck, mouth ulcers, gum and tooth problems and hearing problems. Psychological issues may include, decision making, our will, personal expression, creativity, and addiction.
When Vishudda chakra is balanced we have a positive expression of self, we listen consciously, feel centred, are creative and expressive, and we enable constructive communication.
Ajna Chakra – Third Eye
Ajna – centre of command
Location: Between the eyebrows ( Third Eye)
Symbol: 2 Petal Lotus
Sense: Sensory Perception
Mantra: AUM or OM
The Sixth Chakra deals with our wisdom, intellect, the action of ideas, self-knowledge, clairvoyance, detachment, insight, understanding, and visualisation. Physically this chakra governs the brain, eyes, ears and nose, the pituitary gland, pineal gland and the neurological system.
If this chakra is unbalanced this may cause physical dysfunctions such as headaches, nightmares, learning disabilities, panic, depression, blindness, deafness, spinal dysfunctions and eye strain. Psychological issues may include, lack of concentration, discipline, fear of the truth, the concept of reality, judgement, evaluation and confusion.
When Ajna is balanced we have good concentration and focus, imagination, intuition, and we are able to manifest.
Sahasrara – Crown Chakra
Sahasrara – thousand petal lotus
Location: Crown of head
Symbol: Thousand petal lotus
Sense: Empathy, unity
The seventh chakra deals with our emotional feelings, conscious awareness, intuitive knowing, connection to spirituality, and duality.
Physically this chakra governs, the top and centre of the head, the brain, nervous system and pineal gland. If this chakra is unbalanced then we suffer exhaustion and be sensitive to light and sound. Psychological issues may include, disbelief in spirituality, lack of purpose, loss of identity, sense of fear, interest in materialism, issues with trust, selflessness, devotion and inspiration.
When this chakra is balanced we are open-minded, intelligent, thoughtful, we understand and learn easily and we feel connected to everything around us.
Want to learn how to balance your chakras? Check out my blog Chakra Balancing Poses detailing just how to do so!
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