Some of you may be incredibly familiar with this image and others may be seeing it for the first time. The chakra system comes from the yoga tradition however identical systems are represented from most spiritual traditions from all around the world. I’m going to give you a crash course in how the yogic chakra energy system works and how you can use this to your practical benefit in your own life. This is not a religious practice and can stand completely alone and can be a great supplement to any particular belief system.
Considered “wheels”, you can think of the chakras as being 7 points of focus in the body. They inhabit a physical region of the body yet hold a deeper, more metaphysical meaning. When seemingly non-physical things are going on in your life, those things can still be attributed to the associated chakra in your body. At this time, it is said that the chakra is “out of balance.” While it is, of course, important to work on correcting the external factors in your life, doing some intentional work to be aware and balance your corresponding internal chakra center will offer benefit as well. Part of the way that this works is because we compartmentalize different emotions and experiences into different parts of our body. For simple example; take the saying “I have a pit in my stomach about that.” The “pit in the stomach” is a fear response. It is in the lower chakras that we hold fear. This situation that was the stimulus actually had nothing to do with the organ of the stomach… and yet we feel it there. As humans, we are part physical beings and part emotional/spiritual beings. This makes/allows us to process our emotions through our physical bodies. Depicted as a rainbow of colors, each chakra has specific colors, sounds and attributes connected to it.
In this next section, I will give some brief descriptions about each of the individual chakras and how they can be beneficially accessed. Throughout my whole program I will be suggesting specific exercises, meditation, yoga poses etc. to help with the corresponding chakras that are being activated at those times in the program. You may find that one or a few chakras (and corresponding areas of your life) need particular attention and extra work.
The root chakra is centered in the base of the spine, the perineum and the legs. If we think of ourselves as a tree, then we can think of this chakra as being our roots. They dig deep into the soil and keep us steady. They draw in the food and moisture that we need to survive and, in their rootedness, they give us a place to feel “at home”. The root chakra represents having our basic needs met. It is about feeling secure, safe and supported. The root chakra is also associated with our more primal and instinctual aspects of ourselves. It is that fight or flight response. It is also our chakra that is most closely associated with our physical body as a whole.
Imbalances in the root chakra can show up as anger and frustration, a feeling of not being in control. A person can have an overwhelming fear of change and, as a result, be overly controlling, selfish and even exhibit OCD tendencies. On the other hand, a person can also feel spacy and not “grounded”. They can have really low energy and very little stamina. They can exhibit nervousness. When things get out of wack with your living situation, your financial situation or your sense of trust, it is the root chakra that is being challenged. Besides doing what is necessary to fix the actual problems at hand, doing grounding meditations and spending time sitting or laying on the ground and imagining yourself feeling supported and stable can be surprisingly helpful. There are really helpful meditations and affirmations that can bring you back to this essential feeling of rootedness. Reminding yourself through affirmations that you are safe and supported and truly will have everything you need can help you rebalance and feel like you’ve got things under control.
The sacral chakra resides in the area just above the pubic bone. Often called the sex chakra, it definitely embodies our sexuality, pleasure and also our fertility. Additionally however, it is also the seat of our passion and our creativity (in it’s many different forms). The sacral chakra is where deep emotions and a sense of connection come from. Many people in today’s society have issues blocking their 2nd chakra. We are told to not “loose control” and to have a handle on our emotions. We are conditioned both that sexuality is “wrong” while, at the same time, have a culture where the taboo of sex is overly fetishized. We are connected to the internet more than to real people thus the ability to connect and really raise that passion is strangely skewed.
It is pretty clear that when someone is experiencing issues regarding sex and sexuality, it is related to this sacral chakra yet also when someone is in a creative slump or have a general feeling of boredom in their life, they are probably also experiences stagnation in this energy center as well. Some other behaviors that are often attributed to sacral chakra imbalances include being shy and inhibited and lacking social skills. Another common manifestation of a sacral imbalance is a general experience of being guilt-ridden or in contrast, manipulative. Second chakra deficient people often have issues with addiction or with really intense cravings. They tend to be skeptical and non-trusting and are often control freaks (You know the term “anal retentive”.)
When wanting to enliven this area it can be really valuable to dance or to move around the hip area (circles and figure-8s are especially good). (Don’t worry… you can do this alone or in the car). There are certain yoga poses that are particularly helpful to waken up the sacral area. Also playing with some kind of new creative endeavor can help fire things back up. This could really be anything. (painting, building, song writing, writing… anything that gets your creative “juices” flowing. The second chakra wants to be “filled” and it wants to “create”. It is up to you fill it with nourishing projects/relationships/experiences and to channel its creative force into things that will be truly satisfying.
Solar Plexus Chakra
The solar plexus lives it that spot just below your ribs. I like to picture it as the headlight on your car. It is lighting the way for you and dictating the direction that you’re headed. If you want your life to go a different direction, shift the focus of your solar plexus and it will guide you in a different direction. The solar plexus is the seat of your ego. It is characterized by will-power, self-confidence and a sense of personal power. The solar plexus is a great seat of self-respect and of harnessing the discipline to create whatever you want in your life. Physically, a healthy solar plexus is indicative of good digestion and hormone balance.
Imbalances associated with the solar plexus often appear to be low self-esteem or a lack of life direction. They may be weak-willed indecisive or unreliable. On the other side they can often be intolerant, impatient, sarcastic, egotistical and have major issues with authority. When a person lacks self-confidence and doesn’t feel good about the direction that their life is headed they often physically curl their body in on themselves. Their chest (literally or figuratively) collapses and their shoulders slump forward. Their “light” appears dim and their affect often doesn’t have any power behind it. Have you ever seen that before? Their out-of-balance solar plexus is written all over their body. Additionally they may have digestive or heartburn problems. In order to counteract this, try taking a deep breath in fill this solar plexus center, it actually expands your body and can fill you with a greater sense of pride and inner power. When the solar plexus seems to be out of balance, it is a great time to formulate a plan, engage all of your determination and will power and commit to taking action. There are several yoga poses and breaths that help to activate the solar plexus. One my favorites is warrior 2 pose. While It is not one that is physically felt in the abdomen region, it mentally and emotionally has the same intention as the solar plexus. Another is a short breathing activity known as lion’s breath. On your hands and knees breath in deeply and fill the chest, put your head back and when you breath out, open your mouth and stick your tongue out making a roaring sound. (I know this sounds ridiculous but truly it feels quite good and liberating). Trust me, if you can “make” yourself do this with enthusiasm and focus, you can have faith that you can do anything!
The heart chakra is perhaps the best-known chakra because already in common culture we recognize the heart as being the seat of emotions and love. It is from this heart center that we experience compassion, empathy, self-love, acceptance and a desire for altruism. It is also from the heart chakra that we are able to understand the concept that there is a greater unifying force between all things. It is widely recognized amongst cultures from all around the world that the most potent healing force is love. Now when we think of love from just a simple western perspective, we often only see it as the love that is capable between two people. (romantic, familial, friend) Love, however, (in my understanding) can be much broader than that. It is the connectivity between everything. It is the magnetism that draws to atoms together. It is actually the whole fabric of reality.
Heart chakra issues are representative of loneliness, jealousy, possessiveness, arrogance, judgementalness, difficulty with boundaries, feeling like a martyr and trying overly hard to please others. Some really effective ways to strengthen heart chakra imbalances are to focus on being grateful. It is a practice of seeing the positives and taking time to appreciate all the little things. The heart chakra focuses on the organ of the heart but also in the region of the lungs. For this reason, breath is a really beneficial way to strengthen the heart chakra. It can be helpful to breathe deeply and focus on drawing that fresh breath into your heart feeling it full and soothed. Additionally, the act of humming, vibrates the chest and nourishes the heart chakra on a primal level. There’s a good reason why mothers instinctually hum to their infants. It may come as no surprise that the scent of roses is actually a really powerful heart opener as is the compounds found in chocolate. In fact, in central America shamans make a sugar and dairy-free very strong cacao “hot chocolate” beverage to hold heart-opening ceremonies.
It may make sense to learn that the throat chakra is about self-expression, communication and speaking your truth. It is how you communicate and present yourself in the world. It is about standing up for what you believe in and being willing to clearly state your boundaries when necessary. While the 2nd chakra is about one form of creativity, the throat chakra is another form of creativity. (In fact, these two chakras often work closely together.) It is the role of the throat chakra to take care of us and get our needs met through effective communication. It is also how we express ourselves to the world.
When the throat chakra is not in balance we can see it through arrogance and a “know it all” attitude. Often they need to get the last word and will shout in order to be heard. They can be gossipy and also be poor listeners. A person may be incredibly long-winded without offering much content to their words or be too inhibited to talk at all. “Cat got your tongue?” These people might also be whiners or have no inflection at all in their speech. A person with a throat chakra deficiency may be lacking creativity and engagement and likely will have nothing to contribute towards group conversations. Some exercises to reconnect with your throat chakra may include singing (Yes, you can do this in the shower), journaling or writing. Posting things on social media, engaging in art projects that really represent who you are. If you feel like you have frustrating stagnation in your throat chakra, it may be really helpful to yell and scream (not at anyone but just to let it out). You also may benefit from forcing yourself into having some essential but tough conversations that you’ve been putting off. Additionally, doing some simple neck rolls and making noise when your head is in the back position can really help to activate things.
The third eye lives in the location in the center of the head, just above the eyebrows. It is associated with the pineal gland which is a glad that is shaped like a pinecone and allows for higher, more transcendent cognitive functions. While the brain itself functions with the bulk of our thoughts and reasoning, it is the third-eye that houses the intuition, insight and inner knowing. It is here that we are connected to the deeper meanings in life and are able to grasp a higher perspective and wisdom. If your regular eyes see reality, your third eye sees through a spiritual lens. The third eye is also the place in us that governs out sense of justice and personal ethics.
When someone is out of touch (or out of balance) with their third eye, the may have difficulty concentrating and find themselves getting into destructive “mental loops”. They may over analyze details and as a result get stuck in non-action. These people tend to be very rigid in one way of thinking or conversely may change their mind often and recklessly. Often issues with the third-eye will show up by someone not understanding the effect of their actions or being able to see the big picture (or anyone else’s point of view). This can lead to them repeating the same patterns and not learning from their mistakes. Two of the most important things that you can do to help rebalance your third-eye are sleep and meditation. Both give it a chance to come to a place of stillness and recharge. In your meditation, bring your (closed) eyes upwards towards the center of the brow line. Sometimes your thoughts will wander. When this happens, don’t judge it, just refocus and come back to that sense of stillness and calm. In addition, the pineal glad is prone to actual physical calcification. This is especially triggered by sodium fluoride which is not only added to our toothpaste (fluoride) but is in our municipal water system. This fluoride essentially forms a calcium shell around the pineal gland not allowing it to function. Trying to steer clear of non-filtered water and fluoride toothpaste is a good start. Also, eating green leafy and cruciferous vegetable and seaweed (and surprisingly coffee) are proven to help correct this problem.
The crown chakra is the most ephemeral and perhaps the most difficult to understand. Its location is actually a few inches above the head and, while it does not contact the actual physical body, it resides in the auric field and serves as the gateway to higher consciousness. No matter what spiritual or religious path that you connect to, no matter what is your concept (or term) for a greater network of consciousness, the crown chakra is that connection. It is the place “in” us that goes beyond our limited human experience, beyond the personal ego and unto the idea of selflessness and lack of differentiation. This is commonly referred to a unity consciousness where an individual can understand that they are part of a larger system. With this framework of connectivity, it brings about a deeper level of compassion and empathy. The crown chakra also helps us to recognize patters and messages.
When someone is in touch with their crown chakra they are considered to be open-minded, aware and wise. When the crown chakra is blocked, a person can feel scattered and directionless. They may have difficulty remembering things that seemed to be really important them. Balancing and activating the crown chakra can be a life-long process. It is a process of quieting the mind enough to let the spirit sour. The crown chakra is the culmination of all the other chakras and is most easily and effectively balanced when all of the others are in alignment. Meditating is definitely one way to work towards an activated crown chakra. Drumming is also really helpful. When engrossing yourself in a hypnotic rhythmic pattern, you can shed your earthly thoughts and lose yourself in the ethers. There are certain essential oils that can help to open your crown chakra such as frankincence and helichrysum. Either inhale the aroma from these or put a dab (diluted in a carrier oil) on the top of the head to open up the connection to higher consciousness. .