Chakras 101: Everything You Need to Know to Harness the Power of the Seven Chakras

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From our yoga practice, we are all intimately familiar with our physical bodies and how they function and perform on a daily basis.

In modern society, it has almost become an obsession. We have become so narrowly focused on the physicality of our bodies – how we eat, how we move, how we sleep – that we begin to think our physical bodies exist in isolation. We identify almost exclusively with the outer shells of our being because how we feel and how we experience the world through our five senses comprises our most obvious reality – the purely physical plane of existence.

But human beings are not that simple – we are extremely sophisticated, complex creatures, and the physical body is just a vessel. Beneath the sheath of the physical plane, there is a much more subtle, purely energetic layer of our existence.

Understanding Energy

We have an energetic body, one that is pulsing with vital life force energy known as prana. Prana can be thought of as the infinite sea of energy that embodies and flows through all living things – it is the subtle, energetic force that sustains all life. The energetic body is always in flux, constantly reconfiguring itself in an attempt to bring the body back to balance.

Energy – or prana – flows within all living beings along unique energy lines known as nadis. You can think of nadis as veins of energy that flow through all living beings, twisting and crossing throughout various points of the body. These nadis are like a network of channels responsible for efficiently moving energy throughout the body. Where these nadis intersect and congregate most densely create big pools of energy known as chakras.

There is a lot of confusion and misconception about chakras in the modern western world, stemming from a lack of consensus on the number, location, and function of each one.

Introducing the Chakras

Arising from ancient Hindu philosophy, the idea of the chakras were discussed in the first written records of Indian mystic philosophy, the Upanishads. The most literal translation of the word chakra is “wheel” which describes the shape the ancient mystics saw – in this way, you can think of chakras as spinning wheels of energy.

While the color, size, and location of the chakras vary from philosophy to philosophy, chakras are simply the cycles of energy that exist in the auric field of all humans. If consciousness and energy are one and the same, then our chakras are the embodiment of certain aspects of our consciousness.

While ancient eastern mystics knew there to be hundreds, possibly even thousands, of chakras located throughout the energy body, our contemporary view of chakras focuses on just seven. Starting at the base of the spine and extending all the way through the crown of the head, the seven main chakras all work together to keep the energetic body operating and regulated.

The primary chakras are associated with specific locations on the body that also correspond with the body’s biological systems such as the endocrine glands and the central nervous system. Consequently, disturbances to the energy of the chakras can manifest as physical symptoms on a biological level.

While we know chakras are purely energetic, whenever one of these major energy centers is thrown off balance or blocked, physical symptoms may occur. The chakras are also associated with different colors, representing various elements of their energy fields. An individual’s chakra colors usually indicate their current emotional state – as the emotions in our bodies shift, so do the colors of our chakra wheels.

The chakra colors are not set in stone and much like the fluidity of human emotions, they also are in constant flux. Usually the brighter and more full of light an individual chakra is, the healthier that chakra is functioning.

There are also chakra symbols associated with each energy center, each one incorporating a powerful circle to represent our infinite connection to the divine. The chakra symbols tend to resemble lotus flowers and carry the associated chakra color with it as well.

The Seven Main Chakras

Working with chakra energy highlights just how deeply interconnected we are with everything around us. The energetic body is our greatest tool for the cultivation of self-awareness – our bodies, minds, and spirits are in constant communication with one another which can reveal incredibly powerful information to us, so long as we are aware.

When our chakras aren’t functioning properly, communication between them becomes blocked. These blockages can translate to the blockages we experience in our outer world. They are direct insights into how well we harmonize with our environment, both internally and externally. In this way, our chakras provide crucial insight into our personal energy fields and what is impacting or inhibiting them.

The Root Chakra (Muladahara)

The root chakra sits at the base of the spine and is known to embody a red-ish hue. Picture yourself sitting in a cross-legged position on the floor – now imagine your sit bones extending deep into the earth below you, creating the very roots that make up the foundation of your life. These roots represent all the things in your life that bring you security, the various pieces that ensure your survival such as food, shelter, water, and sleep.

Muladahara is the densest of all the chakras because the strength of our roots is the foundation from which all else in our lives can unfold. Solid roots provide us the support we need to not just survive, but thrive. Located at the base of the spine, they support us in a literal sense by holding up the rest of the physical body. However, they also support our ability to stay grounded as well as our ability to continue growing: balance and strength in the root chakra paves the way for a life that is stable and secure.

Without the secure foundation of the roots below you providing you stability, it is very difficult to explore and enjoy the fruits of life. A root chakra that is in balance gives you vibrant energy, physical health, and feelings of stability. Symptoms of a root chakra that is out of balance include feelings of fear, anxiety, and insecurity.

The Sacral Chakra (Svadhishthana)

The sacral chakra is located in the lower abdomen and womb and possesses an orange color. The sacral chakra is all about our ability to experience pleasure in all forms – our joy, our desires, all the things that make us feel good.

Translated from Sanskrit, svadhishthana literally means “sweetness”; the health of our sacral chakra determines to what extent we are able to experience the sweetness of life. It determines how free we feel to express ourselves creatively, how satisfied we are with our lives, and how we relate to the world around us.

This is the chakra capable of providing us the feeling of abundance – it is the nature of our connection to all the things that give us life. However, given its vicinity to the womb and sexual organs, the sacral chakra is most commonly associated with sex, sensuality, and procreation. While these are very important functions of the sacral chakra, it is a limited interpretation of its power.

Most significantly, the sacral chakra is the center of our creative energy – it is where we are able to “birth” the unique ideas and expressions of ourselves we want to manifest in the world. Just as the womb is capable of creating precious life from nothing, a healthy sacral chakra is capable of generating authentic thoughts and ideas that establish the foundation for what we want to bring into the world.

When under-functioning, the sacral chakra can prevent us from embodying the fullest expression of ourselves. It can stifle our creativity, decrease our sex drive, and diminish our ability to experience joy. Conversely, an over-functioning sacral chakra can create an obsession with chasing pleasure, demonstrated by things like addiction to sex and substances.

When operating in balance, the sacral chakra is the doorway to a joyful, creative life. You are open to receiving all of life’s sensory pleasures, not just those of a sexual nature. A healthy sacral chakra allows you to live life to the fullest. It allows you to fully engage with the world around you, translating and integrating the sensory experience of your life into your energetic body.

The Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura)

The Solar Plexus Chakra is where we derive our sense of self and personal autonomy. Commonly associated with a bright yellow color, the third chakra is located directly in your naval center – the same place as your gut intuition.

The solar plexus is your source of strength, willpower, and individuality. It governs your ability to confidently and courageously engage with the world around you – your distinct source of personal power that allows you to live life freely and authentically, unburdened by feelings of doubt and inadequacy.

A well-functioning solar plexus chakra shines brightly and radiates its light into all areas of your life – you will feel self-assured and aligned. A person with a balanced solar plexus will have a great amount of autonomy and high levels of self-esteem. You will feel strong and stable in your body and mind.

On the other hand, a poorly functioning solar plexus will invoke feelings of powerlessness and low self-worth. A weak solar plexus can also generate experiences of emotional overwhelm, rage, and anger. The solar plexus chakra is your source of vigor – it is what gets you going, what powers you to take action towards your goals. It impacts your ability to actually put your creations out in the world and make progress on them. Therefore, it has a huge impact on your ability to move confidently towards your dreams and the life you wish to create. To do so requires willpower which has to come from a well-balanced solar plexus. Your will is strong and personal to you and can be harnessed in any direction you want. It is an infinite source of power and we have the ability to harness that power toward any life we wish to create.

A strong solar plexus chakra allows you to co-create with the universe and live the life that is both best for you and for the highest good of all.

The Heart Chakra (Anahata)

The Anahata space is the place from which all else flows. Located in the center of the chest and embodying an emerald green hue, it is quite literally the center of life, the place where the energy from all nadis converge.

The Anahata space serves as our energetic gatekeeper – the center of our being and consciousness. Yes, it is associated with love but not just the romantic type. It involves our love of life, our connection to the love that is all around us. A happy heart chakra will leave you feeling cared for and loved as the universal desire to be loved and receive love comes from the heart chakra.

An under-functioning heart chakra can result in fears surrounding love; the fear of never being loved enough, or the fear of never being able to receive love in a meaningful way. The chief operating force of the heart chakra is equilibrium.

The Anahata space is the product of everything inside of you – as the body is constantly recalibrating its energies, the heart space is where everything meets. It is where all aspects of our being come together to find calm and balance. From this place, we care for ourselves fully and completely and are able to extend this care to those around us.

The Throat Chakra (Vishuddha)

Vishuddha – located in the throat – is the chakra responsible for passing information between all of the upper and lower chakras. Located in the throat area and blue or turquoise in color, this narrow space actually has quite a big role to play. It is the direct connection between the upper and lower triangles of our chakras – the bridge between our manifestation and liberation channels.

The throat chakra is mainly associated with communication and the ability to create and express freely. A clear throat chakra allows us to be masters of non-attachment – we are able to let things go, forgive and move forward, and surrender our preferences to outcomes.

On the other hand, a blocked throat chakra will leave us vulnerable to intense feelings of guilt and shame making it difficult to remain in the present moment. Vishuddha translates to mean “purification” – when this space is closed, it becomes a poison trapped in the body; when it is open, it is able to cleanse and energy flows freely. We are able to confidently share our voice with the world.

Third Eye Chakra (Ajna)

The third eye chakra, Ajna, is our source of intuition and spiritual awakening. It usually has a purple-ish or bright indigo chakra color. When the third eye chakra is activated, we have reached a level of awareness where the passive world around us falls away and we are able to find unity.

The Sanskrit meaning of Anja implies that true command of self comes from overcoming the illusion of duality and surrendering to the guidance from within. The driving force of the third eye chakra is light. It is the chakra of illumination, allowing us to see and experience life through a heightened level of awareness. We are able to transform our consciousness through the activation of this energy – detach from the perceived suffering around us and find inner calm and peace.

A well-balanced third eye allows us to experience life through the lens of intuition and spiritual development and understanding. On the other hand, an overactive third eye can be quite a nuisance – when we are so incredibly aware of everything happening around us, we begin thinking every little thing that happens to us is a “sign”. Attaching too much meaning to every aspect of our lives can be seriously overwhelming.

Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)

The crown chakra, the seventh and final energy center of most contemporary chakra systems, is the most ethereal and transcendent of all the chakras. Located on the very top of the head, it is our direct connection to the divine.

The Sanskrit name for the crown chakra is Sahasrara which translates to “thousand-petalled” referencing the infinite number of petals associated with this particular chakra. Let that sink in for just a moment – our crown chakra is our source of beautiful, infinite life.

The crown chakra represents enlightenment or our most heightened level of consciousness. Through the crown chakra, we are able to find transcendent awareness, liberating ourselves from the cycles of life and death that plague our external world and connecting directly with source and spirit.

An activated crown chakra can bring us to a state of superconsciousness by which we are able to receive downloads and special nuggets of information from the universe we wouldn’t otherwise be open to receiving. Through Sahasrara, we are connected to everything in existence – the crown chakra illuminates, awakening us to the idea that we are in fact connected to everything in the universe – all is one.

When functioning properly, the crown chakra can also be our source of creativity and inspiration. It is the origin of new and original ideas and thoughts. When out of balance, the crown chakra can lead to feelings of craziness and total instability. Sometimes, we can even open our crown chakra a little too far which can cause sensitivity to light and other unpleasant experiences like migraines.

Cleansing Your Own Chakras

So now you might be wondering, how do I check in on the status of my own chakras? How can I get in tune with the energetics of my own body? Luckily, chakra cleansing is relatively simple. Through tools we are already familiar with such as meditation and crystals, we can tune into the health and vitality of the chakras and bring them back into alignment.

Effective chakra cleansing begins with a quiet mind. Meditation is how we find a connection with our inner self, the pure essence of our energy. So it only makes sense that it is also how we can connect with the energy of our chakras.

To unblock energy in the chakras, sit in quiet stillness as you focus on filling them with light and releasing any past density you may hold there. You can do this with an individual chakra you are targeting or with all the chakras one by one starting with the root chakra.

Crystal meditation is also a powerful way to reset and open the chakras. There are different crystals associated with each chakra and using them as an energy source through meditation is incredibly purifying. Regularly cleansing and reenergizing your chakras through the power of crystals helps maintain your energy at optimum levels and stimulates your personal power. One of the easiest ways to tap into a crystal’s healing power is by placing the crystal over an appropriate chakra for about 15 minutes to rebalance the energy center.

For a well-balanced crystal chakra meditation, choose a crystal known to possess similar properties as the chakra you are focusing on (Red Jasper or Smoky Quartz for Root, Carnelian for Sacral, Citrine for Solar Plexus, Rose Quartz for Heart, Lapis Lazuli for Throat, Amethyst for Third Eye, and Clear Quartz for Crown are a few suggestions) and take a few moments to attune to the crystal.

Holding the crystal in your hands, feel into the vibrations radiating into your being. Focus your attention on the crystal and say “I dedicate this crystal to my highest good and the highest good of all others. I ask that its power be activated now to work in harmony with my own intentions.”

To expand your consciousness with high-vibration crystals, either place a crystal on your third eye or crown chakra and sit there holding the stone. Breathe gently and focus your awareness on the crystal. Do not try to see or experience anything, just let the process unfold.

Chakra cleansing can and will look different for each and every person. The only important piece is your level of awareness. Whether you choose meditation, crystals, or a combination of both, bringing the chakras into balance will lead you to live the fullest, most expansive expression of who you are.

Working positively with the energy of your chakras can bring your unique essence back online – through it, you can come closer to the physical, mental, and emotional balance you are seeking in your life and embody your true, authentic self.

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