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What Are the 7 Chakras? A Beginner’s Guide to the Chakra System

What are the 7 chakras
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Activedia

You may have heard of them, but what are the 7 chakras? Discover a little about them and how you might use them to achieve a balanced sense of health and well-being.

What are the 7 chakras? They pop up everywhere – in yoga classes, meditation practices, religious beliefs, and many areas of holistic healing – yet few of us in the West really understand very much about them. The chakra system is at least five thousand years old but still has application today because it is all about balance and better well-being. It is a teaching that has survived for millennia because it is one that helps us to evolve at physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. 

Origins of The 7 Chakras

The 7 chakras are part of an energy channeling system.
The 7 chakras are part of an energy channeling system.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / geralt)

The traditions of yoga, meditation, Buddhism and Hinduism all have their roots in an ancient set of scriptures called the Vedas. This is where we find the 7 chakras and why they are so closely intertwined with these faiths and practices. The Vedas are the among some of the oldest known ancient texts and are native to early Indian civilization. They are written in an ancient language called Sanskrit and describe the chakra system as an invisible energy channel that runs through and around us.

This energy, sometimes called chi/qi or kundalini, lies dormant at the base of the spine after birth. It remains there until it is awakened through wellness practices, particularly meditation, asana postures, breath work, and prayer. The word chakra translates as wheel, and each one represents areas of our being that this energy flows through. The chakra points can be visualized as spinning wheels or vortexes that keep our physical and non-physical energies balanced. When one becomes blocked, effects are felt throughout the whole system.

Vedic scripture and yogic teachings are immersed in very deep concepts like enlightenment, cosmic connection, and universal energy. You do not need to understand or even adhere to these spiritual elements to use the chakra system in your own life. Just becoming familiar with what each one represents will give you a simple framework to follow in your journey to better well-being.

The 7 Chakra System of Energy

The seven chakra system is one of connections and a balanced flow of energy. A stable vibrational flow through these connections is the aim. The chakras are located at specific positions, from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Each one represents different aspects of our human experience.

The lower three chakras represent our basic needs and states of being, while the higher chakras refer to more intricate areas, like empathy, understanding and connection with the divine energy or god. Each of the 7 chakras has a corresponding color, specific area of the bod,y and health focus. Meditation, breath work, and mindful movement are the most valuable tools in your chakra healing and alignment kit.

Many people enhance their experiences with essential oils, crystals, affirmations, mantras, and many other things that are linked to chakra balancing. There are plenty of meditation techniques and ways of opening your chakras – finding what works for you is important. You might want to find out how hatha yoga works to practice asana poses. Alternatively, discover some yoga alternatives with similar benefits if traditional methods are not for you. 

Muladhara – The Root Chakra

Begin by grounding yourself.
Begin by grounding yourself.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / geralt)
  • Location: At the perineum, base of the spine
  • Color: Red
  • Associated body areas: Feet, legs, large intestine, adrenal glands
  • Balancing stones: Garnet, red jasper, black tourmaline
  • Balancing oils: Frankincense, ginger, black pepper, patchouli, sandalwood
  • Mantra: I am

The Root Chakra is where the journey begins and the energies are awakened. It is all about physical survival and grounding. The first chakra is the foundation of our human experience and deals with our basic human needs. Like trees and plants, strong roots are the starting point from which we can nurture a sense of self, belonging, and purpose.

A balanced root chakra brings stability and happiness within ourselves. We can align the root chakra by reducing stress and connecting to the earth. Nature therapy is a simple way of doing both and allowing yourself to feel rooted. Walking barefoot will really give you that that added sense of connectedness. 

A blocked root chakra is associated with fear, anxiety, and the stress response, which are driven by the adrenal glands. Unfortunately, stress in the United States has reached alarming levels. Chronic stress is linked to a host of negative outcomes, including impaired immunity, disease development, and organ functioning.

Cortisol, the stress hormone secreted from the adrenal glands, drives our chronic stress and results in a massive range of negative effects. Learning how to lower your cortisol and will be the first step towards a balanced root chakra. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method to help acute anxiety and always visit a health professional if you are concerned about your mental health. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindful walking are both effective and scientifically proven ways to manage stress and balance your root chakra.

Svadhishthana: The Sacral Chakra

Balance emotions and relationships.
Balance emotions and relationships.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / geralt)
  • Location: Lower abdomen, below the naval
  • Color: Orange
  • Associated body areas: Sex organs, kidneys, bladder, circulatory system
  • Balancing stones: Tiger’s eye, citrine, amber, golden topaz
  • Balancing oils: Sweet orange, ylang ylang, neroli
  • Mantra: I feel

The sacral chakra is the starting point for emotions and sociability. It is associated with the flow of body fluids, and also with creativity, desire, pleasure, and sexuality. A balanced sacral chakra brings healthy emotions and relationships with ourselves and others. It helps create intimacy and boundaries that are conducive to happiness and health.

A blocked sacral chakra can manifest in physical symptoms, like kidney problems, joint pain or reproductive issues. Emotional symptoms range from sexual guilt, to obsessive behaviors, low libido, detachment, and jealousy. Balancing your sacral chakra begins with balancing your emotions, emotional wounds and relationships. It is also important that you can overcome loneliness and be content within your own company.

Emotional resilience is not always easy to achieve. You could try one of the many types of journaling that can help balance your emotions. Learning how to spot the signs of a toxic person and how to deal with them is also a good way to protect your sacral chakra from imbalance. 

Manipura: The Solar Plexus Chakra

Develop a healthy sense of self.
Develop a healthy sense of self.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / geralt)
  • Location: Above the naval
  • Color: Yellow
  • Associated body areas: Digestive system, muscles, pancreas
  • Balancing stones: Yellow jasper, yellow topaz, agate, yellow tourmaline, lemon quartz
  • Balancing oils: Lemongrass, lavender, geranium, ginger, juniper
  • Mantra: I do

The center of your self-confidence, self-esteem, personal power and ambition lies in the solar plexus chakra. This energy wheel is all about change, of becoming who you want to be. Once we have learned how to ground ourselves and form healthy relationships, we can then address what many disciplines call the ego – or the self. 

When energy flows unrestricted through the third chakra, we experience increased joy, laughter, confidence, motivation, and a better sense of our own purpose and path. This chakra transforms food energy into the fuel for transformation and achievement. Maximize that energy flow with mindful food choices. You could cut out sugar from your every day diet, learn about the vegan food pyramid or balance your own and the planet’s energies with the planetary health diet. Get those nutrients pumping through your body and enjoy the benefits of a morning workout for the optimal solar plexus boost.

Negative self-talk is a one-way ticket to a blocked solar plexus and is important to manage if its is something you do regularly. Anger, frustration, addiction, digestive disturbances, and a sense of victimization are just some signs that your polar plexus may need alignment. Engage in some self-care and add a gratitude journal for mindful happiness into your everyday life.  

Anahata: The Heart Chakra

Give and receive unconditional love.
Give and receive unconditional love.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / geralt)
  • Location: Center of the chest
  • Color: Green
  • Associated body areas: Heart, lungs, arms, hands, thymus gland, immune system
  • Balancing stones: Emerald, green aventurine, rose quartz, amazonite, green jade
  • Balancing oils: Lavender, bergamot, rose, neroli
  • Mantra: I love

The heart chakra serves as the bridge between the upper and lower chakra points, unifying the physical and non-physical aspects of our being. It is all about compassion, forgiveness, joy, empathy, and the ability to give and receive unconditional love. When our energy vibrates unimpeded through our lower system and into an open heart chakra, we are truly connected to ourselves, to others, and to the earth. We can experience and appreciate the natural beauty and love that exists everywhere – including within.

Poor circulation, immune and cardiovascular issues are all physical symptoms of a blocked heart chakra. Exercise and boost your immune system to balance your energy flow. Look out for signs of blockages beyond the physical signs. A lack of compassion, tendency to isolate, trust issues, holding grudges, and loneliness can all manifest if the heart chakra is not aligned. Morning affirmations are a positive way of starting your day and learning self-love will enhance your journey towards an open chakra. The easiest way to align your heart chakra is to simply give love.

Vishuddha: The Throat Chakra

Engage in mindful communication.
Engage in mindful communication.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / geralt)
  • Location: Throat and neck
  • Color: Blue
  • Associated body areas: Throat, mouth, neck, shoulders, thyroid and parathyroid glands
  • Balancing stones: Aquamarine, lapis lazuli, amazonite, sodalite, blue agate
  • Balancing oils: Eucalyptus, peppermint, sage, frankincense, basil
  • Mantra: I speak

The throat chakra is our center of communication and the first of our higher chakra points. It represents purity, self-expression, a heathy internal dialogue, and the ability to speak your inner truth. This chakra bridges the heart and the mind.

When balanced, we can communicate how we feel, listen to others effectively and express ourselves creatively. We do not fear the judgement of others or seek their approval. If our thoughts, actions and words are not aligned, this chakra can easily become blocked.

Physical symptoms of a blocked throat chakra include disorders of the throat, mouth, parathyroid and thyroid glands. Shoulder ache and neck discomfort can also be subtle signs. Blockages can also manifest a a fear of speaking in front of others or expressing opinions. Dishonesty, creative blockages and any kind of communication difficulties might benefit from some throat chakra alignment.

Breath work is a simple way of clearing blockages from the throat chakra. Simple methods, like the 4-7-8 technique are an ideal place to start. If you are an advanced practitioner, try breathing some fire into your solar plexus with the Tummo inner fire technique. Singing, shouting, and mantras are also easy ways towards clearer communication skills.

Ajna: The Third Eye Chakra

Nurture your spirituality and intuition.
Nurture your spirituality and intuition.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / geralt)
  • Location: Centre of the forehead, between the eyebrows
  • Color: Indigo
  • Associated body areas: Pineal gland
  • Balancing stones: Amethyst, lapis lazuli, azurite, black obsidian, clear quartz
  • Balancing oils: Bay Laurel, clary sage, frankincense, cypress, juniper
  • Mantra: I see

The sixth chakra opens the gateway that extends to the spiritual and metaphysical realms. It is where we cultivate wisdom and experience our connections to the non-physical realms. Located between the eyebrows, the third eye chakra is linked to our intuition, perception, awareness, and spiritual communication (for some). This chakra is steeped is mysticism and heavily associated with the pineal gland in the brain. 

If this chakra is aligned, we experience clarity in our thoughts and balance between our emotions and intuition. We feel connected to the universe and to our intuitive nature. Some people also experience a deep sense of spiritual oneness with a divine power. 

Mental rigidity, selective memory, cynicism, and uncertainty are just some of the signs of a blocked third eye chakra. We can also experience tension in the forehead and eyebrows, pessimism, depression, and a lack of purpose. Mental and spiritual wellbeing are closely associated with this energy center. 

There are many recommended ways of aligning your third eye chakra. Finding what works for you will likely depend on your individual spiritual belief system. If you are struggling with thought patterns that you can’t control, try some effective ways to get out of your head first. Then come back into your head and engage in a little self-reflection or spiritual contemplation. 

Sahasrara: The Crown Chakra

Experience connectedness and balance.
Experience connectedness and balance.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / geralt)
  • Location: Top of the head
  • Color: Violet, purple or white – contains all colors
  • Associated body areas: Brain and nervous system
  • Balancing stones: Quartz, selenite, amethyst, moonstone
  • Balancing oils: Sandalwood, frankincense, white lotus, ginger, rose geranium
  • Mantra: I know

The crown chakra is the most potent energy center in the chakra system. It encompasses the energies from the other chakras and is considered to be the gateway to consciousness and enlightenment. It represents oneness, unity and acceptance of all that is.

Experiencing and maintaining an open crown chakra depends on balance of the other six. When your crown chakra is aligned, you are ready to let go of conceptions about who you are and why you are here. Maintaining a connection to the breath while exercising or doing asana yoga helps to align this chakra. Even simple mindful breathing can assist in quieting the mind to encourage energy flow.

Low levels of functioning, impaired coordination, and negative mental and emotional well-being are associated with a blocked crown chakra. So are self-destructive behaviors and a feeling of being overwhelmed by knowledge and information. It is important to note that spiritual addiction (a compulsion or obsessive need to meditate, pray or connect to the spiritual) is also an attribute of a blocked chakra. The entire system relies on balance.

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