What are Chakras?
Yoga works not just with the physical body, but with the energetic or subtle body. Prana is the life force that moves along energy pathways known as nadis. There are 72,000 nadi’s in our body that spring from three main nadis – the left, the right and the central – the Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.
Sushumna means ‘sacred stream’ and is the main nadi that runs along the central channel of the body, from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Ida and the Pingala, the left and the right energy channels weave along Sushumna nadi (imagine the pattern like a DNA helix effect). At each point where the three channels intercept it creates a powerful energetic centre called a chakra. In Sanskrit, the word chakra means disk or wheel, because these chakras are like spinning wheels, full of prana.
Physically, although the nadis and chakras were discussed in ancient texts long before modern day science, it is fascinating to note that each chakra corresponds to certain nerve bundles and major organs within the body.
As collections of the subtle forces and qualities, each chakra has a unique effect on your perception and awareness as they house your deepest, unconscious patterns and shape thoughts and behaviours.
There are different physical or emotional symptoms related to each of the chakras and it takes many years of dedicated practice to tune in to these subtle vitalities and create shifts within body, mind and spirit. To function at their best, many people practice yoga to balance or open the chakras, however the ultimate goal is to dissolve the chakras completely, to transform and free you from the governance of these energies.
The Seven Major Chakras
Here is an overview of the seven major chakra and their meanings, emotions and how you can help bring them into balance.
Muladhara chakra (Root chakra)
Sanskrit – mula = root, base; dhara = foundation, position
Location – Perineum, base of the spine
Element - Earth
Colour - Red
Emotions – safety, security, belonging, home, basic needs for life.
In balance – Secure, safe, grounded
Out of balance –Flight or fight mode (sympathetic nervous system), restless, abandonment, fear, lack of confidence.
Sound / Mantra - Lam
Affirmation – “I am safe. I am home. I have everything I need for life.”
Poses – Savasana, childspose, lotus pose.
Svadhisthana chakra (sacral chakra)
Sanskrit – Swa = self; dhistana = abode (abode of the self)
Location – Sacrum
Element - Water
Colour - Orange
Emotions – Desire, pleasure, intimacy, creativity, change.
In balance – Self respect, freedom, creativity, emotional intelligence, healthy boundaries.
Out of balance – Guilt, distrustful, self-centred, manipulative, fear of enjoyment, blocked creativity.
Sound / Mantra - Vam
Affirmation – “Life is pleasurable and I deserve it”
Poses – Flowing movement such as active bridge, circles of the knees to massage sacrum, hip circles.
Manipura chakra (navel or solar plexus chakra)
Sanskrit – Mani = Self luminous jewel; pura = city (city of jewels)
Location – Either at the naval or expanding over the solar plexus.
Element - Fire
Colour - Yellow
Emotions – Centre of “I” and assertiveness, desire to succeed, courage, strength, righteousness, justice, envy, hate, greed, anger.
In balance – Ambitious, strong drive, fair, confident, good work ethic.
Out of balance – Tired, lack of drive, anger, irritable, violent, anxiety, worry, cruelty, low self-esteem, resentful and jealous.
Sound / Mantra - Ram
Affirmation – “I am strong, I honor the power within me, I honor myself.”
Poses – Dhanurasana (bow pose), kapalabhati pranayama or breath of fire, parvritta trikonasana (revolved triangle pose), bhujangasana (cobra pose)
Anahata chakra (Heart chakra)
Sanskrit – Anahata = Unstruck, unhurt or unbeaten (the place where no pain can enter)
Location – Heart centre
Element – Air/Wind
Colour - Green
Emotions – Love, compassion, kindness, selflessness.
In balance – Forgiveness, compassion to self and others, joy, contentment.
Out of balance – Possessiveness, emotional instability, loneliness, criticism and judgement of self and others
Sound / Mantra - Yam
Affirmation – “I live in harmony with all other beings. I release and let go of all resentment. I forgive myself for my mistakes and I grow from them.”
Poses – Ustrasana (camel pose), anahatasana (melting heart pose) and chakrasana (wheel pose)
Vishuddhi chakra (throat chakra)
Sanskrit – Vishuddhi = pure
Location – Throat
Element - Ether
Colour - Blue
Emotions – Self expression, communication, our “voice”
In balance – Open and honest communication, confident and clear expression, good at listening.
Out of balance – Unable to speak your truth, shy, quiet, fear of rejection, vulnerability, aggressive language, impatience, bullying, gossiping, over sharing.
Sound / Mantra - Ham
Affirmation – “I speak my truth beautifully and with confidence. I express myself freely. I listen deeply to others.”
Poses – Halasana (plow pose), salamba sarvangasana (shoulderstand), matsyasana (fish pose).
Ajna chakra (third eye chakra)
Sanskrit – a = I; jna = command (I command centre)
Location – In between the eyebrows
Element – Mind space
Colour – Silver white, indigo
Emotions/ governs – Intuition, imagination, seeing both inner and outer worlds, seat of conscience. How you view the world and how you believe the world views you.
In balance – Clear thought, spiritual contemplation and self-reflection, mindfulness, wisdom
Out of balance – Lack inspiration and imagination, or overactive imagination, lack of intuitive guidance, feel brain fog or sense of disconnection.
Sound / Mantra – So Ham
Affirmation – “I trust my intuition. I am open to inspiration.”
Poses – Balancing poses or balasana (childs pose).
Sahasrara chakra (crown chakra)
Sanskrit – Sahasrara = thousand petals
Location – Crown of head
Element – Consciousness space, beyond the mind.
Colour – Violet, rays of pure white light.
Emotions – Thought, universal consciousness.
In balance – Connection to spirit, letting go of misunderstandings and ego, enlightenment, wisdom, unity and self-knowledge
Out of balance – Confusion, imbalance, a lack of connection to spirituality, unfocused, hyper spiritualization and an inability to function practically
Sound / Mantra - Om
Affirmation – “I seek to understand and to learn from my life experiences. I am connected with the wisdom of the universe. I am at peace.”
Poses – Sirsasana (headstand), savasana (corpse pose), meditation, selfless service.
Chakras in Balance
In an optimal state, our energy flows freely through all chakra points, allowing us to access our strengths and overcome what life throws at us.
However, trauma, injury or a major life event can lead to a particular chakra becoming out of balance, and when this happens, we can feel misaligned in our thoughts, our body, our identity, relationships, actions and habits.
With awareness, we can begin to identify dysfunctional patterns and put in place practices that guide ourselves back towards equilibrium.
The key to awareness is through practice.
Head to our Cork Yoga Range to check out our yoga mats and accessories to help support your practice.