What are the Chakras?
The chakras are the different energy centers of the body. In Sanskrit, "Chakra" translates to a wheel or spinning disc. There are seven main chakras, but many people believe there to be up to 114 different chakras in the body. The seven main chakras run along our spines and when they are strong, they open our physical bodies to find harmony between our emotional and spiritual selves. When the chakras are closed, it is difficult to find balance and we struggle physically and emotionally in the areas related to whichever chakra is blocked.
The Seven Chakras
Root Chakra (Muladhara)
The root chakra represents our foundation, and grounds us to the physical realm. It is located at the base of our spine. When it is open and the energy runs freely we feel confident and secure, when it is blocked we often feel threatened and unstable. There are certain yoga poses one can do to help strengthen their root chakra. Both tree pose and mountain help to ground us and open this chakra. The root chakra is illustrated with the color red and it’s element is earth. When meditating consider using the Prithvi Mudra (gesture of the earth) to help open this chakra and deepen your meditation. Touch the tips of your thumbs and ring fingers together, leave the other fingers straight.
Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana)
The sacral chakra is related to how we express our emotions. It also governs our creativity and sexual energy. When this chakra is blocked we often feel frustrated and a lack of control over ourselves and our lives. When it is open we feel happy and have a much easier time communicating with others, and understanding ourselves. Both bridge pose and pigeon pose help to open the sacral chakra and keep our emotional selves in balance. The sacral chakra is illustrated with the color orange and it’s element is water. When meditating try using the Varun Mudra (gesture for water) to help open this chakra. Touch the tip of the thumb and the pinky together, while the other fingers are left straight and/or relaxed.
Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura)
This chakra is located in the upper abdomen area and directly correlates to our feelings of self worth. When this chakra is blocked we often feel copious amounts of self doubt and depression. Our solar plexus chakra is our inner fire, and there are certain yoga poses to help strengthen this fire. Both boat and triangle pose are great at creating balance and opening the manipura chakra. This chakra is illustrated with the color yellow and it’s element is fire. To help open this chakra through meditation consider using the Apana Mudra (gesture for digestion). Touch the tip of the thumb, middle and ring fingers together, with the other fingers straight.
Heart Chakra (Anahata)
The heart chakra is the bridge between the upper and lower chakras. The lower chakras are more material and grounded in the physical realm while the upper chakras are much more heavily associated with spirituality. As one would expect this chakra relates directly to how we accept and reciprocate love both to others and ourselves. When this chakra is blocked a person has trouble accepting kindness and is emotionally blocked off from others. When it is open one can have deep loving relationships. Eagle arms, locust pose, and camel pose are all good to open the heart chakra. This chakra is represented by the color green and it’s element is air. When meditating try using the Anjali Mudra (heart offering) to open this chakra. Place the palms together at your heart’s center, but leave a small space between the palms.
Throat Chakra (Vishuddha)
Our throat chakra works with our heart chakra to give a voice to our thoughts and feelings. When this chakra is open we can communicate our feelings clearly and articulately. When this chakra is blocked we may feel as though we cannot find the words to express how we feel or we may express them in a way that is not helpful or damaging. Cat cow is a great yoga exercise to open the throat chakra. This chakra is represented by the color light blue and it’s element is sound. During your meditation practice consider using the Granthita Mudra (self healing) to help open this chakra. Interlace your fingers, and then touch the thumb and index fingers together, creating two interlocked circles, and finally hold the hands at the base of your throat.
Third Eye Chakra (Ajna)
Probably the most well known chakra, our third eye chakra controls our intuition and ability to see the bigger picture. As we are getting higher up in the body we get closer to our spiritual selves, and the third eye chakra begins this as it sees beyond the physical realm. It is located between the eyes and is also, sometimes, called the brow chakra. Sitting in child’s pose can help you open this chakra. It is represented by the color purple and the element of light. During meditation using the Gyan Mudra (knowledge, wisdom) can help to open this chakra. Touch the tips of the thumb and first fingers together, leave your other three fingers straight.
Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)
The crown chakra is located at the top of our head and is the most heavily associated with spirituality. When your crown chakra is fully open, which is very rare, we are able to transcend and reach a higher level of consciousness. Resting in savasana can help open the crown chakra, in addition to head stands and tree pose. This chakra is represented by the color white and the element of the divine. When meditating use the Prana Mudra (vital energy of prana) to help open this chakra. Touch the thumb, ring and pinky fingers together, while leaving the other fingers straight.
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