Chakras 101: What Are They And How Can You Use Them?
Today, the word “chakra” gets thrown around in Western society more frequently than ever. But many people still don’t understand what a chakra actually is. For instance, your yoga teacher might tell you that blocked chakras can make you ill, but what are you supposed to do with that information?
Let’s break it down.
WHAT ARE CHAKRAS ?
In traditional Indian religions, chakras are said to be the regions in the body where energy is stored. “Chakra” comes from the ancient sanskrit word for “wheel” or “disk.” (1) So, you can think of Chakras as “wheels” of “life energy”, also known as “prana.” (2)
Now, there are seven main chakras, all of which are aligned along your spine, from the top of your head all the way down to your tailbone. And these energy wheels need to stay unblocked so they can spin freely and stay in balance with one another. Indians believe this is a vital part of maintaining optimum health and vitality. (3)
SO WHY ARE CHAKRAS IMPORTANT ?
Traditionally, chakras were used as a complementary medicine system (much like acupuncture or osteopathy) to both diagnose and treat illnesses. This idea continues to be used in the East today and is even gaining popularity in the West.
The seven chakras — ranging in color from red to violet — correspond with the main nerve centers of the body and major organs in each region. It is said that blocked energy within the chakras can be caused by illness within these organs, or even that blocked energy can cause illness in these organs. It’s a two-way street. Likewise, stress and emotional issues can cause a blockage within a chakra as well. For example, stifled emotional feelings may create issues around the throat chakra. (4)
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHAKRAS?
The seven main chakras encompass the entire length of the spine. These can be broken down into specific regions and colors: (5)
1. Root – Red
The foundation stone of chakras, the root chakra is associated with helping you stay grounded. It represents security and basic needs, and is responsible for your first three vertebrae, the bladder, and the colon. A cleared root chakra can help bring upon feelings of safety and fearlessness.
2. Sacral – Orange
The sacral chakra, covers the area located between your pubic bone and naval. It represents creativity and sexuality, and enables you to experience pleasure and abundance.
3. Solar Plexus – Yellow
From the navel up to the breastbone, the solar plexus chakra is seen as a center for personal power and confidence. A blockage in this chakra can lead to negative feelings regarding your self-worth and self-esteem.
The Bridge Chakra
The Bridge Chakra
4. Heart – Green
As the “bridge,” the heart chakra brings the chakras of your physical body together with those of your mind and spirit. The heart chakra is deeply linked to love and connection. Located around the center of the chest, just above your heart, this chakra represents love, joy, and peace.
5. Throat – Blue
The throat chakra is all about your ability to communicate and, most importantly, speak your higher truth. It encompasses the neck, thyroid, jaw, mouth, and tongue. A clear throat chakra can help you openly express your feelings and your truth.
6. Third Eye – Indigo
Your third eye is the invisible, all-knowing “eye” that sits between your eyebrows. It is your sixth sense, your intuition…That little feeling you get when something isn’t right. Clearing your third eye chakra may allow you to become more intuitive and more imaginative, with even more wisdom to make sound decisions.
7. Crown – Violet
The highest chakra, the crown, aligns with your complete sense of deeply connected spirituality. It’s located on the crown of your head and is known as the “thousand petal lotus.” This chakra represents enlightenment and spiritual connection to the divine. A blocked crown chakra can bring up emotional issues related to inner and outer beauty.
HOW TO USE CHAKRAS
Healing your chakras may be the difference between health and illness – both physically and mentally.
It’s often easy to know which of your chakras may be out of balance. Perhaps you’ve been battling a sore throat (your throat chakra), or maybe you’ve been feeling a great lack of confidence in your life (your solar plexus chakra)?
What you want to aim for is clearing, opening, and balancing these chakras.
To treat your chakras, you can pay a visit to a chakra specialist – an energy healer. But you can also learn to take care of your chakras on your own.
One way you can do this is through a basic chakra meditation.
1. Sit in a comfortable position. Breathe deeply. Focus on the breath without forcing it. If your mind wanders, simply bring it back to your breath.
2. Visualize your breath nourishing your body as you breathe in, and removing toxins as you breathe out. Be aware that this breath is your life force, infusing you with energy.
3. Focus your attention on each chakra for at least one minute. Visualize a wheel of light spinning in a clockwise direction. See the bright, vibrant color of that particular chakra – i.e. red for the root chakra. Breathe in the red light, and breathe out the red light.
4. Continue step 3 for each chakra and its own unique color.
5. Finally, visualize all of the chakras working together in harmony, creating one bright, strong light around you.
6. Open your eyes and relax for a short while afterward. If you can, incorporate this practice into your schedule – even just 15 minutes a day can be super beneficial.
DOES IT WORK?
For some people, the use of chakras may sound a bit strange. But remember, chakra-cleansing is steeped in thousands of years of ancient tradition — both spiritual and medicinal.
If you’re familiar with the idea of Feng shui, you can easily think of chakra work as Feng shui for your body and mind. Cleansing your chakras can help free up mental clutter and energy blocks, encouraging good energy — and good things — to flow into your life.
Chakras offer one of the best (and most specific) ways for you to get in touch with your body and mind. Many of us speed through life never paying attention to our bodies, let alone our organs or emotional systems.
Both meditation and chakra work are considered to be a part of integrative medicine – which aims to heal by embracing all facets of the body-mind connection — including the intuitive and spiritual. (6)
Scientists already agree that meditation offers many health benefits such as lowering cortisol levels, helping you sleep, lowering blood pressure, and even keeping your brain younger. (7-10) Chakra work is undoubtedly not far behind in scientific research. After all, as science has proven– everything is made up of energy.