A motto of the New Age crowd, the word "chakra" actually has ancient roots. First written about in Vedas, a B.C.-era Indian text, chakra is Sanskrit for "wheel," a hint to their reputation for keeping things running smoothly.
There are seven chakras that run down the body's midline from the base of the spine to the tippy top of the head. As energy moves through us, these chakras are thought to act as gatekeepers for their respective areas. When these ingrained traffic lights, so to speak, are running smoothly, our energy and vitality can flow freely to where it is most needed. When a chakra is blocked, though, energy can get stuck and manifests as discomfort.
For instance, if the solar plexus chakra, thought to control the stomach, is blocked, you might experience indigestion. If the throat chakra is closed, maybe you have a cough that just won't go away.
If you ask any spiritual clientele, they'll tell you that the chakras are a testament to the mind-body connection and the physical manifestation of unseen energy. Even if chakras are a bit too woo-woo for you, it's easy to see the merit of tuning in to the different areas of the body to best give them what they need.
1. Root chakra:
The first chakra, the root chakra is located at the base of the spine and relates to our foundations and basic needs. If you are someone who is constantly traveling without a home base, lacking financial security, or disconnected to your family, you might want to pay it some extra attention.
An outdoor meditation for the root chakra.
According to Emma Mildon, author of The Soul-Searcher's Handbook and the upcoming Evolution of Goddess, connecting to the earth is a quick way to bring the root chakra into balance. "The key to your root chakra is just that: to root. Are you feeling grounded, safe, centered, earthed, and balanced? I like to place my feet barefoot on earth and feel myself grounding down to help balance my root chakra," she says. "I like to meditate surrounded by the grounding energy of earth, focusing my energy on my feet that anchor me into my safe and balanced body."
2. Sacral chakra:
The sacral chakra, located in the lower abdomen, is all about connecting to others and accepting change. It also relates to pleasure, passion, and sexual energy. "There can be a number of blocks related to the sacral chakra," explains Heather Askinosie, founder of crystal retailer Energy Muse. "Examples include being criticized when you were little about not being creative, having guilt about sex, or trauma from sexual abuse, etc."
A crystal meditation for the sacral chakra.
In order to home in on this energy center, Askinosie says to pull in visualizations and crystal allies. "To heal and clear blocks around the sacral chakra, you must cut the cords with them. Visualize yourself pulling the cords at that center out of the body," she recommends. "Once you’ve cut the cords, sage your space. Then, program a carnelian crystal to be your ally in balancing your sacral chakra. Hold it in your hands, close your eyes, and take three deep breaths. Aloud or in your head, say the following: 'I ask that the highest vibration of love and light connect with my highest self to clear all unwanted energy and any previous programming. I command this crystal to hold the intention of balancing my sacral chakra.' Lie comfortably on your back, and lay the crystal over your chakra for 11 minutes. While it’s on your body, see the color orange filling up all the space in your second chakra with healing, balanced light."
3. Solar plexus chakra:
Moving up the body, the solar plexus chakra governs self-confidence and is located in the upper abdomen. If its energy is excessive, you may feel like you need to show off or control others. If its energy is blocked, you may feel shy and insecure.
A morning visualization for the solar plexus chakra.
If you're feeling like you could use some help in the confidence department, try a quick visualization right before you get up in the morning. Deep-belly breathing can help call your attention to this energy center. Sit down and begin to take a few deep breaths, feeling the tummy expand with each one. Once you've tuned in to the breath and body, begin to visualize yourself navigating the day ahead. Play through your to-do list, picturing yourself navigating your day with ease and grace. Bonus if you can do this one outside on a sunny day. "If the sun is shining, I also like to go outside and get some sunlight on that area of my body," says healer and Reiki master Lauren Unger. "I picture the rays of sunshine penetrating my solar plexus and filling it with light."
4. Heart chakra:
As the name suggests, the heart chakra relates to how we process emotion and show love. It's the middle chakra that connects our lower chakras that are more about physical energy and relationships to our upper chakras, which relate more to the head and spirit.
A yoga and meditation for the heart chakra.
Yoga is a wonderful tool for tending to the heart. Heart-opening poses include shoulder flossing, warrior 2, and a full wheel (check these out in practice here). Weave these into a soothing flow, and finish things off with a meditation on everything in life that you feel grateful for to tap into that touchy-feely loving energy.
5. Throat chakra:
"When the throat chakra is out of balance, we are not honoring, or speaking, our truth," explains Margarita Alcantara, L.Ac., Reiki master and author of Chakra Healing: A Beginner's Guide to Self-Healing Techniques That Balance the Chakras. "From my experience, the block often comes when we have been silenced in our lives, either in childhood or a past life." She adds that in order to strengthen our throat chakra, we usually need to address our sacral chakra and get in touch with our emotion too.
Meditation boosters for the throat chakra.
Alcantara says that crystals and essential oils can assist anyone in this journey to find and speak your truth. "I love working with throat chakra balancing crystals such as blue lace agate, turquoise, or blue calcite. You can hold it in your left hand—the left hand receives the energy of the crystal—during meditation. Or, if it's small enough, you can place it at the base of your throat while lying down during meditation. Great essential oils that honor our throat chakra are lavender, rosemary, frankincense, German chamomile, and hyssop."
6. Third-eye chakra:
Our third-eye chakra represents intuition and the ability to see beyond what lies on the surface. Located between the eyebrows, this chakra is said to be blocked when you feel intense anxiety or overwhelm about the future.
A meditative question for the third-eye chakra.
As visualization expert and mbg class instructor Emily Fletcher points out, mindfulness meditation is a way to strengthen our connection to our own inner voice. "The best way to turn up the volume of our intuition and turn down the volume on fear is through meditation," she says. Committing to a daily meditative practice and asking yourself "What do I want to do?" often will help this energy center thrive.
7. Crown chakra:
The crown chakra is located at the top of the head, and it's the gateway to a higher consciousness.
A guided meditation for the crown chakra.
Anodea Judith, author of Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System As a Path to the Self says there is no better way to access the seventh chakra than meditation. Here's her routine:
- Sit quietly, with spine erect, either on the floor, cross-legged, or in a comfortable chair with your feet touching the floor.
- To support the seventh chakra from a balanced place, align your core by sending your imaginary roots down into the earth from the base of your spine and lifting the top of your head up to the heavens, what I call "Roots down and lift the crown." The vertical line that runs between the middle of your crown and the middle of your base chakra is your core. This keeps you centered and grounded as you meditate.
- Then imagine breathing light up your core on the inhalation and back down again on the exhalation. This strengthens that center line, which in yoga is called the sushumna.
- Then imagine opening your crown chakra like the thousand-petaled lotus flower that is its symbol. Drink in the energy of grace, consciousness, or guidance, the way a flower drinks in sunlight, drinking it in and pulling it down through the crown into the body. Pull it down the stem of the core all the way to the roots. Realize there is an infinite supply of light, so keep on drinking it in, as you allow your mind to empty and your body to fill with light. Continue imagining light pouring into your crown until your mind is quiet and your whole body feels filled with radiant white light. Bask in the glory of that light and stillness as long as you are able.
- When you are ready to exit the meditation, take your time. Don’t immediately disconnect from this radiant inner state, but practice a dual focus, one eye looking within, the other without, so you maintain your radiant state as you return to the world and normal activities.
Want to dive deeper into the seven chakras? Check out mbg's Chakras 101 class.
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