A Crash Course on the 7 Chakras

If you’ve been practicing yoga, you’ve probably heard about Chakras, but what exactly are they? How do they impact your yoga practice and daily life?

What is a Chakra?

Your body is made up of energy, and in fact, every living being’s body or form is made of energy too. There are different theories on how that energy is organized, but according to the Chakra philosophy, there are thousands of energetic channels running through you that connect and correspond to your nervous, endocrine, and other bodily systems. Where those energetic channels meet and interact are at seven main epicenters stacked along the spine, called Chakras.

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The word “Chakra” (pronounced “chuh-kruh” with “ch” similar to “chair” not “share”) is a Sanskrit translation for the word “wheel” and refers to the seven spinning wheels, or vortexes, of energy contained within each person, that run from the base of the spine to just above the crown of the head. Each Chakra acts as a container for certain kinds of energy moving and flowing throughout your body. They also work to redistribute and exchange energy with one another as they push to maintain a whole and balanced system.

How can Chakras benefit everyday life?

Chakras can reflect your inner consciousness based on the energy contained within them. They help you to integrate different aspects of your mind, body, and spirit so you can feel more whole as a human being. They are thought to be pathways to the spiritual realm, but developing each Chakra and learning about their relationships to your life and well-being can lead to an incredible amount of personal growth and transformational healing on a practical level as well.

Now, this might seem like a difficult concept to grasp, but with many Eastern philosophies, including the Yogic philosophy, there is focus and study of not just the physical and mental bodies, but of the subtle, energetic body as well, with Chakras being the gateway for exploration. Chakras work with the brain to impact your choices, they enable you to feel or sense things about other people, and they are also the keys to your overall growth when you are able to focus on keeping them balanced. The energies picked up over the course of your life from different experiences in childhood through adulthood, relationships, education, traumatic experiences that may have included abuse, PTSD, etc., all get stored in the body, and more specifically, within your Chakras.

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Are your Chakras balanced?

Closed or unbalanced Chakras caused by painful experiences can often lead to a person closing themselves off, pushing people away, self-sabotaging, feeling insecure, being unable to connect to spirituality or nature, being unable to speak their mind, etc. The good news is that there are many tools available to get everything balanced again. If you’ve ever had a good cry in yoga class during Savasana, for example, that’s a good thing! It means your Chakras were balancing themselves out and ridding themselves of stagnant energy from the past that you were ready to let go of.

“The object of our work is to clean the chakras of old, non-beneficial patterns so that their self-perpetuating actions have a positive influence, and our life energy can continue to expand to higher planes.” - Anodea Judith Ph.D. and renowned author of Wheels of Life

Open and balanced Chakras will help you to feel creative, expressive, open and confident enough to speak your truth, determined and motivated to accomplish a goal, or strong and powerful with a true sense of connectedness and love for the people and world around you, which ultimately leaves you feeling healthier, more grounded, and happier.

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How can you balance your Chakras?

When you take a look at each Chakra, you will quickly learn that each one holds specific abilities for your physical and emotional life. When a chakra is spinning too little, too much, or not at all, the abilities that it houses are thrown off. Think of a houseplant. Give it too much water and it rots. Don’t give it enough water and it shrivels. Your chakras need just the right amount of energy and attention to function at their best.

Your efforts to grow (journaling), make positive changes, practice discipline and good habits (like yoga!), heal past wounds (sharing), and break old patterns that are no longer serving you, all make a positive impact on your Chakras. Think of the Chakras as your treasure map to healing! Understanding each Chakra will help you learn how to create more balance, expansion, and peace in your overall life by knowing what needs healing and how to work towards healing it.

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Where should you begin?

Learning about the Chakras can be a little overwhelming because there is a lot of information to digest, but to get you started in understanding this comprehensive system, use the guide below as your Chakra cheat sheet. Each Chakra is energetically located at a particular area of your body and is strengthened by working with certain colors, sounds, elements, zodiac characteristics, crystals, and senses. As mentioned above, each Chakra can become imbalanced through different life experiences or habits, but the guide below will provide some quick fixes to focus on in order to create more balance even if you are a complete beginner.

The Chakras - The Yoga Girl Comprehensive Guide

1st - Root Chakra

  • Sanskrit name: Muladhara, meaning “root support”
  • Location: Base of your spine, at the perineum
  • Element: Earth
  • Color: Red
  • Sound: LAM
  • Sense: Smell (cedar, sandelwood, palo santo, etc.)
  • Psychological function: Survival, self-preservation
  • Associated zodiac sign: Capricorn
  • Celestial bodies: Earth, Saturn
  • Crystals: Garnet, ruby, smokey quartz, hematite, black tourmaline, bloodstone, onyx

When balanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Grounded, centered, committed, independent, calm, stable

Physically: Energetic, strong, healthy digestion

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When imbalanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Anxious, have a constant “fight-or-flight” feeling, worried, afraid, enraged, angry, possessive, alienated

Physically: Tired, poor sleep, low back pain, constipation, depression, unexpected weight changes, eating disorders, immune-related disorders, joint pain

Yoga practices to come back to balance:

Focus on grounding down into your bones and feet and connecting to the Earth!

  • Tadasana (Mountain)
  • Virabhadrasana (Warrior) I or II
  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge)
  • Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)
  • Salabhasana (Locust)

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Yoga Classes for your Root Chakra:

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2nd - Sacral Chakra

  • Sanskrit name: Svadhisthana, meaning “dwelling place of the Self” and also “to taste with pleasure or to enjoy”
  • Location: Lower abdomen, womb, genitals, sacrum
  • Element: Water
  • Color: Orange
  • Sound: VAM
  • Sense: Taste
  • Psychological function: Pleasure, sexuality, creativity, self-gratification
  • Associated zodiac signs: Cancer, Scorpio
  • Celestial body: Moon
  • Crystals: Carnelian, citrine, moonstone, amber, tiger’s eye, coral, calcite

When balanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Creative, compassionate, friendly, intuitive, vital, sexual, satisfied, prosperous, sense of belonging, ability to find humor, create, and manifest dreams

Physically: Healthy libido, hormones and menstrual cycle

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When imbalanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Irritability, shyness, guilt, blame, power or money obsession, lack of creativity or morality

Physically: Low back pain, sciatica, urinary tract problems, decreased libido, hormonal issues/disorders

Yoga practices to come back to balance:

Creating space and fluidity in the pelvis and hips!

  • Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Wide-legged Forward Fold)
  • Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide-legged Forward Bend)
  • Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle)
  • Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle)
  • Malasana (Yogic Squat)
  • Utkata Konasana (Goddess)

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Yoga Classes for your Sacral Chakra:

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3rd - Solar Plexus Chakra

  • Sanskrit name: Manipura, meaning “brilliant or lustrous gem”
  • Location: Slightly above the naval, behind the stomach
  • Element: Fire
  • Color: Yellow
  • Sound: RAM
  • Sense: Sight
  • Psychological function: Will, power, assertiveness, courage, independence
  • Associated zodiac Signs: Aries, Leo
  • Celestial bodies: Mars, Sun
  • Crystals: Sunstone, amber, agate, orange calcite, citrine, malachite, topaz, pyrite, tiger’s eye

When balanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Confident, decisive, productive, joyful, accepting of change, self-disciplined, high self-esteem, motivated, purposeful, reliable

Physically: Energetic, healthy metabolism and digestion, mental focus and clarity

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When imbalanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Low self-esteem, loud inner-critic, depression, insecure, fear of rejection, lost sense of “Self,” inability to make decisions, judgmental towards self and others, perfectionism, aggression, big “ego”, tries to dominate or control others

Physically: Diabetes, adrenal imbalances, pancreatitis, arthritis, colon disease, stomach ulcers, leaky gut, eating disorders, low blood pressure

Yoga practices to come back to balance:

Build heat and more core!

  • Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations)
  • Virabhadrasana (Warrior) I, II, III
  • Dhanurasana (Bow) and other backbends
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes) and other twists
  • Navasana (Boat) and other abdominal strengtheners

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Yoga Classes for your Solar Plexus Chakra:

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4th - Heart Chakra

  • Sanskrit name: Anahata, meaning “un-struck” or “un-hurt”
  • Location: Heart, behind the center of the sternum
  • Element: Air
  • Color: Green
  • Sound: YAM
  • Sense: Touch
  • Psychological function: Love, compassion, empathy, affection, forgiveness
  • Associated zodiac signs: Libra, Taurus
  • Celestial body: Venus
  • Crystals: Emerald, green calcite, jade, green tourmaline, rose quartz

When balanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Self-acceptance, hopeful, loving, compassionate, inspired, confident, generous, healthy boundaries, peaceful

Physically: Healthy heart, lungs and immune system, tall posture

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When imbalanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Lack of empathy, loneliness, possessive, jealous, shy, giving too much and depleting, lack of boundaries, dysfunctional relationships

Physically: Heart conditions, asthma, lung and breast disorders, pneumonia, shoulder, upper back, arm and wrist problems, blood pressure problems

How’s your posture right now? Are your shoulders rounded forward with a concave chest? That could indicate trouble with your Heart Chakra as it signifies a “closing off” or “protection of one’s heart”. Look at someone’s spine - how it’s aligned or misaligned - and you may be able to tell a lot about the state of their Chakras, and their well-being.

Yoga practices to come back to balance:

Pranayama and heart openers.

  • Bhujangasana (Cobra)
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)
  • Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel)
  • Camatkarasana (Wild Thing)
  • Ustrasana (Camel)
  • Natarajasana (Dancer)

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Yoga Classes for your Heart Chakra:

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5th - Throat Chakra

  • Sanskrit name: Vishuddha, meaning “purification”
  • Location: Throat
  • Element: Sound/Ether
  • Color: Blue
  • Sound: HAM
  • Sense: Hearing
  • Psychological function: Communication, creativity
  • Associated zodiac signs: Gemini, Virgo
  • Celestial body: Mercury
  • Crystals: Aquamarine, lapis lazuli, turquoise

When balanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Creative, expressive, constructive communication, contentment, centered, conscious listening, positive self-expression

Physically: Good oral health, strong, self-assured voice, balanced metabolism, aligned upper spine posture

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When imbalanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Lack of faith, will, decision-making abilities, personal expression, creativity, criticism, addiction, trouble with public and/or intimate speaking and speaking of from the heart

Physically: Thyroid dysfunctions, sore throat, frequent colds, stiff neck, shoulder pain, mouth ulcers, swollen glands, gum or tooth problems, teeth grinding, scoliosis, laryngitis, hearing problems

Yoga practices to come back to balance:

Chanting mantra, neck stretches and shoulder openers!

  • Simhasana (Lion’s Breath)
  • Ustrasana (Camel)
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge)
  • Matsyendrasana (Fish)

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Yoga Classes for your Throat Chakra:

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6th - Third Eye Chakra

  • Sanskrit name: Ajna, meaning “the center of command” or “to know”
  • Location: Slightly above and between eyebrows
  • Element: Light
  • Color: Indigo
  • Sound: AUM / OM
  • Sense: “Seeing”, intuition
  • Psychological function: Intuition, imagination
  • Associated zodiac signs: Sagittarius, Pisces
  • Celestial bodies: Jupiter, Neptune
  • Crystals: Amethyst, lapis lazuli, black obsidian, quartz, purple fluorite, sodalite

When balanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Ability to think reality into existence, imagination, intuition, concentration, focus, clairvoyance

Physically: Lucid dreams, calm mental health

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When imbalanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Judgment, confusion, fear of truth, concept of reality, lacking discipline or concentration

Physically: Headaches, eye strain, nightmares, learning disabilities, panic, depression, blurred vision, blindness, deafness, seizures, spinal dysfunctions

Yoga poses to come back to balance:

Draw focus inward!

  • Meditation and guided visualization
  • Balasana (Child’s Pose)
  • Parsvottanasana (Pyramid)
  • Palming the eyes
  • Eye circles (mindfully moving eyes in all directions)
  • Pratyahara (Sense Withdrawal)
  • Seated with Mudras

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Yoga Classes for your Third Eye Chakra:

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7th - Crown Chakra

  • Sanskrit name: Sahasrara, meaning “the thousand-petaled lotus” or “the door to God”
  • Location: The crown or top of your head
  • Element: Ether, consciousness
  • Color: Violet or pure white
  • Sound: Silence
  • Sense: Beyond our known senses
  • Psychological function: Understanding, intellect
  • Associated zodiac sign: Aquarius
  • Celestial body: Uranus
  • Crystals: Amethyst, diamond, clear quartz, selenite, labradorite

When balanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Open minded, wisdom, feeling at one with the universe/God, thoughtful, strong comprehension skills, trusting, blissful, purposeful, optimistic, strong sense of Self, non-attachment

Physically: Energized, able to handle large amounts of stimulus with ease, focused, strong, good sleep

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When imbalanced you might feel:

Emotionally: Lack of purpose, unloved, boredom, hard to accept positive outlooks, inability to learn, lack of trust, devotion, inspiration, values or ethics, loss of identity, disbelief in any spiritual realities, apathy, materialism/greed, fear, depression, “god-complex” thinking you are better than others

Physically: Chronic fatigue, headaches/migraines, mental illness, muscular disorders/diseases, sensitivity to light and sound, insomnia, nightmares, mental fog

Yoga practices to come back to balance:

Balance and focus awareness on your body and the present moment!

  • Vrksasana (Tree)
  • Garudasana (Eagle)
  • Savasana (Corpse Pose)
  • Sirsasana (Headstand)
  • Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)
  • Meditation

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Yoga Classes for your Crown Chakra:

Another great aspect of yoga that helps to develop not just the Crown Chakra, but also the Heart Chakra is Seva (selfless service). The act of giving back to others without expecting anything, even recognition, in return is a beautiful way to strengthen these Chakras while impacting the world around you in a positive way!

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What can you do if your chakras are imbalanced?

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  • Yoga! It helps you connect to your Prana (life-force energy) by bringing attention to the breath while moving the body. That connection between body and Prana creates a perfect atmosphere for Chakra balancing. Yoga Asana (poses) can help you unblock and strengthen different Chakras by impacting and changing the flow of energy in the body on a cellular level. Yoga is a discipline of connecting mind, body, and spirit, which in turn can also be a practice for creating a healthy, conscious, and peaceful Chakra system.

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  • Invest in yourself by doing the work needed to uncover and heal past trauma, old wounds, and habits. How these manifest in your life and impact your Chakras begins often on a subconscious level, but as you learn about your Chakra imbalances, you can then decide to make decisions and peel back layers to get to the root problems. This is what “inner healing” is all about. Learning about personal triggers and reflecting on the painful is often the key to ongoing personal growth. Heart-led sharings with people you can trust, whether they be therapists, close friends, family members, members of our Yoga Girl Community on Facebook, here on the site, or others on their own healing journeys on 29k, are crucial in learning how to let go so that room can be made for what your heart is aching for.

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  • Bring on the woo! Different Yoga poses can affect Chakras because of how they are able to change and direct energy in the body. Like yoga poses, there are other natural things in our world that are also able to create shifts in the energy or “vibration” of our different Chakras. Visualizing, wearing, or eating foods of certain colors/elements, working with crystals from the Earth (which contain and shift energy!), chanting different Mantras or sounds, connecting with elements in nature, or watching your thoughts in meditation, can all create an impact.

Learning about the Chakra system can not only enhance your yoga practice, but it could potentially change your life. If you found this article interesting, perhaps it’s a sign that you are meant to explore the Chakras more!

Remember that even small changes in daily habits and little steps towards what you are seeking all help to create a big impact. Trust yourself and trust the path you are on, but know that you have every ounce of power within you to take charge and make the kind of life you want.

Are you able to gauge which of your Chakras are doing well and which could use some more attention and support? Share your epiphanies or action plans with our community in the comments below!