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The Chakras: Another Energetic Practice Tool in the Box

Whether or not you buy into the Chakra System, it can't hurt to have another tool to work within an attempt to balance body, mind, and spirit. Once you understand these energy centers throughout the body, it makes sense conceptually. If you have been feeling off, ungrounded, out of focus, or disconnected, take a look at the Chakras. Perhaps your energy centers need a tune-up, and yoga can help!

The first mention of the Chakras is within the ancient texts of The Upanishads dating around 7-800 BCE. So this is not a modern concept, and it is also likely that it was developed even earlier and passed down between teacher and student orally. Additionally, there have been references to 114 different chakras in older traditions, even though it is seven chakras we work with commonly these days.

In Sanskrit, Chakra means "wheel," or the chariot wheels of ancient rulers, called chakravartin. Each Chakra within the body is an energy center that is active and in motion. We can't see these with the eye, but they are associated with different areas within the body. They run along the spine and connect to our primary energy line called the Sushumna.

The Chakras begin at the root of the body and are located at intervals from pelvic floor to crown. According to ancient tradition, these energy centers can become blocked or limited in their energetic rotation, creating distress and disease in the body. Even more literally, the chakras are said to be clusters of nerve endings along the spine where sensitivity and receptivity are highly concentrated.

We can use various practices to work with our Chakras to help balanced and restore their proper function. Depending on what you want to buy into, the concept might seem a bit out there, but the practices outlined here are certainly not going to hurt anything! You never know; you may find tapping into specific areas in your body does help you to restore balance.

Below are details about each primary Chakra and a few practices you can use to create ease and balance in your energy centers.

1 - Muladhara / Root: The home of this first Chakra is at the base of the spine and pelvic floor, and it grounds and connects us to our most basic survival and self-preservation instincts. When balanced, we feel a connection to life and ourselves, and we feel supported, safe and secure.

Out of balance?: You may feel excessive fear and anxiety or insecurity. Disconnection and low self-esteem may be present as well. Physically, it can manifest as low back pain, sciatica, or digestive issues like constipation.

Practices to help: Yogi squat or garland pose variations; Seated pelvic rotations; bound angle pose, fluttering knees up and down. Use the chant, Lam (Lum), and affirmations: I am grounded and connected to the earth. I am safe within myself.

2 - Svadisthana / Sacral: The second energy center located around the lower abdomen under the navel is the focal point of our emotions, sensuality, and creativity. When balanced, we feel a strong sense of self-worth, and we are in touch with our feelings and power to create. We feel in tune with life's energy.

Out of balance?: There may be a fear of intimacy and an inability to enjoy pleasurable experiences. We can experience emotional repression, or emotional explosiveness can sign this Chakra is out of balance. An imbalance can also appear as gynecological problems, impotence, and kidney or urinary issues.

Practices to Help: Hero pose, camel pose, cat/cow with hip circles, and any asanas that help open and stimulate the hip area. Use the chant Vam (Vum) and affirmations: I am alive and joyful. I am in touch with my emotions.

3 - Manipura / Solar Plexus: Manipura translates to "city of jewels" or "filled with gems," which helps explain its significance. It is the third Chakra known as the 'power center.' The solar plexus is located around the center abdomen, just above the navel, and controls digestion, metabolism, and our inner assertiveness and motivation. When in balance, we can follow our gut instincts, and our decision-making process is on point. We stay motivated and inspired, fending off apathy and lack of inertia.

Out of balance?: We might feel apathy or lack of inertia and disconnected from our power. There may be a disconnect from our sense of self and self-esteem and an inability to make decisions. Physically, it can manifest as issues with the liver, pancreas, digestive system, as well as eating disorders and diabetes.

Practices to Help: Core strengthening poses like boat pose, twists, and strong poses on the belly such as bow pose. Use the chant Ram (Rum) with affirmations: My power radiates from the center of my being. I am brave and focused.

4 - Heart / Anahata: The fourth Chakra is at the heart center, the balance point between the lower and higher Chakras, and the gateway between the physical and spiritual energy centers. When balanced, we feel compassion for ourselves and others and can healthily process our emotions. We feel a sense of wholeness and unity with others.

Out of balance?: When out of balance in this Chakra, we feel grief, despair, heartache, jealousy, and sadness. There may be feelings of abandonment, isolation, or loneliness. We don't feel we can trust ourselves or other people. Physical issues are cardiovascular problems, hypertension, arthritis, upper back and shoulder pain, and tension.

Practices to Help: Heart opening poses, of course, twists and shoulder stretches - cobra pose, backbends, and Gomukhasana (head of cow) pose are good choices. Chant Yam (Yum) and use the affirmations: I trust my heart. I have compassion for myself and others.

5 - Visuddha / Throat: The fifth Chakra is located at the throat center and is associated with sound, creative self-expression, speech, and communication. When in balance, we can speak our inner truth and absorb and assimilate information.

Out of balance?: If this Chakra is out of balance, we feel unable to clearly and openly express ourselves. We may hold onto unexpressed anger, and there may be a fear of speaking and a failure to find the right words. Physically, there are issues with the throat, larynx, upper respiratory illnesses, and dental problems. Stuttering and attention disorders are also signs of imbalance.

Practices to help: Gentle neck and shoulder stretches, as well as fish pose, shoulder stand, and camel pose, which can help to open and stretch the throat, are beneficial. Use the chant Ham (Hum) and the affirmations: I am able and willing to speak my truth. I celebrate the beauty in my life.

6 - Ajna / Third Eye: The third eye Chakra is between and above the eye, and it is associated with the eyes, brain, pituitary and pineal glands, and lymphatic and endocrine systems. When in balance, we can think clearly and intuition and follow our inner guidance.

Out of balance?: There can be an inability to see the "big picture" and keep an open mind. We might not be able to separate imaginary thinking from reality. Physical issues include headaches, sinusitis, vision problems, and learning disabilities.

Practices to help: Down Dog, Child's pose, and legs up the wall can help balance this Chakra. Use the chant Om (Aum) and affirmations: I see and think clearly. I am balanced and in tune with the universe.

7 - Sahasrara / Crown: The 7th Chakra is associated with the center of the head and brain. It is called the "thousand-petaled lotus," a symbol of purity and spirituality. When in balance, this uppermost Chakra allows us to connect to our innate spiritual nature, be open to the divine and cosmos, and access our inner bliss.

Out of balance: Life might lack purpose or meaning if we are out of sync at the Crown Chakra, and we may feel indifferent or depressed. Spirituality may be nonexistent, or on the opposite end, we may have an unquestioned adherence to a particular religious dogman.

Practices to help: Supported headstand or rabbit pose can put us in touch with the crown. A seated forward fold and reclined bound angle can help to balance this Chakra. Silence is associated with the Crown Chakra, but Om is an option. Affirmations to try: I am. I am balanced between heaven and earth. I am connected to my bliss.

Whether you sense you may have some imbalances or want yoga practices to connect with certain body areas, the Chakras can be a helpful way to structure a practice or series of practices!

If you have any questions about this or anything else yoga practice-related, please let me know. I also have a newsletter called Yoga Notes, a monthly, short email with tactical and doable tips and practices you can implement in your life right away. Subscribe to Yoga Notes HERE!



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