Chakra is the sanskrit word for “wheel,” and in yoga it refers to the vortices of energy in our bodies. There are seven major chakras (and countless minor ones) in the human body. These are located along the spinal column and correspond with the body’s primary nerve plexes.
Root Chakra (Mooladhara)
The root chakra is located at the base of the spine and is red in color. It is associated with issues of survival, the organs of elimination, and the legs and feet. It may become blocked when one has experienced physical or sexual abuse. Signs that the root chakra is blocked include being disconnected from the earth, or experiencing numbness in the legs and feet. Rigidity in the body, stiffness, limited flexibility, pain, and inflammation (especially of tailbone) are all indications that the root chakra is stuck and needs more grounding.
Yoga is a great way to unblock the root chakra, especially standing yoga postures. Also dancing, sweat lodges, and massage are good for connecting to the earth and your physical body. Spend time outside, take walks in nature, or sit next to a big tree. Repeat the affirmation “I AM SAFE” whenever you feel ungrounded.
Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana)
The sacral chakra is located at the back of the pelvis, in the center of the sacrum, and is orange in color. It is associated with the colon, the reproductive system, the hips, emotional issues and sexuality. Blocks to this chakra can result from sexual abuse, physical abuse, stuck emotions, shame or guilt around sexuality, and issues with one’s father. Some indications that this chakra is blocked include constipation, numbness in this area, sugar cravings, eating disorders, blocks to creativity, frustration, low back pain, and fears around support and money.
Various cleanses and colonics are a great way to unblock the sacral chakra. Also massage, yoga, exercise, dancing, healthy expression of the emotions, and engaging with creativity are great ways to release blocks held here. Repeat the affirmation “I FLOW with the process of life.”
Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura)
The solar plexus chakra is located in front of the spine directly behind the navel. It is yellow in color, and associated with the stomach, liver, and small intestine; the ego, issues of self-worth, and social roles. If you are very willful, toward yourself or others, this chakra is probably blocked. Also digestive issues, low self-worth, an inability to feel intense emotions or love, and a heavy reliance on masculine energy are signs that this chakra is stuck.
To unblock the solar plexus, first just slow down and give yourself a break. Practice allowing yourself to feel love and any other emotions—breathe into them and feel without judgement. Let yourself be vulnerable, and let go of trying to “prove yourself” to others. You may also want to look at where your relationship with your father may be incomplete. Practice yoga, especially twisting postures, or tai chi. Repeat the affirmation “I STAND in my power.”
Heart Chakra (Anahata)
The heart chakra is located behind the sternum. Its color is green, and it is associated with the heart, lungs, and respiratory systems and a feeling of unconditional love. Blocks to this chakra include a fear of receiving love, a focus on over-giving and taking care of others, and a fear of feeling love and being vulnerable. Tightness in the back of heart, anxiety, heart palpitations, and heart or respiratory ailments are all indications that the energy of the heart chakra is stuck.
To unblock the heart chakra, expose the fear around receiving love through writing about it. Learn to receive more love, and give less until you are able to receive more. When you find balance between giving and receiving, practice loving more. Practice yoga, especially back bending postures. Meditate on compassion, and gratitude, and say to yourself “I OPEN my heart to living fully.”
Throat Chakra (Vishuddhi)
The throat chakra is located at the base of the throat, behind the glottis. It is blue in color and associated with the thyroid, speech, and communication. Blocks to this chakra include a fear of expressing yourself, holding back the voice and opinions, and “biting your tongue.” Symptoms of a blocked throat chakra include sore throat, laryngitis, thyroid issues, stiff neck, pinched cervical nerve, and/or a choking feeling.
Unblock the throat chakra by speaking up! Express yourself artistically, write, sing, or act, and practice being a good listener. Engage with your creativity, expression, and communication. Repeat the affirmation “I SPEAK my truth.”
Third Eye Chakra (Ajna)
The third eye chakra is located in the center of the brain, but generally we focus on activating it through the eyebrow center. It is violet in color, and associated with vision, sensory perception, and intuition. Blocks to this chakra include a fear of seeing the truth, a need to make things linear or one-dimensional and to understand everything intellectually, and issues with one’s mother. A blocked third eye can result in eye disorders or strain, sugar addiction, migraine headaches, or sense-related health problems.
To unblock the third eye, let go of the need to understand everything intellectually. Trust your intuition, and exercise your imagination. Practice balancing yoga postures, and repeat the affirmation “I SEE the truth.”
Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)
The crown chakra is located at the crown of the head and is the color of crystal light. It is associated with the brain and nervous system, and issues of unity and separation. A fear of letting go and connecting with all of life, issues with control, depression, feelings of being alone, and fears about change or having faith are all signs that this chakra is blocked.
Allow yourself time to connect to the stars, planets, sun, moon, and sky to open the crown chakra. Nurture your spiritual growth and personal process of self-realization. Repeat the affirmation “I AM one with the universe.”