the chakra system: an overview

in honor of our amazing chakra mat (tragically not in the showroom… but definitely worth an online order!), a post breaking down the basic idea of the chakra system seemed to be well warranted. Once you read up on the chakras and the function of the chakra system, go take this quiz… it’s a pretty cool indicator of how open certain chakras are in your life!

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So what is the chakra system? In the most basic terms, the chakras are seven centers, through which energy flows in our body. An energy blockage in a certain chakra can lead to emotional, or even physical, ailments, and for that reason it’s important to know how to open each center and let energy flow through it. There are seven different chakras, each located in a particular station of your body, and each marked by a specific color and a distinct set of mental and emotional attributes.

1. Root Chakra – what is it? Located at the base of the spine, this chakra focuses on feeling grounded and at home, stable and secure, and present in this moment and in your physical body. The color associated with this chakra is red. what does it do? An under-active root chakra can cause fear or nervousness, particularly surrounding food and money; whereas too much activity here can cause excessive materialism, greed, and a resistance to change. how to balance it? Yoga-wise, a whole lotta bridge pose can help to open up this lower spinal area. Try simply being mindful of your grounding, both in yoga and in your everyday life – be conscious of where you’re touching the ground, what’s rooting you, and how firm you are in that grounding… and during that mindfulness, eat lot of red and root fruits and veggies (apples, beets, carrots).

2. Sacral Chakra – what is it? Located in the lower abdomen, this beautiful little chakra is what leads us to our feelings. It’s the center of energy for our relationships, as well as our sense of self. The color associated with this chakra is orange. what does it do? An under-active sacral chakra can lead to a stiffness and unwillingness to be open in relationships, and a happily open sacral chakra will leave us with a secure sense of abundance and the freedom to “let go” of excessive control or withheld emotion. how to balance it? Cow face pose is a good one for opening the sacral chakra, and it’s also a really easy one to just hang out it (confession: I’m sitting in it while typing this post!). Pigeon and other hip openers are also great for opening up this area, as long as they feel gentle and natural, never forced or strained. While you’re hanging out in pigeon or cow-faced, munch on some oranges or nuts if you feel like your sacral chakra needs further opening.

3. Solar Plexus Chakra – what is it? Located in the upper abdomen, this chakra is what controls our sense of self-esteem, our confidence, and also our contentment with life. A well-balanced solar plexus chakra leads us to feeling confident, secure, and in-control. The color associated with this chakra is yellow. what does it do? An under-active solar plexus chakra can lead you to be passive and indecisive, feeling the need to constantly self-sacrifice and be liked, but over-activity in this chakra can lead to a domineering and aggressive nature. how to balance it? Boat pose, and other abdominal based poses, are good for opening up this chakra, and a good round of warriors or sun salutes can re-ground you in a strong sense of empowerment and well-being. Or, simply sit and sip on some peppermint tea, and breathe into the incredible being that you are.

4. Heart Chakra – what is it? Spoiler alert here, guys… this chakra is located at the heart, and deals mostly with our ability to love. Way out of left field, this one. But still, incredibly important to know and understand, especially because it is the bridge that connects our lower and higher beings. Balance is so crucial to achieve in this station of energy, just as a love balance is crucial to achieve in life. The color of this chakra is green. what does it do? An under-active heart chakra can lead to feeling cold and distant in relationships, as well as loneliness and shyness; but over-activity in this station can lead to co-dependency, “love smothering,” and entering into emotional relationships for selfish reasons. how to balance it? Yoga-wise, a lot of backbends will help to open up the heart chakra, as well as Eagle Pose.Eat lots of leafy greens, like kale and spinach, and drink green teas (but you should absolutely always do these things anyway…) and mostly just love. Having a daily, active, strong practice of pure, honest, selfless love is the best way to balance this chakra, and your life.

5. Throat Chakra – what is it? Located in the throat, this chakra is our center for communication, self-expression, and openness. Generally, there is an association with an artistic sense of self-expression, and a great verbal diplomacy. It is the center through which we convey our inner self to the outside world.The color of this chakra is light blue. what does it do? An under-active throat chakra can lead you to be quiet, withdrawn, and afraid of speaking out or expressing your opinions; however, an over-active throat chakra can lead to controlling, judgmental, and hurtful speech, as well as being a bad listener. how to balance it? Lots of shoulder stands, or plow pose, can be really helpful in opening up this chakra. Also, drinking lots of water, eating lots of fruit, and singing as much as possible. Three things that are, in my opinion, necessary components of a happy and healthy life at all times!

6. Third Eye Chakra – what is it? The third eye chakra is located on the forehead, between the eyes, and is the center for our perception. It is this chakra that allows us to focus, to see the bigger picture, and to perceive spiritual matters. The color of this chakra is indigo. what does it do? An under-active third eye chakra can result in problems thinking for yourself or forming your own opinions, and may lead to cloudy thoughts or dull understandings; however, if this chakra is under-active, you may find yourself fantasizing and dreaming too much, instead of being present and aware in this moment. how to balance it? To balance this chakra, the best recommendation I can give would be to take time to sit still, close your eyes, and really be drawn in to your mind and senses. Do a few supported forward-bends, and while doing so, meditate on positive images of yourself and your life.

7. Crown Chakra what is it? The seventh and final chakra is located at the very crown of your head, and is your center for consciousness and enlightenment. It is in this center that you connect to the spiritual world, allows you to tap fully into the wisdom that is available to you, and to truly be one with the world. The color for this chakra is violet. what does it do? It balances the way that you know and understand the spiritual matters of the world – if this chakra is under-active, then you may find yourself less spiritually aware, and perhaps more rigid and closed off to matters regarding spirituality. However, if this chakra is over-active, you may find yourself living too much in your head, over-intellectualising matters and maybe becoming a little egotistical. how to balance it? Run! At last, cardio meets the chakras. The saying “running to clear your head” is literally exactly what this chakra calls for – run, and engage in other cardiovascular activities to balance out your crown chakra. Also, fresh air, sunshine, and meditation help with the clearing and balance of this energy center.

If you wanted to do a bit more reading or research on the chakra system, I found that mindbodygreen has some really fascinating articles on the subject, and the yoga journal has a cool article breaking down the function of the chakras and suggesting asanas to balance them out. Enjoy!  

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