At first, the idea of a chakra can seem preposterous. There is a wide range of opinions on them, but what even are they? How do they connect to yoga? When I first heard people talk about them, I was very skeptical to say the least. However, as I did more research, I began coming around to incorporating them into my yoga practice and classes. Personally, I do notice changes in my energy when I pause to think about it.
What is a chakra?
In general, it is a center of energy within your body. There are 7 of these "centers" that make a line of energy from the base of your spine all the way up to the top of your head. The goal is to get energy to rise up through the body, so we’ll start at the bottom and work our way up. If you feel a chakra is "blocked," it can help to bring some attention to the area to try and increase the energy there. Alternatively, if an area corresponding to a chakra feels like it might be in overdrive, then you can work on toning it down to keep an equal balance between all of the chakras.
Each of the seven chakras is associated with its own color and part of the body. Below you will find basic information on the chakras, and some exercises you can do to stimulate each particular chakra. Give some a try and see if you notice a difference!
1. Muladhara Chakra
Body Part: Spinal Base, Sciatic Nerve
Basics: This is the foundation chakra, which keeps us grounded and down to Earth. It is related to survival functions. So, it can be more challenging to move on to the upper chakras if there is any basic need (food, shelter, security, etc.) not being met. We root down into the ground to give us support for our growth, and we need to make sure we are taking care of the basics first before we can move on.
Connecting Poses: Child’s Pose, Corpse Pose, River Pose, Mountain Pose
2. Svadhisthana Chakra
Body Part: Low abdomen
Basics: This chakra is associated with pleasure, emotion, sexuality, and change. As we work toward moving up within the charka system and towards enlightenment, we also work towards what makes us happy. These feelings of fulfillment allow us to continue on our chakra journey. It is associated with movement and fluctuation, so if you’re feeling stuck in any way, try out a pose or two to bring some awareness to your second chakra.
Connecting Poses: Goddess Pose, Reclined Butterfly Pose, Half Pigeon
3. Manipura Chakra
Body Part: Solar plexus, navel
Basics: Our Manipura chakra is connected to fire. It generates the literal and metaphorical heat within our bodies that help us to make change. It gives us the excitement and energy to try challenging things. It’s how we connect to our center of power in order to transform. It is also related to self-esteem. Feeling sluggish? Try some of these asanas to help bring some energy back into your body. You can also try Breath of Fire as well.
Connecting Poses: Boat Pose, Bow Pose, Wheel Pose
4. Anahata Chakra
Body Part: Heart, chest
Basics: Our fourth chakra is all about the heart. Love for yourself, others, and your surroundings all play a part. Is your heart open to new feelings and relationships, or does it feel closed off? Poses for chest and heart opening can help us heal our minds and bodies to become more accepting of love around us.
Connecting Poses: Upward-Facing Dog, Camel Pose, Cow Pose, Dancer’s Pose
5. Vissudha Chakra
Body Part: Throat
Basics: Our throat chakra is known for – you guessed it – communication. The words, sounds, and vibrations we share with the world are all related to this chakra. Feeling like you aren’t communicating clearly? Talking too much or too little? Maybe your fifth chakra can use some work. Mantras can also be related to this chakra, so the next time you chant Om with the rest of your yoga class (or on your own!) notice the feeling and vibration that it creates in your throat.
Connecting Poses: Fish Pose, Cobra Pose, Supported Shoulder Stand
6. Ajna Chakra
Body Part: Third Eye Center (space between the brows)
Basics: Our sixth chakra is our center of intuition. Teachers might draw your attention to this spot at the beginning or end of class as a way to connect to your inner thoughts. It’s also associated with visualization. So, if there’s something positive you are trying to visualize, it couldn’t hurt to bring some energy into this chakra to help you along!
Connecting Poses: Child’s pose (resting forehead on mat, block, or other props), Easy Pose, Upward Salute, Supported Headstand
7. Sahasrara Chakra
Color: Violet & White
Body Part: Crown of head
Basics: Our uppermost chakra is symbolic for meditation. It can bring us to understand our consciousness, and transcend the minutiae of life. Once energy flows through our lower 6 chakras, it can then extend up through the seventh, bringing us closer to enlightenment. Our body, mind, and spirit culminate here. Connecting to sahasrara can help us hone in on what makes us – well, us. Our thoughts begin here and flow out into our bodies and the rest of the world.
Connecting Poses: Half Lotus Pose, Corpse Pose