Nowadays, you can't walk into a jewelry store, yoga studio or card shop without being reminded of chakras. Symbols dangle from necklaces, are painted on walls and appear in most weekly health and wellness newsletters you signed up to receive. 

Spirituality is a fundamental element in successfully living a well-rounded life. Our bodies communicate with us daily and the challenge is learning to listen to what's inside. We're more powerful than we ever realized and are constantly reminded that the wisdom we have stored within is limitless. Uncovering the wisdom that is locked away in our body, mind and energy system can shine our light and brilliance, and mend all areas of life that need nurturing.

Emotional and physical aches and pains are actually alerting us to something. Often it can be an unexpressed emotion – so how does tapping into our chakras and understanding them help to release bad habits, patterns or relationships we need to mend? To understand the benefits of chakra activation, healing and cleansing, and the effects of chakra meditation, we must first learn about each individual one.

What is a chakra?

The Sanskrit word chakra literally translates to wheel or disk. In yoga, meditation and Ayurveda, this term refers to wheels of energy throughout the body. There are seven main chakras, which align the spine, starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head. Each chakra represents life issues and corresponds to specific areas of our body. Each of the associated body parts holds information about us and our life.

Each of the seven main chakras contains bundles of nerves and major organs as well as our psychological, emotional and spiritual states of being. Since everything is moving, it’s essential that our seven main chakras stay open, aligned and fluid. If there is a blockage, energy can't flow. Opening chakras is a bit more of a challenge, but not so difficult when you have awareness. Since mind, body, soul and spirit are intimately connected, awareness of an imbalance in one area will help bring the others back into balance.

The most important thing to take away from learning about the chakras is that you have a choice, and if you don't like how your life is shaping up, you can examine your thoughts and beliefs to see where you can shift and make different choices and balance your chakras on your own. There is no specific time scale as to how long you need to meditate for to cleanse a chakra – it is a personal practice and will take time. 

The chakras and their meanings

Understanding the different roles and how to balance your chakras allows you to make choices to balance and heal the issues in your life associated with them. Then, you can make empowered choices to support the pursuit of your goals. The seven chakras are:

1. Root Chakra: Instinct, Survival

2. Sacral Chakra: Pleasure

3. Solar Plexus: Power

4. Heart Chakra: Love 

5. Throat Chakra: Truth

6. Brow Chakra: Intuition

7. Crown Chakra: Spirit

What is the root chakra?

What is the root chakra

1. Root chakra: Survival, trust, safety and family loyalty

Known as the muladhara in Sanskrit, the root chakra is your foundation and is found at the base of the spine. It encompasses the first three vertebrae, the bladder and the colon. This chakra is one of stability, security and basic needs. The personal elements associated with the root chakra are instinct, safety, survival, grounding, family, security, boundaries and new beginnings. It’s when this chakra is open that we feel safe and fearless.

• Body parts associated with the root chakra

The colours or stones associated with the root chakra are red and the body parts associated with the root chakra are the coccyx, anus, large intestine, adrenal glands, back, legs, feet and bones. 

• What can the root chakra help with?

Family and traditional beliefs are stored in the body in this area. The health of this chakra is associated with your upbringing and early years.

You can change your life by looking at the wisdom in your first chakra and seeing where you may be blocked or held back by beliefs tied to family loyalty or expectations but that are not serving your highest good. If you're feeling fearful, you can try and clear issues associated with the above body areas or help facilitate the healing by tapping on those issues and clearing, balancing and healing the root chakra.

If you're struggling in your relationships especially with issues of trust, then this is a first chakra issue. Some people just never feel safe at some level, in their jobs, or they feel there is never enough money, or no matter what they do they can never get ahead. Nurturing your root chakra can help ease these issues.

This can be cleared and you can shift your thinking, beliefs and actions so that you are experiencing the safety you deserve. Specific yoga practices and meditation exercises can help mend past emotional issues or memories that are holding you back from living your true potential.

If the energy in this chakra is blocked, it limits the upward flow of energy in your body potentially impacting your health, success in relationships, financial stability or your career.

• Questions to find out if your root chakra is blocked

- In what areas of your life do you not feel safe?
- Are you able to easily make decisions?
- In what areas of your life do you feel like you have no control or choice?
- Do you trust yourself to make supportive, healthy decisions?
- Where in your life are you missing healthy boundaries?

What is the sacral chakra?

What is the sacral chakra

2. Sacral chakra: Creativity and sex

Known as the svadhisthana, the sacral chakra is your creative and sexual centre. It’s located above the pubic bone, below the navel and is responsible for our creative expression. This chakra is one of creativity, sexuality, money, relationships, empathy, nurturing, pleasure, emotions, movement, change, warmth, and intimacy. It represents your ability to go with the flow. It’s a chakra of grace and acceptance and allowing yourself to enjoy your life and achievements.

• Body parts associated with the sacral chakra

The colours or stones associated with the sacral chakra are orange and the body parts associated with the sacral chakra are the hips, lower back, sexual organs, bladder, kidneys, stomach, large intestine, pelvis, appendix and bodily fluids. 

• What can the sacral chakra help with?

Our roles are affected by the programming in this area of fear of abandonment, financial security, social status, children and creativity. You can be controlled by your fears, level of trust, control, blame, guilt and shame. This area is concerned with daily aspects of living, people to whom we relate and quality of our relationships.

If you're feeling pain or discomfort in any of these points in your body, it may be an indication that there are some emotional issues that need clearing. Lower back pain has a high association with money issues among other things, for example. If you don't have a habit of safely expressing your emotions, it's likely that your lower body is holding onto these emotions until you're ready to process them. Unexpressed and unprocessed emotions don't go away, they take up residence in your energetic and physical bodies.

Beliefs as a child can impact your relationships and your success as an adult. Remember that the energy travels up through the chakras, so if your root chakra is still holding onto issues of not feeling safe, your sacral chakra is not flowing freely.

• Questions to discover if you have blocked energy in your sacral chakra

- In what areas do you allow yourself to experience pleasure? Where do you not?
- Do you feel creative and sensual?
- How often do you do things that you don’t really enjoy? That you do enjoy?
- When you do things for others is it from a genuine desire or are you really trying to win their approval or love?
- Do you experience jealousy?
- Do you trust that life is abundant and there is always enough? 
- Do you allow life to be easy or do you believe you have to struggle and sacrifice and that everything is hard?

What is the solar plexus?

What is the solar chakra

3. Solar plexus: Power

Known as the manipura, or lustrous gem, the solar plexus is your source of personal power. It’s located in the area from the navel to the breastbone. This chakra is one of personality and willpower, self-esteem and personal identity. This is the area of assertiveness, intuition and inner drive. This area controls digestion and the metabolic systems that process the energy needed to overcome inertia and apathy and get us moving from our stuck status. It's from this chakra that we assert our personal power, follow our gut instincts, take risks and make decisions.

• Body parts associated with the solar plexus

The colours or stones associated with the solar chakra are yellow and the body parts associated with the solar chakra are the stomach, liver, pancreas, gall bladder, spleen, adrenal glands and mid spine.

• What can the solar plexus help with?

If you have trouble focussing on a goal you want to accomplish, ask yourself if you really believe that you can have it. Sometimes the rational cognitive mind believes it and the unconscious mind doesn't. Looking where there are imbalances or stuck energy in your chakras can help move you in the direction of both of your minds agreeing.

Clearing the energy in your lower three chakras helps you to feel more grounded and trust your intuition. Once we clear the energy there, it allows more movement to the higher energy centers so that there's balance between the lower physical chakras and higher spiritual ones.

• Questions to see if your solar plexus is blocked

- Where do you feel worthy and adequate in your life?
- Where do you feel inferior in your relationships and in your work?
- Do you tend to be responsible or give that responsibility away or take on responsibility for others?
- When do you find yourself being aggressive and/or defensive?
- In what areas do you struggle with self-control? Where do you exercise discipline?
- When do you most feel that you are in your power and feeling confident?

What is the heart chakra?

What is the heart chakra

4. Heart chakra: Love

Known as the anahata, the heart chakra is located at the heart center, at the middle of the seven and unites the lower chakras of matter and the upper chakras of spirit. This fourth chakra is also spiritual but serves as a bridge between our body, mind, emotions and spirit. The heart chakra is our source of love and connection. When we work through our first three physical chakras, we can open the spiritual chakras more fully.

It's from your heart chakra that you trust in the goodness of life. It represents compassion, selfless love, personal love, universal love, your capacity to feel, express yourself emotionally, and to participate in true relationships where both people are equally powerful and vulnerable. Your heart chakra is where you process and store emotional experiences. The heart chakra speaks of 'we' instead of 'me'. You begin to experience the unity of life rather than the separateness. You see joy and kindness everywhere and therefore experience it.

• Body parts associated with the heart chakra

The colours or stones associated with the heart chakra are green or prink and the body parts associated with the heart chakra are the heart, breast, lungs, diaphragm, ribs, chest, thymus, circulatory system, shoulders, arms and hands. The basic issues of your heart chakra are love, compassion, kindness, relationships, issues with self-love and acceptance, forgiveness, hope, sympathy and empathy.

• What can the heart chakra help with?

Women are often conditioned to believe that if you're powerful and successful with money and career you will not be loved and lose out on intimacy. Also, women have been taught that to be loved you must care for others needs, usually at your own expense. When a woman neglects her own needs caring for others, proving self-worth at work and at home, and does things from obligation and guilt, she becomes more susceptible to disease.

Traditionally, women are loved for the care they provide and men for the financial support they provide. Clearly, this is no longer the norm, and so men and women at a historic crossroads as you learn how to renegotiate these inherited partnership and intimacy belief and behaviors. Yet many are suffering from closed heart chakras. For several reasons, many have learned to shut down or close off their hearts to protect themselves, yet in reality, this protection costs them so much more.

It's important to examine where you're closing yourself from receiving and giving love fully. Remember that energy flows up, so as you clear your lower chakras it allows for more openness in your heart chakra. The more you clear, the more vibrant and healthy you feel.

• Questions to discover if you have stuck energy in your heart chakra

- Are you able to be open and honest about your feelings with another person?
- How much love do you feel for yourself?
- Can you be detached enough to let your loved ones be themselves?
- Can you be true to your feelings in a relationship without sacrificing or losing your sense of self?
- Are you able to forgive others and yourself?
- How do you equate power and money with love?
- Do you have self respect? Do you have respect for others in your life?

What is the throat chakra?

What is the throat chakra

5. Throat chakra: Truth

The throat chakra, or vishuddha, is our source of verbal expression and the ability to speak our highest truth. The fifth chakra includes the neck, thyroid, and parathyroid glands, jaw, mouth, and tongue. It's associated with sound, creative self-expression, speech and communication, will and timing. This is your center of transformation and change, where you harness your energy to express yourself, from your spirit, heart and mind. When you are able to express yourself from your personal truths, you are able to fully develop into whole and balanced individuals who are capable of sustaining deep and intimate relationships.

• Body parts associated with the throat chakra

The colours or stones associated with the throat chakra are blue and the associated body parts are the throat, neck, ears, jaw, mouth, teeth, gums, tongue and thyroid gland. The basic issues of your throat chakra are voice, communication, listening, creativity, self expression, image of self, humility, manifesting ideas, vibration, telepathy and channeling.

• What can the throat chakra help with?

If you have experienced recurring sore throats, strep throats and tonsillitis, it's likely that you have been holding back on expressing your feelings, especially anger. It's important to acknowledge and release old stuck emotions so that you can express yourself authentically, clearly and creatively.

• Questions to find out if your throat chakra is blocked

- Are you able to express your ideas or thoughts easily?
- Are you open to listening and comprehending other points of view?
- In what areas and with whom are you more comfortable expressing your ideas and feelings?
- Are you always feeling rushed and like there is never enough time?
- Do you have difficulty speaking up for yourself or holding your own point of view?
- Do you tend to ignore the messages that your body is sending to you?
- Do you worry about what people will think if you speak up?
- Were you allowed to be creative as a child?

What is the brow chakra?

What is the brow chakra

6. Brow chakra: Intuition

The sixth chakra, ajna, is located in between the eyebrows. It's also referred to as the 'third eye' chakra. It's our center of intuition. We all have a sense of intuition but we may not listen to it or heed its warnings. Focussing on opening the sixth chakra will help you hone this ability. 

• Body parts associated with the brow chakra

The colours or stones associated with the brow chakra are blue and purple and the associated body parts are eyes, brain, pituitary and pineal glands, lymphatic and endocrine systems and sinuses. The basic issues of your brow chakra are intellect, perception, wisdom, insight, clarity, clairvoyance, imagination, dreams, ideas, reasoning, connection to the higher self and telepathy.

• What can the brow chakra help with?

The brow chakra combines the clearly focused left side of the brain, which computes and analyzes with an open right brain, which is where our intuitive, artistic and psychic gifts reside. Concentrating on this center teaches you discernment and wisdom, where you can focus on your inner state of awareness and the outer world at the same time. It helps you to see what's important for your own wellbeing and happiness, giving you a sense of perspective and insight.

• Questions to ask to see if your brow chakra is blocked

- Do you use your imagination and your mind to create your life?
- What do you do that takes most of your energy?
- What do you do that feeds your energy?
- Are you doing things that you love and enjoy? If not, what stops you?
- Do you take time each day to breathe, quiet your mind, look within, ask questions, connect to source and your inner guidance?
- Are your thought processes rigid and obsessive or do you have flexibility in your thinking?

What is the crown chakra?

What is the crown chakra

7. Crown chakra: Spirit

The sahaswara, or the 'thousand petal lotus chakra, is located at the crown of the head. This is the chakra of enlightenment and spiritual connection to our higher selves, others, and ultimately to the divine. The crown chakra symbolizes purity and spirituality. Its function is to open you to the light of spirit. It's your highest energy center, physically located at the top of your head and has the highest rate of vibration. The crown chakra embodies liberation, sharing great knowledge, deep understanding, inner wisdom, and a connection to the highest state of enlightenment and spiritual connection.

• Body parts associated with the crown chakra

The colours or stones associated with the crown chakra are purple and white and the body parts associated with the crown chakra are the center of the head and the brain. The basic issues of your crown chakra are connection to the Divine, wisdom, intuitive knowing, spiritual development, selflessness, universal higher consciousness, knowledge, understanding, consciousness, meditation and information.

• What can the crown chakra help with?

Your attitude, beliefs, faith, values, conscience, courage and humanitarianism have been developed and represented in this chakra. Whether you were raised in a particular faith or none, and how strict the adherence was to that faith will affect this area, and it may take some undoing or searching to embrace the truth of a higher power that lives within and is always accessible to you.

When you experience lack of purpose, loss of meaning in your life, indifference and depression, your crown chakra may be unbalanced. Your moral and ethical beliefs may be weak and you may have a high attachment to material needs. You may also feel disconnected from nature and the flow of life. You may either have an unquestioning and rigid following of religious dogma or have no spirituality existent in your life or beliefs.

• Questions to discover if energy is blocked in your crown chakra

- Where and when do you experience joy and how often?
- Where can you release judgment in your life – toward yourself and others?
- How often to you take time to be still and quiet or meditate?
- Can you see the beauty, sweetness, abundance and joy of your life?
- Do you have a clear sense of purpose?
- Can you acknowledge that you have the power to create your life while also acknowledging the larger forces of the divine at play?
- Do you have a ritual or daily practice that helps connect you to your inner wisdom and higher self?

Awareness to which of your chakras are out of balance is key to aligning them. Our bodies are in constant flux between balance and imbalance. Unless you have an apparent problem in one area of the body, imbalances can be difficult to detect. That being said, it’s good to bring awareness to your body and mind and start to learn its signals and clues.

For example, frequent constipation can indicate a blockage in the first chakra, the root chakra. A recurring sore throat leaves clues to a blocked fifth chakra, the throat chakra. Frequent headaches around the area of the forehead may mean your sixth chakra is blocked, the crown chakra.

Yoga asanas, or poses, and meditation are used in Hindu culture and Ayurvedic practices to help open up and release your chakras bringing fluid energy and better health to your overall physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Be mindful and learn that you can have control over your mind, body and spirit and be patient – healing, cleansing and balancing your chakras will take time, but so worth it!

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Discover the 7 chakras and how you can open and balance them to reap limitless positivity in your life.

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