You’re probably one or the other – either you know a couple of things about chakras and have heard of people using ‘crystal therapy’, or you’re at the other end of the spectrum and have no idea what on earth those people at that one yoga class you took were on about (… “chakra?”)
With meditation and mindfulness work becoming ever-more popular thanks to their positive effects on modern-day wellbeing issues like stress, many are diving deeper into the holistic and spiritual world in order to help them understand how to deal with their physical, emotional, and mental issues.
In recent decades, many scientific studies, for example from institutions like the American Heart Association, have been sharing research and insight into the benefits of practicing meditation on our physical health (an adjunct treatment for coronary disease and its prevention) (1). Meanwhile, many other sources of research, such as those looking into cognitive decline and diseases like Alzheimer’s (2), found that learning to pay attention to our current experiences and accept them without judgment might indeed help us to be happier and affects many aspects of our psychological wellbeing – improving our memory and mood, increasing positive emotions, and decreasing our anxiety, emotional reactivity, and even job burnout. Also, several other studies show research on meditation and mindfulness improving the immune system (3), having a positive effect on our telomere cells and our aging process (4), and even personal issues like emotional eating (5).
If you’re interested in focusing on holistic healing for a change as a method of therapy, that’s where understanding chakras comes in.
Chakra healing: Unblock negative energy
Chakras are energy centres situated within the body that channel universal life force, or ‘Prana’. In Sanskrit, chakra means ‘wheel’ and often these energy centres are depicted as seven spinning coloured wheels running centrally and vertically from the base of our spine up to the crown of our head.
We need energy to flow freely through these centres and continuously work to unblock our chakras to help us maintain an open and smooth flowing channel of energy throughout our body, mind, and spirit – as well as help us prevent any illness physically, emotionally, or mentally.
If one or more of the chakras are blocked, sluggish, or even spinning too fast, then it will affect our physical and emotional state as each of the seven chakras is associated with various body parts and glandular systems.
What are the benefits of chakra balancing?
Chakra balancing is important to our overall wellbeing and healing. We might not all realise it, but many believe that we are all here, on this planet, on some kind of healing journey. “When they are balanced, we experience a deeper connection to ourselves and to our inner guidance. Our chakras are crucial to the raising of our vibration. I like to think of them as the spiritual anatomy, and when we look after that anatomy we are able to express more aspects of our true self and soul.” Kyle Gray, International bestselling author, and meditation teacher (6).
The 7 chakras and their meanings
The body has 7 chakras and those are what are discussed widely in the world of holistic healing. However if you’re interested in doing some extra reading, you can find information on the 12 chakra system – where the 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th chakras are generally represented above the head, while the 10th chakra is slightly underground. Let’s take a look at the 7 chakras, their meanings, their colours, what body part they associate with and how working with them can help you:
1. Root chakra (Muladhara in Sanskrit, meaning ‘Root support’)
• Colour: Red
• Location: At the base of the spine
• Endocrine system: Related to the adrenal glands
• Body parts related: Legs, feet, bones, base of spine and large intestine
Related to our connection to the earth and all of our physical needs, the root chakra encompasses basic human survival – it’s all about being grounded. Mastering the root chakra helps us grasp the importance of a fit, healthy body as we travel upward through higher and higher levels of consciousness.
When this chakra is working well we have good physical health, are grounded, stable, and secure. When it’s not working well we might experience mental lethargy, feel unfocused, and may have difficulty achieving goals.
If the chakra is ‘too open’ we might be materialistic, self-centred, fool-hardy, or a bully. On the other hand, if it’s blocked, we may feel needy, have low self-esteem, be self-destructive, and feel full of fear.
On a physical level, if our root chakra is depleted we can have lower-back issues. On a personal level, our finances can crumble before our eyes.
2. Sacral chakra (Svadhisthana in Sanskrit, meaning ‘One's own place’ or ‘Sweetness’)
• Colour: Orange
• Location: Lower abdomen, between the navel and genitals
• Endocrine system: Related to the ovaries and testicles
• Body parts related: Genitals, lower abdomen, hips, sacrum, sexual organs, inner thighs, knees, and joints
This chakra governs the reproductive system and the ability to bring life. It’s concerned with what makes life sweet – pleasure, sexuality, nurture, movement, and change. This energy wheel leads us from basic existence (in the root chakra) to help us embrace what makes life worth living.
When this chakra is working well we can find pleasure in life’s activities, generate enthusiasm, and have energy to take on even more creative projects. When it’s not working well we might have an unbalanced sex drive, have feelings of instability, and feel isolated.
If the chakra is ‘too open’ we might feel emotionally unbalanced and/or be a fantasist, be manipulative, or feel sexually addictive. On the other hand, if it’s blocked, we may feel over-sensitive, be hard on ourselves, feel guilty for no reason, feel frigidity, or have issues with impotence.
3. Solar plexus chakra (Manipura in Sanskrit, meaning ‘Lustrous gem’)
• Colour: Yellow
• Location: Found under the ribs, between the navel and base of the sternum
• Endocrine system: Related to the pancreas
• Body parts related: Digestive system and organs, ribs, and adrenal glands
The solar plexus centre is the power centre of the whole body. It governs our willpower and our ability to achieve in life. This chakra has everything to do with the tummy, how we process food, and also how we process experiences in life. It’s the hub within us that ignites our intuition and what we know as our ‘gut feelings’. Your solar plexus allows you to access solar power from within so that you can create a sense of movement, excitement, and ease in your life.
When this chakra is working well we feel respect for ourselves and for others, and as we maintain the balance of this chakra we allow our spiritual energy to move to a higher frequency and are able to receive divine guidance and creative surges in a way that feels approachable and inspired. When it’s not working well we might feel a need to be in control, be oversensitive to criticism, have an addictive personality, feel aggressive, and have low self-esteem.
If the chakra is 'too open’ we might feel angry, controlling, judgmental, superior, and be a workaholic. On the other hand, if it’s blocked, we may feel too concerned with what others think, are fearful of being alone, feel insecure, and/or need constant reassurance.
4. Heart chakra (Anahata in Sanskrit, meaning ‘Unstuck’)
• Colour: Green
• Location: Centre of chest
• Endocrine system: Related to thymus
• Body parts related: Chest, lungs, diaphragm, shoulder blades, ribs, heart, and respiratory system
This chakra is concerned with forgiveness and compassion, and not just the ability to give love, but to receive it as well. When we work with the heart chakra it helps us to enhance our emotional development and recognise the potency of that powerful energy LOVE, whilst teaching us self-acceptance and the power of the self.
When this chakra is working well we are compassionate and nurturing and we love unconditionally. When it’s not working well we might feel melancholy, feel co-dependent, and have fears concerning loneliness, commitment, or betrayal.
If the chakra is ‘too open’ we might be possessive, love conditionally, withhold emotion ‘to punish’ another, and/or be overly dramatic. On the other hand, if it’s blocked, we may fear rejection, love too much, feel unworthy to receive love, and be self-pitying.
5. Throat chakra (Vishuddha in Sanskrit, meaning ‘Purification’)
• Colour: Blue
• Location: At the base of the neck
• Endocrine system: Related to the thyroid gland
• Body parts related: Shoulders, neck, throat, tongue, mouth, and ears
This chakra is all about communication – not just what we say, but also what we hear. The throat chakra allows us to access our truth in order to experience a life that is filled with integrity. It also relates to our emotional self and how we express our emotions, how much we hold in, and how honest we are both with others and ourselves.
When this chakra is working well thought and speech slow down, communication is more considered, we find it easier to meditate, and feel artistically inspired. When it’s not working well we might experience perfectionism, an inability to express emotions, difficulty achieving goals, blocked creativity and feel incapable of stillness.
If the chakra is ‘too open’ we might be over-talkative, dogmatic, self-righteous, and/or arrogant. On the other hand, if it’s blocked, we may hold back from self-expression, be unreliable, and hold inconsistent views.
6. Third eye chakra (Ajna in Sanskrit, meaning ‘To perceive’ or ‘To know’)
• Colour: Indigo
• Location: Above and in between the eyebrows
• Endocrine system: Related to the pituitary gland
• Body parts related: Eyes, forehead, pineal gland, and base of the skull
This chakra is all about intuition and wisdom – the ability to see other than just with the eyes. It governs how we see the world and how we process all that we experience.
When this chakra is working well we are charismatic, highly intuitive, not attached to material things, and may experience unusual phenomena. When it’s not working well we can experience nightmares, learning difficulties, and/or hallucinations.
If the chakra is ‘too open’ we might be highly logical, dogmatic, authoritarian, and/or arrogant. On the other hand, if it’s blocked, we may feel undisciplined, fear success, and set our sights too low.
7. Crown chakra (Sahasrara in Sanskrit, meaning ‘1,000-petalled’)
• Colour: Pure white, gold, violet
• Location: Above and on top of the crown of the head
• Endocrine system: Related to the pineal gland
• Body parts related: Head, brain, upper skull, cerebral cortex, skin, and nervous system
The seventh chakra is is all about spirituality and selflessness and our goal of reaching expanded consciousness. The more time we spend in deep meditation and spiritual study, accepting who we are, the more the 1,000 lotus petals open up for us.
When this chakra is working well we have a magnetic personality, are transcendent, feel at peace with our self, and can achieve miracles in life. When it’s not working well we can experience depression, obsessional thinking, and/or confusion.
If the chakra is ‘too open’ we might experience depression, confusion, lack of sexual expression, and/or feel a frustrated sense of unrealised power. On the other hand, if it’s blocked, we may feel constantly exhausted, be unable to make decisions, and/or have no sense of belonging.
How to balance chakras for beginners
We can work to release and open each chakra so that they function at their optimal capacity – how? Simply, by using the abundance of everyday tools that surround us. For example, yoga, meditation, visualisation exercises, pranayama (breathing techniques), sound and gong baths, chanting and mantras, healing crystals, and last but not least, reiki or energy healing can all help this purpose.
In fact, one of the most powerful and popular ways to work on the chakras is through reiki healing. The spiritual healing art of reiki works by having a qualified reiki practitioner or master typically place their hands on or hovering over the affected areas of the body that need a boost, offering light energy so that your body takes it in where most needed.
Another popular and inexpensive way you can balance your own chakras is by practicing yoga at home. Specific yoga postures can help to access and balance the subtle energies of individual chakras by releasing any physical or mental tension that is contributing to the chakras not functioning properly. For example, if you tend to hold emotional anxiety in and around your head, you can try child’s pose which helps to release tension in the back, neck, shoulders, and hips – the most common areas where anxiety is held in the body.
How to unblock chakras with crystals and aromatherapy
Healing crystals and aromatherapy are really lovely assisting tools to help open up the chakras. Firstly, essential oils can assist in vibrational healing as they contain the ‘Universal Life Force’ or energy of a specific plant, which is then said to interact with our own Prana energy to stimulate, subdue, or balance the chakras. You can either use a diffuser at home to fill the air around you or rub a few drops of the essential oil you desire onto the relevant chakra.
To unlock the vibrational healing potential of the crystals, you place them on or near the relevant chakra and focus your mental energy there. Crystals are compatible tools to harmonize and balance the chakras as they can oscillate to a natural healing frequency that’s activated by the power of the mind using meditation and visualisation.
If you want to give it a try at home, here’s a list of essential oils and healing crystals that resonate and are associated with each chakra:
1. Root chakra
• Essential oils: Patchouli, lavender, musk, myrrh, and cedarwood
• Crystals: Hematite, agate, bloodstone, tiger’s eye, garnet, ruby, onyx, rose quartz, and smoky quartz
2. Sacral chakra
• Essential oils: Rose, jasmine, and sandalwood
• Crystals: Citrine, carnelian, and golden topaz
3. Solar plexus chakra
• Essential oils: Vetivert, rose, bergamot, ylang ylang, and cinnamon
• Crystals: Yellow citrine, topaz, aventurine quartz, and sunstone
4. Heart chakra
• Essential oils: Rose, bergamot, and melissa
• Crystals: Rose quartz, emerald, jade, azurite, malachite, moonstone, aventurine quartz, green calcite, and watermelon tourmaline
5. Throat chakra
• Essential oils: Basil, bergamot, chamomile, cypress, peppermint, spearmint, and myrrh
• Crystals: Amazonite, lapis lazuli, turquoise, aquamarine, agate, sodalite, sapphire, and celestite
6. Third eye chakra
• Essential oils: Hyacinth, violet, and rose geranium
• Crystals: Amethyst, azurite, calcite, sapphire, fluorite, lapis lazuli, and purple apatite
7. Crown chakra
• Essential oils: Lavender, frankincense, and rosewood
• Crystals: Clear quartz, amethyst, diamond, white jade, white turmaline, snowy quartz, and herkimer diamond
6. Kyle Gray: ‘Raise Your Vibration: 111 Practices to Increase Your Spiritual Connection'
7. Liz Simpson: ‘The Book of Chakra Healing’