And the Wheel turns,
And the Wheel turns,
And we are all bound to the Wheel.
~ Paul Edwin Zimmer
A chakra is a “wheel,” an energy center in the body. Nadis are the ethereal tubes that allow prana to move through the body, just as blood moves through blood vessels.
Chakras are located at points where nadis intersect; there are said to be 72,000 nadis throughout the body and thousands of chakras.
Both the upward current and downward current of energy must be open and flowing for us to be optimally healthy and whole. Anothea Judith writes in her classic guidebook, The Wheel of Life, “The liberating current brings us excitement, energy, and novelty, while the descending current brings peace, grace and stability.”
There are seven major chakras in tantric yoga philosophy. Here is a quick guide to each of these seven sacred energy centers; may it be of benefit.
If you are a beginner (and aren’t we all?), please be sure to practice yoga mindfully and with the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Location: Root/base of the spine
Sanskrit: Muladhara/”root support”
Issues: stability, survival, unity, identity, ego, birth, death
Associated with: legs, feet, bones, adrenal gland, large intestine, teeth, spinal column
Governs: perception of the physical world; motivation and intent, birth, work, money, eating, digestion
Malfunction: weight problems, eating disorders, constipation, sciatica, arthritis, knee problems
Music: tribal drums; root chakra playlist
Affirmations: I am Earth. I am here. I am solid. I am alive. I am beginning anew.
Yoga poses: mountain, squat, standing forward bend, garland, child’s
Connect with: Mother Earth/pacha mama, the soles of the feet, root lock/mula bandha
Pranayama: Ujjayi breath
Practice: Hatha yoga, yin yoga
Meditation: breath awareness
Location: Sacrum/center of pelvis
Issues: duality, choice, desire, emotions, sexuality
Associated with: the liquid part of the body, circulatory and urinary systems
Governs: feelings of creativity; the intimacy and vulnerability of sexual attraction; the ability to produce and nurture our own children
Malfunction: impotence, frigidity, uterine/bladder/kidney problems, lower back pain
Music: jazz; sacral chakra playlist
Affirmations: I am change. I am growth. I am desirable. I am dynamic. I am flowing with grace.
Poses: Warrior 1, Warrior 2, lizard, pigeon, hanumanasana (“the splits”)
Connect with: the hips
Pranayama: Alternate Nostril Breathing
Practice: Tantra yoga, vinyasa flows
Meditation: meditation on sensation
Location: Solar plexus/navel
Sanskrit: Manipura/”Lustrous gem”
Issues: power, will, strength, courage, effort
Associated with: adrenal glands, pancreas, liver, stomach, nervous system; regulation and distribution of metabolic energy
Governs: emotional issues, personal power, self-respect, courage, healthy humility; learning the power of grace
Malfunction: ulcers, diabetes, digestive disorders, muscular problems
Music: rock; solar plexus playlist
Affirmations: I am powerful. I am fierce. I am capable. I am energetic. I can change my life.
Poses: single leg lifts, double leg lifts, boat, eagle, plank
Connect with: the core, abdominal lock/ uddiyana bandha
Pranayama: breath of fire
Practice: karma yoga
Meditation: meditation on emotion
Location: Heart/center of chest
Sanskrit: Anahata/”unstruck sound”
Issues: love, friendship, kindness, forgiveness, devotion, generosity
Associated with: thymus gland, lungs, hands, heart, blood; immune and endocrine systems.
Governs: love, compassion, unconditional acceptance
Malfunction: high blood pressure, respiratory problems, heart and lung problems, feeling heartbroken
Music: classical, heart chakra playlist
Affirmations: I am fresh. I am clean. I am unstruck. I am unstuck. I am loving. I am loved.
Poses: standing back bend, camel, reverse warrior, triangle, bridge, wheel
Connect with: the heart, the breath, the wind, maitri
Pranayama: full yogic breath
Practice: Bhakti yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga
Meditation: forgiveness, Metta/loving kindness
Location: Throat/center of neck
Sanskrit: Vissudha/”With purity”
Color: turquoise/sky blue
Element: sound, ether
Issues: communication, expression, creativity, speech, listening
Associated with: thyroid and parathyroid glands, lungs, vocal cords, shoulders, neck, arms, hands
Governs: expression of thoughts and feelings, finding our own truth and relearning the ability to express ourselves
Malfunction: colds, thyroid problems, ear/hearing problems, sore throats, speech problems
Music: World, throat chakra playlist
Affirmations: I am open. I am honest. I am expressive. I am empowered.
Poses: camel, shoulder stand, fish, neck rolls, cobra
Connect with: the throat, throat lock/Jalandhara bandha
Pranayama: bumblebee breath
Practice: chanting, Mantra yoga
Location: third eye/between, slightly above and behind eyebrows
Sanskrit: Ajna/”Wisdom center”; perception and command
Color: indigo/midnight blue
Issues: intuition, insight, intellect, imagination
Associated with: pineal gland; visual input from our two physical eyes and our “third eye” of psychic perception
Governs: spirituality and the search for meaning in life, visualization, inner awareness and witness consciousness
Malfunction: blindness, headaches, nightmares, eye strain, blurred vision
Music: soul, third eye playlist
Affirmations: I am looking. I am seeing. I am noticing. I am intuitive. I connect with my inner wisdom.
Poses: child’s, cobbler’s, savasana, locust, bow
Connect with: the forehead, the present moment, the inner self
Pranayama: kapalabhati breathing
Practice: Yantra yoga
Meditation: Vipassana/insight meditation
Location: crown/top of head
Color: violet or white
Issues: divinity, wisdom, connectivity, inner peace, enlightenment
Associated with: pituitary gland
Governs: our connection to the divine, the universe, God, our Buddha Nature, a higher intelligence; living our Truth; willingness to surrender
Malfunction: depression, alienation, confusion, boredom, apathy, feeling disconnected or disjointed
Music: the sound of silence
Affirmations: I am. I am here, now. I am Buddha. I am the church.
Poses: headstand, rabbit, downward dog, easy pose, half-lotus, lotus
Connect with: the top of the head, the sky, the universe
Pranayama: ocean breath
Practice: Raja and jnana yoga
Meditations: Zazen, pure awareness, mindfulness
Bonus: learn about the little-known knee chakra.
More ways to open your heart:
Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus
Editor: Catherine Monkman