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Yoga and Chakras: A Guide to Align Your Energy

Hannah Ellison
Yoga and Chakras A Guide to Align Your Energy

Within the yoga tradition, there is a part of the body that you cannot see or touch but actively releases the flow of energy throughout your body.

These are called the chakras.

“Chakra” comes from the Sanskrit word “wheel of light” and refers to the natural, holistic movement of chakras within our physical body and spiritual mind. 

There are seven key points that make up the chakra system and are thought to be vortexes of energy. But when blocked, they can trigger physical, mental or emotional imbalances.

These blockages can manifest in symptoms such as anxiety, lethargy or poor digestion, but can ultimately be addressed and stimulated within our asana practice.

With some coaching, you can tap into the chakras as a way of harnessing and shifting your energy towards the direction you want it to go.

Each chakra is associated with an element in nature and can therefore help us create a blueprint within our bodies to feel more connected to the world around us.

These elements include earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space). 

Air and ether are thought to connect us to something beyond the earthly realm so they are also considered elements of light and cosmic energy.

In order to restore balance within our chakras, we must lean into our intuition and assess how we are feeling in the present moment. Then we can figure out which chakra to stimulate and counteract the respective imbalance.

Muladhara – Root Chakra

Muladhara - Root Chakra
Muladhara – Root Chakra

Element: Earth

Color: Red

Sound: Lam

Located at the base of your spine, the Muladhara Chakra governs family ties and feelings of survival, belonging, and guardedness. Our earliest memories are stored in this chakra including our most basic needs and whether they are met or not. 

When your Muladhara Chakra is blocked, you can feel needy, have low self-esteem, and can engage in self-destructive behaviors.

But when in balance, you will feel strong and confident like you can take care of yourself.

A pose that helps us tap into our Muladhara Chakra is Vrkasana (Tree Pose).

Vrkasana – Tree Pose

Vrkasana - Tree Pose
Vrkasana – Tree Pose

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, creating a stable base on your mat. On your exhale, soften your knees, release your tailbone and engage your thighs.

Draw the sole of your right foot to the inside of your left inner thigh or calf. Drop your tailbone and engage your standing leg’s thigh to maintain a stable alignment.

Press through your left foot as you lift through the crown of your head and hold for 5 breaths before switching sides.

Svadhisthana – Sacral or Pelvic Chakra

Svadhisthana - Sacral or Pelvic Chakra
Svadhisthana – Sacral or Pelvic Chakra

Element: Water

Color: Orange

Sound: Yam

Your sacral chakra is located just below your navel and corresponds with the reproductive and sexual organs. It represents fluidity, creativity and fertility and is strongly linked to our relationships, weight, sexuality, and pleasure. 

This chakra can also regulate our openness to encountering new experiences as it is intimately tied to the health of our sensual self.

Some take a literal interpretation of this chakra while others associate it with whether you feel deserving of a pleasurable, abundant, and creative life.

When your sacral chakra is out of balance, you can feel emotionally unstable, guilty, and hard on yourself. You may feel less enjoyment from food, music, relationships, or sexual pleasures, resulting in sexual dysfunction, obesity, stiffness that radiates throughout the legs and lower back pain.

But when in balance, you will feel creative, positive and receptive to change.

A pose that helps us tap into our sacral chakra is Deviasana (Goddess Pose).

Deviasana – Goddess Pose

Deviasana - Goddess Pose
Deviasana – Goddess Pose

Begin by stepping your feet wide apart and turning your toes out. Sink your hips far enough down to bring each knee over its respective ankle. Place your hands on your thighs and draw your tailbone down as your pubic lifts.

Breathe deeply and move side to side, replicating the water element that guides this chakra. You can also fold down and move your arms side to side if that’s more comfortable.

Hold for 8-10 breaths and enjoy the movement you’re engaging in.

By opening your hips, you are drawing focus to the reproductive organs while the swaying allows you to tap into the ebbs and flows of your body.

Manipura – Navel Chakra

Manipura - Navel Chakra
Manipura – Navel Chakra

Element: Fire
Color: Yellow
Sound: Ram

Located in the upper abdomen, the navel chakra is associated with emotional stability and tied to feelings of balance, self-esteem, willpower, assertiveness, self-respect, self-worth, and personal power.

A blocked navel chakra can make you feel a lack of courage, cause you to have low self-esteem, and feel stagnant and inert. It is also associated with digestive problems and memory failure.

When in balance, your navel chakra can help you feel alive and confident like you can take action and be productive.

Working this chakra awakens your true inner power and works through your fear of taking risks. 

A pose that helps you tap into your navel chakra is Navasana (Boat Pose).

Navasana – Boat Pose

Navasana - Boat Pose
Navasana – Boat Pose

Begin in a seated position with your legs in front of you. Hug your knees into your chest and grab behind your knees to lift your feet off the floor.

Balancing on your sitz bones, lift your chest and draw your shoulders down. Shift your weight forward to the front of your sitz bones and draw your navel in.

Engage your abdominal muscles and exhale while crossing your arms at your chest. Lower your legs until they’re a few inches off the ground and inhale, rising back to Navasana.

Repeat this 5 times and then lower onto your back. This energizing pose ignites your core muscles, cultivating and creating your inner power for transformation.

Anahata – Heart Chakra

Anahata - Heart Chakra
Anahata – Heart Chakra

Element: Air
Color: Green
Sound: Yam

The heart chakra is located in the chest behind the breastbone. It holds the power for unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, and a desire to connect with the divine.

When blocked, you can become possessive and codependent which may result in you forming dysfunctional relationships. You may also stay isolated for fear of rejection, causing you to experience loneliness and depression.

Lift-threatening physical ailments associated with a blocked heart chakra include respiratory and circulatory diseases.

But when in balance, you can heal past wounds by reopening your heart, learn to love unconditionally, and form healthy relationships. 

A pose that helps us tap into our heart chakra is Ustrasana (Camel Pose).

Ustrasana – Camel Pose

Ustrasana - Camel Pose
Ustrasana – Camel Pose

Come to your knees and sit back on your heels, joining your hands at your heart’s center. Tuck your toes and rise to bring your hips over your knees, making sure that your knees are hip-width apart.

Place the palms of your hands on your lower back with fingers pointing up. Gently draw your sacrum down as your front hip bones begin to lift.

Keep your chin in towards your chest and start to lean back. Hug your shoulder blades towards each other and stay here while breathing. You can also reach for your heels with your hands if you want to deepen this posture.

Your head is the last thing to release if you feel comfortable. After a few breaths, bring your bands back to your sacrum and sit on your heels, returning your hands to a prayer position.

This pose opens your heart center, so before getting into position, consider dedicating this posture to someone you feel compassion for as an added layer of connection.

Vishuddha – Throat Chakra

Vishuddha - Throat Chakra
Vishuddha – Throat Chakra

Element: Ether

Color: Blue

Sound: Ham

The throat chakra is appropriately located in the throat and, when blocked, can make you feel like you can’t find your voice or truth. This can lead to shyness, lying, deceit, bragging, and lack of creative self-expression.

Alternatively, you might be overly talkative and unable to listen to others. Health problems associated with a blocked throat chakra include dental pain or mouth sores.

When your throat chakra is open and stimulated, your voice is able to move through space freely to help you communicate your emotions in a healthy way. 

You may also become better at listening to others and honoring their personal truths without judgment.

A pose that helps us tap into our throat chakra is Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand).

Salamba Sarvangasana – Supported Shoulderstand

Salamba Sarvangasana - Supported Shoulderstand
Salamba Sarvangasana – Supported Shoulderstand

Start by lying down on your back with your shoulders supported by a blanket and your head on the floor. Bend your knees and rock your hips up, lifting your legs overhead.

Release your toes toward the floor beyond the crown of your hand and place your hands on your mid back. Lift one leg at a time and allow your gaze to drop towards your heart as you listen to the sound of your breath.

You can hold this pose for up to 2 minutes. To release, lower yourself vertebrae by vertebrae and free your neck and spine. Your senses will have turned towards your breath, allowing you to connect with your own inner rhythm.

Anja – Third-Eye Chakra

Anja - Third-Eye Chakra
Anja – Third-Eye Chakra

Element: Light

Color: Indigo

Sound: OM

Located in between your eyes, the third-eye chakra is associated with your intuition, or sixth sense, and governs the rest of your chakra functions. It is also associated with imagination and your capacity to make wise decisions. 

When blocked, your mind can feel closed, too attached to logic, untrusting and cynical of the world around you.

But when functioning well, your third-eye chakra releases your intuition and trusts your inner wisdom to face challenges and choices.

The third-eye chakra ultimately opens up your mind to the bigger picture and to different perspectives, helping you to receive wisdom that cannot be seen or heard by your other ordinary senses.

A pose that helps us tap into our third-eye chakra is Sukhasana (Easy Pose).

Sukhasana – Easy Pose

Sukhasana - Easy Pose
Sukhasana – Easy Pose

Come to a seated position and fold one heel in toward your groin, then the other. If your knees are not lower than your hips, sit on a folded blanket for more support.

Cup your palms toward each other, touching opposite fingertips in Hakini Mudra. Close your eyes and focus on the sound of your breath, placing the tip of your tongue at the roof of your mouth as you inhale and relaxing it as your exhale.

Release the backs of your hands to your knees and stay here for up to 5 minutes. Hakini Mudra and Easy Pose increase your power of concentration and can access a calm focus to cultivate within you.

Sahasrara – Crown Chakra

Sahasrara - Crown Chakra
Sahasrara – Crown Chakra

Element: Cosmic Energy

Color: Violet or White

Sound: OM

Located just above your head, the crown chakra connects to beauty itself and the spiritual realm. It helps you understand who you are beyond your physical self and acknowledges that you are a spiritual being having a human experience. 

When blocked, you can think that happiness only comes from the outside, causing you to suffer. You may feel cut off from the universe, feeling spiritually untethered, and can experience migraine headaches, nerve pain, insomnia, depression, and periods of mental dissociation.

Stimulating this chakra helps you feel free in any situation and connects you to a higher place of being within and beyond yourself.

A pose that helps us tap into our crown chakra is Savasana (Corpse Pose).

Savasana – Corpse Pose

Savasana - Corpse Pose
Savasana – Corpse Pose

Lie down on your back and make sure that you’re warm and comfortable. Open your legs hip-width apart and release your arms to the sides of your body with palms facing up.

Take a deep breath and squeeze every part of the body, lifting your head, arms, and legs off of the floor. Hold this position for a moment and then release with a big exhale out of your mouth. Repeat a couple of times until you are completely relaxed.

You can stay in this pose for 5-20 minutes. To release, slowly bring awareness back to your breath and move your fingers and toes to reconnect with your physical body.

These poses can help stimulate each chakra and release your inner power that may be blocked. But if you’re still having trouble connecting to these energies, try the following tips to access your chakras and their flows.

How to Balance and Align Chakras

How to Balance and Align Chakras
How to Balance and Align Chakras

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy approaches the healing process through the sense of smell and can reinvigorate the mind, body, and spirit. Essential oils are a great way to make you feel uplifted, serene, focused, relaxed, and more depending on which oils you combine.

Meditation

Meditation helps to focus your mental energy and rest your physical body in a calm and quiet space. Chakra meditation may reveal deep insights about your inner world and allow you to relax and receive beneficial energy healing.

Positive Thinking

Related to positive affirmation, positive thinking helps you attune your thoughts to your own wellbeing. It helps you open yourself up to new possibilities and unblock any chakras that might be causing you discomfort.

Color Therapy

Since each chakra is associated with a different color, you can access and open up your chakras based on what colors you need more of in your life. For example, if your heart chakra is blocked, try adding more plants to your environment to stimulate healthy chakra healing.

Reiki Healing

Reiki healing is a form of energy movement that usually seeks the help of another person to restore the energy flow within the human body. This healing activity gives your chakras a boost and helps to stimulate your immune system, circulatory system, nervous system, and limbic system.

Auras

Aural cleansing is a way of refreshing your aura or energy shape, helping you shed any negative energy that has been absorbed from your environment. Its practice focuses on replacing that negative energy with your own fresh and glowing personal power.

Final Tips for Aligning Your Chakras

Understanding the chakra system is integral to your yoga practice as you navigate the various parts of your body that need stimulating and strengthening.

By tapping into our natural energy streams that exist throughout the body, we can identify spots of weakness and develop a greater understanding of where our power comes from within.

This guide is meant to act as a tool to help you along your journey, but will ultimately depend on how you choose to live your practice. Whether that be through aromatherapy, color therapy or any of the suggestions listed above, your newfound knowledge can help you direct your energy where you want it to go.

Appreciate your journey as a spiritual being having a human experience and relish in the energies that you can cultivate and harness within yourself and the world around you.

Namaste.

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