The Complete Guide To Chakras
One of the most common questions I receive as a Massage Therapist is, “What are chakras?” Here in the Western world, we do not always approach our health and wellness from a spiritual perspective. It’s a much broader and deeper approach than what we may be used to.
Chakra, which means “wheel” in Sanskrit, represent energy centers located along the spine. These energy centers, in Western thought and anatomically, are actually nerve plexuses in the body. The idea is: if your chakras are balanced, you will enjoy abundant health, happiness, and stability. If a chakra (or chakras) are imbalanced, various mental and physical issues manifest. For example, that anxiety that just doesn’t go away may be related to issues in chakra 1, where we are supposed to be grounded. Or, the chest pain you’ve experienced intermittently could be related to a broken heart, or “the one that got away” affecting your heart chakra. You get the picture.
Ayurvedic wisdom, originating in India, means “Knowledge of Long Life.” How can we increase that knowledge? Do you want just a long life, or a bountiful, healthy, and happy one? Ayurvedic wisdom includes the use of herbs and spices to enhance health. We are drawn to foods, herbs, and spices that help us and help our system come back into balance.
So, how does one balance the chakras? What can lead to better health and wellness? Is it complicated or time consuming? There are many simple rituals you can do to feel better and more balanced, and they are quick and easy! Join me on this journey as we explore the chakras.
Chakra 1: The Root Chakra
Chakra 1, or “Muladhara” in Sanskrit, is the root chakra located at the base of the spine. This area represents our roots, stability, and our foundation — mentally, spiritually, emotionally and most of all physically. It represents all things physical, such as our muscles and bones. In the natural world, it represents rocks, trees and earth. This chakra is associated with shelter and food.
Psychologically, it is representivitive of survival and our fight or flight reaction from the adrenal glands. Adrenal glands can be kept healthy with Ashwagandha, or Indian Ginseng, which has been used for thousands of years for its health benefits.
This chakra is symbolized as a four squared lotus flower, which is a very stable shape and is red in color. Red is a low wavelength color, but also one we are drawn to immediately. It commands our attention. This color is dense and is a perfect example of Earth — anything large, heavy and dense is of the Earth element.
How are your roots? Where is your foundation? Are you feeling grounded and stable? If not, you may need to take time to slow down, sleep, receive a massage, eat a large and nutritious meal, and focus on healing & resting. Remember: there is nothing wrong with doing nothing! Sometimes a recharge is just what we need. Moving constantly is not healthy, and rest and rejuvination are important for us both mentally and physically.
Take time to ground yourself and you will find more balance and harmony in yourself and world around you.
Chakra 2: The Sacral Chakra
Chakra 2, or “Svadhisthana,” is our sacral chakra, which correlates with nourishment. In Ayurveda, this is about experiencing joy through all five senses, as well as cohesive relationships and sexuality.
How were you nourished as a child? What were you taught about human relationships? Were they something that would nourish you and bring your happiness? Or were they something that made you feel starved and desolate?
We must dive into how we nourish ourselves as adults to understand this chakra. Oftentimes when we were younger, we may use a “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” lifestyle as substitutes for any nourishment we did not receive, or are not receiving, in our adult life. At the time, that attitude may seem fun and exciting, but can leave your nourishment chakra feeling hollow and empty. They can also ravage your body and make you sick if you are not careful.
True nourishment comes from fulfilling relationships, healthy food of many varieties and colors, and taking care of yourself appropriately. After a while, most of us recognize the partying lifestyle is fun, but best done in small amounts if at all. We recognize that healthy food, deeper & fulfilling relationships with others, and regular exercise enhances our relationship with ourselves, first and foremost, which is the cornerstone and foundation for moving toward success in life.
Orange is the color of this chakra, and orange foods such as yams, oranges, and carrots can help to keep the nourishment chakra balanced. Walks in nature can also benefit chakra 2, enhancing our enjoyment of all five senses. Remember to find joy in small things, and this can keep your second chakra healthy.
Chakra 3: The Solar Plexus Chakra
Intention and power are the key words for Chakra 3, or “Manipura,” located at the Solar Plexus right below the diaphragm. This is the “fire in the belly” where we set our goals and intentions.
Pay attention to how you use your power. What kind of words do you use? What goals do you set? How do interact with others? We all have the power, but balancing that power with wisdom is key. Look ahead and consider what outcomes might occur with different paths in order to take a deeper dive into your power. You may find a broader understanding of yourself and patterns that you tend to follow. When used properly, your power can lead you down a beneficial path.
There are many ways to balance this “fire” chakra, which is also known as the Pitta element. “Pitta” can be thought of as the balance of two seemingly opposing elemental qualities — fire and water. Together, they are the force that regulates bodily functions such as digestion, metabolism, and the body’s hormones. To help balance Pitta’s hot, sharp, and intense nature, it is best to seek out foods that promote calm and coolness, while avoiding spicy, salty and our foods.
Yellow is the color of this chakra, which represents energy, intellect and also the relationship a person has with fire & sun. Exercising the diaphragm with deep, powerful breaths can help calm and rebalance this chakra, as well as calming your fire by reminding yourself that you are enough and you are what you need.
Chakra 4: The Heart Chakra
Chakra 4, or “Anahata,” is located in the center of the chest and is associated with sympathy, empathy, love and gratitude. When the heart chakra is balanced, one is open to love and forgiveness. This includes forgiving yourself!
Think about your own self talk. What does it sound like? Are you loving and compassionate toward yourself? Can you forgive yourself for past issues? Compassion toward yourself can open you up to more loving relationships with others.
Gratitude and harmony are also valuable in a balanced heart chakra. Look around and think of what makes you feel grateful. Most of us have a roof over our head and plenty to eat. Hopefully we all have meaningful work as well. Instead of saying “I’m sorry,” try saying, “thank you.” This can shift one’s paradigm from that of a martyr to feeling joy and serenity. Also, give yourself time to go in this direction. It doesn’t happen overnight, but feeling more joy, gratitude and harmony in your life is truly possible!
This chakra is associated with the color green. Green represents transformation and love energy and is a very high frequency color. Fun fact: the auric color of a balanced heart chakra can also be seen as pink, hence the common representation of love as a pink heart.
Chakra 5: The Throat Chakra
Chakra 5 is the throat chakra, or “Vishuddha.” This is the center of expression and corresponds to the sense of hearing.
How can one better express themself? Art, music and dance are excellent pathways of creativity. Even if you don’t think are are “good” at any particular art form, this act of creativity and expression can be more important than the result itself. It can be freeing to dance, sing, draw or create something. Remember: that which is not expressed remains repressed!
In Ayurvedic tradition, the thyroid (the organ of the fifth chakra) is related to purification. Expressing oneself appropriately can be important to moving any thoughts and feelings out of our heart and mind that need to free up space. Think about communicating appropriately. What does that mean? We don’t need to be unkind, loud, or rude. Assertiveness includes “I” statements: “I need…I think…I feel…I felt…” which can be effective, non-accusatory tools for effective expression and communication.
Chakra 5 is associated with the color blue, which is associated with pure, soothing, calming and healing energies. Blue is the color we associate with Heaven. Taking a moment as often as possible to lay on the grass on a sunny day and look up at the blue sky can hep promote the peaceful, serene feeling and help balance your throat chakra.
Chakra 6: The Third Eye Chakra
Intuition, or Insight, is the 6th chakra, located between your eyebrows. This is our connection to the past and future. For a moment, think about your connection to the past and what it means. We all have different roots connected to our branches. How has this influenced who you are, your decisions, and how will it influence your future?
Foresight is the ability to recognize how our decisions will turn out, and considering the ramifications thereof. Different outcomes are probable and considering these is a sign of maturity. Also, recognize how your decisions will influence others. Trust your insight, look. inward, and let things go. You may find the outcome is better than you had anticipated.
The Third Eye Chakra is represented by the color purple, which represents wisdom. There is a lot of depth to the color purple, which connects us to time & space, and is similar to the night sky. Night is the perfect time to dive into thinking about our past, and what we look forward to in the future.
Chakra 7: The Crown Chakra
Chakra 7, known as the Crown Chakra or “Sahasrara,” is related to wisdom and bliss. This is that chakra that is the attainment of serenity and unity of spirit.
Unity of spirit means the recognition that we are all one. There truly is no separation between us and others, except that which exists in our mind. We are one human family united in love. When we reach this understanding, bliss and joy will follow more easily and we meet others on a plane of enlightenment, understanding and kindness.
The ego is no longer predominant; rather, the search for wisdom through ancient texts is a key focus when we search for enlightenment. The search does not have to end, as it is the goal. This search, or the goal, shows us our insignificance but also our beauty and power. Remember: Enlightenment leads to purity and joy!
The Crown Chakra is violet in nature, as violet is the highest vibrating color. Violet represents magic, purification, and mystery, which helps explain the goal of enlightenment. The best practice to reach this chakra is through meditation. Begin by repeating, “I am a vessel for love and light,” before letting your mind go still.
Thank you for joining me on this exploration of the seven chakras. I would love to see you in my treatment room for an 80-minute Chakra Balancing Massage, where we work together in targeting the areas that need extra focusing and working your chakra energy centers using a variety of massage techniques.