Have you ever stepped onto the mat feeling frenzied or worried and after the practice walked off feeling a little lighter? Biologically speaking, you will have mustered up some endorphins to improve your mood (since it feels pretty good to move your body) however, ancient yogis and many teachers would reason this to how yoga and breathwork can unblock channels and pent up energy, allowing it to flow freely.
Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means ‘wheel’, and it refers to the areas in the subtle body where energy flows. The main seven chakras are: root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown. For ease, imagine that they travel from your coccyx (the root) up the spine to the top of your head (the crown). They are a complex network of energetic channels, each relating to a different element (earth, water, air) and each associated with their own colour.
The reality is that most classes flow through the chakras (if planned well). When we practice, we move in such a way to collect prana (energy, life-force) to enliven the chakras and to stabilise the mind so that they can come forward or open up. I know at first it can all seem a little far fetched but I now understand them as second nature which can really aid my self practice. So lets go through them…
Root Chakra - Muladhara
Located at your perineum or coccyx, it represents being grounded, safe and having survival needs met. Associated with the colour red and the element is relates to is earth. If it is out of balance and your basic needs are not met, you tend to have self destructive behaviours with low self esteem. But if it is balanced, you will feel confident, secure and safe.
Sacral Chakra - Svadisthana
Located at your sacrum, it represents pleasure, fluidity, creativity, fertility and sexuality. Associated with the colour orange and the element it relates to is water. Out of balance you might be hard on yourself and feel guilty, but in balance you should feel deserving of living an abundant pleasurable life.
Solar Plexus Chakra - Manipura
Located by the belly button, it represents will power, that ‘gut feeling’, strength and assertion. Associated with the colour yellow and the element it relates to is fire. In balance you have self esteem and confidence and unbalanced you lack courage and become inert.
Heart Chakra - Anahata
Located at your heart, it of course represents love, unconditional love, compassion and intuition. Associated with the colour green and the element it relates to is air. When it is balanced you will be able to forgive, to love unconditionally and when it is closed you may have dysfunctional relationships and you may become possessive or codependent.
Throat Chakra - Vishuddha
Located at your throat, it represents communication, truth and reliability. Associated with the colour blue and the element it relates to is ether. In balance, you will be able to communicate with patience, no judgement and truth. If blocked, you may think your voice is the only truth and you may struggle to communicate and listen to others.
Third Eye Chakra - Ajna
Located in between your eyebrows or in your brain, it represents wisdom, imagination, intuition and the ability to analyse truth in the world. Associated with the colour indigo and the element it relates to is light. In balance you can trust your inner wisdom with life’s challenges, but unbalanced you are cynical and close minded.
Crown Chakra - Sahasrara
The final chakra doesn’t really have a place on the human body, but it is located just above your head. It represents a higher consciousness than yourself, helping you understand that you are far beyond the physical self. Associated with the colour indigo or white and the element it relates to is cosmic energy. When the chakra is closed, you believe that happiness comes from the outside but balanced you feel free and are able to find happiness within.
I hope that didn’t confuse you too much but gave you a general understanding of the chakras so you might be able to think if perhaps they need rebalancing or some time given to certain areas of body.
Please come to yoga with me in Tunbridge Wells to get a deeper understanding of them within your asana practice. Here is my timetable and for the next seven weeks we will be moving through a chakra based practice, focusing on one each week, beginning with Muladhara, the root chakra.