Updated: Mar 29, 2022
Well, firstly, what the heck is a chakra?
There are many different energic points and meridians that run through the body. The seven chakras we are discussing here run along the sushumna nadi which, in the Vedic tradition, is the main energy line of the body.
This energy line runs from the base of the pelvis all the way up through the crown of your head, connecting the grounding energy of the earth with the airy energy of the skies.
Along this energy line, are seven spinning, spherical, energic centers that govern certain emotional and physical responses in the mind and body. These points are the seven chakras.
Each of the chakras of the body are tied to an emotional response in the mind.
It goes without saying that the aim is to keep all of the energy within our bodies balanced, BUT as we all know, staying balanced as we navigate the ups and downs of modern life isn't always easy. And thanks to a plethora of new studies about the body and mind connection, we now better understand that the body acts as a mirror of the inventory of our mind.
So, as we move through our lives, the stresses of different traumas, situations and events, can trigger excesses and blockages in the energies at work in our minds and thus, our bodies.
As you reflect on your own energy at play, you might notice that you have habitual, reoccurring themes or patterns of behavior related to these imbalances. These can be lifelong patterns but they can also shift from day to day, month to month, or year to year depending on what we are experiencing or going through.
Any regular yoga practice will help to regulate these energy fields within our body and our mind, but sometimes we need a little extra calibration and here is where deep meditations coupled with targeted physical poses and postures can be really powerful.
But before we get into a little intuitive self-study practice, lets explain where the chakras are and what each governs:
1 - Root Chakra
Where its located: Base of spine
What it governs: Feelings of safety, security and belonging.
Excessive: an inability to deviate from the familiar; stagnancy or lethargy; hoarding; materialism or overeating.
Deficient: panic episodes; anxiety; feeling scattered or disorganized; or a general feeling of being unsafe.
Balancing Pose: Tree Pose
Balancing Mantra: "I have arrived, I am home"
2 - Sacral Chakra
Where its located: Just below navel
What it governs: Feelings of creativity, sexuality, pleasure and self-expression
Excessive: hypersexuality or sex addiction; clinginess; extreme emotional responses; over-indulging in pleasures
Deficient: an inability to connect to joy; depression; becoming workaholic; lack of passion or excitement.
Balancing Pose: Baddha Konasana
Balancing Mantra: "I am a deep flowing river, shapeless and formless"
3 - Power Chakra
Where its located: Just under center of the ribcage
What it governs: Feelings of drive, taking charge and intentionality
Excessive: being a control freak; being overbearing; having know-it-all tendencies; being hot-headed, superiority complexes; being overly stubborn or set in your ways
Deficient: an inability to take action; inertia; feeling tired all the time; low-self esteem; victim mentality; feeling cold emotionally and/or physically
Balancing Pose: Warrior III
Balancing Mantra: "Who am I and What Do I Want?"
4 - Heart Chakra
Where its located: In your heart space
What it governs: Matters of the heart and emotional attachments.
Excessive: having poor relationship boundaries; a feeling that you have to give endlessly in order to receive love; a feeling of neediness in relationships, feelings of jealousy
Deficient: an inability to make emotional connections; an avoidance of vulnerability or an inability to express emotions; fear of intimacy; being overly critical of others
Balancing Pose: Camel Pose
Balancing Mantra: "I am loving kindness"
5 - Throat Chakra
Where its located: Middle of the throat
What it governs: Matters of communication and authenticity
Excessive: a nervous need to fill silence; commanding attention verbally; oversharing; excessive talking of oneself.
Deficient: an inability to speak up in group settings; an inability to show up authentically; shyness; having a shaking or meek voice; having a difficult time putting thoughts or ideas into words.
Balancing Pose: Shoulder Stand
Balancing Mantra: "I radiate my light into the world authentically"
6 - Third Eye Chakra
Where its located: Between the eyebrows
What it governs: Matters of intuition
Excessive: constant day-dreaming; an inability to keep the mind in the present moment; excessive vivid dreams or nightmares.
Deficient: difficulty visualizing; poor sense of imagination; stifled creativity or an inability to manifest an idea into the physical realm.
Balancing Pose: Crow Pose
Balancing Mantra: "I know the way, I am guided and supported"
7- Crown Chakra
Where its located: Just above the top of the head
What it governs: Connecting to higher wisdom
Excessive: spiritual addiction; an inability to identify with bodily sensations; undereating.
Deficient: difficulty connecting to anything outside the physical realm; deep skepticism toward any higher wisdom regardless of faith; extreme difficulty meditating
Balancing Pose: Headstand
Balancing Mantra: "My body does not define me, I am a piece of something bigger"
I’m sure by now you think you can identify which resonates with you and which you may be experiencing some issues with. (Keep in mind that it might be multiple chakras or even all of them and that’s okay). Its not uncommon for issues in one chakra can influence or create issues in another. Its all connected.
Now that you have familiarized yourself with the chakras, the practice below can help to bring yourself back to balance:
Sit in a quiet space in a comfortable cross-legged position.
Notice your breath. Just notice it. Where is it located?
Continue to breath this way for 4-5 cycles of breath.
Next, deepen your breath slightly, match your inhales to the length of your exhales. Continue this cadence of breath for 4-5 more cycles of breath, taking your inhales down deep into your belly.
Next, take your hand out on front of your body and run it up and down that central energy line of your body, the sushumna nadi about 3-5 inches away from your body slowly. Imagine every time you breath in, you are breathing the airy energy of the stars and sky down into your body and every time you breath out you are drawing the earthy energy through your seat and out towards the top of your head.
Now, as you are running your hands up and down the energy line. Notice where there are sticky spots. Places where your breath seems to stick or doesn’t flow as smoothly as others. Where is it located?
Hover your hands over that spot and focus on breathing in and out until you no longer feel that friction or lessen the severity. As you breathe it may shift, and that’s okay just keep focusing on your breath and try to smooth out the tightness as you breathe.
In tandem with your breath, the use of a mantra can help bring balance to these different energetic points. Here it might be nice to invite in one of the mantras outlined above and repeat it either to yourself or out loud as you continue to breathe.
If you feel called to, try connecting with the balancing mantra above during your meditation as you focus on the areas where you are feeling unbalanced.
I invite you to come back to this practice whenever you’re feeling out of sorts. It won’t make all of your issues go away overnight, but it will help to cultivate self-awareness and give you some clarity surrounding where some behaviors and patterns might be limiting your growth, keeping you stuck in bad relationships, crippled by fear, or repeating any patters of behavior that don't support you. That awareness will help you identify some ways to focus your practice and attention. And that awareness can be the first step towards making a change, however big or small.
Take it slow and remember to be kind to yourself as you navigate. Self-study isn't easy but its always worth it.