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Chakra Yoga for Beginners
We are a circle within a circle… with no beginning and never ending! 
– Anodea Judith, Wheels of Life.

Chakra Yoga for Beginners

You have many chakras (intersection of energy lines) in your body. As yogis, we focus on the seven that traverse the main energy channel known as Sushumna. 

The chakras are a part of the subtle body and are a gateway to better health and longevity.

Chakra means ‘spinning wheel’ and represents an energy center where our subtle, Pranic body converges with the physical body.

Understanding the unique elements, themes, and organs associated with each chakra helps you better align and assimilate imbalances at each energy center. 

This post examines each chakra and the movement, mindfulness practices, and alternative health techniques to work with the energy of each of the seven energy points. 

Keep reading to embody the themes for each chakra through the Chakra Yoga Collection on Practice with Clara, podcast interviews, and blog posts!

Your Guide to the Seven Chakras

You have seven main chakras located along your body’s primary energy channel, the spine, that provide symbolic insight. Your physical body directly manifests the subtle energy body—the inner body we cannot see, but it’s where we process information and create subconscious patterns. 

Bringing unconscious patterns into focus is how you heal your mind and body from past traumas. Your habits, belief systems, motivations, and the root of your emotions all reside in your body. What you outwardly express, consciously or not, is a direct reflection of something seeded deep inside of you. 

The chakras provide a framework for perceiving your inner world and relating to life’s events through symbols and themes.

Giving a narrative to the hidden inner layer of our being may allow you to free yourself of negative patterns, identify emotional blockages, and clarify your direction in life.

This is your guide to the chakras, the subtle layer of your body where you digest the outer world and manifest what you desire.  

Definition of Chakra

Chakra translates as ‘wheel’ or ‘disk’ and represents an energy center or vortex where every interaction is drawn, processed, and expressed. Every thought and felt sensation is channelled through and by the chakras.

Anodea Judith describes the chakras as “an organizational center for the reception, assimilation, and transmission of life’s energy.” 

The earliest mention of the chakras comes from the Vedas, a book of hymns containing the oldest written traditions of India. The chakras also appear in The Upanishads and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. 

On a symbolic level, the chakras relate to the subconscious patterns and processes of our mental and physical programming. On a physiological level, the chakras relate to nerve ganglia, glands, and the endocrine system. 

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History of the Chakras

According to the Tantrikas, the divine feminine energy known as Kundalini sits at the base of the spine, waiting to be awakened.

The Shaiva Tantra believe that to be fully awakened, you must activate the Kundalini energy and draw it up the spine to the crown of the head to raise your consciousness and connect to the cosmic vibration, aka, the collective unconscious. 

The Tantric Yoga tradition is where we source knowledge of Kundalini Yoga and the chakras — it came to fruition in response to the dualistic nature of the Eightfold Path of Yoga from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The Tantrikas support being with the world rather than being separate from it. Living through direct experience and savouring each of the senses is largely endorsed by Tantra Yoga and embodying all of life’s experiences—including the harsh and ugly. In Tantric practices, the divine lives within, and liberation is attainable in the world you live in simply by practicing yoga, awakening Kundalini, and worshipping deities. 

Tantra means “loom” and brings us into the idea of wholeness, embodiment, and yolking the polarizing aspects of existence such as the masculine/feminine, light/dark, divine/human, mind/body, matter/spirit, and so forth. 

Your human form is comprised of the physical body you perceive and the subtle body—the energy body—you cannot see, touch, taste, hear, or smell. 

The subtle body is composed of nadis, the energy channels that direct the flow of Prana (life force) through the body. You have over 72,000 nadis in your body and hundreds of chakras where nadis intersect. The main seven energy points are the chakras, which are located along the spine. 

Sushumna is the body’s central energy channel along the spinal column. Running alongside Sushumna are Ida and Pingala, the two nadis that balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Pingala represents solar energy, masculine, extroverted, bright, left hemisphere. Ida represents lunar energy, feminine, introverted, dark, right hemisphere. 

Yoga is one method to invigorate the Kundalini energy and draw it up from the root at the pelvis with movement, mantra, and pranayama. When you control Kundalini energy, you connect to the body’s main three energy channels—Sushumna, Ida, and Pingala. 

To draw the Kundalini energy up to the crown where you connect to the global consciousness and enlightenment, the energy must first move through the seven chakras located along the spinal column from the perineum to the top of the head. 

Chakra Yoga for Beginners Playlist

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Working with the Energy of the Chakras

When the chakras are all open, the energy flows freely, and we are free from bondage, blockages, and imbalances. Bringing your awareness to the symbols and themes of each of the seven main chakras provides deeper insight into your psycho-emotional states, physical injuries, and behaviours.

According to Anodea Judith, the chakras are similar to astrology in that they reflect your tendencies—personal and collective—and are absolutely changeable. By repeating specific movements, words, and thoughts, you create habits that directly influence the word within and all around you. Habits largely inform the content of each chakra—the habits you are aware of, patterns you’re unaware of, and the conditioning by your parents, society, and ancient communities. 

When you are stuck, aka blocked or imbalanced, in a particular chakra, you will observe repeated actions and feel trapped in a storyline that keeps you at a certain level of awareness. The chakras are associated with the seven layers of consciousness. The layers are reflected in the physical and metaphysical bodies through deeds, words, thoughts, and relationships with self and your environment.

Yoga is a way to clear the stagnant energy by observing the themes and blockages of each chakra and then creating a practice to clear and move the energy. 

Embody the Power of the Chakras

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The Chakra Yoga Series starts December 1st—add your email to join the monthly yoga series to develop your yoga asana and learn about Indian Philosophy.
    What You Receive with the Chakra Series Daily Email: 
    • Daily yoga + meditation classes themed for the chakras.
      • Unlock energetic blocks at each chakra with movement, meditation, and mindfulness practices.
      • Learn the themes for each of the chakras to work with emotional, physical, and energetic imbalances
    • Journaling prompts and homework for reflection based on each of the seven chakras.
    • Podcast interviews to inspire your learning.
    • Book recommendations and further reading resources.
    • Weekly tips to stay motivated in your yoga practice.
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    Chakra Yoga for Beginners

    Themes and Practices for the Seven Chakras

    The information presented on the chakras is based on the Wheels of Life of Anodea Judith—it’s with deep gratitude we share her research and wisdom.

    1st Chakra | Muladhara 

    The root chakra, Muladhara, connects us to our inner stability and grounding. When we’re balanced in this chakra, we feel connected to the earth, those around us, and ourselves. When we feel out of balance in this chakra, we may feel overwhelmed, agitated, disconnected, and over-excited.

    Seeking activities that are slower and closer to the ground and eating dense and heavy foods may quell anxieties that arise. Especially as we shift into the heat of summer and months marked by activities outside, creating rituals and practices with a grounding effect may help bring the energy downwards so we don’t overexert ourselves and burn out. 

    Meaning: Root support

    Location: Base of the spine, perineum

    Element: Earth

    Bija Seed Mantra: Lam

    Function: Survival, grounding

    Inner State: Stillness, security, stability

    When in balance, feels: grounded, centred

    When out of balance, feels: fearful

    2nd Chakra | Svadhisthana 

    The second chakra is Svadhisthana, and the element is water. Generally, it deals with our emotions and our sexuality, and our creativity because this is literally where our sexual fluids are. This is the space where we connect to our fluidity, going with the flow. When we work with the second chakra, we’re working with how we relate to others. So we would examine the second chakra when we want to work with our relationship, not only with our bodies but with the people in our lives.

    The second chakra deals with desire and pleasure, so the question I would ask is, what is your relationship to pleasure? Do you seek it? Do you shy away from it? Do you indulge it? Is there balance between duty, what needs to get done, versus pleasure? Discovering the right balance is important because you need to feed your spirit, you need to feed your soul. if your heart’s not in it, then what’s the point? 

    Meaning: Sweetness

    Location: Lower abdomen, genitals, womb

    Element: Water

    Bija Seed Mantra: Vam

    Function: Desire, pleasure, sexuality, creation

    Inner State: Feelings

    When in balance, feels: Connected to others, playful, harmonious

    When out of balance, feels: Stuck, disconnected, detached

    3rd Chakra | Manipura 

    Manipura, our power center, is located at the solar plexus. It represents our will, purpose in life, and ability to execute our passion. The element is fire, capturing this chakra’s essence with its heat, intensity, and ability to transform. When Manipura is in balance, we can assert ourselves without becoming too aggressive or overbearing.

    There is a sense of fluidity and ease within our power, as we can ride the wave of momentum and opportunities that arise with a sense of pragmatism in how we execute our will. Imbalances in Manipura chakra result in digestive issues and discomfort and a feeling of powerlessness and lack of control. Misalignment in this chakra could appear as being overly rigid, demanding, egotistical, dogmatic, challenging, or on the other end, needy, clingy, and an utter lack of confidence and self-esteem.

    Meaning: Lustrous gem

    Location: Solar plexus

    Element: Fire

    Bija Seed Mantra: Ram

    Function: Will, power, assertiveness

    Inner State: Laughter, joy, anger

    When in balance, feels: Productive, passionate, powerful

    When out of balance, feels: Angry, over-excited/assertive, powerless

    4th Chakra | Anahata 

    Anahata is the fourth chakra at the center of the seven chakras. It serves as a bridge to connect the lower chakras, which relate to our tangible connection to the earth, with the upper chakras, which relate to our consciousness and immaterial aspects of nature. Within our hearts, we can create harmony and balance between our internal and external worlds. The heart is where we can discover a state of ease, compassion, and serenity. The themes of the fourth chakra themes include love, forgiveness, sadness, and grief. 

    The element for Anahata is air. Our breath is our life force, vitality, and one of the key indicators of how we’re feeling emotionally. For example, tightness or shortness of breath is a sign of stress or can indicate we are holding pain in our chests. On the other hand, when our breath is smooth, slow, and deep, we are at ease. When we are at ease, we can interact with our environment and other people with more integrity. 

    Meaning: Unstruck

    Location: Heart

    Element: Air

    Bija Seed Mantra: Yam

    Function: Love

    Inner State: Compassion, love

    When in balance, feels: Loving, receptive, balanced

    When out of balance, feels: Grief

    5th Chakra | Vishuddha 

    Vishuddha, the 5th chakra, includes expression, truth, authenticity, sound, speech, and communication. Vishuddha means “especially pure” in Sanskrit and is located at the throat. It is captured as a brilliant blue jewel with ether as its element. Ether is the most subtle of all elements and represents the idea of spaciousness.

    In the book “Wheels of Life” by Anodea Judith, she states that when we reach the 5th chakra, we begin to unite all we’ve learned in the lower chakras: stability, creativity, purpose and compassion. At the 5th chakra, we begin to express how we feel, communicate our truths, and bring our voices to the world. 

    Meaning: Purification

    Location: Throat

    Element: Sound

    Bija Seed Mantra: Ham

    Function: Communication, creativity

    Inner State: Synthesis of ideas and symbols

    When in balance, feels: Connected to sound, vibration, self-expression

    When out of balance, feels: Creativity blocked, loss of words, inability to communicate

    6th Chakra | Ajna 

    The third-eye center, or Ajna chakra, is where we connect our wisdom and intuition. The sixth of the seven chakras, Ajna, translates from Sanskrit as ‘command’ or ‘perceive.’ The third eye symbolizes our ability to transcend the ego and move to a higher consciousness where trust, intuition, acceptance, and clairvoyance guide our actions.

    At the third eye, we practice listening to our intuition through meditation practices and coming to stillness to allow the answers to arise naturally. Ajna chakra reminds us that we can balance self-doubt and questioning with a deep appreciation for honouring our instincts and trust in our process. When we become still and silent, we create the space to sit with our discomfort and receive our body’s messages. The body does not lie. The practice of yoga may be a tool to cleanse and purge the physical, mental, and emotional tensions so we can come to meditation and listen to what we need. 

    When Ajna chakra is balanced, we see things as they are. We can step back and examine more than just the objects in front of us; we might step back to take in the full room and explore each item’s relationship. When Ajna chakra is out of balance, we live in Maya, the illusion, and can be disconnected from the truth. This chakra asks us to deepen our understanding and acceptance of the world precisely as it is, so we might see how we belong and interact with the world around us. 

    Meaning: To perceive, to command

    Location: Third eye, between the browline

    Element: Light

    Bija Seed Mantra: Om

    Function: Seeing, intuition

    When in balance, feels: Intuitive, clairvoyant, connected to the soul

    When out of balance, feels: Caught up in other’s stories, living in illusion ‘Maya

    7th Chakra | Sahasrara 

    We’ve arrived at our final destination in the Chakra Series, the 7th chakra, Sahasrara, at the crown of the head. Sahasrara translates from Sanskrit as the thousand-petaled lotus; it’s where we come into connection with the collective consciousness and with the divine. At the crown chakra, we discover the ability to merge the individual self with all beings’ creation. We discover and create our philosophy and spirituality, examining what it means to be human and the beauty that comes with our fragility.

    Sahasrara represents peace, abundance, and profound contentment through a deeper connection with what it means to be alive in every moment. At the crown chakra, we dissolve the ego-self’s desires in pursuit of the greater good for humanity. The crown chakra is where we connect with the divine or God, depending on your philosophy. The word yoga means to unite or to yolk. At the crown chakra, we honour this merger by placing our faith and trust in the universe and elements we may or may not be able to see.

    Trust in the universe, its cycles, connection to the self and one’s unique expression, and faith in humanity’s evolution harmonize at the crown chakra. Sahasrara asks us to go beyond what we can see, hear, touch, feel, and taste; to go beyond the senses and imagine a world where all beings exist in freedom and happiness. Nirvana or liberation is achieved at the crown chakra.

    Meaning: Thousandfold

    Location: Crown of the head

    Element: Thought

    Bija Seed Mantra: Silence

    Manifestation: Information

    When in balance, feels: Bliss, meditative

    When out of balance, feels: Attached to physical form, melancholic 

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