We are a circle within a circle… with no beginning and never ending!
– Anodea Judith, Wheels of Life.
The chakras are a part of the subtle body and are a gateway to better health and longevity.
Understanding the unique elements, themes, and organs associated with each chakra helps you better align and assimilate imbalances at each energy center.
Keep reading to embody the themes for each chakra through the Chakra Yoga Collection on Practice with Clara, podcast interviews, and blog posts!
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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.
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
Bija Seed Mantra: Lam
Function: Survival, grounding
Inner State: Stillness, security, stability
When in balance, feels: grounded, centred
When out of balance, feels: fearful
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?
Location: Lower abdomen, genitals, womb
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
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
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
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.
Bija Seed Mantra: Yam
Inner State: Compassion, love
When in balance, feels: Loving, receptive, balanced
When out of balance, feels: Grief
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.
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
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
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‘
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.
Location: Crown of the head
Bija Seed Mantra: Silence
When in balance, feels: Bliss, meditative
When out of balance, feels: Attached to physical form, melancholic
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