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A Beginners Explanation to the Chakras

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. 

—We will go into a deeper examination of each chakra and the movement, mindfulness practices, and alternative health care techniques to work with the energy of each of the seven chakras during the month of yoga.

We are a circle within a circle… with no beginning and never ending! 

– Anodea Judith, Wheels of Life.

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. 

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. 

A Path to Balance and Healing

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. 

Discover the Power of the Chakras

What you receive with the DAILY email series:

  • 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.

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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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