You’ve probably heard the word ‘Chakras’ mentioned in a yoga class, especially on YouTube where Chakra balancing classes are getting more popular. The concept of Chakras may seem very ‘New Age’ and you do not know what it actually means.
Not to worry, you are not alone. Even people who have been doing “chakra yoga” may not actually understand this deep, complex and ancient energy system completely. There is a lot that one can learn about them, and yoga (asanas) is but a small element in this system.
In this Chakra for Beginner’s guide, we’ll give a quick snapshot of the most important characteristics you need to understand about the Chakra system of healing. We will only deep-dive into each Chakra in subsequent articles.
PS. Before you begin, why not download the free 7 Chakras for Beginners Cheatsheet below and access this article offline anytime.
Prana, Nadi and Chakras
Prana in Sanskrit, means “life force”, sometimes also known as “breath” or “vital energy”. Without prana, our physical body will not exist. Prana allows the body to transform from mud, into limbs and organs through subtle nerve channels or nadis. These then allow cells to be energised and organised, and finally collected into different tissues and organs. When prana leaves, energy departs from all our faculties and none of them can further function.
There are 72,000 nadis or subtle nerve channels which carry prana, our life force, through the body. Of these, the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna nadis are three of the most important as they are connected directly to the hemispheres of the brain.
These three major nadis originate at the base of the spine and travel upward:
- The Sushumna nadi is centrally located, starting at the base of the spine and travels along the spinal and represents consciousness.
- The Ida Nadi lies on the left side of Sushumna. It is cool by nature, and is regarded as the lunar nadi with feminine energy.
- On the right side of the Sushumna lies the Pingala Nadi, which is the solar nadi and represents masculine energy that is warm and stimulating by nature.
The Ida and Pingala nadis also travel upward along the spinal column, but they crisscross each other and the Sushumna before terminating in at the third-eye chakra, which corresponds to the ventricular cavities in the brain.
When the Ida and Pingala nadis are unblocked and balanced, they spiral around the Sushumna Naida like the double helix of our DNA, crossing each other at each chakra.
The junctions where the Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna nadis meet along the spinal column correspond to the 7 major chakras in our body.
You can think of nadis being a network of organs or channels of energy felt throughout the body and chakras as the epicentres of these energy flows.
For a healthy mind and body, it is crucial that our prana can flow freely to life force to all our organs and physical systems. Having clear and unblocked nadis and chakras are therefore important for prana to flow. Should nadis or chakras be blocked or unbalanced, this can bring a host of physical, mental, and energetic issues which manifest as health problems which we are familiar with.
Why are the 7 Chakras so important?
The 7 chakras are the wheel of energy that sustain our these bodies through everything in life. If our chakras are well taken care of – free, unblocked, and balanced – our energies are balanced and there is little room for illness or diseases to enter our mental, physical or energetic bodies.
It is important to remember that our bodies are simply vehicles of our real soul, or true self. Just as one learns to take care of a vehicle through an “owner’s manual” or blueprint, we need to know how to take care of all our bodies through our very own blueprint.
At the core of this manual is an understanding of how to balance the energy centres – the 7 chakras – of our bodies. Yoga has already provided us with an abundance of tools and methods which are centred on chakra balancing, to help us activate wholeness and health.
Meaning of the 7 Chakras: A Blueprint for Health & Wellness
Chakra (cakra in Sanskrit) means “wheel” and refers to the wheel-like energy centres in our body. While there are many different energy channels and centres, there are 7 major energy centres while can be found from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.
Each of these 7 chakras correspond to an aspect of our physical body (nerves, major organs), mental body, emotional states, and consciousness essential for our lives. Together, these 7 chakras provide us a basis for wholeness and growth.
Because these 7 major chakras are crucial for health and wellbeing, it is important that they are kept opened, balanced and unblocked. This means that energy can run through them freely, and our physical body, mind and energies exist harmoniously.
Once you understand the 7 chakras deeply, you will be able to assess how your life issues correspond to the chakras, develop targeted yogic practices to balance the chakra, and access new stores of wellness.
Access this guide offline; Download the free PDF here.
Muladhara [Root Chakra]
- Location: Base of spine, tailbone area
- Colour: Red
- Element: Earth
- Bija (seed) mantra: LAM
- Gland: Testes / ovaries
- Healing Crystals: Garnet, Red Tiger’s Eye, Onyx
- Essential Oils: Patchouli, bergamot
- Affirmations: I am confident; I am grounded; I am loved and supported
Meaning of Muladhara Chakra:
Muladhar is a Sanskrit term which can be broken down into Mula, which means “root” or “main”, and dhara which means “foundation”. It is related to survival, security, sense of belonging and grounding. This is where your earliest memories are stored; They form the basis of your perception in life.
When your Muladhara chakra is unbalanced, you may suffer from anxiety, insecurity, low self-esteem, fear or destructive behaviors. When it is in balance, you will feel strong, grounded and confident.
Yogic practices for connecting with the Muladhara (Root Chakra) include:
- Mula Bandha, the root lock
- leg and pelvic floor strengthening poses,
- Yamas and Niyamas as described in the 8 Limbs of Yoga
Check out: 7 Chakras Poster: Balances and Imbalances
Svadhisthana [Sacral Chakra]
- Location: Just below the navel
- Colour: Orange
- Element: Water
- Bija (seed) mantra: YAM
- Gland: Adrenal
- Healing Crystals: Carnelian, Tiger’s Eye
- Essential Oils: Sandalwood, Sweet Orange, Ylang Ylang
- Affirmations: I feel creative; I feel inspired; I feel good in my body
Meaning of Svadhisthana Chakra:
The second major chakra in our body is known as the Sacral Chakra or Svadhisthana Chakra in Sanskrit. Sva means “self”, and adhisthana means “established” or “home”. The word svad also means the “activity of taking pleasure”.
As such, the Svadhisthana Chakra is the home of our emotions, creativity and fluidity. It corresponds to our reproductive and sexual organs.
When this chakra is in balance, you will feel positive, creative and in general like you are in the flow of life. When the Svadhisthana Chakra is out of balanced, you may feel emotionally unstable, oversensitive or lack passion in life. Physically you may also suffer from lower back pains or sexual dysfunction.
Yogic practices for connecting with the Svadhisthana (Sacral Chakra) include:
Check out: Chakra Balancing with Essential Oils
Manipura [Solar Plexus Chakra]
- Location: Just above the navel
- Colour: Yellow
- Element: Fire
- Bija (seed) mantra: RAM
- Gland: Pancreas
- Healing Crystals: Citrine, Yellow Aventurine, Tiger’s Eye
- Essential Oils: Lemon, Ginger, Peppermint
- Affirmations: I am empowered; I am enough
Meaning of Manipura Chakra:
Manipura Chakra, also known as the Solar Plexus Chakra, is the third major chakra of the human body and is found just above the navel. The Sanskrit word mani stands for “luscious gem”, and pura stands for “city”. Together, the word manipura means the city of gems.
Manipura Chakra is related to our personal power and self-esteem. It is the house of our self-control and courage.
When this chakra is in balanced, you will feel alive, have a high level of self-esteem, and feel strong internally and externally. You are confident, self-controlled, and have the strength and conviction to follow through with your intentions.
When Manipura Chakra is unbalanced, you may feel stagnant – this manifests in feelings such as a lack of motivation, low self-esteem, and lack of energy. Physically you may also be suffering from digestive or liver problems.
Yogic practices for connecting with the Manipura (Solar Plexus Chakra) include:
Check out: 7 Chakras Chart – Healing Crystals by Chakra
Anahata [Heart Chakra]
- Location: Centre of chest
- Colour: Green
- Element: Air
- Bija (seed) mantra: YAM
- Gland: Thymus
- Healing Crystals: Rose Quartz, Rhodochrosite, Peridot, Malachite
- Essential Oils: Jasmine, Lavender, Rose
- Affirmations: I love myself; I am compassionate; I am at peace
Meaning of Anahata Chakra:
Anahata Chakra is the fourth chakra, also known as the Heart Chakra. As the name suggest, it is found at the centre of the chest.
The Sanskrit word an means “without” and ahata means “struck” or “hit”. Anahata refers to the unstruck sound, a sound that is not made out of two objects hitting each other. When a person achieves Samadhi, or ultimate bliss, he is so in tune with his internal self that he will be able to hear this sound that emerges from the Anahata Chakra.
Anahata Chakra represents our abilities to love unconditionally, have compassion, forgive and accept others and ourselves. When our Heart Chakra is balanced, we are able to maintain strong relationships with others, are aware of our inner thoughts and emotions, and have a high level of empathy towards others.
When the Anahata Chakra is unbalanced, you may become over-attached to people or things and allow your sentiments to control your actions. On the other extreme, an unbalanced chakra may also result in a lack of emotions which results in anti-social behaviors, bitterness or loneliness.
Yogic practices for connecting with the Anahata (Heart Chakra) include:
Vishuddha [Throat Chakra]
- Location: Centre of neck
- Colour: Blue
- Element: Ether
- Bija (seed) mantra: HAM
- Gland: Thyroid
- Healing Crystals: Amazonite, Turquoise, Blue Lace Agate
- Essential Oils: Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Lavender
- Affirmations: I speak my truth; I express myself freely
Meaning of Vishuddha Chakra:
Vishuddha Chakra is located at the throat, in the centre of the neck. It is also known as the Throat Chakra or the fifth major chakra in our bodies.
The Sanskrit word vi means “special”, and shuddha means “purity” or “clarity”. It is the energy centre which allows us to express and listen to truth. It defines our abilities to communicate clearly, both verbally and non-verbally, internally and externally.
When the Vishuddha Chakra is balanced, we are able to communicate clearly and express ourselves in healthy ways. We become better at listening to others. We are able to honor our personal truths (or purpose) without judgement.
A person who suffers from an unbalanced Vishuddha Chakra may find it difficult to speak or express herself clearly.
If she suffers from an overactive Vishuddha Chakra, she may be talkative, loud, gossips a lot, or manipulative in her words. On the other hand, if she suffers from an underactive Vishuddha Chakra, she may be shy, fears public speaking, fears talking about her views, and is unable to communicate clearly.
An unbalanced Vishuddha Chakra may also manifest itself physically as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
Yogic practices for connecting with the Vishuddha (Throat Chakra) include:
- Jalandhara Bandha
- Yoga poses such as supported shoulderstand, plow pose, fish pose
- Ujjayi breath
Check out: The Gratitude Plan
Ajna [Third-Eye Chakra]
- Location: Between the eyebrows
- Colour: Indigo
- Element: None
- Bija (seed) mantra: OM or AUM
- Gland: Pituitary (sometimes Pineal gland is involved)
- Healing Crystals: Lapis Lazuli, Amethyst, Sodalite
- Essential Oils: Frankincense, Sandalwood, Chamomile
- Affirmations: I am intuitive; I am guided by my inner wisdom
Meaning of Ajna Chakra:
Ajna in Sanskrit means “order” or “command”. It is the energy centre which provides us insight and intuition to make the right decisions and act in the correct way.
When the Ajna Chakra is balanced, we are able perceive information accurately and have the wisdom to act with discernment. There will be a clear picture of the future as the Ajna Chakra will allow us to recognise patterns and correlate them into a bigger picture. In general, people with a balanced Ajna Chakra will feel internally guided in life as they possess a clear vision of their future.
On the contrary, an unbalanced Ajna Chakra may result in a person feeling cynical, distrustful and overly-attached to logic. She is unable to get past logical thinking, unable to broaden her perspectives, and unable to trust her own intuition. Physically, she may also suffer from migraines, vision problems fear and / or nightmares.
Yogic practices for connecting with the Ajna (Third-Eye Chakra) include:
Check out: 7 Chakras Guide – Balances and Imbalances
Sahasrara [Crown Chakra]
- Location: Just above crown of the head
- Colour: Violet
- Element: None
- Bija (seed) mantra: Om or AUM
- Gland: Pineal
- Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Clear Quartz, Labradorite, Moonstone
- Essential Oils: Frankincense, Lavender, Rosewood
- Affirmations: I honor myself; I am whole, balanced and at peace
Meaning of Sahasrara Chakra:
The word sahasrara stands for “one thousand”, representing the one thousand petals of the crown chakra symbol. This is the seventh and last major chakra of our body.
Sahasrara Chakra is considered the gateway to our true or divine self, where our internal soul is in complete harmony with the external universe. It helps you to understand who you are beyond your physical self; that you are soul that is having a human experience in the form of a physical body.
This chakra is not located in the body itself but hovers slightly above the crown of the head.
When it is balanced, you feel completely at peace, are at your happiest, and connected to the world. You feel as though you are free and are flowing with the world. Your actions are being guided with wisdom and insight as you are in tune with the universe.
When the Sahasrara Chakra is unbalanced, you do not feel that happiness is from within, and feel the need to seek happiness from the material world. You may feel disconnected and prefer to live a lonely life. You do not feel that you have the wisdom to make right decisions. Even if you possess knowledge, you do not wish to share them with others.
Working on this chakra is important to help you feel liberated from your limited experience as a physical being, and focus on your eternal experience as soul.
Yogic practices for connecting with the Sahasrara (Crown Chakra) include:
- Om meditation or sound healing
- Mindful breathing exercises
Check out: Chakra Meditation Guide
Access this Guide Offline
If chakras interest you and you would like to familiarise yourself with them, you can download the PDF version of this article and access this reference anytime offline.
If you prefer something more succinct, you can also check out our Chakra Kit, a collection of various Chakra posters and guides which provide easy-to-understand snapshots for balancing your Chakra energies.
The YogaMad is founded by Candy, an avid yogini who is passionate about inspiring others to live their best lives while finding mind-body-soul balance. She has a background in business consulting but has left the corporate world in her quest to live out her dreams as a yoga nomad.