The chakras are often referred to as “wheels of energy” that line along our spine, but they can also be referred to as the headquarters of the five main elements that exist within and all around us: earth, water, fire, air, and space. The 6th and 7th chakras relate to the quality of light and unbound intelligence.
While the chakras might seem esoteric, they are actually very much alive in our physical body, our glandular system, our emotions, and in our every day interactions. The yogis knew how to use the technology of our body to harmonize these centers, but we can also activate the chakras through simple, every day actions. Let’s explore each of the seven chakras and see how we can empower ourselves through their alignment.
Muladhara – Earth
The Muladhara, or Earth chakra is at the base of the spine, right at the pelvic floor. Because earth is the most dense in quality of all the elements, it relates to our material world. Our ability to care and connect to our physical bodies, our relationship to our family, our sense of boundaries, and our ability to nurture and nourish ourselves all relates to the Earth chakra. If you are having a hard time feeling grounded in life and are neglecting your physical needs, you might have a root chakra imbalance. Walking barefoot in the grass, connecting to nature, and practicing long held standing postures all help to enliven the first chakra.
Svadishthana – Water
The Svadishthana, or Water chakra is located at the pelvic basin and holds within it our seed of creativity and spontaneity. Just as the tide of the ocean ebbs and flows, the water chakra governs our likes and dislikes, our sensuality and sexuality, our attachments and our aversions. If you are addicted to your work, to sweets, or even to Netflix you are cutting yourself off from feeling and you may have a second chakra imbalance. Fluid, sensual movements, hip openers, and sweet fragrances can help activate this region and connect you to your source of pleasure and pure potential.
Manipura – Fire
Manipura chakra is the fire chakra, which relates to our sense of self and our own individuality. It is located at the navel center, where our digestion takes place. Just as fire metabolizes our food, it also metabolizes our thoughts. When we are balanced in this area we are able to stand in our own authenticity and have a healthy sense of self esteem. If you struggle with making your own decisions and often need others to tell you what to do, your third chakra might need a tune up. Finding the balance between the navel and lumbar spine can strengthen the core and the third chakra. Practice toning this area by sitting, standing, and walking without collapsing in the abdominal area. This will empower you to show up for yourself and the world with strength, support, and lightness of being.
Anahata – Air
The fourth chakra is Anahata chakra, and it is governed by the element of air. Air is circulated throughout our body via the breath, and when we shift our breath we shift the way we feel. The fourth chakra is considered the bridge between the lower and upper chakras so in that sense it deals a lot with balance and harmony: the balance between giving and receiving, self and other, matter and spirit. When we are able to see ourselves in others, to love ourselves and others, to balance our individual self with the universal self – we are residing in the seat of the heart chakra. If you are unable to connect to your feelings, to cry, to smile naturally, or to feel compassion for others, you may be blocked in this region. Random acts of kindness, breath exercises, and gentle backbends are simple ways to soften us back to our hearts.
Visuddha – Space
The fifth chakra is the Visuddha or throat chakra. This chakra relates to the element of space, which deals with our communication to ourselves, to others, and to spirit. When we have a balanced throat chakra we are able to express ourselves with truth and clarity. If you struggle with finding your own voice and are unable to communicate easily with others you may have a throat chakra deficiency. Chanting, speaking and singing (read: not texting!) are ways to harmonize the throat chakra. Even humming to yourself in your own home can help to get you comfortable with hearing your own, authentic voice.
Ajna – Light
The sixth chakras is known as Ajna chakra, or the third eye point. It relates most clearly to light, which gives rise to seeing. But the light in ajna is the light of awareness. It is the light of intuition, insight, and inner vision. When we are “open” in the third eye we are able to see things clearly and have a good sense of visualization. Imagination is a powerful tool because it enables us to “see” things in a new way. If you struggle with dreaming up new ideas or new paradigms for yourself your inner eye may be closed. Visualization techniques, gazing on one point, and taking in beautiful scenery or poetry can help us to activate our third eye.
Sahasrara – Consciousness
The final chakra is the crown chakra, or Sahasrara, which means “thousand petaled lotus.” It is located at the top fontanel and the pineal gland, and governs our connection to the unbounded, unlimited field of consciousness that is all around us. When our crown chakra is balanced we are able to live as spiritual beings in a material world. We are able to know our inherent selves as divine essence and see that essence in all things. Practicing mediation, prayer, or devotional rituals helps us to connect to our crown chakra. Take moments where you connect to things that inspire you. To inspire means to be “in spirit” and when we are in spirit we are in the crown chakra.
About the author:
Sarah Finger is the co-founder of ISHTA Yoga, LLC and the private yoga teacher of Dr. Deepak Chopra. She has shared the elevating tools of ISHTA to the yoga community worldwide through trainings, workshops, and retreats which she co-teaches with her husband, Yoga Master Alan Finger.