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Spinning in the Light: Chakras, Yoga, and Health

Updated on May 14, 2012

Your Healing Journey

Welcome! This page is dedicated to helping you understand how the energetic aspects of your body directly influence your healing. As a yoga teacher and humble student of the masters, I bring you the wisdom I have gleaned over many years of study.

Toward the end of this article there is space for you to ask questions or share your own experience. I welcome your thoughts, and will do my best to answer your inquiries.

I am grateful to be able to serve as a guide on your journey into true health. Please check out my Meditation Guide as well.

Chakras: Wheels of Energy

More and more, we are awakening to the reality that we are multi-faceted beings. Although our conscious experience has been primarily focused on the physical, mental, and emotional realms, the energetic influences are profound.

Do you know the feeling of being centered? You feel balanced. There is an ease and flow in the present moment. Generally this centeredness comes with a feeling of well being.

Within the energetic body, the life force that animates us, that gives us vitality, there exist energy centers called chakras. Chakras are also called wheels of light, so named because this is how they look to people who see and envision them. They are spinning vortexes of energy within that receive and assimilate prana (also known as Chi or Qi). Chakras not only take in and process energy, but they can also transmit, transform, and distribute energy to other areas of the body, both physical and energetic.

The Energetic Body

Have you felt your heart light up with delight? Or felt like the roof of your head has blown off? At these times you're experiencing your chakras, or internal wheels of energy. These are more tangible, obvious examples. However, these energy centers are always functioning at subtle levels. We are often unaware of the essential role they play in who we are as individuals, and how we experience and relate to the world.

There are a great many chakras, and the number varies depending on what reference you use or who you talk to. However, there are 7 main chakras that compose the foundation of the energetic body. These focal points interact with myriad energetic channels known as nadis, or meridians. The chakras and nadis make up the energetic body, along with the aura, or energetic field.

The thing about this energetic body is that it has a central role in our quality of life. This is becoming more widely accepted. Basically, dis-ease begins on an energetic level. If it isn't cleared and processed there, then it manifests physically. At the same time, that which has manifested physically can be cleared by balancing the energetic and emotional body.

By the way, "emotion" is energy in motion. Ponder that for a moment. Makes sense to me... If you don't let emotion flow in a balanced way, the energy can get stuck. Stuck energy simply isn't healthy. Letting energy flow doesn't have to mean dramatic emotional release. On the contrary, emotional release can often come freely in laughter, silence, song, or breath. Tears can wash away that which hurts, keeping the body free of blockages.

Healing and Yoga

When you know more about the individual chakras, it can shed light on different areas of life and how they are related to the body. Becoming more intimate in relationship with each chakra can be illuminating. When you also integrate knowledge and experience of the whole chakra system, you open to an empowering way to balance and heal yourself.

One of the great things about yoga is that you balance your chakras when you practice, whether or not you are aware of it. When you intentionally align the energetic aspect of your self with the rest of your body, subtle and powerful transformation can occur. It is important not to force, but instead to find the harmony of effort and ease, of cleansing and releasing, opening and resting.

When you find resistance or challenges in your attitude or in your body, it is extraordinarily helpful to work through the blockages in the corresponding chakra(s) to clear the issue. Same goes for physical manifestations such as tight hips or dis-ease of any sort. Knowing the parts of the body each chakra facilitates, and recognizing their psychological functions empowers you to heal yourself.

Using the scientific art of yoga, coupled with an understanding of the chakra system, effective and profound healing can take place.

How Chakra Imbalances Affect the Body

When something is off, your body will tell you.

Of course, it is ideal to be so tuned in to the energetics of your body that you're ever harmonious and totally healthy. Realistically, however, the emotions and physical imbalances that come are the most obvious signs that things aren't quite balanced energetically. Discomfort and pain can be great motivators, helping us to direct our attention and go deep for the cause of the problem.

Chakra imbalance can swing two ways: it is either excessive or deficient. Excessiveness comes from a more obsessive reaction to an imbalance. Deficiency is caused by avoidance. In the first chakra, for example, if you are in fear and don't feel safe, you want to protect yourself and naturally put on more weight. You literally thicken the barrier between you and the world. This would be excessive. However, if you were to avoid dealing with the insecurity, pretending it wasn't there, just living in the fear without addressing it, you may loose weight and become waif-like. This is deficiency.

The above example gives you an idea of the way your reaction to a problem can manifest physically. Generally, if you are experiencing dis-ease, look into where it is in the body and find the chakra related to it. If there is lots of bloating, the second chakra, ruled by the element water, may be blocked. Do some self inquiry to find out what is at the root of it emotionally. Get the water, or energy, flowing again.

The following table, showing attributes and traits that indicate imbalances in the chakras, offers foundational information to help you better understand and work with your own energetic body. It is compiled with information from Anodea Judith's book, "Wheels of Light", and John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga®.

I have also included yoga poses that can help balance, open, awaken, and invoke the healing powers of these incredible energy centers. The alignment focus corresponds to the alignment principles of Anusara Yoga.

The 7 Chakras

Muladhara

The Root Chakra

Color: Red

Location: Pelvic floor at the perineum

Element: Earth

Psychological Function: Survival

Identity: Physical

Imbalance: Fear

Rights: To have

Attributes: Grounding, stability, desire to be in the physical world, self-preservation

Related Areas of Body: Adrenal glands, legs, feet, bones, large intestine

Yoga Poses: Hip openers, grounding and strengthening

Alignment Focus: Settling in with a heavy pelvis, Foundation, Muscle Energy, Rooting down with Organic Energy

Aromatherapy: Cedar, Cypress, Patchouli, Rosewood

Excessive Imbalance ~ overly posessive, greedy, overly protective, monotony, obesity

Deficient Imbalance ~ homless, ungrounded, victim, underweight, fearful, unfocused

Svadhisthana

Sacral Chakra

Color: Orange

Location: In the lower abdomen just below the navel.

Element: Water

Psychological Function: Desire

Identity: Emotional

Imbalance: Guilt

Rights: To feel

Attributes: Sexuality, creativity, relationship, pleasure, feeling

Related Areas of Body: Gonads, womb, genitals, kidney, bladder, low back

Yoga Poses: Hip openers, flowing movement, forward bends

Alignment Focus: Widening component of Inner Spiral

Aromatherapy: Clary Sage, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Damiana

Excessive Imbalance ~ manipulative and controlling, lustful, emotional volatility, sexual addiction, obsessive

Deficient Imbalance ~ co-dependent, martyr, submissive, stiffness, isolation, numb or dull emotions, fear to change, frigidity

Manipura

Solar Plexus Chakra

Color: Yellow

Location: The solar plexus

Element: Fire

Psychological Function: Will

Identity: Ego / Individual

Imbalance: Shame

Rights: To act

Attributes: Power, self-esteem, vitality, personality

Related Areas of Body: Pancreas, adrenals, digestive system, liver, gall bladder

Yoga Poses: Back bends, arm balances, core strength, twists, any pose that makes you feel enlivened and balanced in your power

Alignment Focus: Muscle Energy, Plugging in to the power of Outer Spiral

Aromatherapy: Chamomile, Juniper, Vetivert, Ginger, Woodruff

Excessive Imbalance ~ egotistical, self-absorbed, ambitious self-driven warrior, dominating, blaming, hyperactive

Deficient Imbalance ~ poor self-worth, sensitive servant, weakened, feels disliked, timidity, co-dependent passivity, sluggish

Yes!

"Thank you so much for sending me Daily Doses of Delight! They have been a delight indeed, and have given me much happiness." Alex Forbes

Anahata

Heart Chakra

Color: Green (also pink)

Location: Level with the heart in the center of the chest

Element: Air

Psychological Function: Love

Identity: Social

Imbalance: Grief

Rights: To love

Attributes: Peace, balanced emotions, self-acceptance, generosity, gratitude, devotion

Related Areas of Body: Thymus glands, lungs, heart, circulatory system, arms, hands

Yoga Poses: Back bends, heart/chest opening aspect of all poses

Alignment Focus: Spacious opening to grace, shoulder loop balanced with kidney loop

Aromatherapy: Rose Geranium, Rose, Clary Sage, Bergamot, Lavender

Excessive Imbalance ~ inappropriate and excessive emotional expression, poor emotional boundaries, co-dependent possessiveness, jealous

Deficient Imbalance ~ ruthless, no heart, can't feel emotions, lonely, bitter

Vishudha

Throat Chakra

Color: Bright blue

Location: Throat

Element: Sound

Psychological Function: Communication

Identity: Creative

Imbalance: Dishonesty

Rights: To speak and be heard

Attributes: Creativity, vibration, self-expression, joy of song

Related Areas of Body: Thyroid, parathyroid, throat, ears, mouth, shoulders, neck

Yoga Poses: Back bends, twists, * also mantra (chanting)

Alignment Focus: Spacious opening to grace, Organic Energy, self-expression in asana, keeping the throat open on all sides (not dropping chin)

Aromatherapy: Lavender, Chamomile, Frankinscense, Benzoin

Excessive Imbalance ~ willful, controlling, judgmental, hurtful speech, inability to listen

Deficient ~ lacking faith (will is weak), unable to creatively express, silent child, weak communication

Ajna

Third Eye Chakra

Color: Indigo

Location: Center of the head level with the eyebrows or slightly higher

Element: Light, Space

Psychological Function: Intuition

Identity: Archetypal

Imbalance: Illusion

Rights: To see

Attributes: Imagination, self-reflection, psychic perception, clear seeing, wisdom

Related Areas of Body: Pineal gland, eyes, base of skull, brow

Yoga Poses: Balancing poses, inversions, child's pose (forehead supported)

Alignment Focus: Spacious opening to grace, expansion, internal focus, soft gaze

Aromatherapy: Ylang Ylang, Rosemary, Thyme, Mugwort

Excessive Imbalance ~ overly intellectual, overly analytical, headaches, deluded, nightmares, hallucinations

Deficient Imbalance ~ unclear thought, poor memory, poor inner vision, unable to see patterns

Sahasrara

Crown Chakra

Color: Violet, white

Location: Top of head

Element: Space, Pure Consciousness, Pure Being

Psychological Function: Understanding

Identity: Universal

Imbalance: Attachment

Rights: To know

Attributes: Bliss, self-knowledge, cognition, spiritual connection

Related Areas of Body: Pituitary gland, central nervous system, cerebral cortex

Yoga Poses: Balancing poses, inversions, meditation

Alignment Focus: Awareness, expansion, internal focus, stillness

Aromatherapy: Frankincense, Lavender, Sandalwood, Rosewood, Myrrh, Gotu Kola

Excessive Imbalance ~ cult leader archetype, ego maniac, spiritual addiction

Deficient Imbalance ~ no spiritual inspiration, apathy, spiritual confusion

A Tremendous Resource on the Chakras and Yoga

With a section dedicated to the chakras and ways to balance them, this exceptional book, Yoga for Dragon Riders, invites you to step up to your fullest, most empowered self. Blending yoga, meditation, mantras and affirmations, breath-work, healing, energy, and countless inspiring practices, this book is a joy to read and bring into your life.

Are you ready to take your ability to live with integrity, love, power and wisdom to the next level? Yoga for Dragon Riders invites you to bring such honor and playfulness into your life that you will feel like you're ready to climb onto your friendly Dragon and fly!

Curious? Check out the first two chapters and full length yoga videos for free: Yoga for Dragon Riders the book!

How the Chakras Relate to Each Other

Because it is all interconnected...

As above, so below. This time tested saying also goes for the chakras. Although each affects all the others, they mirror each other and certain ones have direct links.

This is how the chakras are connected:

1st and 7th chakras (root and crown)

2nd and 6th (sacral and third eye)

3rd and 5th (solar plexus and throat)

The heart chakra is the magic mirror in the center.

Thus, if you're having a hard time speaking your truth or listening when others speak their truth (5th chakra), you may also find difficulty balancing your personal power or self-esteem (3rd chakra). Another example is if you are having abdominal issues and headaches, your body is demonstrating the correlation between the 2nd and 6th chakras.

How to Balance the Chakras

Finding harmony and ease on every level...

Okay, great, so it's all interrelated and now you have tools to figure out what chakra is in charge of which imbalance. What do you do about it? How do you find that ever so desirable equanimity?

Well, the first step is awareness and intention. Become aware of what is going on, and set a clear and loving intention to heal. I say clear and loving because that is the most life-affirming approach. To be clear makes things more simple, and helps the process happen more quickly and easily (although it may not be easy, it could certainly be worse and more confusing if your intention is not clear.) Including a loving component in your intention is important, not only because love is the greatest healer, but also because you want to specify that the process be gentle.

Once you have awareness and you've set an intention, you align with knowledge. Gather wisdom from great teachers of healing. The books and CD's I've included as recommended references in this article are some examples. Decide what approaches feel right for you. Include all parts of yourself = body, mind and heart or spirit.

When you have intention and knowledge, it is time to put it into action. Use yoga asana or other types of movement to heal on a physical level and help move blockages from the energetic body. Infuse your breath with your loving intention. Meditate, either with a guided audio recording, or on your own. Direct your breath and intention into the areas affected. Use affirmations that support healing and well being in a way that is directly related to the chakras that need balancing. It may be appropriate to include a natural healer who can help you heal both energetically and physically. It may also be necessary and helpful to process any stuck emotions with the help of a councilor or friend.

Remember the importance of rest and relaxation. Sometimes the most appropriate practice is restorative, and settling into savasana (lying on your back in awareness) helps to soothe the entire being.

Below is an example of how to balance the root chakra, including a meditation. I hope you find this helpful.

More Excellent Resources - Take advantage of the vast wisdom and guidance available to you:

Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra System (Llewellyn's New Age Series)
Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra System (Llewellyn's New Age Series)

Wheels of Life is an enjoyable read. Anodea Judith does an excellent job of explaining the chakra system and giving exercises to explore and balance each energy center.

 
Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self
Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self

Another of Anodea Judith's remarkable writings. This book is highly recommended.

 
Chakra Balancing: Body, Mind & Soul
Chakra Balancing: Body, Mind & Soul

This two CD set by Deepak Chopra is an excellent introduction to chakra meditation. It includes vibrational healing in the form of music, as well as descriptions of each chakra's functions plus guided meditation by Chopra.

 

Balancing the Root Chakra

This is where we start, at the center that organizes the energy of survival.

The Muladhara chakra, otherwise known as the root, or first chakra, facilitates the desire to be here in the physical world. Its energy is mainly concerned with survival, physical well being, and feeling at home.

Do you notice the ungrounded feeling that comes when you don't feel safe? When we worry about basic needs, or when there is a feeling of scarcity financially or otherwise, we tend to feel anxiety and fear. On the other hand, when you have all you need, there is a natural comfort and peace. The wisdom offered by yogic philosophy is that we really do have all we need, even when we perceive otherwise.

It is important to start with the root chakra when working with these energy centers, because this is the most fundamental, foundational chakra. In life, if you don't have enough to eat, you aren't very focused on creative expression because there is a more primal need that must be met. When the energy of the Muladhara is balanced, it supports and allows for harmony in all other aspects of the self.

When anxiety comes, or when you've dealt with a trauma that has resulted in fear, or when you feel ungrounded and not at home, there are simple things you can do to balance the root chakra, and therefore find peace again.

One very helpful choice is to make a direct connection to the earth. Get outside, enjoy the natural beauty that is offered so freely, hug a tree - do whatever feels appropriate to you as a way of affirming your rightful place in this natural world. A good way to attune with the natural environment where ever you are, including when you're traveling, is to take a handful of soil and smell it. Engage your surroundings by using your senses.

The key to finding harmony in the first chakra is to trust. Settle. Be cradled by the energy that supports you, be cradled by the earth, be cradled by your beliefs.

Keep telling yourself the truth: "I am worthy of being loved. I am supported. I am safe."

Meditation for the Root Chakra

Transform with Grace and Support

Sit comfortably.

Widen your sit bones, either manually with your hands or by leaning forward and pushing the inner thighs back and apart. This widens the pelvic floor, and assists the body in feeling supported.

Settle into your hips and legs. Allow the pelvis to become weighty.

Keeping the pelvis heavy, rise up with your breath so your spine is tall, your heart is lifted, and your throat is open.

With each inhale, keep the pelvis descending, the eyes soft and heavy.

With each exhale, maintain a settled feeling in the pelvis, while staying tall through the spine.

Breathe like this for a little while, becoming more grounded and at ease with each breath.

Tell yourself the deepest truth:

"I am grounded in the earth."

"I am safe. I am at home. I'm okay."

"I have what I need to be healed."

Allow the energy flow of the pelvis to continue to root into the nurturing earth beneath you. Enjoy the content, peaceful feeling that comes with being balanced and grounded both energetically and physically.

The Illuminated Chakras by Anodea Judith ®

This video series from one of the foremost authorities on the chakra system offers illumination and an enhanced perspective on the interconnectedness of energy.

Part 2

Part 3

seed sounds of the chakras

...silence...

Om

Ham

Yam

Ram

Vam

Lam

Recommended Reading and Guides - For deeper understanding...

Chakra Balancing
Chakra Balancing

This kit is a great way to explore the chakras, containing accessible information, a workbook with exercises, and CD's. If you are seeking guidance in how to balance and work with the chakras, this is a fantastic place to start.

 
Healing the Luminous Body - The Way of the Shaman with Dr. Alberto Villoldo
Healing the Luminous Body - The Way of the Shaman with Dr. Alberto Villoldo

Alberto Villoldo is a highly respected, modern day shaman. This book offers a different perspective of the energetic body and how to come into healing balance.

 
The Soul of Healing Meditations
The Soul of Healing Meditations

Deepak Chopra offers a beautifully guided relaxing and healing meditation in this CD. A wise investment if you are concentrating on self-healing.

 

Doses of Delight

How refreshing is it when you step away from work for a moment and take a deep breath? What if I told you I would email you a reminder to take that deep breath from time to time, just when you really need it? Daily Doses of Delight bring yoga effortlessly into your every day life.

Yoga and Meditation Resources

Yoga With Katrina is an online resource dedicated to the path of living life to the fullest. Topics range from health and fitness to nutrition, and of course yoga, meditation, and fun stories that make you feel uplifted and empowered. Articles are supported with videos and beautiful photos.

Other Resources

Yoga Core Strength Exercises | Yoga and Fitness | Ezine Articles |

Twitter | Facebook

All of my Squidoo Lenses

Big Playful Cats! - This is a wonderful video to light up your heart and throat chakras with laughter.

Photo Credit

Photos by Dom Koric and Toshi Kawano

Looking for beginner yoga tips?

Check out this great lens: Top 10 Yoga Tips for Beginners in Kamloops and Beyond!

If you submit a question, please remember to check back to receive your answer.

What do you want to know? - Submit a question or comment about the chakras here.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      i was just at your restorative yoga practice. this is just what i was looking for!

      thank you for sharing your knowledge in such a clear and practical way. the photos really help.

    • KatrinaAriel1 profile image
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      KatrinaAriel1 8 years ago

      [in reply to legongpeliatan]

      Thanks for the question; it helps me become more clear in sharing the vast wisdom I have learned from my teachers. I have added three new sections above in answer, as well as including examples of imbalances in the outline of the individual chakras. I hope this helps satisfy your curiosity, and empower you with healing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hello, Katrina! Thank you for this article, it is very illuminating! I have been practicing anusara for 2 years and my teacher introduced me to your daily doses of delight! I have a burning question...What is the relationship between chakra imbalance and different parts of the body? You've explained really clearly how the related body areas to each chakra, and how chakra imbalance manifests in the mind, but what about how chakra imbalance manifests in the physical body? Does the shape of your body change when different chakras are out of balance? How can we use this knowledge to have a healthier body shape? For example, is sudden weight gain related to chakra imbalance? Thank you for opening your article up to questions at the end, I've been trying to find an answer to this question for over a year!!!