Chakras are commonly described as energy centers that correspond to various organs and nerves in the body. This is a starting point of understanding. They are, however, so much more. As North Indian scholar Harish Johari describes in his book Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation, chakras are psychic centers of transformation that enable you to move toward an enlightened state of being. Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means wheel, disk, or any arrangement in a circular form; it also indicates movement. In fact, Johari explains that chakras introduce movement because they “transform psychophysical energy into spiritual energy.”
Energy (known as prana in the yogic tradition) flows through the chakras. When a body is balanced, energy flows freely and can be energizing, revitalizing, and peaceful. There are seven main chakras located along an energetic channel called the sushumna nadi, which runs through the base of the spine through the crown of the head, passing through each of the chakras on its course. The chakras act as junction points between your human form and consciousness.
There are unique and specific ways to balance each chakra, including practices for increasing the energy of a chakra when it is too low, and practices for calming the energy of a chakra when it is too high.
The first chakra, Muladhara, sits at the base of the spine and is associated with the element of earth and the color red. Referred to as the root chakra, it is connected to courage and self-care as well as stability. The mantra that corresponds with this chakra is Lam.
- In Balance: Balance in the first chakra allows you to feel grounded and confident.
- Too Much: Excess energy in this chakra leads to greed and cockiness.
- Not Enough: Low energy in this chakra can leave you feeling unhinged or disconnected from your job, family, and true self.
To increase your root energy:
- Wear red.
- Walk barefoot in nature.
- Dance, exercise, or garden.
To calm your root energy:
- Get rid of items you no longer need.
- Practice forgiveness.
- Have a pedicure.
The second chakra is called Svadhisthana or the sacral chakra. It is located in the area of the pelvis. Here in the West, it’s known as the creativity chakra as well as the chakra associated with sexual desire (or the lack thereof). Its color is orange and its element is water. Creativity and pleasure stem from this energy center. The mantra that corresponds with this chakra is Vam.
- In Balance: Balance in the second chakra allows you to feel comfortable in your own skin and accepting of your emotions. It also allows for creative expression of self.
- Too Much: When the sacral chakra is overenergized, you may look past your faults and become hyperfocused on pleasure. It can lead to excessive indulging and co-dependence.
- Not Enough: Low energy can lead to creative blocks, feeling unloved, and emotional roller coasters.
To increase your sacral energy:
- Spend time near water, such as oceans, rivers, or lakes.
- Schedule some time in your week to do something that feels like play.
- Get a massage.
- Spend time journaling.
To calm your sacral energy:
- Put clear boundaries around relationships at home and work.
- Try Reiki or acupressure.
The third chakra, Manipura, is associated with personal power, energy, and transformation. Its color is yellow and its element is fire. The mantra that corresponds with this chakra is Ram.
- In Balance: Balance in the third chakra is indicated by high self-esteem, strong charisma, and confident decision making.
- Too Much: When the energy of this chakra is too high, tempers may flare and you may feel a need to control everything and everyone.
- Not Enough: Low energy can lead to poor appetite, anxiety, disorganization, and difficulty staying on task.
To increase your sacral energy:
- Enjoy spicy foods.
- Get out in the sunshine.
- Wear gold.
To calm your sacral energy:
- Drink only room-temperature beverages.
- Take slow, calming breaths.
- Try a session in a floatation tank.
Perhaps the most familiar chakra is the heart chakra, Ahahata. Its color is green and its element is air. It is deeply associated with love, compassion, forgiveness, and peace. The mantra that corresponds with this chakra is Yam.
- In Balance: When energy flows freely, you will experience compassion, love, and acceptance.
- Too Much: If you are experiencing jealousy or feeling clingy, you may have too much heart energy.
- Not Enough: Signs that your heart chakra may be blocked or low in energy include feeling shy or lonely, or experiencing an inability to forgive.
To increase your heart energy:
- Use the affirmation I deeply and completely love myself.
- Watch a romantic movie.
- Wear pink quartz.
- Keep rose essential oil handy and diffuse it or dab it on your wrists.
- Try a loving-kindness meditation.
To calm your heart energy:
- Write a letter expressing your gratitude.
- Put your attention on uplifting emotions such as compassion, joy, and tenderness.
- Look through an old photo album and savor your memories.
The Vishuddha or throat chakra is your center of expression, associated with speaking your truth. Its element is akasha, which is a Sanskrit word that means space or pure potentiality. The color associated with Vishuddha is blue. The mantra that corresponds with this chakra is Ham.
- In Balance: When the throat chakra is in balance, you feel authentic and are a confident conversationalist and good listener.
- Too Much: If you know the expression “all choked up” then you understand what too much throat chakra energy might feel like—an emotional overload. It is also associated with manipulative behavior, arrogance, and being too talkative.
- Not Enough: When the throat energy is low, there can be a tendency to feel shy or reticent or to act in a passive-aggressive way.
To increase your throat energy:
- Speak your opinions even when they might be unpopular.
To calm your throat energy:
- Drink warm tea.
- Journal—write rather than speak.
The sixth chakra is found at the center of your forehead, the third eye. This is the Ajna chakra. Your decisions, intuition, and choice-making are connected with this chakra, whose associated color is purple. The mantra that corresponds with this chakra is Sham.
- In Balance: Ajna means “beyond wisdom,” and in balance you experience expanded imagination, clairvoyance, synchronicity, and intuition.
- Too Much: When the third eye chakra is overactive, the mind races. You can feel that buzzy energy of over-caffeination or sleeplessness. It can be difficult to concentrate or stay on task.
- Not Enough: Low or blocked Ajna energy impedes your ability to remember and concentrate. Processing speed slows and you may be prone to procrastination and indecision.
To increase your Ajna energy:
To calm your Ajna energy:
- Enjoy the scent of sage or sandalwood.
- Spend time under the moon and stars.
The seventh chakra is called Sahaswara or the crown chakra. It is your connection to your source, spirit, or the collective consciousness. Its color is white or ultra-violet. The mantra that corresponds with this chakra is Om.
- In Balance: In balance, this chakra maintains your self-awareness, wisdom, and connection to the inner compass that guides you to your highest self.
- Too Much: Signs of too much crown energy include materialism and rigid self-identity.
- Not Enough: Low crown energy leads to depression, a sense of disconnection from life, and a lack of compassion.
To increase your crown energy:
- Learn something new.
- Wear purple.
To calm your crown energy:
- Witness your thoughts rather than getting caught up in them.
- Wear white.
Now that you’ve learned the main features of your seven chakras, you can begin to observe your energetic ebbs and flows. Follow the suggested steps to keep your chakras in balance and feel content in the universe.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.