One of the most important things to understand about Ayurveda is how it explains your body’s energy. The chakra system holds your body’s energy (or prana) and your actions can help keep it in balance.
The Sanskrit word chakra translates to a wheel or disk. In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, this term refers to wheels of energy throughout the body. There are seven main chakras that align along the spine, starting from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. The spheres run along the spine, but extend through and past the front, back, and both sides of your body. Chakras are a spinning vortex of energy that is not seen by the human eye but can be seen, felt, and sensed with intuition. This invisible healing energy, called prana, is a vital life force, which keeps us vibrant, healthy, and alive.
What’s Held in a Chakra?
Chakras store the energy of thoughts, feelings, memories, experiences, and actions. They influence and direct our present and future mindset, behavior, emotional health, and actions. The life force in each chakra can be processed, transmuted and released so that we consciously manifest what we want to call in, rather than experience more of the same. Chakra healing is the intentional practice of connecting with our stored energy, so we may understand how our past is influencing the present and the future. Prana informs us, and influences our actions and behaviors, determining our health, career opportunities, relationships, and more. The subtle body depicts how our inner reality creates our outer reality.
The Importance of the Main Chakras in the Body
These swirling wheels of energy correspond to massive nerve centers in the body. Each of the seven main chakras contains bundles of nerves and major organs as well as our psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being. Since everything is moving, it’s essential that our seven main chakras stay open, aligned, and fluid. If there is a blockage, energy flows are restricted. Think of something as simple as your bathtub drain. If you allow too much hair to go into the drain, the bathtub will back up with water, stagnate, and eventually bacteria and mold will grow. So it is too with our bodies and the chakras. A bathtub is simple; it’s physical so the fix is easy. Keeping a chakra open is a bit more of a challenge, but not so difficult when you have awareness. Since mind, body, soul, and spirit are intimately connected, awareness of an imbalance in one area through chakra meditation will help bring the others back into balance. Take, for example, a wife who has recently lost her husband. She develops acute bronchitis, which remains in the chest, and then gets chest pains each time she coughs. The whole heart chakra is affected in this case. If she realizes the connection between the loss and bronchitis, healing will occur much faster if she honors the grieving process and treats that as well as the physical ailment.
Connecting with Your Chakras
You may experience your chakras, consciousness centers, in meditation, visualization, yoga, Reiki, crystal healing, sound healing, acupuncture, or a variety of different ways. Some people can see the swirling energy in their mind’s eye, or they can feel the vortex with their hands when they hover their hands over their bodies. Others feel sensations in their bodies or mental and emotional shifts that correlate with the chakras. You may also get in touch with the thoughts and emotions stored in each vortex with chakra journaling.
As you begin to feel, sense, or see your chakras, their flow may feel underactive or overactive. It may feel deficient and contracted, or expansive and healthy. A healthy chakra system will include chakras that are bright in color, balanced in size, and flowing at a healthy speed.
The Chakras of Matter
Each chakra holds the beliefs, emotions, and memories related to specific areas of our life. The lower chakras are related to Earthly matters such as survival, sex, and power. The top three chakras are related to higher consciousness, truth, intuition, and purpose. In the middle, the heart chakra bridges the two worlds with empathy, love, and compassion.
The Muladhara is the chakra of stability, security, and our basic needs. It encompasses the first three vertebrae, the bladder, and the colon. When this chakra is open, we feel safe and fearless.
The Svadhisthana chakra is our creativity and sexual center. It is located above the pubic bone, below the navel, and is responsible for our creative expression.
The Manipura chakra means lustrous gem and it’s the area from the navel to the breastbone. The third chakra is our source of personal power.
The Fourth Chakra: The Connection Between Matter and Spirit
Located at the heart center, the fourth chakra, Anahata, is in the middle of the seven and unites the lower chakras of matter and the upper chakras of spirit. The fourth is also spiritual but serves as a bridge between our body, mind, emotions, and spirit. The heart chakra is our source of love and connection.
When we work through our physical chakras, or the first three, we can open the spiritual chakras more fully.
The Vishuddha chakra is the fifth chakra, located in the area of the throat. This is our source of verbal expression and the ability to speak our highest truth. The fifth chakra includes the neck, thyroid, and parathyroid glands, jaw, mouth, and tongue.
The Ajna chakra is located in between the eyebrows. It is also referred to as the third eye chakra. Ajna is our center of intuition. We all have a sense of intuition but we may not listen to it or heed its warnings. A focus on opening the sixth chakra will help you hone this ability.
The Sahasrara chakra or the “thousand petal lotus” chakra is located at the crown of the head. This is the chakra of enlightenment and spiritual connection to our higher selves, others, and ultimately, to the divine. It is located at the crown of the head.
The Clue to Aligning the Chakras
Awareness to which of your chakras are out of balance is key to aligning them. Our bodies are in constant flux between balance and imbalance. Unless you experience an apparent problem in one area of the body, imbalances can be difficult to detect. That being said, it’s good to bring pure awareness to your body/mind and start understanding its signals and clues so that you can align your chakras. For example, frequent constipation can indicate a blockage in the first chakra. A recurring sore throat leaves clues to a blocked fifth chakra. Frequent headaches around the area of the forehead may mean your sixth chakra is blocked.
Building from Ground Up
When healing the chakras, it’s wise to start with the root chakra, and explore ideas related to safety, nourishment, belonging, finances, and family. From there, you may move up the spine to the sacral chakra and so forth. The health of the lower chakras is crucial to the health of the upper chakras. Without a sense of grounding, stability, and safety, it may feel jarring to open up the third eye or crown chakras that are related to intuition, Divine connection, and higher knowing.
The chakra system offers a map that helps us see the correlation between anatomy, mindset, emotions, and energy. It illuminates the mind and body connection, in an accessible and practical way. The roadmap reminds us of what our holistic beings need in order to be healthy and happy. The chakra anatomy reminds us of our infinite potential—we can be grounded yet flexible, passionate yet disciplined, and expressive yet compassionate.