The chakras are a series of seven energetic centers that exist along the length of the spine. These seven energetic centers are represented by different colors, emotions, and symbols. According to yoga philosophy, the chakras reside along a main energy channel in the body called the Sushumna Nadi – an ‘energetic river’ that travels up the length of the spine. It connects the first chakra called, Muladhara, which sits at the base of the spine to Sahasrara, the Crown Chakra which is found at the top of the head. The yogis believe that the Sushumna Nadi is the pathway for the ascent of Kundalini energy – the pathway to spiritual awakening. If you are interested in going deeper into the chakras and Nadis, then a 200 hour yoga teacher training in Bali is a great introduction and deep dive into this ancient knowledge that modern science is finally starting to catch up with. In the meantime, we’re happy to offer an overview of the first three chakras.
While the idea of energy centers may sound a bit far-fetched and esoteric initially, the chakras have a definite impact on how we experience and navigate life and more scientific experiments have been done to prove their existence. When there are blockages in certain chakras, this manifests in the mind and body in various ways. Different yoga practices and poses can help us remove blockages and clear stagnation in these energetic centers and help us navigate life with less resistance and a greater sense of ease. The first chakra exists at the base of the spine and is known as Muladhara chakra.
Muladhara, or the root chakra, is associated with survival, stability, and grounding. The root chakra is said to be associated with the color red and the element of earth. If you are struggling to meet your basic needs of food and shelter, Muladhara is likely out of whack. When out of balance or blocked due to core needs not being met, one may have a tendency to hoard things, overeat, or experience a sense of ungroundedness or anxiety. One yoga pose that can help bring Muladhara into balance is Vrkshasana or tree pose. Tree pose is a balancing pose that helps establish a sense of internal stability, calm, and grounding.
Svadishthana, or the sacral chakra is the second chakra. It exists a few inches below the navel. It is associated with the color orange and the element of water. Characteristics of Svadisthana chakra being out of balance are lower back pain, low energy, sexual dysfunction, or intense premenstrual syndrome. Emotionally you may experience ups and downs and find it hard to balance. One pose that can help bring Svadishtana back into balance is Bakasana, or crow pose. Bakasana establishes focus and balance while activating the core and building strength. Trikonasana, or triangle pose, is also beneficial for balancing the sacral chakra as it stretches the lower back and stimulates the liver and spleen. It also stimulates blood flow to the abdomen where Svadishthana resides. When Svadishthana is balanced your emotions will be healthy, you will feel more creative, your inner child will be healed and you will be able to express your sacred feminine energy.
Manipura, or the solar plexus chakra is the third chakra. Linked to the liver, pancreas, kidneys, gallbladder and small intestine, it is located above the naval and is associated with the color yellow. The solar plexus chakra is associated with the element of fire and appropriately is fiery in nature! Because of the fiery nature of Manipura, cooling practices like yin yoga can be beneficial to bring it back into balance. Aggression and anger (in the case of an overactive Manipura chakra) or digestive issues and a lack of self-confidence (in the case of an underactive Manipura chakra) are all indicators of an imbalanced solar plexus chakra. To bring the solar plexus chakra back into balance if it is underactive, Dhanurasana or Bow pose is a great way to help stimulate the region and establish more warmth in the body. If Manipura is overactive, a standing forward fold can help regulate excess heat in the body and bring Manipura into balance. Once in balance, you will enjoy better digestion and be able to take in all the essential nutrients. This doesn’t just refer to food but also to thoughts and ideas. It will be easier to find your purpose in life, have greater energy, and deal with challenging situations more easily.
During a 200 hour yoga teacher training in Bali, you will learn more about which poses can benefit each chakra, depending on whether they are under or overactive. You can use this knowledge to not only sequence yoga classes around the chakras but to find benefits in your own life and yoga practice to stay balanced in your body, mind, and emotions.