Chakras & Self-healing Guide: Understanding the Body’s Energy Centers
The more yoga is practiced in the Western world, the more commonly recognized the term “chakra” becomes. Chakra means wheel or vortex in Sanskrit. Certain asanas, or postures, in yoga are helpful for different chakras. For example, wheel pose is said to open the Anahata chakra. What does this actually mean?
In Ayurvedic tradition, chakras represent circular fields of energy within specific centers of the body. Healthy, open chakras are large, vibrating wheels of bright, iridescent light and unhealthy, blocked chakras are smaller, dwindling with little luster.
The seven-chakra system is most commonly used today. Each chakra ascends upward along the spine, the first is at the tailbone and the last is positioned just above the crown of the head. To understand how to enhance the body’s energy centers, it’s important to first understand the location, frequency and color of each chakra. This knowledge is foundational for understanding how each energy center correlates with different physical and emotional aspects of the body. Once the correlation between the two is grasped, it’s simple to acquire habits to enhance energy centers.
The first is the Muladhara, or root chakra.
It is located at the base of the spine and it is associated with security and grounding energy. It radiates red, which is the lowest frequency on the spectrum. Hamstring and other lower-body stretches, like forward bends, lunges, warrior variations and bridge pose are ideal to awaken the root chakra. Stones associated are Tiger’s Eye and Red Jasper. Red foods like tomatoes, peppers and strawberries help ground and stabilize this energy vortex. Ylang ylang and sandalwood essential oils stimulate an open root chakra.
The Svadhistana, or sacral chakra, has the second lowest vibrational frequency and illuminates orange.
Located at the sex organs, it houses emotion, masculine and feminine energy, sexuality and desire for pleasure. Hip stretches are beneficial to open this chakra; butterfly, wide-leg forward fold, goddess and frog all stimulate the emotion center. Associated stones include citrine quartz, calcite and carnelian. Foods like oranges, carrots and sweet potatoes can balance this chakra via nourishment, while oils such as Melissa or sweet orange can awaken the chakra through scent.
Moving up in frequency and in the color spectrum, the Manipura or solar plexus chakra is yellow.
The power center, located at the navel, allows for accomplishment and control of destiny. Asanas associated with core-strength activate this area: boat, plank and balance variations. Consume bananas, squash, corn and other yellow whole foods to stimulate willpower. Golden Topaz, calcite and citrine stones and oils of lemon and rosemary are also used in essence of this chakra.
Green in color and fourth in placement is the Anahata, or heart chakra.
It relates to love and compassion for self and other living beings. Wheel, camel, heart, bow and table are some poses that activate the heart center. Eating greens like broccoli, kale and cabbage encourages a vibrant, open-heart. Aventurine, tourmaline, green emerald and rose quartz crystal vibrates loving and compassionate energy. Eucalyptus and pine are green oils that can help to rebalance this chakra.
The Vishudda or throat chakra is blue and represents communication with the world.
Alongside chanting and breathing exercises, neck and shoulder poses like plow, shoulder stand, locust, fish and rabbit activate the throat center. Blueberries, blue potatoes and blue cheese enhance communicative energy. Crystal from turquoise, lapis lazuli, sodalite and chalcedony can be meditated with to rebalance. Oils of chamomile and geranium also stimulate verbal energy.
The sixth in ascension is the Ajna or third eye chakra, located on the forehead between the eyebrows.
Indigo in color, it is indicative of intuition, insight and universal consciousness. While meditation and visualization best open this chakra, poses like fish or reverse warrior have inward drishti or eye gaze and activate infinite insight. Eggplant, blackberries and grapes enhance intuition. Amethyst, aquamarine and fluorite crystals activate the third eye, along with oils like patchouli.
The last in the seven-chakra system is the Sahasrara, or crown chakra.
It represents spiritual connection, bliss and connection to the cosmos. It emits a violet-white and is located in the area just above the crown of the head. The crown chakra is best stimulated by meditation, visualization and by poses where the head touches the ground, like headstands. Violet-white foods include red onions, cauliflower and radishes. Amethyst and white quartz stones fuel cosmic energy. Lavender and jasmine oils are crown chakra-centered oils.
Asanas, whole foods, stones and oils are used to nurture these energy centers, as they’ve done for thousands of years in Ayurvedic tradition. Certified Yoga Instructor Elektra Hendrickson agrees that many in the Western world reap benefits from this ancient form of holistic medicine.
“It’s a roadmap to your system. First, become aware of the wheels and what they represent,” the self-healing spiritualist said. “Look into the physical body at the map of the chakras & see how it lines up with the emotional body. From there, start to check in & begin to heal what’s physically ailing you.”
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