Chakras are the energy centers of the body. They are located in the astral body along the spine, starting at the base of the spine and running upwards to the crown of the head. The Chakras coincide with a gland in the physical body and each radiate a specific color and energy. Since each chakra relates to specific spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical aspects of our being, it is said that the blockage or malfunction of the chakras can lead to physical, psychological and emotional disorders. The conscious awareness and the balancing of these energy centers on the other hand is believed to lead to well-being and good health. That is one of the purposes of asana practice: to stimulate and balance the chakras or energies in the body.
Muladhara Chakra is located at the base of the spine between the anus and the genitals. It radiates the color red and represents the element earth.
It is characterized by the emotions of survival, stability, ambition and self sufficiency. When this chakra is out of balance, a person might feel unstable, ungrounded, lack of ambition, lack of purpose, fearful, insecure and frustrated. However when Muladhara Chakra is balanced a person might feel stable, confident, balanced, energetic, independent and strong.
Practicing the following postures helps to balance Muladhara Chakra: Tree Pose (Vriksasana) and Mountain Pose (Taadasana).
The second chakra, Swadishthana Chakra, is located at the lower abdomen, about four fingers below the navel. It radiates the color orange and represents the element water.
The attributes of Sacral Chakra are the basic needs for sexuality, desires, creativity and self-worth. When imbalanced, a person might feel emotionally explosive and irritable, lacking of energy and creativity, manipulative or obsessed with sexual thoughts. When Swadhishthana Chakra is balanced, a person might feel positive, vital, satisfied, compassionate, and intuitive.
You can work on balancing Swadhishthana Chakra by practicing balancing poses like Crow (Kaakasana) or standing poses like Triangle Pose (Trikonasana).
Manipura Chakra or Solar Plexus Chakra is located above the navel at the solar plexus (between the navel and the bottom of the rib cage). It represents the element fire and thus radiates yellow color.
This chakra is characterized by energy and emotions like ego, anger and aggression. An imbalance of Manipura Chakra can manifest itself physically by digestive problems, liver problems or diabetes. On an emotional level one might struggle with depression, lack of self-esteem, anger and perfectionism. By brining the chakra into balance one might feel energetic, confident, productive and focussed.
Working on Manipura Chakra can be done in poses like Classical Forward Bend (Pashchimottan asana), Classical Cobra (Bujangasana) and Bow Pose (Dhanurasana).
Anahata Chakra, Heart Chakra, as the name implies, is located at the heart region. Its color is green and the element is air.
This fourth Chakra is the seat of balance within the body, characterized by emotions of love, attachment, compassion, trust and passion. When Anahata Chakra is out of balance a person might deal with emotional issues like anger, lack of trust, anxiety, jealousy, fear and moodiness. By harmonizing this chakra, you might feel compassionate, optimistic, friendly, motivated, understanding and caring.
Heart Chakra can be balanced by practicing poses like Bridge Pose (Setubandasana), Fish Pose (Matseyasana) and Inclined Plane (Poorvottan asana).
The fifth Chakra, Throat Chakra, is located at the base of the throat, coinciding with the thyroid gland. Its color is bright blue and the element is space.
Vishuddha Chakra represents inspiration, expression, faith and the ability of communication. Imbalance of the Throat Chakra may lead to timidity, quietness, a feeling of weakness or the inability to express your thoughts. Balance of the Throat Chakra can manifest itself by creativity, positive self expression, constructive communication and satisfaction.
Throat Chakra is stimulated in poses like Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana) and Plough Pose (Halasana).
Ajna Chakra (also written Agya Chakra) is located in between the eyebrows. It is free of element but does have a color: indigo blue.
Third Eye Chakra is often used as a focus point during asana practice to bring more concentration and awareness. It is said that meditation on Ajna Chakra destroys the karma of past lives and gives liberation and intuitional knowledge. Its attributes are intelligence, intuition, understanding, insight and self knowledge. When this chakra is out of balance, one might feel non-assertive, afraid of success, or on the contrary, be egoistical. Imbalance of Ajna Chakra can manifest itself on a physical level by headaches, blurry vision and eye strain. When Ajna Chakra is balanced, one is his own master without fear of death and free of attachment to material things.
Ajna Chakra is stimulated when practicing Headstand (Sirsasana).
The seventh Chakra, Sahastrara Chakra, is located at the crown of the head. Also this chakra doesn’t represent an element. It is violet and/or white in color.
Sahastrara Chakra is the center of spirituality, enlightenment, dynamic thought and energy. It allows for the inward flow of wisdom and brings the gift of cosmic consciousness. When out of balance, one might suffer from a constant sense of frustration, no spark of joy and destructive feelings.
Balancing Sahasrara Chakra can be done by practicing Headstand (Sirsasana).