What are the 7 Chakras?
A Comprehensive Guide to the Energy Centers and their Effects
Get to know about the chakras, their attributes, strengths, weaknesses, and relation with yoga. Watch the video at the end and learn how to stimulate and balance these energy centers with their specific mantra (sound) and yantra (sign).
What are Chakras?
Chakras are the energy centers of the body. They are located in the astral body, along the spine, starting at its base and running upwards to the crown of the head. The astral body is the energy body residing inside our physical body. Each physical body part has a corresponding astral body part. The astral body cannot be seen or touched. This is also a reason why we cannot see the chakras.
The chakras radiate a specific colour and energy, and each one coincides with a gland in the physical body. Since each chakra relates to specific spiritual, emotional, psychological, and physical aspects of our being, it is believed that their blockage or malfunction can lead to physical, psychological and emotional disorders. The conscious awareness and balancing of these energy centers, on the other hand, is believed to lead to well-being and good health.
And that is one of the purposes of yoga. Through asana practice, yoga seeks to stimulate and balance these chakras or energy centers in the body.
What is the shape of a chakra?
There are many myths about the shape of the chakras. Some say they are like whirling discs, while others believe they are like flowers hanging from the spine. Some people even think that they resemble an ice-cream cone! All these different ideas exist simply because the chakras cannot be seen by the eyes or by any device. So, we tend to believe whatever becomes commonly circulated.
The ancient scriptures say that a chakra is shaped like a sphere or a ball. And it is even believed that planet earth is a major chakra of the solar system and a minor chakra of our galaxy, the Milky Way. It rotates to distribute some energy, but knowing more about this remains beyond the scope of the human imagination.
What is the size of a chakra?
Some people say that chakras are one foot in radius, while others say that they change their size according to the energy flow. Scriptures, on the other hand, tell us that the chakras are very small, as they are located in the astral spinal cord, which is further located inside the physical spinal cord.
Types of Chakras
Mostly, we hear about the ‘seven chakras’ but, there is an infinite number of chakras in the human body. A specific vibration, color and sound is associated with all the 7 chakras. Depending on whether these energy centers are healthy or blocked, you may experience different attributes of your physical, mental, and emotional health.
1. Muladhara Chakra – Root Chakra
Color – Red; Element – Earth
The Muladhara Chakra is located at the base of the spine, between the anus and the genitals. It is characterized by the emotions of survival, stability, ambition, and self-sufficiency. When this chakra is out of balance, a person starts feeling unstable, ungrounded, lack of ambition, lack of purpose, fearful, insecure and frustrated. However, when the root chakra is balanced, these are replaced by more positive emotions, and you feel stable, confident, balanced, energetic, independent, and strong.
The seed mantra (beej mantra) of Muladhara Chakra is ‘Lam’.
To know more, read our article on the Root Chakra.
2. Svadhishthana Chakra – Sacral Chakra
Color – Orange; Element – Water
The Svadhishthana Chakra is located in the lower abdomen, about four fingers below the navel. Its attributes include the basic need for sexuality, as well as creativity and self-worth. When the sacral chakra is imbalanced, a person may feel emotionally explosive and irritable, sense a lack of energy and creativity, feel manipulative, or obsessed with sexual thoughts. When balanced, it makes one feel more vibrant, happy, positive, satisfied, compassionate, and intuitive.
The seed mantra (beej mantra) of Svadhishthana Chakra is ‘Vam’.
To know more, read our article on the Sacral Chakra.
3. Manipura Chakra – Solar Plexus Chakra
Color – Yellow; Element – Fire
The Manipura Chakra is located at the solar plexus, between the navel and the bottom of the rib cage. It is characterized by emotions like ego, anger, and aggression. An imbalance of the solar plexus chakra can manifest physically as digestive problems, liver problems, or diabetes. On an emotional level, one might struggle with depression, lack of self-esteem, anger, and perfectionism. By balancing this chakra, we feel more energetic, confident, productive, and focussed.
The seed mantra (beej mantra) of Manipura Chakra is ‘Ram’.
To know more, read our article on the Solar Plexus Chakra.
4. Anahata Chakra – Heart Chakra
Color – Green; Element – Air
As the name implies, the Anahata Chakra is located in the heart region. This chakra is the seat of balance, and it is characterized by emotions of love, attachment, compassion, trust, and passion. When the heart chakra is imbalanced, a person may deal with emotional issues like anger, lack of trust, anxiety, jealousy, fear, and moodiness. By harmonizing this energy center, a person begins to feel more compassionate, caring, optimistic, friendly, and motivated.
The seed mantra (beej mantra) of Anahata Chakra is ‘Yam’.
Check out our article to know more about the Heart Chakra.
5. Vishuddha Chakra – Throat Chakra
Color – Blue; Element – Space
The Visuddha Chakra is located at the base of the throat, coinciding with the thyroid gland. It is associated with inspiration, healthy expression, faith, and the ability to communicate well. A blockage in the throat chakra may be experienced as timidity, quietness, a feeling of weakness, or the inability to express our thoughts. When this chakra is balanced, it enables creativity, positive self-expression, constructive communication, and a sense of satisfaction.
The seed mantra (beej mantra) of Vishuddha Chakra is ‘Ham’.
Read our article to know more about the Throat Chakra.
6. Ajna Chakra – Third Eye Chakra
Color – Indigo; Element – None
The Ajna Chakra (pronounced as ‘Agya Chakra’) is located between the eyebrows. Also known as the Third Eye Chakra, it is often used as a focal point during asana practice to develop more concentration and awareness. It is said that meditating upon this chakra destroys the karma of past lives and brings liberation and intuitive knowledge.
Its attributes are intelligence, intuition, insight, and self-knowledge. When imbalanced, it may make you feel non-assertive and afraid of success, or on the contrary, it can make you more egoistical. An imbalance can manifest as physical problems like headaches, blurry vision, and eye strain. When this chakra is active and balanced, a person feels more vibrant and confident, both spiritually and emotionally. In the absence of the fear of death, one becomes his own master and remains free of all attachment to material things.
The seed mantra (beej mantra) of Ajna Chakra is ‘Om’.
Ajna Chakra is stimulated when practicing Headstand (Shirshasana).
Check our article to know more about the Third-Eye Chakra.
7. Sahastrara Chakra – Crown Chakra
Color – Violet/White; Element – None
The Sahastrara Chakra is located at the crown of the head. The seventh chakra is the center of spirituality, enlightenment, and dynamic thought and energy. It allows for the inward flow of wisdom and brings the gift of cosmic consciousness. When it gets imbalanced, one might suffer from a constant sense of frustration, melancholy and destructive feelings.
The seed mantra (beej mantra) of Sahastrara Chakra is ‘Aum’.
Balancing Sahasrara Chakra can be done by practicing Headstand (Shirshasana).
Read our article to know more about the Crown Chakra.
Chakras and Health
Chakras are associated with the organs and glands of the particular region where they are located. As such, they have a strong bearing on our health, our mind state, and our relation with others. Based on various factors such as our lifestyle, environment and surroundings, past experiences, etc, the chakras can either be balanced or imbalanced. If a chakra is imbalanced, it goes into either a hypoactive or a hyperactive mode. A hypoactive or blocked chakra’s functioning is either insufficient or reduced. Likewise, a hyperactive chakra means there is too much energy flowing into that particular region, and as such, there is an imbalance in the overall flow of energy throughout the body.
Since chakras are interrelated, when one of them is imbalanced, it causes a disturbance in the functionality of the other chakras as well. This makes people feel disconnected, anxious, fearful, and it also manifests as health problems in one or more areas of the body.
To function at their best, your chakras need to be balanced. And for this, you need to know what the chakras actually do and what are some of the things you can do to take care of them.
Function and importance of the chakras
The chakras act as distribution centers. They distribute the five pranas to their associated local regions. For example, the root chakra will distribute the ‘apana prana’ to the pelvic region and provide energy for the organs in this region. When a chakra is blocked or not functioning properly, this distribution pattern gets disturbed, and physical or psycho-emotional/energy issues arise.
Ways to balance or awaken the chakras
Every chakra rotates at a specific frequency and speed. This frequency and speed can change due to various factors like diet, lifestyle, thought patterns, etc. An imbalance starts creating problems with the distribution of the pranas. Imagine what will happen if a 50 watt light bulb starts getting a 500 watt or 10-watt electricity supply! When we speak about balancing or awakening the chakras, we mean bringing it back to its regular speed.
You can adopt the following as tools to balance the chakras:
- Diet: One of the main reasons for an imbalance in the chakras is an imbalance of the five elements in the body. A balanced diet helps to bring balance in the elements of the body.
- Asanas: Asanas help to stimulate the chakras, and improve their functioning. They also clear the way for the chakras to heal themselves.
- Breathing: Breathing helps to increase the flow of prana in the body, and removes the stale prana.
- Meditation: Meditation helps to clear the mind, and removes negativity and manipulation in a person.
7 Chakras Video Tutorial
About the Author
Ram Jain (E-RYT 500) is a renowned yoga teacher from India and the Director of Arhanta Yoga Ashrams in India and The Netherlands. He has been teaching since 1998 and he is teaching yoga teacher training courses since 2009. In the past 10 years, he has trained over 3500 yoga teachers. Ram is also the creator of several online education courses, such as the 50 hours Online Yin Yoga course and the online Ayurveda course. Born and raised in India, his yoga education started from the age of 8 years as part of his school education. Over the period he has studied yoga and yogic philosophy in-depth from various reputed teachers.
Ram Jain is also the author of the internationally acclaimed book: Hatha Yoga For Teachers & Practitioners: A Comprehensive Guide to Holistic Sequencing