If you’ve ever taken a yoga or meditation class, had an energy healing session like reiki, or just watched online videos about those subjects, you’ve no doubt heard about chakras and the role they play in the flow of energy in your body. You may have also learned that it’s important to keep your chakras open, or unblocked.
But what exactly are chakras and how do they affect your physical and emotional well-being?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at your main chakras. We’ll also help explain the impact these energy centers may have on your mind and body, plus how to keep them “open” in order to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
What are chakras?
In Sanskrit, the word “chakra” means “disk” or “wheel” and refers to the energy centers in your body. These wheels or disks of spinning energy each correspond to certain nerve bundles and major organs.
To function at their best, your chakras need to stay open, or balanced. If they get blocked, you may experience physical or emotional symptoms related to a particular chakra.
There are seven main chakras that run along your spine. They start at the root, or base, of your spine and extend to the crown of your head. That said, some people believe you have at least 114 different chakras in the body.
The chakras most often referred to are the seven main ones that we’ll explore in more detail below.
What are the 7 main chakras?
The chakra system refers to the energy centers we have in our bodies. There are seven major chakras, each in a specific location along your spine. Let’s look at each one more closely.
1) Root Chakra
The root chakra, or Muladhara, is located at the base of your spine. It provides you with a base or foundation for life, and it helps you feel grounded and able to withstand challenges. Your root chakra is responsible for your sense of security and stability.
2) Sacral Chakra
The sacral chakra, or Svadhistana, is located just below your belly button. This chakra is responsible for your sexual and creative energy. It’s also linked to how you relate to your emotions as well as the emotions of others.
3) Solar Plexus Chakra
The solar plexus chakra, or Manipura, is located in your stomach area. It’s responsible for confidence and self-esteem, as well as helping you feel in control of your life.
4) Heart Chakra
The heart chakra, or Anahata, is located near your heart, in the center of your chest. It comes as no surprise that the heart chakra is all about our ability to love and show compassion.
5) Throat Chakra
The throat chakra, or Vishuddha, is located in your throat. This chakra has to do with our ability to communicate verbally.
6) Third Eye Chakra
The third eye chakra, or Ajna, is located between your eyes. You can thank this chakra for a strong gut instinct. That’s because the third eye is responsible for intuition. It’s also linked to imagination.
7) Crown Chakra
The crown chakra, or Sahasrara, is located at the top of your head. Your Sahasrara represents your spiritual connection to yourself, others, and the universe. It also plays a role in your life’s purpose.
What does it mean if a chakra is blocked or unbalanced?
Diane Malaspina, PhD, a yoga medicine therapeutic specialist, said she prefers to think of chakras as out of balance versus blocked.
“There can be a depletion of energy flow or too much energetic activity in a chakra — each will manifest into different outcomes,” she explained.
When a chakra is low in energy, she said, you’ll have difficulty expressing the particular qualities associated with that chakra.
When a chakra is overactive, Malaspina said, the qualities are a dominant force in the person’s life. This can have both physical and emotional effects.
For example, the first chakra is about security, survival, and the foundation of our life. If it’s underactive, she says it can show up as depression and insecurity. If there’s too much energy, it can show up as fearlessness without precaution or hoarding because you need more to feel secure.
Can a blocked chakra affect your health?
In general, the location of the chakra that’s out of balance may affect the parts of your body in close proximity to that chakra, according to Malaspina.
This includes your organs, bones, joints, and tissues near that area.
Psychologically, she says, imbalances in the chakras may cause an emotional imbalance.
This may lead to increased anger, sadness, fear, or indecisiveness.
“It’s important to pay attention to both the psychological and physiological sensations because they can inform each other and uncover the root cause of the experience,” said certified yoga teacher and master reiki healer, Guadalupe Terrones.
According to Terrones, experiencing too much stress — physically or mentally — may cause one or more chakras to be out of balance.
“Personal habits such as poor physical alignment or posture, eating unhealthy food, or self-destructive behavior may cause a chakra to be imbalanced,” she said.
Terrones also said that prolonged imbalance may lead to physical disease and illness, musculoskeletal issues, and mental health challenges like depression or anxiety.
How can you unblock a chakra?
According to Malaspina, a great way to promote balance in a chakra is to create alignment in your physical body through:
- yoga postures
- breathing practices to encourage the flow of energy
- meditation to bring about clarity of mind
Each chakra has yoga poses that may help fine-tune its energy. Here are some poses that may help unblock each of your seven chakras.
The root chakra is the base chakra and reflects your foundation. According to Terrones, Tree Pose or any balancing poses, like Mountain or Warrior, are great for establishing a stronger relationship with your body’s foundation.
The sacral chakra is associated with our reproductive area and is responsible for our creativity and sensuality.
Terrones says poses that strengthen your pelvic floor, where the sacral chakra resides, such as Bridge Pose or deep hip openers like Pigeon Pose or Lizard Pose, are great for strengthening your sacral chakra.
Solar Plexus Chakra
The solar plexus chakra is all about your inner fire and resides around your core. That’s why Terrones says core strengthening poses, such as Boat or Triangle, are great for firing up your abs and creating more balance in this chakra.
Your heart chakra, according to Terrones, is the integration point between the lower chakras and the higher chakras. “It reflects our ability to open ourselves up to deeper connections with others,” she said.
To unblock this chakra, she recommends heart openers, such as Camel Pose or Wheel. She also recommends Cow Face Pose and Humble Warrior, which help open your chest, shoulders, and arms so you can more fully embrace others.
The throat chakra is your communication center. According to Terrones, Plow and Fish are great poses to open up your throat chakra. Both help open up the back and front sides of your neck, where the throat chakra resides.
Third Eye Chakra
The third eye chakra rules your ability to invite a new reality into your life by dreaming up different possibilities. Terrones recommends poses that involve getting your upper body intimately connected with your lower body.
According to Terrones, poses such as Forward Fold or Folded Eagle are great for the third eye.
“In these poses, our higher self, represented by our upper bodies, establishes a connection with our more rooted parts of our bodies, our legs, so that we can manifest a dream into a physical reality.”
The crown chakra rules your connection to your higher self. That’s why Terrones recommends the pose that comes after all yoga poses: Savasana, or Corpse Pose.
This pose, says Terrones, helps strengthen your crown chakra by connecting you with your eternal self — your soul — and reminding you where you came from and where you’ll go.