Yoga By Mercedes Aspland / June 30, 2014 I have been wanting to do this post for a while because it was one of our assignments in my yoga teacher training to looking into all the chakras and write something about them. I thought the best thing to do was to post my assignment as I submitted it. The only thing I have added is a small introduction just to explain the basis of what a chakra is. Hopefully you find it helpful one useful way I have found to use it is when I feel a strong emotion that I need to work through to think about which chakra it is linked to and see if there is a way I can clear the blockage there. Introduction Chakra is a sanskrit word that translates as wheel and the chakras in the body are thought to be wheels of light or of energy. Although there are a number of different chakras we normally just consider the 7 major chakras that sit along the spinal cord. All of these chakras relate to a certain area of the body, certain emotions as well as endocrine glands. As energy passes up your spinal cord and passes through these chakras it can get blocked or disturbed leading to a chakra to be over or under active resulting in a number of different symptoms. The ultimate aim is to bring all chakras into balance and so allowing the body and the mind to be in perfect harmony. Below all of the 7 main chakras have been described in detail. Root Chakra The Root or base chakra which in sanskrit is called Mooladhara is lowest or all chakras and is located at the perineum which is men is at the perineal floor and women the cervix. It can also be thought of as being located at the base of the spine or the coccyx. It is the most base of all chakras and as such connects us to the earth which is the element that represents it. It is also the chakra that represents our most basic survival instincts and is in control of our fight or flight response. It is also strongly linked to our sense of security as well as our self esteem. When a person’s root chakra is clear and energy is freely flowing through it they will feel secure and confident whereas if it is blocked they will tend to suffer from anxiety and depression. On a physical level the root chakra governs the lower parts of the body including the legs and feet but also the kidneys, urination, sexual organs and the reproductive glands. People who have imbalances in this chakra will often suffer problems in these areas of the body with conditions like lower back pain and sciatica, knee and foot problems and will also get cold hands and feet. They will also experience emotional problems like depression, phobias and fatigue. In addition the root chakra has strong ancestral links and will store information that is passed from generation to generation. Usually it is things that affect our survival as this is governed by this chakra. So any sort of natural disaster or wars are stored in this chakra from our life and from our ancestors. It is for that reason that it is important to clear this chakra to prevent repetitive behaviour from other generations from reoccurring. The colour of this chakra is red, its element is Earth, the planet is saturn, the glands it governs are the adrenal glands and the sense linked to this chakra is smell. In addition it also governs the lymph system and the skeletal system, so in effect is responsible for our very core or root. When the energy flows freely through this chakra they will feel down to earth or grounded, safe, stable, courageous, connected to and comfortable in their physical body, loyal, confident, aware of own limitations and comfortable with them, full of energy, confident with calculated risks and happy to be alone. When the energy is blocked or restricted at this chakra a person my lack flexibility in their life, lack confidence, exhibit stubbornness and laziness. They may also have a strong attachment to things and the material world at the same time as lacking financial independence as well as having a sting dislike for their body as well as physical conditions as mentioning above. Yoga poses that can be used to balance this chakra include Mountain pose, Warrior I pose and Bridge pose. Sacral Chakra The Sacral chakra or the second chakra is often referred to the spleen chakra and in Sandskrit is Svadisthana and is located 2 fingers width above the root chakra. The colour associate with this chakra is orange, the element is water, the planet is the moon, the sense is taste and also appetite. The fact that this chakra is linked to water means that it represents our ability to go with the flow. It is also linked to our sexuality, creativity, our emotions and our ego development. The easier the energy flows through this chakra the easier it is for us to accept change. The areas of the body that are governed by the sacral chakra are the sacral plexus (where it is connected), the urinary and reproductive organs as well as the live, stomach, large intestine, pancreas, appendix, hips, pelvis and bodily fluids. If a person has blockages at this chakra then on a physical level they may suffer from kidney problems and bladder infections such as cystitis. It can also affect their sex drive and significantly reduce it as well as causing prostate problems for men and gynaecological problems for women. The sacral chakra has a big influence over the reproductive organs and so blockages can cause problems with fertility as well as problems in pregnancy. On an emotional level this chakra is responsible for our basic wants, needs and pleasures and is linked to both sex and food in this respect. It is also responsible for our emotions and the depth of feeling that we can realise. People who have their energy flowing freely through this chakra will experience things such as a healthy appetite, sexual satisfaction and an easy ability to feel and express emotion and in particular will find it easy to cry. They will also experience great pleasure of the senses and have a strong creative ability. People with this chakra balanced will also have a balanced ego and a sense of peace within themselves which can be reflected in the fact they have a great inner confidence in themselves and their physical body as well as a great self knowledge and trust in themselves. When there is a blockage in the energy at this chakra then some of the emotional signals can be seen in people that overindulge. They may struggle to get sexual satisfaction and may be prone to excesses in this area. In terms of food then people with an imbalance here may either be binge eaters and suffer with excess weight or go the other way and suffer from eating disorders like anorexia. In addition people with a disturbance at the second chakra might find that they find change very difficult and suffer from extreme insecurity and shyness. They can also be over emotional and sensitive. As with all the chakras it is vital for physical, mental and emotional health to balance this chakra and some of the yoga poses than can help with this include Cow Face Pose, Pigeon pose, Bound Angle pose and Open Angle pose. Solar Plexus Chakra The Solar Plexus Chakra is the third chakra and is located at the solar plexus, in Sandskrit it is known as Manipura Chakra. The colour associate with this chakra is yellow, the element is fire or the sun, the planet is Mars, sense is eyesight and the gland is the pancreas. Physically this chakra is linked to digestion and metabolism. On an emotional level the solar plexus chakra is linked to a persons energy levels, ego, power and motivation. It also has a strong connection to self-esteem, personal transformation and an ability to be yourself and be comfortable with that. It also represents belly laughter, warmth, ease and vitality. When the energy is flowing freely through this chakra a person will be full of energy and experience joy. They will appear to have immense courage and a true inner strength which cannot be shaken. They are aware of their own power and know how to express this and they respect it and respect others as well. If there are any blockages at this chakra then a person may be full of fear and quick to anger. They can often be quite selfish and have a large ego bugging up their achievements. It is like they will not be aware of either their own feelings or anyone else’s and so may act in ways that are hurtful to themselves and others and can come across as not caring. They may also be perfectionists putting unrealistic demands on others and themselves. They may also put a lot of importance on power and status. On a physical lever the solar plexus chakra is very much linked to digestion and metabolism and any conditions caused by disturbances at this chakra will link to the digestive system. For example people with a blockage here will likely suffer from an eating disorder and can often feel like a victim which can link to depression. Any digestive issues are linked to this chakra as well as conditions like diabetes, gall stones, ulcers and liver problems. As the sense linked to this chakra is sight then blockages can also lead to eye problems. In addition the link to fire means if this energy centre is lacking then a person can lack energy and vitality and suffer from exhaustion and fatigue. Yoga poses that can be used to balance this chakra depend on whether a person needs to increase the fire in their life or whether they need cooling. To increase the fire then practising sun salutations and poses like boat pose, warrior poses and twists can all help. If you need to cool the fire then practising restorative back bends can be useful. People with an imbalance here may also need to take calculated risks which can depend on the person so headstand, handstand and forearm balances might be needed or lowering to upward bow pose from mountain pose. Heart Chakra The heart chakra, known as Anahata chakra in sanskrit is the fourth chakra and is thought to be the balance point between the upper and lower chakras. This colour associated with this chakra is green, the element is air, the planet is venus, the sense is touch and the gland is the thymus. As it is the balance point of all the chakras it is located in the centre of the body, effectively at the heart. This chakra governs the heart, lungs, circulatory system and the chest in general. It is strongly associated with love and our relationships. A person who has energy flowing freely though this chakra will be able to love themselves and others easily, they will have a deep sense of compassion and empathy. In addition they will also display self-control and self acceptance and with it a great inner confidence. In this sense they are likely to want to do something that serves others or affects social change. As the sense associated to it is touch they will get great pleasure from touch and being touch and so can be tactile in their displays of affection. These people will be noticeable by their great sense of peace and harmony and a feeling of being connected with those around them which is demonstrated by their healthy loving relationships. If there is a disturbance at this chakra then emotionally people may display signs of shyness and loneliness as well as lacking empathy and bing unforgiving. There is a tendency for them to abuse alcohol and break the law. They may be people that tend to lack direction and commitment to the everyday matters of life. They are likely to stay away from love and to avoid physical touch and hold on to previous hurt which holds them back from new connections. Physically this chakra is linked to the heart so any disturbances can cause heart problems but it can also cause asthma, and other lung diseases. It is also thought to cause various immune disorders, cancer and disorders of the nervous system. If you need to stimulate your heart chakra then as it is linked to the breath any form of pranayama can be beneficial. It may also be useful to practise a loving kindness meditation. Yoga poses that can help include supported chest openers, eagle pose and back bends that allow you to lead with the heart and to trust. If someone’s heart chakra is overpowering they may display signs of possessiveness and jealousy as well as suffering from heart disease and high blood pressure. In these cases forward bends can be very beneficial. Throat Chakra The throat chakra is know as Vishuddhi in Sanskrit which means pure or purification. The colour associate with this chakra is blue (turquoise), the element is Ether, the planet Mercury, the sense is hearing and the gland is the thyroid. As expected this chakra is located at the throat and very much governs communication and our ability to express ourselves. When the energy is flowing freely through this chakra a person will have a great ability to express their feelings whether that be through talking or some other creative outlet like art, dance or music. People with a clear throat chakra will have a very good ability to tune in and sense energy which may mean they are able to detect others energy and so their emotions. They are also likely to be reliable and honest people that have a dedicated spiritual practise. As it is linked to the spiritual side people who are strong in this chakra may be clairaudient. On an emotional level if someone has a blockage at this chakra they are like to be lacking creativity, tack and awareness which can lead them to be insensitive. It can also lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness and a sense of being disconnected. The physical symptoms that people experience with disturbances at this chakra will depend on whether it had a deficiency or is overactive. People who have an energy deficiency at this chakra are likely to suffer from neck and shoulder tension, teeth girding and corresponding jaw issues. They are also likely to have an under active thyroid and a fear of speaking. If there is an excess of energy then they could be the type of people that talk too much and do not listen, have hearing problems, stutter and have an overactive thyroid. Other problems associated with disturbances at this chakra include metabolic problems, eating disorders, toothache, muteness, hyperactivity or exhaustion, which is probably dependent on the thyroid. If you want to balance this chakra then you could consider using chanting and music in order to purify it. Other things that can be done for purification include altering diet and practising meditation and yoga. In terms of yoga poses that can be good for this chakra include neck and shoulder stretches, along with camel pose, bridge pose, shoulder stand and plough pose. Third Eye Chakra The third eye or brow chakra is known as Ajna chakra in Sanskrit which can literally be translated as “the perception centre” which is the essence of this chakra. The colour associated with it is Indigo, the element is light, planet is Jupiter, the sense is effectively what is known as the sixth sense and the gland is the pineal. This chakra is located in the centre of the forehead and linked to the brain and the nervous system. This is chakra that is very much linked to the way in which we perceive things and our connection to the spirit world. It is responsible for things like clairvoyance, telepathy, intuition, dreaming, imagination and visualisation. It is also thought to be responsible for the creation and perception of art and how that is actually important to us. If this chakra is free from any disturbances then a person will have a strong extra sensory perception as well as a deep contentment, balance and an ability to derive pleasure from sexual energy. They will have a great spiritual awareness which may be seen through clairvoyance or a knowledge of past lives plus healing skills are also possible. If there is excessive stimulation of this chakra then a person may suffer from headaches, hallucinations, nightmares and have difficulty concentrating. However if there is a deficiency at this chakra then a person may suffer from a poor memory, eye problems and have difficulty making out patterns and difficulty visualising. In terms of yoga to help balance this chakra is may be beneficial to practise with your eyes closed or wearing a blindfold to switch of sight which can help in activating the sixth sense. Also supported forward bends are thought to be beneficial. Crown Chakra The crown chakra is known as sahasrara in sanskrit and is located at the top of the head. The colour usually associated with it is violet but it is also thought to be linked to white which is the unity of all other colours as this chakra is the unity of all the other chakras. The element associate with this chakra is pure spirit, the planet is Uranus, the gland is the pituitary and the sense is unity or empathy but could also be described as thought. This chakra is our strongest connection to spirit and gives us a sense of oneness with everyone and the universe. Like the root chakra is our link to our mother the crown chakra is our link to our father and if there is a separation with our father then this chakra can close off. It is often thought of as the highest state of enlightenment and in religious symbolism is often shown as a halo. A person who has energy flowing freely through this chakra will be self aware and at one with everything. They will be touch with their inner Guru and obtain alignment of mind, body and spirit. It is ultimately everyone’s aim to get to this stage. People with disturbances at this chakra can experience feelings of emptiness, and like something is missing in their life. They might also be withdrawn and depressed and ignorant of spirituality. If there is excessive stimulation of this chakra a person might be overly intellectual or have feelings of spiritual or intellectual superiority. If there is a deficiency at this chakra then a person can have difficulty thinking for themselves or suffer from apathy, spiritual scepticism or materialism. The crown chakra is linked to the brain and in particular has control over the right side of the brain and so the best thing to bring this chakra into balance is meditation. Any type of meditation will be valuable for this purpose as long as it is done consistently.