4 minute read
By Ece Ozkan
Remember the times you had to drag yourself out of the bed? That sluggish feeling you have, which might still be there after your first cup of coffee. Or feeling something is off with your throat, after a not so productive argument with your boss and unable to express yourself. Why does that happen? Of course there can be several reasons from adrenal fatigue to an undiagnosed illness to catching a cold. Yet, there is one particular reason I want to talk about in this article: chakras, which are the wheels of energy flowing in our bodies. After giving you a brief description, I’ll focus on the impact of chakras and blocked energy in our prana (life force) and how yoga and breathwork can help.
In a previous article on Yoga History, I briefly talked about Patanjali’s 8 limbs. One of them is pranayama, which refers to the vital energy/ life force. It flows through the subtle energetic channels and “through the seven main energetic centers that run up and down our spines (chakras)”. According to yoga tradition, subtle body is a part of the body that we can not see. Referred to as the energy body as it is where our energy flows, subtle body has seven key points which are vortexes of energy and they are called “chakras”. The word itself literally means wheel or disk in Sanskrit, hence in yoga it refers to the wheels of energy throughout the body.
There are seven chakras to regulate the energy flow in our body and they are well positioned from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Each chakra has its own vibrational frequency, color, and governs a specific function. An example to that is the root chakra, for instance, which is associated with earth. When it’s balanced, we feel strong and grounded; when it’s out of balance, we may feel unrooted and insecure.
…it is essential to understand one thing: You are energy. All living things are created by and composed of energy.The ability of your energy centers to function optimally is what keeps you psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually balanced.- chakras.info
1.Root Chakra (Muladhara):
The first chakra is at the base of the spine. This chakra governs our ties to the earth, survival instincts and belonging. When it’s blocked or out of balance, you can become needy and have low self esteem. When the root chakra is in balance, you feel grounded and confident and can literally stand up on your own feet.
The yoga pose that corresponds to it is Tree Pose (Vrksasana). At this balancing pose, you cultivate a sense of earthiness (tree) and stability through breath.
2.Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana):
The second chakra is at the lower abdomen and corresponds with reproductive and sexual organs. Hence, it is associated with creation, fertility, intuition. When it’s out of balance, you can feel emotionally unstable or hard on yourself. And when it’s in balance, you feel creative, receptive to change and in the flow.
Goddess pose (Deviasana) is often a good pose to feel this energy flowing. The positioning of the hips, swaying from side to side gives you a sense of “play”, finding joy in the movement.
3.Naval Chakra (Manipura):
Lying in the area from the navel to the breastbone, this chakra is all about our personal power. When the naval chakra is in balance, you have high self esteem and confidence. When it’s out of balance, you lack courage and feel stagnant.
Core work, twists and diaphragmatic breathing can balance the energy channels here. What is a better pose to accomplish that then Boat Pose (Navasana)?!
When energy becomes blocked in a chakra, it triggers physical, mental, or emotional imbalances that manifest in symptoms such as anxiety, lethargy, or poor digestion. A well-tuned asana practice can free up energy and stimulate an imbalanced chakra, paving the way for that wonderful internal shift for which yoga is known. – Yoga Journal
4.Heart Chakra (Anahata):
The fourth chakra is at the center of the chest and also at the middle of the seven chakras uniting the lower chakras of matter and the upper chakras of spirit. It governs compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. When the heart chakra is blocked, you may become possessive end codependent. When the heart chakra is balanced, “you can heal past wounds by reopening your heart, learn to love unconditionally, and form healthy relationships.”
As you can guess, heart opener poses are good to stimulate this chakra. Camel pose (Ustrasana) is a good example to tune into your heart chakra.
5.Throat Chakra (Vishuddha):
Located in the throat area, the fifth chakra governs communication and in a way finding your voice. When it’s blocked, you may feel like you are not able to find your voice or speak the truth. You may also feel overly talkative and not listening others enough. When it’s open and stimulated, you are able to communicate your truth and emotions in healthy ways, and become better at listening others.
Supported shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana) is a good yoga pose to stimulate the throat chakra by creating spaciousness around the throat and neck area.
6.Third Eye Chakra (Ajna):
Ajna is located in between the eyebrows. Associated with intuition, or sixth sense, and governs how the rest of the chakras function. When it’s functioning well, you have insight and trust your inner wisdom. When it’s blocked, you may feel close-minded, cynical, too much attached to logic. Working on this chakra helps you get in touch with your intuition, see the bigger picture.
Meditative poses like easy pose (Sukhasana) helps tuning into this chakra.
7.Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)
Element: Cosmic Energy
Color: Violet or White
Located at the crown of the head, the seventh chakra governs connection with the Divine. It is the “chakra of enlightenment and spiritual connection to our higher selves, others, and ultimately, to the divine”. When it’s blocked, you may believe that happiness can only come from the outside. Opening up this chakra helps you to feel free and content.
Corpse pose (Savasana) is a good example where you can integrate your entire being from head to toe “to experience a vast connection between your innermost self and all things.”
Body is intelligent and it communicates with us. When one or more chakras are out of balance, the body is excellent about communicating which ones are affected. An issue in expressing yourself would result in an imbalance of throat chakra, and can surface as sore throat. Or stuckness in life and low self esteem can put naval chakra off, and manifest in digestive issues. Restoring the balance can be done via several ways such as reiki, conscious breathing, tai-chi, chakra meditation, acupressure and acupuncture, aromatherapy, and of course, yoga. A regular yoga practice, along with breathwork, helps flowing the energy throughout the body. Certain poses can target specific chakra blockages, yet yoga overall is a great way to have more balance in our body and mind.
NOTE: If you are intrigued to learn more, Manasi is offering a 90 min Chakra workshop next week on May 23rd, in which you’ll discover the relationship between these energy centers (chakras) and how they relate to your physical practice (asanas) on the mat as well as off the mat as you go through daily challenges. You can purchase this workshop here.