Chances are that you’ve heard about chakras. Your massage therapist may have told you that your low back pain is connected to a stagnant sacral chakra. Or a well-meaning New-Agey friend may have attributed your lack of relationship success to a deficiency in your heart chakra.
But what are the chakras, anyway?
Chakras (from the Sanskrit cakra, “wheel”) are energy vortexes that help regulate the flow of the human aura, or subtle energy field. In modern times auras have been measured as electromagnetic force fields. Kirlian photography has captured images of auras, in which energy fields appear as soft emanations surrounding physical bodies.
Ancient yogis recognized the existence of these subtle energy fields and described the seven main chakras arranged like stepping stones of increasingly higher vibrational levels along a channel of energy at the core of the body. Each chakra is located near a major nerve plexus and associated with a specific element and color. The chakras connect body, mind, and spirit, regulating the flow of prana, or life force energy, throughout structures of the physical body and in associated areas of our emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies.
The lower three chakras are primarily associated with earthly concerns. The first or base chakra, Muladhara, meaning “root support,” located at the base of the spine, is characterized by the color red and associated with the earth element. Physically, this chakra governs the health of feet, legs, lower spine, and excretory functions. Energetically, it is associated with security and survival issues and with our connection to our family of origin.
The second, sacral chakra (Svadisthana, “sweetness”), located deep in the belly, is associated with the color orange and with the element of water, with health of the pelvis and reproductive organs, with sexuality, creativity, and our ability to experience pleasure.
The third, solar plexus chakra (Manipura, “lustrous gem”), bright yellow and associated with the fire element, relates to organs of digestion and metabolism, to our ability to assimilate and metabolize nutrients, and to our sense of personal power, or “inner fire.”
The fourth or heart chakra (Anahata, “unstruck”), in the center of the chakra system, forms a bridge connecting material and spiritual realms. It is green and associated with the air element, with heart, lungs, and breasts, with life-sustaining functions of circulation and breath, and with our ability to experience the higher emotions of unconditional love and compassion.
The three upper chakras relate more to emotional and spiritual issues. The sky-blue fifth or throat chakra (Vissudha, “purification”) is associated with sound, with the health of the thyroid and vocal cords, and with our ability to “speak our truth” fluently and creatively.
The third eye chakra (Ajna, “command center), located in the center of the forehead, is indigo blue and associated with the element of ether, with the physical faculties of sight and hearing and with extra-sensory capacities of clairvoyance, clairaudience, intuition, and psychic powers.
The violet crown chakra (Sahasrara, “thousand-petaled”) located at the crown of the head, is associated with the higher brain functions of the cerebral cortex, with the element of silence, with higher consciousness and our deep inner understanding of the connectedness of everything in the universe.
Energy moves continuously throughout the chakra system. Because body, mind, and spirit are intimately connected, it’s easy for our chakras to become imbalanced. Psychological trauma can cause chakras to become blocked and eventually result in physical dysfunction. For instance, constipation may indicate a blockage in the first chakra, and may be related to fears of not being able to provide for basic needs. Frequent sore throats could indicate a blocked fifth chakra and may result from reluctance to communicate honestly and openly. Recurring migraines may indicate a sixth chakra blockage that results from an inability to acknowledge your own psychic gifts.
Awareness of imbalances in your chakras is the first step toward balancing them. Other modalities for healing your chakras include dance, yoga, Reiki, crystal healing, and aromatherapy.
Although some authorities advise transcending the lower chakras in favor of the more expansive upper chakras, each chakra represents an aspect of consciousness vital to our lives. When energy flows freely throughout our chakra system, we experience a profound sense of wholeness, embracing the potential to be the best human beings that we can be.
Emily Wells-Perritt, CMT, RYT-500, is the owner of Wells Therapeutics Center for Massage, Healing and Transformation located near Mt. Trashmore in Va. Beach. She’s a certified massage therapist, yoga instructor, and avid cyclist. Visit www.wellstherapeutics.com.