What is a chakra? The word literally translates from Sanskrit to 'wheel' or 'disk'. The chakras are energy centres in the body, seven of them, which align with the spine. They are part of the 'subtle' body, that is they are not part of the physical body. The chakra is a swirling wheel of energy, and each chakra corresponds with nerve centres, systems, and organs of certain parts of the body. The chakras also correspond to different emotional, spiritual and psychological states of being.
Tantric texts state that there are many chakras in the subtle body, for example minor chakras between the major chakras, but the seven shown above are the most important. Some system models describe one or more transpersonal chakras above the Crown chakra, as well as an 'Earth Star Chakra' below the feet. It was only in 1927 that the Shakta theory of seven main chakras, that has become most popular in the West, was introduced.
The chakras are described as being aligned in an ascending column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. New Age chakra practices often associate each energy centre with a certain colour.
Awareness of your chakras is considered the first key to aligning them. Energy flows through the chakra system and blockages can have a huge impact on us in a number of ways; physical, emotional, and mental.
The first three chakras (starting from the base of the spine up) are called the 'Chakras of Matter' and are more physical in nature:
The First Chakra, or the Muladhara, or the 'Root' or 'Base Chakra', is the chakra of stability, security, basic needs and survival. It encompasses the first three vertebrae, the bladder and the colon. When this chakra is open we feel safe, secure, fearless, and we are better at standing up for ourselves. Imbalance of this chakra can result in depression, fatigue, lower back pain and frequent colds.
The Second Chakra, or the Svadhisthana, or 'Spleen Chakra'is the chakra of creativity and our sexual centre. It is connected to our right to feel and our ability to be both social and intimate. It is located above the pubic bone and below the navel. Imbalances in this chakra are connected to urinary problems, eating disorders, alcohol and drug use, lower back pain, asthma, candida problems, and issues with intimacy.
The Third Chakra, or the Manipura, or 'Solar Plexus Chakra', is the chakra associated with 'personal power'. Manipura translates to 'lustrous gem'. This chakra is located between the navel and the breastbone and is associated with the balance of intellect, self-control, humour, ego and self-power. Imbalances in this chakra can result in digestive problems, diabetes, ulcers, constipation, nervousness, poor memory.
The fourth chakra is the connection between heart and spirit:
The Fourth Chakra, or the Anahata, or the 'Heart Chakra', is the chakra at the middle of the seven chakras and unites the lower chakras of matter and the upper chakras of spirit. This chakra is also spiritual but acts as a bridge between the two sets of chakras and our mind, body and spirit. It pertains to relationships, the right to love, and forgiveness and compassion. It is connected to the ability to have self-control, and acceptance of oneself. An imbalance in the heart chakra can lead to heart and breathing disorders, chest pain, high blood pressure and immune system problems. It is often portrayed as either green or pink in colour.
The fifth, sixth and seventh chakras are known as the 'Chakras of Spirit':
The Fifth Chakra, or the Visuddha, or the 'Throat Chakra', is the chakra connected to verbal expression and speaking our highest truth. It is also connected to trust, loyalty, and organisation and planning. It is located in the throat area and includes the thyroid and parathyroid, neck, jaw, mouth and tongue. An imbalance in this chakra can lead to thyroid problems, swollen glands, imbalances and flu, infections, mouth, jaw, neck, shoulder and tongue problems. Hyperactivity and hormonal disorders such as PMS, moodswings, bloating and menopause issues.
The Sixth Chakra, or the Ajna, or the 'Brow' or 'Third Eye Chakra', is the chakra associated with our intuition. It is connected to us trusting our insights and intuitions and to listen to it and heed its warnings, to developing our psychic abilities and self-realisation. It is found between the eyebrows and an imbalance of this chakra can lead to depression, co-ordination problems and sleeping disorders.
The Seventh Chakra, or the Sahaswara, or the 'Crown Chakra', is the chakra at the top of the head. It is also known as the 'Thousand Petal Lotus' chakra. This is the chakra of enlightenment and spiritual connection to our higher selves, others, and ultimately, to the divine. It pertains to dedication to the divine and trust in the Universe, and integrating one's consciousness with subconsciousness into the superconsciousness. It is located at the crown of the head. Imbalances with this chakra can result in headaches, photosensitivity, mental illness, neuralgia, right/left brain disorders and co-ordination problems, epilepsy and blood vessel disorders (such as varicose veins).