Chakras, in the esoteric traditions of Indian religions, meaning "wheels" or "circles", are centers of subtle body radiating psychic-energy throughout the body.
This concept is found particularly in the tantric traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, the chakras are conceived as an energy focal point, bodily functions or psychic node in the subtle body and are part of the subtle body, not the physical body, and connected by energy channels called Nadi.
Traditionally there are seven main chakras, which align the spine, starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head.The chakras can have various levels of activity. When they're "open," they're considered operative in a normal fashion. Ideally, all chakras would contribute to our being. As transformers, the 7 chakras are organs of transmutation. They step the energy up or down as it enters from different energy sources into the subtle energy system depending on which body (physical, mental or emotional) is in a deficit position. Some chakras are not open enough (being under-active), and to compensate, other chakras are over-active. The ideal state is where the chakras are balanced.
Root Chakra/ Muladhara
This chakra is symbolized by a lotus with four petals and the colour red. Female power Kundalini or Shakti is residing here. This chakra is about our vitality and being physically present and aware of our body. It is about being grounded and feeling at home in any situation. The root chakra stands for personal security, fulfilling the personal needs.
If the root chakra is open, we feel stable, secure and strong. We don't unnecessarily distrust situations or people. We can feel present in the here and now and are connected to our physical body. We feel we have sufficient territory. This chakra is related to the element earth.
Our Root chakra is under-active when we tend to be fearful or nervous. We'd easily feel unwelcome.
If this chakra is over-active, we may behave very greedy and materialistic, over-focused on material things and its promising security. We often are obsessed with being safe and resist change.
Physical location: Base of the spine
Organs associated: Vertebral column, Foot, Blood, Leg, Bone, Tooth,Skeleton
Yoga poses (strengthening the chakra): Shavasana, Tadasana, Virabhadrasana I
Colour associated: Red
Mantra associated: LAM
Sacral chakra/ Swadhishthana
The sacral chakra is about feelings, sexuality, well-being and pleasure. With an open center, our feelings flow freely, and are expressed naturally, without force or logic. We are open to intimacy and can be passionate and lively. We have no problems dealing with our sexuality and the pleasure we receive from being open with our feelings. We are in touch with our feelings and we are capable to tune into our "gut"- awareness.
The sacral center is the center of life- giving and birth. Anything we give birth to, be it a new project, a venture or a person, can be experienced as joy. This center is related to element water.
If we tend to be stiff and unemotional, the sacral chakra is under-active. We shut down emotionally and are not very open to relationships. We have a hard time expressing our emotions freely or at all.
If this chakra is over-active, we tend to be emotional all the time, as if we have no control over our emotions. We seem to overreact or appear exaggerated with our emotions. We can feel emotionally attached to people and can be overly sexual.
Physical location: In the pelvic area
Organs associated: Kidney, Reproductive system, Urinary bladder,Genitals
Yoga poses (strengthening the chakra): Bālāsana, Natarajasana,Parivrtta Trikonasana
Colour associated: Orange
Mantra associated: VAM
Navel chakra/ Manipura
The Navel chakra is about asserting oneself in life or in a group. It stands for confidence and power.
When this chakra is open, we have sufficient self esteem and know exactly where we stand in life. We are motivated and have no problem to achieve and move forward through our organizational talent. We know how to establish ourself in a healthy and true manner and have the ability to influence the environment around us. We shine clearly and naturally and move with eager through this world. There is a reason why this chakra is named solar plexus. The element associated with this chakra is fire.
When the Navel chakra is under-active, we tend to be passive and indecisive. We appear timid and submissive and often don't achieve what we need.
If this chakra is over-active, we appear domineering and probably even aggressive. We suffer from too much self esteem and over-evaluate ourself.
Physical location: Between the navel and solar plexus
Organs associated: Liver, Pancreas, Stomach, Lung, Adrenal gland,Human digestive system, Large intestine
Yoga poses (strengthening the chakra): Dhanurasana,Virabhadrasana I, Virabhadrasana II
Colour associated: Yellow
Mantra associated: RAM
Heart chakra/ Anahata
The Heart chakra is about love, kindness, and affection. When it is open, we are compassionate and friendly, and we work harmoniously in relationships. We are capable to show love unconditionally and let our heart speak its truth. We connect with nature outside and inside of us, when the heart chakra is well balanced.
This chakra is associated with the element air.
When the Heart chakra is under-active, we appear cold and distant. We don't allow to let the heart speak and try to control its vibrations which leads to obstruction, restraint and disaccord.
If this chakra is over-active, we tend to suffocate others with our need to give love and this unbalanced love probably comes from a need (the need to feel loved/ be loved). The love we send out is conditional and can never be truly answered.
Physical location: In the center of the chest at the heart level
Organs associated: Heart, Lung, Circulatory system
Yoga poses (strengthening the chakra): Uttanasana, Bakasana, Ustrasana
Colour associated: Green
Mantra associated: YAM
Throat chakra/ Wishuddha
The Throat chakra is about self-expression and manifestation through words, talking, writing and images. When it is open, we easily express ourself. It gives us power to express thought with quality, be it through words, music, sound, or imagery. This is the center of transformation of energy through words and images. It is the chakra center of the arts. Words and sound come easily.
The element associated with this chakra is the element aether which is the 5th element on a higher dimension than the traditional 4 elements (earth, water, air and fire). Aether is also known as akasha.
When this chakra is under-active, you tend not to speak much, we tend to have a "locked" throat. We often appear overly introverted or shy. Not speaking one's truth also blocks this chakra.
If this chakra is over-active, we tend to speak too much. Often we domineer conversations and are not very good listeners. There is more quantity in expression than quality, which can drain ourself and others.
Element: Akasha/ Aether
Physical location: In the neck and shoulders region
Organs associated: Thyroid, Neck, Shoulder, Mouth, Arm, Tooth
Yoga poses (strengthening the chakra): Sarvangasana, Halasana,Matsyasana, Simhasana
Colour associated: Blue
Mantra associated: HAM
Third Eye chakra/ Ajna
The third eye chakra represents the nadis (psychic channels) Ida and Pingala which meet the central nadi (Sushumna) before rising to the crown chakra (Sahasrara). The third eye chakra signifies the subconscious mind while our two physical eyes see the physical world, the third eye connects us to our intuition and intellect and delivers us wisdom and insight through reflection and visualization. It is a part of the brain which can be made more powerful through meditation, yoga and other spiritual practices. When something is seen in the mind's eye, or in a dream, it is being seen by Ajna. It allows mind communication between two people. The third eye can see without "looking" and "knows" without gleaning. It is a different kind of knowing. The knowing through the subconscious. It is the recognition and acceptance of destiny.
When this chakra is open, we have a strong intuition. We can easily visualize and build bridges to higher consciousness. Our imagination is strong and we are in touch with our subconscious faculties.
There is no element associated with the third eye chakra. The sphere in which the third eye functions, is non-elemental.
When the third eye chakra is under-active, we can be very dependent and we may tend to rely on authorities. Our way of thinking may be rigid and we might rely on beliefs too much.
If this chakra is over-active, we may live in a world of fantasy too much. We get confused facilely, and the veil between the conscious and the subconscious mind easily gets misconceived. Delusion and misguidance can be the result. In excessive cases hallucinations are also possible.
Element: no element
Physical location: Between the eyebrows, behind the forehead
Organs associated: Eye, Brain, Pineal gland, Pituitary gland, Nervous system, Ear
Yoga poses (strengthening the chakra): Bālāsana, Janusirsasana,Ardha Pincha Mayurasana
Colour associated: Indigo
Mantra associated: AUM
Crown chakra/ Sahasrara
The Crown chakra is the deeper connection with a force of life that is greater than ourselves. It is the awareness of higher consciousness, and the wisdom of what is sacred. It is the connection with the formless and the limitless. The crown chakra is associated with the transcendence of our limitations, whether they are personal or bound to space and time. It is where the paradox becomes norm, where seemingly opposites are one. The quality of awareness that comes with the crown chakra is universal and transcendent. Some describe this chakra as the gateway to the cosmic self or the divine self, to cosmic consciousness. It’s linked to the infinite, the universal. It is about wisdom and being one with the world. It is the chakra of enlightenment.
When this chakra is open, it delivers realization and liberation from limiting patterns through communion with higher states of consciousness. We then experience presence, bliss and ecstasy. We are unprejudiced and quite aware of the world and ourself. As we are immersed in the energy of the crown chakra, we feel a state of blissful union with all that is. This chakra allows access to the upmost clarity and enlightened wisdom.
There is no element and all elements at the same time associated with this chakra.
If the chakra is under-active, we're not very aware of spirituality and eventual disconnected from spirit. An overactive crown chakra could manifest as a disconnection with the body resulting in living in our head and ignoring our bodily needs. We then tend to rigid thinking and closed-mindedness. It can also result in obsessive attachment to spiritual matters or in intellectualizing things too much.
Element: none and all
Physical location: Crown of the head
Organs associated: Pineal gland, Nervous system, Pituitary gland
Yoga poses (strengthening the chakra): Shavasana, Vriksasana,Sirsasana, Half Lotus pose
Colour associated: Violet
Mantra associated: AUM
The main purpose in working with the chakras is to create wholeness within yourself. In this way, you bring the various aspects of your consciousness from the physical to the spiritual, into a harmonious relationship.
Ultimately, you will begin to recognize that the various aspects of your being all work together, and that each aspect is as much a part of the whole as the others. A big part of meditation is learning how to acknowledge, integrate, and accept all levels of your being. Because breathing and oxygenation is so vital to the energy system, chakra meditations are very important in the process of Wholeness.
To learn more indepth about chakras, their imblanaces and how to balance them, i can highly recomment the book "Eastern Body, Western Mind"
by Anodea Judith
Alan Watts - Teaches Yoga:
"How to make Yourself a Better Person" by Alan Watts: