Human bodies not only have physical presence, but have spiritual presence as well. Within us are energy centers, or chakras, that allow our bodies and minds to coalesce, or merge, when activated. In yoga, many techniques and asanas (yoga postures) can allow the practitioner to utilize various chakras, providing a sense of comfort, freedom, liberation and relaxation throughout all areas of life.

There are many interpretations and beliefs regarding chakras, and the number of existing chakras varies throughout different teachings. In Western culture and many modern schools of thought, seven is the most common number associated with the major chakras in the body. Life force flows between our chakras, where energy is both absorbed and distributed. Each chakra is unique and located in a different area of the body, relating to specific functions, issues and spiritual levels. They are located vertically along the spine, beginning at the coccyx and ending at the head. Because each chakra is different and controls varying aspects of being, different yoga poses must be utilized in order to activate or open a chakra — especially if that chakra is blocked and no longer functional or accessible.

Chakras-Body-LocationsChakras can be blocked due to stress, anxiety or spiritual deprivation, and can also be the cause of these symptoms. When a chakra is blocked it can lead to a physical and/or emotional downturn in the area controlled by that specific chakra, which can severely inhibit a person’s ability to function healthily. Over-accessing a chakra can also be spiritually and physically detrimental, generating too much energy flow to one area in excess. This can lead to lack of restraint, over-indulgence, sexual promiscuity, emotional outbursts and other over-stimulated or exaggerated responses.

In order to resolve the imbalances between your chakras, various yoga poses can be performed to open specific chakras while leveling out the energy in others. Chakra-focused yoga techniques are sometimes more about the mind and less about the movement, though generally the mind and body are equally focused upon. Splitting attention between the mind and body is crucial in assimilating the two, which is the ultimate result of having control over your chakras. Utilizing proper, steady breathing techniques is also an important factor in opening and steadying chakra and energy levels.

By opening the chakras and maintaining a steady flow of life force through your spiritual channels, many spiritual and physical benefits are believed to occur. Not only will there likely be an increase in relaxation and mental clarity, but a decrease in restlessness, tightness, stiffness and fatigue may occur as well. Healthy, functioning chakras bring balance and well-being to our lives, and are even believed to help prevent the onset of physical, mental and spiritual disorders.

muladhara | the root chakra

Represents our foundation and feeling of being grounded

  • Location: Base of spine in tailbone area.
  • Focus Areas: groin, adrenal gland, prostate, kidneys, bones, teeth, nails
  • Emotional and Psychological Effects: Survival issues (fight-or-flight response), instinct, sense of belonging, emotional stability and confidence
  • Results of blockage: Restlessness, insomnia, back pain, constipation, fearfulness, anxiety, fatigue, depression, eating disorders, immunodeficiency

svadisthana | the sacral chakra

Represents our emotional and intimate needs and desires

  • Location: Lower abdomen; genital region
  • Focus Areas: Reproductive/sexual organs
  • Emotional and Psychological Effects: Magnifies sensuality, pleasure, sense of fulfillment and well-being
  • Results of blockage: Lack of energy and libido, unhappiness, sexual repression, guilt; issues with reproductive organs, urinary tract; alternatively, heightened emotions, sexual frustration, promiscuity, violence

manipura | the wisdom chakra

Represents personal acceptance, confidence and control

  • Location: Naval/Solar plexus, upper abdomen
  • Focus Areas: Stomach, upper intestines, pancreas, liver, gall bladder
  • Emotional and Psychological Effects: Improved self worth and self esteem, increased confidence and motivation
  • Results of blockage: Lack of confidence, diminished self worth, passivity, shame; alternatively, abuse of power/authority, dominance, arrogance; development of digestive issues, hypertension, diabetes, allergies

anahata | the heart chakra

Represents expression of love, compassion and forgiveness of self and others

  • Location: Center of Chest
  • Focus Areas: Heart, chest, lungs, ribs, shoulders, arms, diaphragm, circulatory system
  • Emotional and Psychological Effects: Love, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, inner peace and happiness
  • Results of blockage: Loneliness, depression, inability to express affection or compassion; alternatively, emotional dependence on loved ones, attachment in unhealthy relationships; issues with heart, lungs and respiration

vishuddha | the throat chakra

Represents communication and expression of truth, feelings, creativity and self

  • Location: Throat
  • Focus Areas: Throat, esophagus, trachea, mouth, thyroid, neck and spine
  • Emotional and Psychological Effects: Improved speech and communication, creativity and self expression
  • Results of blockage: Lack of communication and creativity, inability to express opinions or ideas; alternatively, shallow or one-sided communication, manipulation, deception; issues caused from neck and shoulder pain, overworked thyroid

ajna | the third eye chakra

Represents psychological, intellectual connection to and understanding of oneself and others

  • Location: Brow
  • Focus Areas: Brain, eyes, ears, nose
  • Emotional and Psychological Effects: Intuition, wisdom, perception, decisiveness
  • Results of blockage: Lack of motivation, creativity and focus, poor judgement and intuition; alternatively, delusional or twisted view of reality, overactive and distorted imagination, misuse of perceptive skills and manipulation; issues with sleep, nightmares, vision and headaches

sahasrara | the crown chakra

Represents spiritual enlightenment, personal liberation and unity

  • Location: Top of head
  • Focus Areas: Central nervous system, muscles and skin
  • Emotional and Psychological Effects: Acceptance of self, others and universe, spirituality
  • Results of blockage: Impracticality, lack of direction and common sense, inability to complete tasks or make decisions; alternatively, feeling of spiritual emptiness, depression, alienation, worthlessness; issues with brain, thought processes and mental illness