You probably know the basics: chakras are energy centers in our body, and we have seven of them – starting with Chakra One at the base of the spine and ending with Chakra Seven at the top of the head. Each chakra has different characteristics, corresponding illnesses (when blocked), and opportunities for release and growth (when aligned).
Here’s a quick-and-easy map to get you started, taken from The Sevenfold Journey: Reclaiming Mind, Body and Spirit Through the Chakras by Anodea Judith and Selene Vega.
You might consider starting with the “malfunctions” to find something that you’re facing now or in your past. Another way in is to find “goals” for a particular chakra that match up with something you’d like more of in your life. Then try the corresponding exercises for a week and see how you feel.
If you feel any sense of release, it might benefit you to study that chakra more deeply to discover other ways you can awaken that energy center in your body. Or you can simply focus more attention on that part of your body when you’re working out, doing yoga, or meditating. It’s all about building awareness in the area of your body that needs healing the most.
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|Location:||Base of spine, legs, feet, large intestine|
|Animals:||Elephant, ox, bull|
|Malfunction:||Obesity, constipation, anorexia, knee troubles, frequent illness, “spaciness,” inability to be still|
|Goals:||Stability, grounding, prosperity, physical health|
|Location:||Abdomen, genitals, low back, hips|
|Main Issue:||Sexuality, emotions|
|Malfunction:||Stiffness, sexual problems, isolation, emotional instability or numbness|
|Goals:||Fluidity, pleasure, relaxation|
|Location:||Solar plexus (abdomen above the belly button)|
|Main Issue:||Power, energy|
|Malfunction:||Ulcers, timidity, domination, fatigue, digestive troubles|
|Goals:||Vitality, strength of will, purpose|
|Archetypes:||Quan Yin (goddess of mercy and compassion)|
|Goals:||Balance, compassion, acceptance|
|Archetypes:||Hermes (the divine trickster)|
|Malfunction:||Sore throats, stiff neck, poor communication|
|Goals:||Clear communication, creativity, resonance|
|Archetypes:||Hermit, Psychic, Dreamer|
|Malfunction:||Headaches, nightmares, hallucinations|
|Goals:||Psychic perception, imagination|
|Location:||Top of head|
|Animals:||Elephant, ox, bull|
|Archetypes:||Sage, wise woman|
|Malfunction:||Confusion, apathy, overly intellectual|
|Goals:||Wisdom, knowledge, spiritual connection|
YOGA, JOURNALING, AND MEDITATION
FOR EVERY CHAKRA
Okay, now that you’ve chosen a chakra you’d like to work with, here are a few practices you can try, adapted from The Sevenfold Journey. You can approach these as a way to align a blocked chakra that’s causing you discomfort, or you can focus on empowering a chakra that you sense is a source of strength for you.
A big part of self-care is creating a space just for you, so consider making an altar for these chakra practices. It can be as simple as an open shelf on your bookcase or the corner of your bedroom where you can do yoga and meditate. You can switch it out as you begin work with new chakras. Setting up an altar is creative fun!
CHAKRA ONE EXERCISES
Arrange objects that represent earth (wood, stone, plants). Feature the color red.
Bridge Pose, Locust Pose, Spinal Roll, Child’s Pose
Explore how you honor your physical body and how you interfere with the manifesting of your survival needs.
Tree of Life Meditation. Imagine your torso as the trunk of a tree. Breathing in, feel the energy rising up through the base of your spine, up your spinal column, and out through the top of your head. Exhaling, raise your hands out and up above your head like branches and then gently let them fall to the floor. Find steadiness and groundedness.
CHAKRA TWO EXERCISES
Arrange objects to represent water (seashells, a cup of water, vase of flowers). Feature the color orange.
Goddess Pose, Pelvic Rocks, Child’s Pose (open hips), Cat Pose
List your desires – body, mind, spirit, ego. Recollect emotions you’ve felt throughout the day, just observing with no judgment. Explore what you repress in yourself.
Sea Altar Meditation. Sit comfortably in front of your altar. Imagine you’re on the beach (or, even better: sit on an actual beach if one is nearby!). Listen to the ocean waves coming in and going out. Align your breath with these waves (real or imagined). Rock back and forth gently to find a sense of balance in your pelvis.
CHAKRA THREE EXERCISES
Arrange objects to represent fire (candles, oil lamp). Feature the color yellow.
Boat Pose, Sun Salutation, Warrior II, Woodchopper
Explore what constitutes power to you, and record the last time you felt you had power. When do you feel least powerful? Make a list of goals you want to accomplish over the next five years and include one small thing you can do every day to get you there.
Candle Meditation. Seat yourself comfortably in front of a lit candle on your altar. Let your gaze rest softly on the flame. Rest your palm on your solar plexus and imagine a flame there as well. Breathe in and out gently, imagining the internal flame in your belly moving back and forth with your breath.
CHAKRA FOUR EXERCISES
Arrange objects to represent love and compassion as well as air (photos of a loved one, feathers, fans, incense). Feature the color green.
Cow Face, Face-down Chest Openings, Wall Hang, Pranayama
Make a list of people you love or have loved in your life. What are their common characteristics? How does thinking about them make you feel? Write down all the things you berate yourself for having/not having. Feel the predicament created by each thing and then forgive yourself for them, one by one.
Spiral Meditation. Sit with an upright spine in front of your altar. Imagine a spiral energy in your body, beginning at your heart. Let it swoop down to the third chakra and up to the fifth (clockwise from the perspective of looking at your belly), then down to the second chakra and up to the sixth, down to the first and up to the seventh and out. Repeat in the reverse order. Imagine the vast energy in your heart moving throughout your body.
CHAKRA FIVE EXERCISES
Arrange objects to represent communication and creativity (artwork, musical instruments, photos of someone with whom you’d like to communicate better). Feature the color bright turquoise blue.
Fish Pose, Neck Rolls, Lion Pose, Back-of-Throat Hum, Moving to Music
List people important to you with whom you have unfinished communication. What do you need to say to them? Don’t censor yourself – get it all out. Include your feelings and begin each statement with “I.”
Inner Child Meditation. Place a photo of yourself as a child on your altar. Sit comfortably and gaze gently at the photo. Imagine what it felt like to be you at that age. This is your Inner Child. Ask your Inner Child to tell you what it is about them that adults don’t see or hear. Listen. Tell your Inner Child that you see them and you hear them and they are loved.
CHAKRA SIX EXERCISES
Arrange beautiful objects of all kinds – the purpose here is to make your altar as pretty as possible (artwork, crystals, flowers, mirrors, candles). Feature a rainbow of colors (even though the sixth chakra color is indigo).
Archetype Dances. Begin standing with your eyes closed. Imagine a blank screen in your mind. When an image appears, form your body into a statue pose that represents this image. Begin to move, play with shapes, see what resonates with you. Have fun, be creative, let go – dance like nobody’s watching!
Keep a dream journal by your bed. Just before you drift off to sleep each night, tell yourself that you’d like to remember your dreams. As soon as you wake, write down anything and everything that comes to you. Images, sounds, feelings. Read through your journal once a week and see if there’s a pattern there — clues to open your imagination.
Yantra Yoga. Find a photo or illustration of a mandala that resonates with you. Print it out and put it above your altar. Sit comfortably. Center yourself and breathe deeply, allowing your eyes to flow over and trace the intricate shapes. Access your creative spirit.
CHAKRA SEVEN EXERCISES
Empty your altar of most objects (a simple cloth and one candle will do). Feature the colors violet and/or white.
Hatha Yoga, T’ai Chi, Sufi Dancing, Movement Meditation
List some of your core beliefs. Ask yourself: When did I first develop this belief? Who in my life has/had this belief? Do I have this belief to get their approval? How much happiness/unhappiness has this belief brought me? Who would I be without this belief? Allow yourself the mental and spiritual freedom to uncover unconscious beliefs beneath the surface.
Mantra Meditation. Sit comfortably with a straight spine. Breathe deeply. On your exhale, chant internally (no sound) Om, So Ham, I Am, etc. The idea is to internalize the mantra and let its vibration create resonance in your brain waves, breathing, and heartbeat.
For more information on how to reclaim your mind, body and spirit in 2018, check out “Breathe Your Way Back to Wellness” inspired by Tara Stiles’ Yoga Cures and “Sit Happens: How to Position Yourself While Meditating” adapted from Unplug by Suze Yalof Schwartz.
Adapted from The Sevenfold Journey: Reclaiming Mind, Body and Spirit Through the Chakras by Anodea Judith and Selene Vega. Copyright © 1993 by Anodea Judith and Selene Vega. Reprinted by permission of Crossing Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.
Photo Credits: Coka/Lissa Bam/J. Kerrigan/Shutterstock