If you’ve ever attended a yoga class, used a meditation app, or indulged in a reiki session, you’ve likely come across the word chakra. But what are the chakras, and why are they important?
I first came across the chakras through my yoga and meditation practice, which began 12 years ago.
Back then, I wasn’t curious enough to dive deeper into the chakra system and explore what each chakra represents.
As my yoga and meditation practices have expanded and evolved over time, I’ve learned more about chakras and how to work with them. I’ve recognized where my own blocks are and devoted much time to facing those and learning how to get my energy flowing freely again.
If you’re new to energetic ideas like the chakra system, don’t worry. We all have to start somewhere.
I’ve simplified the key principles and ways to work with the chakras in this article so it’s accessible for both beginners and those with more experience.
In this article, I’ll be exploring:
- What are the chakras?
- Where the chakra system originated from
- The 7 main chakras explained
- What does it mean if a chakra is blocked or unbalanced?
- How to unblock the 7 chakras and restore harmony
What are the chakras?
Chakra is Sanskrit for “wheel” or “circle.” A chakra is an energy point or center, which corresponds to different nerves, organs, and feelings that affect a different part of the body.
There are 114 chakras in the body, but seven major ones run along your spine from the root to the crown. These are the chakras we’ll be focusing on in this article. Each of these chakras is represented by a different color, element, and vibration.
For optimum emotional and physical health, wellness, and prosperity, these energy centers should remain open and in alignment with your highest self and where you wish to grow. This allows life force energy (or prana) to continue flowing freely throughout your entire body and keeps us happy, healthy, and at peace.
Where the chakras originated from
The chakras are an esoteric belief that is thought to have originated in India. They were first mentioned in the Vedas (an ancient, yogic text).
This belief centers on the idea that humans have two bodies: a physical body and a non-physical, emotional body (often known as the subtle body).
The physical body is mass which we can see with our human eye, while the subtle body is energy that cannot be seen but felt. Both bodies affect one another and go hand in hand.
The subtle body comprises many energy channels (nadi), which are connected by the chakras. This is why it’s essential to keep your chakras open and unblocked to ensure the flow of energy in your body is not disrupted.
Before we dive in, I want to clarify that this is not a science, and there aren’t scientific studies or facts to back up this information.
The chakras are based on energetic principles and spirituality. Much like working with the moon, this process leans heavily on feelings, intuition, and energy. Just because you can’t prove something, it doesn’t mean it’s not real, and it doesn’t make it any less valuable.
The 7 main chakras explained
Here are the seven main chakras:
- Root chakra
- Sacral chakra
- Solar plexus chakra
- Heart chakra
- Throat chakra
- Third Eye chakra
- Crown chakra
Let’s explore what the seven main chakras are in a little more detail, where you can find them, and what they represent.
The Root Chakra
Location: Base of spine, in tailbone area
Sanskrit name: Muladhara
The root chakra can be found at the base of the spine and helps us feel grounded and stable. It’s the strong foundation the other six chakras need to feel supported.
When the root chakra is open, you will feel grounded, sturdy, secure, and confident that you can take care of yourself and stand on your own two feet.
The Sacral Chakra
Location: Lower abdomen, just above your pubic bone
Sanskrit name: Svadhisthana
The sacral chakra governs our creative and sexual energy. It’s also connected to our sense of self-worth (particularly around receiving pleasure). It gives us insight into how we relate to our emotions and the emotions of others.
If your sacral chakra is in alignment, you’re likely to embrace and embody your sensuality and sexuality without guilt or shame. You’re more likely to give yourself permission to be creative and also be more outgoing and confident in your daily life.
The Solar Plexus Chakra
Location: Upper abdomen in the stomach area
Sanskrit name: Manipura
The solar plexus is the third chakra and the chakra related to our personal power. This is where our self-esteem and self-confidence derive from. It’s also the chakra that speaks to your ability to take charge of your life and create a beautiful, empowering life that brings you joy.
When the solar plexus chakra is out of balance, feelings of self-doubt, shame, and crippling confidence are common. But when this chakra is open and aligned, you are likely to feel confident and free expressing your authentic self and intentionally building a life you love.
The Heart Chakra
Location: Center of the chest, just above the heart
Sanskrit name: Anahata
The heart chakra is the middle chakra of the seven main chakras. It’s often thought of as the bridge between the lower chakras (which are focused on material/physical matters) and the higher chakras (associated with spiritual matters).
The Anahata represents the love and compassion we feel for ourselves as well as those around us. When it’s open, you’re likely to find it easy to experience feelings of love, joy, gratitude, and appreciation for all people in your life (including yourself). This is the chakra that influences our ability to give and receive love.
The Throat Chakra
Sanskrit name: Vishuddha
The throat chakra controls exactly what you think it would: our ability to speak up and communicate with others.
When your throat chakra is balanced, you will feel able to clearly express and articulate your true self. You’ll feel open and honest. There are no misunderstandings or misconnections—people hear you, and you feel heard.
At its full capacity, the throat chakra enables us to speak and listen with compassion and confidence because you’re authentic with your words. You have the power to create real change with your message because people can feel the truth and vibration in your words. But for your throat chakra to open, your message must be inexplicably true on a soul level.
The Third Eye Chakra
Location: Forehead between the eyes
Sanskrit name: Ajna
As we move up along the body, we meet our spiritual body and move closer to our highest self and union with the divine.
To open the third eye chakra means to see yourself fully, both your light and your shadows. There is a realization that we are not our feelings, emotions, fears, or beliefs—who we are is constantly evolving. This chakra is also tied to our ability to connect to our intuition and see the bigger picture at play, beyond what can be seen on the surface.
For this chakra to fully open, we must first have a healthy foundation in our lower five chakras and have worked on opening and balancing these.
The Crown Chakra
Element: Divine Consciousness
Location: The very top of the head
Sanskrit name: Sahasrara
The crown chakra is the final chakra of the seven major chakras and is located at the very top of your head.
When your crown chakra is open, there’s an inner understanding of connectedness. Every action, moment, event, and experience is connected. Every human being on the planet is somehow connected. When you fully understand and embrace this belief, it allows you to move past isolation and self-interests and serve the collective.
Sometimes a personal misfortune or failure might be for the good of the whole. When you’re able to see and accept this, you’re accessing a higher consciousness.
Most people never reach the point where their crown chakra is fully open because it requires all other chakras to be fully open and in alignment. However, when the crown chakra does open, it is said to help keep all the other chakras open and transcend you into a state of bliss.
What does it mean if a chakra is blocked or unbalanced?
When your main seven chakras are open, balanced, and in alignment, energy (prana) can flow freely throughout your entire body.
The opposite of this is a depletion of energy flow or too much energy focused in one chakra. This is what we call a blocked or unbalanced chakra.
If there’s a lack of energy in a specific chakra, you’ll find it challenging to express the qualities (listed above) linked to that chakra. This can lead to stagnation and a variety of physical and spiritual effects.
On the other hand, if a chakra is overactive, those qualities will have a dominant force on your life which can have physical and spiritual effects.
As you read through the explanations above for each of the seven chakras, one or more may have stood out to you as areas where you experience difficulties or challenges in your life today.
It’s also thought that the physical location of the chakra in your body can often affect parts of your body that are near it. This includes your bones, joints, organs, and tissues.
A prolonged imbalance in your chakras can sometimes lead to physical disease, mental health issues, and spiritual and emotional disconnection.
When it comes to figuring out the cause of your imbalances, some factors will be easier to spot. Stress, unhealthy eating habits, insufficient exercise, poor posture, and self-destructive behavior are all commonly attributed to chakra blockages and imbalances.
Why multiple chakras block together
Generally, if one chakra is out of alignment, then this tends to have a knock-on effect on the surrounding chakras. This regularly leads to multiple chakras becoming blocked.
For example, say you’re in a relationship and your partner says something hurtful and disrespectful to you out of anger. They have crossed a boundary in your relationship, and your self-esteem and self-confidence take a knock. So, your solar plexus chakra becomes blocked.
On top of this, you’re likely to feel unappreciated, less connected to your partner, and feel less love towards them too. This is how your heart chakra gets blocked.
Also, when one chakra is blocked, the other chakras begin to compensate for it and, as a result, become overactive or underactive.
Human experiences tend to be multi-faceted, and our chakras are fairly sensitive, which is why multiple blockages are common.
The great news is, although the chakras can become blocked, they can also be cleared and opened. What’s important is you’re aware of the blockage, you know the steps to take to clear them and take action.
Let go of self-judgment
What’s important is being mindful not to judge yourself when you realize you have an energetic block.
I’ve experienced blocks in all of my chakras at some point, and I still have many blockages today. This is completely normal because none of us are perfect humans living perfect lives!
As I mentioned before, it’s very uncommon to meet a person who has fully opened and balanced all seven chakras.
Life is stressful and places pressure on us, while we often place extra internal pressure on ourselves. Chances are you’re doing the best you can with the tools you have right now, so be gentle and kind with yourself.
I hope this article gives you a deeper insight into chakras and why you might be experiencing discomfort or frustration today.
If you experience recurring physical pain or suffer from mental health issues, there’s a strong chance it’s related to a block in one or more of your chakras.
When you understand this and know how to work on opening your chakras, you can free yourself from this pain.
This is how you live a life of alignment and embrace the woman you truly are at heart.
How to unblock chakras and restore harmony
If you think you might have one or two (or more) chakra blocks, you’re probably seeking ways to start opening this energy center back up.
The best way to do this is to begin with the root chakra and work your way up along the spine, one chakra at a time.
There are many ways to promote balance in a chakra, including:
- Breathing exercises
- Yoga practice
- Moving your body in different ways
- Changing your diet
- Working with crystals
- Journaling & other self-reflection practices
Next, let’s go through each chakra one by one and explore the common signs your chakra is blocked, along with tips and tools to help you bring it back into alignment.
Signs your Root Chakra is out of balance
- Physical issues in your feet, legs, rectum, and tailbone (including arthritis, sciatica, and knee pain)
- Problems with your immune system
- Issues with the male reproductive organs
- Eating disorders
- Financial stress or anxiety
- A need to control
- Quick to anger
- Undriven or unmotivated in life
How to unblock your Root Chakra
A simple way to open your root chakra is to work with the color red and visualize this color glowing at the base of your spine.
You can do this in a simple meditation while sitting in a lotus position on the floor. Imagine this red light extending out through the base of your spine and into the core of the earth. Feel connected and grounded.
Take a walk
When the root chakra is open, you’ll feel grounded and sturdy. A great way to create this feeling is to go for a walk and be mindful of your body’s movement. Concentrate as your foot leaves the ground and connects with the earth again as you take each step.
Moving your body freely to whatever music you like is another beautiful way to drop into your physical body and balance the root chakra. Go to a dance class, or close the door and turn the music up in your bedroom!
Get a foot massage
Our feet do so much work for us every day, and it’s easy to take them for granted. When was the last time you gave your feet some TLC?
A foot massage or pedicure is a wonderful way to look after your feet, pamper your body, and also tend to your root chakra.
The best poses for working with your root chakra are balancing poses that help you establish a stronger relationship with your body and connect you to the earth. This includes tree pose, mountain pose, warrior pose, wide-legged forward fold, and malasana squats.
Crystals: Red jasper, onyx, hematite
Signs your Sacral Chakra is out of balance
- Sexual and reproductive health issues (particularly for women)
- Hip, pelvic, and low back pain
- Urinary problems
- Kidney dysfunctions
- Loss of creativity
- Inability to express emotion or desire
- Fear of betrayal
- Various addictive behaviors
How to unblock your Sacral Chakra
Imagine the color orange
The sacral chakra is associated with the color orange. Picture orange light glowing around your pubic bone area and eventually flooding your whole body.
The sacral chakra is connected to our emotions and intimacy, and embracing stillness allows us to connect to these emotions and process them in a healthier way.
If the thought of meditating doesn’t appeal to you, you don’t have to put that label on this. Simply create space to sit in stillness for five minutes, cross-legged on the floor. You can close your eyes or keep them open. Notice any feelings or thoughts, or sensations that arise.
Eat more orange foods!
Choosing foods that align with the sacral chakra is a simple way to help rebalance it. The great news is there are so many delicious, nourishing orange-based foods to indulge in!
Oranges, clementines, satsumas, carrots, sweet potato, mango, melon, and butternut squash.
Putting pen to paper is another beautiful way to connect to our inner feelings and emotions. Sometimes there can be things going on deep within that we don’t even notice until we stop and reflect.
Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself:
- What does creativity look like for me?
- Am I allowing myself to be creative enough?
- Is my sex life fulfilling?
- How would I act differently if I was empowered in my sexuality?
Poses that strengthen your pelvic floor, as well as deep hip openers, are a great way to strengthen your sacral chakra.
This includes bridge pose, pigeon pose, frog or half-frog pose, lizard pose, butterfly pose, and goddess pose.
So many of us spend the majority of our time at work in the same seated position. This leads to tight hips, which is one of the biggest causes of back pain. So aside from helping you open your sacral chakra, regular yoga poses like this are great for your overall physical health.
Crystals: Carnelian, tiger’s eye, sunstone
Signs your Solar Plexus Chakra is out of balance
- Chronic fatigue
- Pancreas and gallbladder issues
- Digestive problems
- An unrelenting inner critic
- Limiting belief patterns
- Constant fear of rejection
How to unblock your Solar Plexus Chakra
Strengthen your core
The solar plexus chakra is located around your core, so core work is a brilliant way to open this energy center and strengthen your inner fire.
You could do crunches, bicycle curls, or planks. When it comes to yoga, poses like boat pose, twists, and warrior III are all great for core strengthening.
No matter what you choose to do, make sure you’re actively engaging your core to get the full benefits of your practice.
Make friends with your inner critic
Although your inner critic might seem like she’s the enemy, her job is simply to protect you and make sure you’re growing and reaching your full potential. In amongst the criticism and judgment is usually a golden nugget of wisdom that we can use to move forward and evolve.
For women, our inner critic belongs in the premenstrual phase of our sacred cycle. If she shows up at any other point, thank her for sharing and tell her you’ll see her later on. During the premenstrual phase, open yourself to listening to what she has to say. Don’t allow her to bully you or tear you into pieces, but have a conversation with her. Get to the root of what she’s telling you. Seek the wisdom she has to offer.
This is how we make peace with our inner critic.
Find a mirror to stand in front of and look into your eyes. Meet yourself. Repeat a powerful affirmation that you need to hear right now.
I AM enough.
I AM worthy.
I AM capable.
I AM powerful.
Do this for a few minutes, pushing past any discomfort you feel at the beginning. Raise your voice a little each time.
Breath of fire
Breath of fire (kapalabhati breath) is a kundalini yoga practice powered by the solar plexus chakra.
Find a comfortable position sitting cross-legged on the floor. Sit up tall. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and then exhale short, sharp breaths through the nostrils repetitively in 30-second reps.
The idea here is to have your inhale and exhale be equal in length. You don’t need to worry about paying attention to your inhale—this will happen automatically.
This is a great practice to get yourself energized in the morning and get that fire heating up in your belly.
Crystals: Citrine, pyrite, amber
Signs your Heart Chakra is out of balance
- Upper back and shoulder problems
- Arm and wrist pain
- Hunching or poor posture
- Over-loving (suffocation, jealousy, bitterness)
- Fear of being alone
- Struggling to show love
- Lack of self-love
How to unblock your Heart Chakra
Heart opening yoga poses
Poses like camel, wheel, cobra, and upward dog are a great way to open the heart chakra. This can be daunting, and you may experience some fear in these poses if your heart chakra is blocked.
Bring awareness to your posture
Too many of us are hunching as we sit at our desks and walk around each day. When you hunch, you’re unconsciously closing your heart as a way to protect it.
Next time you’re sitting or standing, be conscious of your posture. Sit up straighter. Engage your core. Open the front of your chest. Let your shoulders drop down and move them back into line if needed.
To get an idea of how straight your spine should be, practice walking around your house while trying to balance a small book on your head.
Practice self-love each day
We could all do with a little more love in our lives. Too often, we’re our own worst enemies, and we don’t create time or space to pour back into our own well. I’ve noticed that we over-give to others, particularly women, and we don’t make ourselves a priority.
Commit to showing yourself one act of self-love each day, no matter how small it is. Check out this article for plenty of ideas.
Metta (loving-kindness) meditation
Metta meditation is a beautiful way to cultivate more love and appreciation for yourself and for others.
Find a comfortable place of stillness, and close your eyes. Visualize yourself in front of you.
Repeat the following mantra:
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be safe
May I know love.
Do this for as long as you like—five minutes is a good place to start.
Be of service to others
Another way to generate love and compassion (for yourself and others) is to volunteer or help someone in need. You’re likely to feel gratitude, joy, and connectedness when you give unconditionally in this way.
Remember not to give from an empty cup.
Crystals: Rose quartz, jade, malachite
Signs your Throat Chakra is out of balance
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Sore throat
- Thyroid problems
- Ear infections
- Issues communicating
- Fear of expressing your authentic self
- Afraid to speak up
- Fear of not behind heard
- Misunderstandings with others
How to unblock your Throat Chakra
Communicate with awareness
Most of us say things out loud without truly understanding the meaning of what we’re saying.
How often do you say statements like, “I can’t,” “I’m not,” or “I haven’t?”
These statements often have negative connotations to them and are rooted in lack and fear.
Next time you notice yourself saying something that does not align with your truth or deepest desires, correct yourself. The more you do this, the more your words will help you live an authentic life and manifest everything you want.
Singing helps us use and explore our voice. But it can often bring up feelings of discomfort, fear, shame, or embarrassment—especially if someone told you you can’t sing or laughed at your attempt to sing when you were younger (this happened to me).
Start small. Sing to yourself when you’re alone. Sing to your friends or family—the people you feel most comfortable with. Join a singing group or choir. Get comfortable using your voice.
The cat-cow pose involves arching your spine toward the ground on the inhale, then drawing your navel back toward your spine on the exhale. This movement creates compression and opening in the throat. Repeat the cat-cow sequence for a few minutes to gain the full benefits from this position.
Other poses that are good for opening the throat chakra are plow pose, fish pose, and shoulder stand.
Crystals: Blue lace agate, lapis lazuli, aquamarine, and kyanite
Signs your Third Eye Chakra is out of balance
- Blurred vision and eye strain
- Sinus issues
- Moodiness and stubbornness
- Struggling to focus
- Closed to receiving advice from others
- Playing the victim (and not realizing that you’re doing this)
How to unblock your Third Eye Chakra
Write a list of sentences that begin with “I am…” Write all the things that feel true to you today, in this moment—these can be a mixture of things you’re proud of as well as fears or limitations you’re experiencing.
Repeat this exercise for the person you were 10 years ago.
Choose another moment in your past, and repeat this exercise for a third time.
When you’re done, read your lists back to yourself and notice the differences in the person you were then and who you are now. Recognize how your sense of self has changed.
Connect your upper body to your lower body
The third eye chakra holds your ability to welcome a new reality into your life by being able to think of many different possibilities. Yoga poses that focus on connecting the upper body with the lower body are perfect for this because it represents the idea of your higher self (upper body) connecting with your physical, grounded self (lower body).
Poses like forward fold, folded eagle, child’s pose, and dolphin pose are great for opening your third eye.
Kriya is known as the yoga of action or awareness. It’s an ancient technique that combines breathwork (pranayama), chanting (mantra), and hand gestures (mudras) to achieve spiritual awakening.
Kriya can be a powerful practice that involves some advanced techniques, so if you’re new to this, find someone experienced in kriya yoga to guide you through it.
Keep a dream journal.
The third eye is active when we enter a dream state, and the more you remember from your dreams, the more insight you get into your unconscious mind.
Start a dream journal if you don’t have one already. Get into the habit of writing down everything you can remember about your dreams first thing when you wake up.
There’s lots of information and guidance out there if you’re interested in interpreting what your dreams might symbolize.
Crystals: Amethyst or Lapis Lazuli, purple fluorite, labradorite
Signs your Crown Chakra is out of balance
- Rigid thoughts
- Analysis paralysis
- Fear of alienation
- Insomnia and hypersomnia
- Disconnection (from others or from life’s purpose)
- Separation from the whole
How to unblock your Crown Chakra
Tune into and work with your sacred cycle
One of the best ways to open the crown chakra is to connect with the natural rhythm of your body. For women, this means tracking your menstrual cycle and the moon cycle and using the energy available to you in whichever phase you’re in. Sometimes that means slowing down and taking rest; other times, this means springing into action and being more sociable.
Your menstrual cycle is one of your greatest powers as a woman. It will help you feel connected to Mumma nature and the universe.
Be in nature
When we immerse ourselves in nature, it’s common to realize how small we are as human beings. For example, looking out into the vastness of the ocean, sitting under the blanket of the night sky and star-gazing, wandering through a dense forest, or hiking up a mountain.
Serve the whole
Find a cause or project that resonates with you and offer your time and resources whenever it feels spacious for you to do so. What’s important here is your intention to be of service to the whole and transcend feelings of separation or isolation.
Since your crown chakra rules your connection to your higher self, poses that help you tap into your soul are a great way to open this energy center.
Taking a much-needed savasana at the end of your yoga practice is a wonderful way to tap into your soul as well as give yourself a little bit of rest before continuing with your day.
Other poses, including tree pose and headstand, also help activate this chakra and experience oneness and connection.
Crystals: Clear quartz, selenite, and lepidolite
Our chakras are a reflection of us
Although the chakra system may seem complicated from afar, I hope this article has made chakras more accessible and shown you that in their simplest form, chakras are no more than energy.
They reflect who we are today, our biggest fears and challenges, and they provide an opportunity for us to move through those obstacles and grow.
It’s completely normal to be experiencing numerous chakra blockages at any given time. What’s important is bringing awareness to this and doing something about it. Don’t be afraid to reach out for extra help from an energy healer or yoga teacher.
Remember, there’s no quick fix. This is the practice of a lifetime.