What are chakras? The 7 primary chakras for beginners

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Have you ever felt like you're in an emotional funk, stuck in a monotonous rut, or low on energy but can't understand why? The reason could be that your chakras are blocked.

What are chakras and why do they matter?

Chakras are often described as spinning vortexes of vital energy.  The word chakra is derived from the Sanskrit word "cakra" which literally means "wheel". Sanskrit is an ancient Indo-European language of India.

These spinning "wheels" are the energy centers of the body and make up our energy anatomy. The chakras are said to be connected by a network of 72,000 Nadis or channels, through which energy (also known as Prana) flows all over the body. 

Prana is another Sanskrit word which can be translated as “life force energy,” "spirit energy", “vital energy,” or “breath of life".

The chakras are each connected to different parts of our physical body and emotional being. When these energy centers are spinning freely then energy easily flows throughout our being and we experience optimum health as a result.

However when our chakras are blocked or unbalanced, we can experience physical ailments, as well as mental or spiritual difficulties.

 

Kundalini body map

 

What religion are chakras?

Chakras do not belong to a religion as such. Chakras can be thought of as a kind of philosophy which has been adopted by different cultures in different ways.

The chakra system has been studied for thousands of years. The earliest references to chakras have been found in India, as part of Hindu and Buddhist literature.

Hindu Vedas, a religious scripture dating back to the 1500s, is the first text to mention the term chakra. The chakra system was then later referenced in Hindu philosophical texts such as Yoga-Shikha Upanishad, Shri Jabala, and Darshana Upanishad.

But the concept of an energy anatomy isn't unique to India. In fact, the idea has been used by ancient civilizations across the world including the Chinese, Mayans, Greek, Egyptians and many more.

The chakra system gained greater recognition in the 16th century after the publication of Sri-Tattva-Cintamini, a book which talked in detail about the primary chakras, their powers and how to activate them. It was later translated in 1919. 

Nowadays, the chakra system is most commonly referenced alongside healing practices such as yoga, reiki and meditation. 

 

Types of chakras

Different cultures and philosophical traditions have different definitions for chakras. But it is commonly held in the Hindu tradition that there are minor and major chakras.

The major chakras are associated with the major organs and endocrine glands of the body. Minor chakras are also associated with the physical anatomy but they tend to play more of a supporting role and can be found in body parts such as the arms and legs.

The minor chakras are more likely to remain dormant while the major chakras are predominantly active. 

 

How many chakras are in the body?

In traditional chakra ideologies, there are believed to be a huge number of chakras in our body. It was not until 1880 that the concept of seven primary chakras came into play. 

The tradition of Sri Amit Ray suggests that there may be as many as 114 chakras

“Out of the 114 Chakras, two are located outside our physical bodies and in the space of our energy bodies. Of the 112, only 108 can actually be worked upon, the remaining four just bloom as a consequence”. - Compulsiveness to Consciousness by Sadhguru (prominent Yogi and spiritual teacher).

Balancing 108 energy points can sound like a lot of holistic hard work. This is why we generally focus on the seven main Chakras

 

The seven primary chakras

  1. The Root Chakra, also known as Muladhara or first chakra
  2. The Sacral Chakra, also known as Svadhisthana or second chakra
  3. The Solar Plexus Chakra, also known as Manipura or third chakra
  4. The Heart Chakra, also known as Anahata or fourth chakra
  5. The Throat Chakra, also known as Vishuddi or fifth chakra
  6. The Third Eye Chakra, also known as Ajna or sixth chakra
  7. The Crown Chakra, also known as Sahasrara or seventh chakra

What are the colors of the chakras?

  1. The Root Chakra (Muladhara) is visualized in red.
  2. The Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana) is visualized in orange.
  3. The Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura) is visualized in yellow.
  4. The Heart Chakra (Anahata) is visualized in green.
  5. The Throat Chakra (Vishuddi) is visualized in blue.
  6. The Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) is visualized in indigo.
  7. The Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) is visualized in violet.

 

Position of chakras in human body

The seven primary chakras are positioned along the spine, beginning with the Root Chakra (or base chakra) at the bottom of the spine going up to the Crown Chakra at the top of the head. 

The location of each of the major chakras relates to the organs and bodily functions they are connected to. For example, the Heart Chakra is located in the upper chest and is linked to heart health. 

 

chakra body map

 

What do the seven primary chakras do?

Root Chakra (Muladhara Chakra)

  • Location: Located at the base of the spine, around the tailbone.
  • Physical body: Connected to the colon, bones, muscles, and adrenal glands.
  • Emotional being: Connected to security, stability, safety, and basic needs like shelter and food. 

Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana Chakra)

  • Location: Located below the belly button.
  • Physical body: Connected to the sex organs, bladder, kidneys, and reproductive glands.
  • Emotional being: Connected to sexuality, desire, creative energy, and emotions. 

Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura Chakra)

  • Location: Located at the belly button, near the upper abdomen and breastbone.
  • Physical body: Connected to the liver, adrenal glands, endocrine gland and stomach. 
  • Emotional being: Connected to self-esteem, personal power, confidence, identity, and determination.

Heart Chakra (Anahata Chakra)

  • Location: Located slightly above the heart in the center of the chest.
  • Physical body: Connected to the heart, lungs, and thymus gland. 
  • Emotional being: Connected to love, joy, compassion, and forgiveness.

Throat Chakra (Visuddha Chakra)

  • Location: Located in the neck.
  • Physical body: Connected to the throat, mouth, and thyroid gland. 
  • Emotional being: Connected to self-expression, communication, and authenticity. 

Third Eye Chakra (Ajna Chakra)

  • Location: Located in the middle of the forehead, slightly above the eyebrows.
  • Physical body: Connected to the brain and pituitary gland. It's often associated with physical issues such as headaches, nausea and dizziness. 
  • Emotional being: Connected to self-awareness, wisdom, imagination, and intuition. 

Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)

  • Location: Located above the crown of the head.
  • Physical body: Connected to the pineal gland, brain, and nervous system.
  • Emotional being: Connected to divine connection, higher consciousness, and spirituality. 

 

7 primary chakras

What happens when your chakras are balanced?

As we can see from the locations of the major chakras, the chakra energy system is closely intertwined with our neurological and biological systems. 

And while chakras can't be seen with the human eye, those who engage with their chakras regularly through meditation or other chakra healing practices, report experiencing heightened energy, mental clarity and peace of mind.

For the chakras to be balanced, the chakras must spin brightly and in alignment, with all the chakras balanced in size.

When the chakras are balanced, Prana, in other words energy, can flow freely through our being and we feel physically well and at one with ourselves and the universe. 

 

What happens when your chakras are unbalanced?

When a chakra is unbalanced - it can be underactive, overactive or simply blocked - it will disrupt the flow of energy throughout the body. In the short term, this could manifest itself in a lack of energy or general feeling of discomfort. 

However, if left unbalanced long term, an unbalanced chakra can manifest itself in specific physical and emotional ailments.

 

How to know what chakras are blocked?

Awareness of the chakras is the first step towards working out what chakra needs healing. To do this, you need to tune into your physical and emotional needs. This can be easier said than done with all the stresses and distractions of the modern world which is why practices such as meditation can be so effective.

Meditation, breathing techniques, and yoga are all fantastic ways to slow down and build awareness of your chakras. The following simple mindfulness exercise is a good way to start building awareness:

  • Settle into a quiet comfortable spot where you won't be distracted.
  • Sit or lie down, whichever is most comfortable.
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. 
  • Beginning at your toes, slowly move your attention up your body, exploring the physical and emotional sensations that arise.
  • Make a mental note of anywhere in the body that you are experiencing physical discomfort or any unpleasant emotions that arise. These are clues that will help you work out which chakras, if any, need healing. 

 

How to unblock chakras

There are lots of different ways to approach chakra healing. Some of the most popular ways are below. But these aren't the only ways, have a look at our 20 ways to heal your chakras for plenty more ideas. 

Chakra healing meditation

Chakra meditation can take many forms, but essentially it involves slowing down and listening to your body.

When you meditate regularly you can gain mental clarity and learn how to block out all the mental chatter which distracts us from connecting with ourselves on a deeper level. Mindful breathing exercises can be particularly helpful when used with meditation. 

Meditating allows you to gain awareness of which chakras are unbalanced and require healing. When you're in a focused meditative state you can direct your inner energy towards healing the blocked chakra. 

Learn more about chakra healing meditation techniques.

Chakra healing candles

Chakra candles are often used in chakra healing practices for several reasons. They are often used in meditation and visualization sessions as focusing on a burning flame can help to focus the mind and remove external distractions. 

Chakra candles contain essential oils, which when combined with the correct chakra, can help to soothe and heal energy blockages in the body. The soothing aroma is also helpful for getting you into a meditative state. 

Chakra candles are also a form of color therapy with each chakra candle representing the color of the associated chakra. It is believed that different colors have different energy wavelengths which can bring healing benefits when matched with the correct chakra. 

Some chakra candles also contain healing crystals, which add further healing properties to the candle. 

Chakra healing with crystals

Crystals are regularly used in chakra healing sessions, as well as other spiritual practices due to their special healing properties. Some crystals are revered for the positive healing energies they emit while other precious stones are used for their ability to cleanse and block negative energies.

It's important to match the right crystals with the right chakras in order to maximize their healing properties.

There are lots of ways to benefit from chakra healing crystals. You can wear chakra jewelry, hold chakra stones while meditating and visualizing or simply place them around the house to rebalance the energies in your home. 

Learn more about how to heal your chakras with crystals.

chakra healing crystals

Chakra healing with yoga 

If you enjoy exercise then you may benefit from chakra healing yoga. Yoga postures, or asanas, use physical movement to release tension from the body and help positive energy to flow freely.

Because the primary chakras each have a physical location in the body, different yoga poses and asanas can be used to treat each chakra. For example, yoga poses which engage the pelvic area, such as the Reverse Warrior Pose (Viparita ) or Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana), can be very beneficial for the Sacral Chakra. 

A regular yoga practice will keep your physical body relaxed and in balance. This then makes it easier to address chakra imbalances in the body as they arise.

Sometimes a yoga class will also involve healing affirmations, crystals, aromatherapy and meditative elements so you benefit from physical and spiritual healing at the same time. 

solar plexus chakra yoga poses

 

Takeaway

So what are chakras? They are the foundation of our energy anatomy and the source of our physical and spiritual energy. By building awareness of these energy centers we can get in touch with our mental and physical health, and address issues as they arise. 

There are lots of different ways to heal your chakras but many recommend taking a holistic approach. Combining techniques such as meditation, yoga and chakra candles and crystals, can be a great way to do this as it allows us to work on our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing in one go.