(Copyright (+ cover pic): Pixabay)
Have you ever heard of "unlocking" the chakras during a yoga class or a meditation or reiki session? But have no idea what it actually means? I can assure you: you’re not alone! This refers to the belief that when the chakras are open and aligned, the energy or vital force (prana) can flow through them freely. Harmony would therefore exist between the physical body, the spirit and the energy. Some even agree that chakras are part of a physiological system. Which should appeal to everyone!
The chakras - cakras in Sanskrit which translates to "wheels" - represent the main energetic discs of a rotating body. Imagine them as free flowing "positive energy wheels". In other words, they are bundles of nerves, glands and major human organs that influence the potential of the whole body: state of mind, behavior, emotional health, present and future actions.
This example may seem a little simplistic to you, but it helps to understand the importance of the chakras. Think about your bath tub drain. If you get too much hair in it, the tub will fill with water, stagnate, and eventually bacteria will grow. The same goes for your body and your chakras. A bathtub is fairly easy to repair. But keeping a chakra open is an added challenge, but not impossible if you are aware of its influence.
The chakra system offers a "map" which helps to see the correlation between anatomy, state of mind, emotions and energy. The roadmap reminds you of what your holistic being needs to be healthy and happy!
Janie Pelletier, Yoga teacher, shares that the personalities of people often translate into excess or lack. Without judgment, the use of the chakras allows for a better understanding of where people are in their journey and what they should be working on in order to feel better.
Janie recommends Anodea Judith's books:
Eastern body western mind – Psychology and the chakras system as a path to the self
Chakra Balancing – A Guide to Healing and Awakening Your Energy Body
The history of the chakras
We often hear about the chakras, due to the popularity of yoga practice as well as New Age philosophies, chakras are in fact part of a complex and ancient system that originated in India. First described in the Vedas, the earliest sacred documents, resulting from the oldest scriptures of Hinduism and dating from 1500 to 1000 BC.
The 7 chakras
Some say there are 114 different chakras. But the 7 main chakras or key points in your subtle or energy body, which run the entire length of the spine from pelvic floor to the crown of the head. Each of them also contains beliefs, emotions, and memories related to specific areas of your life, but all toward one or more health goals.
The lower chakras are related to earthly issues such as survival, sex, and power:
1-ROOT chakra / Muladhara
2-SACRED chakra / Svadhistana
3-SOLAR PLEXUS chakra / Manipura
In the middle, the heart chakra connects the two worlds with empathy, love and compassion:
4-HEART chakra / Anahata
The three main chakras are related to higher consciousness, truth, intuition and purpose.
5-THROAT chakra / Visuddha
6-THIRD EYE chakra / Ajna
7-CROWN chakra / Sahasrara
1-ROOT chakra / Muladhara
The Muladhara, or root chakra, represents the foundation of your house and brings your sense of grounding. First piece of the chakra system puzzle, its energetic function is to help you maintain a sense of grounding and inner stability.
What it controls: Family ties and a sense of belonging. Your first memories are stored here. Survival issues such as financial independence, money, and basic needs like food, water, shelter, and more emotional needs like letting go of fear and feeling safe
Location: The base of the spine, in the tailbone area, between the pelvic floor, and first three vertebrae
When does it develop: Between the ages of 1 to 7
Mantra: "I am connected to the earth, I am strong and I am stable"
Image: Red lotus with four petals
Stones and crystals: Red jasper, onyx and hematite
Rose Buddha essential oil: Cinnamon and benzoin (sweet, slightly fruity and spicy)
Yoga poses: Vrksasana (tree), Mula Bandha (root lock), Virabhadrasana I (warrior I), Malasana (squat), Pārvatāsana (mountain), Yamas and Niyamas and all other poses that strengthen the legs, feet and pelvic floor
Janie Pelletier, Yoga teacher, often begins her teachings with a focus on the root chakra, which also claims the right to exist. Firstly, it reinforces the sense of security towards her students, following the knowledge and confidence which slowly develops. She opts to unclog the feet with balls and sticks.
2-SACRED chakra / Svadhistana
The Swadhisthana, or sacred chakra, informs you of your relationship with your emotions and those of others. Emotionally, this chakra, which literally means "your own home", is connected to your self-esteem, creativity, as well as adaptability and more specifically, around pleasure.
What it controls: Sexuality, fertility, fluidity and creativity
Location: Lower abdomen, approximately 2 inches below the navel
When does it develop: Between the ages of 8 and 14
Mantra: "I always honor others but not before myself. I am a creative human being with unlimited potential"
Image: Six-petalled orange lotus
Stones and crystals: Tiger's eye, carnelian and sunstone
Rose Buddha essential oil: Ylang ylang and red mandarin (floral, aromatic and suave)
Yoga postures: Utthita Parsvakonasana (bound angle), Deviasana or Utkata Konasana (goddess), Kapotasana (pigeon), Virabhadrasana II (warrior II) and all other hip opening poses
Yoga teacher Shari Dernevil suggests doing full forward bends, putting some pressure on your stomach. She mentions that as soon as there is a deficit within the sacred chakra (perhaps following a trauma) or conversely, an excess (having difficulty resisting temptation or desire), the other chakras are affected. Whether you are in a relationship or not, you have to learn to let go and to try to make peace with your sexuality. The song of the Yam sound helps a lot to get a vibration at the pelvic level.
3-SOLAR PLEXUS chakra (or navel) / Manipura
The Manipura, or solar plexus chakra, relates to your ability to be confident and to act with some control over your life. Meaning "shining gem", it’s the chakra of your personal will, balance and commitment, linked to your true self. Think about the last time you had butterflies in your stomach? It’s the Manipura chakra at work.
What it controls: Metabolism, digestion, self-esteem and inner power
Location: The top of the abdomen in the stomach area approximately from the navel to the rib cage
When does it develop: Between the ages of 15 and 21
Mantra: "Self-love begins when I accept all parts of myself. I am confident, powerful and I can handle anything"
Image: Red triangle facing down or up
Stones and crystals: Amber, citrine and pyrite
Rose Buddha essential oil: Lemon and basil (fresh and herbaceous)
Yoga poses: Navasana (boat), Virabhadrasana III (warrior III) and all torsion poses
Pascal N. Paquette, Energy healer, advises to favor a healthy, light and conscious diet, promotes the balance of this chakra and others by the same token.
4-HEART chakra / Anahata
The Anahata, or heart chakra, is the bridge between the lower chakras (associated with the physical) and the upper chakras (associated with spirituality). As the name suggests, this chakra can influence your ability to give and receive love.
What it controls: Unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, openness, acceptance, joy and inner peace.
Location: Center of the chest, just above the heart
When does it develop: Between the ages of 21 and 28
Mantra: "When I love myself, loving others comes easily. Be love"
Image: Six-pointed green star surrounded by 12 lotus petals
Stones and crystals: Rose quartz, jade and malachite
Rose Buddha essential oil: Damask rose and palmarosa (floral and hint of balsamic)
Yoga poses: Ustrasana (camel), Bhujangasana (cobra), Purvottanasana (inverted plank), Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (head up dog) or any other chest stretching poses and also Kirtan chants
According to Janie Pelletier, Yoga teacher, remind you that all the chakras converge towards the heart, like a wave or ray which goes towards the center. In times of a pandemic, it’s important to refocus even more on love.
5-THROAT chakra / Visuddha
The Vishuddha, or throat chakra, gives voice to the heart chakra and controls your ability to communicate your personal power verbally. Its energetic function is to help you find expression of your true, authentic self, more specifically to ensure that your inner truths are properly communicated.
What it controls: Communication and self-expression
Location: Throat (thyroid, parathyroid, jaw, neck, mouth, tongue and larynx)
When does it develop: Between the ages of 29 and 35
Mantra: "I speak my truth. I live my truth"
Colour: Light blue / turquoise
Element: Sound & music
Image: Blue triangle facing down inside a lotus with 16 purple petals
Stones and crystals: Aquamarine, lapis lazuli and kyanite
Rose Buddha essential oil: Laurel noble and eucalyptus (fresh and woodsy with notes of camphor)
Yoga poses: Matsyasana (fish), Salamba Sarvangasana (candle), Halasana (plow), Simhasana (lion) or any poses opening the shoulders as well as Ujjayi breathing
Pascal N. Paquette, Energy healer, talks about the importance of this chakra which is both the receptacle and the door to the outside world. Any reserve or containment at this level decreases the rate of energy flow and hinders your creative expression.
6-THIRD EYE chakra (or eyebrows) / Ajna
The Ajna, or the third eye chakra, moves up the body, to come closer to communion with the divine. It controls your ability to see the big picture and connect to your intuition. It’s actually the seat of your mind and consciousness (conscious and unconscious). Think of it as the eye of your soul that helps you know yourself emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
What it controls: Sixth sense, imagination and wisdom
Location: Front between the eyes (pituitary gland, eyes, head and lower part of the brain)
When does it develop: Between the ages of 36 and 42
Mantra: "I am open to the exploration of what cannot be seen. I am intuitive and confident"
Colour: Dark blue / purple
Element: Light (or no element, as considered “beyond” the physical elements)
Image: Transparent lotus with two white petals
Stones and crystals: Amethyst, purple fluorite and labradorite
Rose Buddha essential oil: Patchouli and lavender (oriental and lemony)
Yoga poses: Balasana (child), Sukhasana (convenient or easy), Makarasana (dolphin) and Garudasana (eagle) as well as meditation and Nadi Shodhana alternating breathing
Pascal N. Paquette, Energy healer, mentions that practicing meditation on a daily basis is equivalent to pushing one's limits for a moment and allows to create calm, rest and regeneration of the body at the same time. Daily meditation is essential for growth and transformation.
7-CROWN chakra / Sahasrara
The Sahasrara, or crown and highest chakra, represents your ability to be fully connected spiritually. It’s considered the chakra of enlightenment. It helps you understand who you are beyond your physical self. That you are a spiritual being having a human experience. It helps you to cultivate self-control and to find a sense of connection with all.
What it controls: Not only all organs, but also the brain and nervous system. Inner and outer beauty as well as spiritual realm
Location: Top of the head or even flat above the crown of it
When does it develop: Between the ages of 43 and 49
Mantra: "I am a vessel for love and light. I surrender to the wisdom of pure consciousness"
Colour: Purple / white
Element: Divine consciousness or cosmic energy
Image: Lotus with a thousand petals with a pinkish aura
Stones and crystals: Clear quartz, selenite, et lepidolite
Rose Buddha essential oil: Frankincense and damask rose (floral, suave, slightly sweet and woody)
Yoga poses: Sirsasana (pear tree), Savasana (corpse) and Vrikshâsana (tree) and meditation at moments of silence and gratitude, to have those moments of spiritual connection
Pascal N. Paquette, Energy healer, recommends a daily practice of contemplation that promotes the creation of this feeling of union with everything that surrounds us: nature, beings, objects.
How to know when one of your chakras is out of balance?
When energy is blocked in one of the chakras, it triggers physical, mental or emotional imbalances with symptoms such as anxiety, lethargy or poor digestion. In order to restore balance to your chakras, you must first listen to what you’re feeling, then determine which chakra to stimulate to counter the imbalance.
Shari Dernevil shares that the process of integrating the chakras must be done continuously and at the level of ALL the chakras. Most of the work is being aware of the importance of rebalancing them!
UNBALANCED ROOT chakra / Muladhara
When your root chakra is open, you are confident in your ability to resist challenges and stand on your own feet. You feel supported, connected to the earth and secure in your own body. You can stand up strong and take care of yourself.
When it’s out of balance, you feel threatened, as if you were walking on unstable ground, without roots. You can suddenly become needy, have low self-esteem, or engage in self-destructive behaviors.
Signs that the root chakra is out of balance include:
Problems in the legs, knees, feet, rectum, tailbone, immune system, sciatic nerve, lower back, bladder, colon, degenerative arthritis, eating disorders and the constipation.
Problems also with the male reproductive organs and the prostate.
Money and financial stress. Anxiety disorders, fears or nightmares.
UNBALANCED SACRED chakra / Svadhistana
When your sacred chakra is open, you are receptive and feel adept at taking creative risks, embracing your sexuality, and being outgoing. You feel friendly, passionate and fulfilled while evoking feelings of well-being, abundance, pleasure and joy. Like the ocean and its tides, you follow the flow.
When it’s out of balance, you feel a lack of control in your life. You feel rigid, hard on yourself, or emotionally fragile and guilty. It can also be associated with physical sexual dysfunction, while experiencing fear of change, depression or addictive behaviors. Like a plant that hasn't been watered enough.
Signs that the sacred chakra is out of balance include:
Sexual and reproductive health problems, urinary tract problems, kidney dysfunction, pain in the hip, pelvis and lower back.
Some impotency in men.
The inability to express an emotion or desire as well as the constant fear of betrayal.
UNBALANCED SOLAR PLEXUS (or navel) chakra / Manipura
When your solar plexus chakra is opened, you feel alive, confident, and act productively. You show respect and compassion for yourself. This well aligned chakra helps you navigate your life with strength and determination, willing to take more risks.
When it’s out of balance, you feel ashamed and doubt yourself. You procrastinate and have trouble making decisions. Inert, you feel that you are stagnating. You feel anger and often apathy.
Signs that the solar plexus chakra is out of balance include:
Digestive problems (stomach aches, gas, ulcers, heartburn, eating disorders and indigestion), pancreas and gallbladder issues and chronic fatigue.
Constant fear of rejection.
UNBALANCED HEART chakra / Anahata
If the heart chakra is open, you can experience deep compassion and empathy. You will also feel joy and gratitude, and it’s easier to forgive. You can heal the wounds of the past by reopening your heart, learning to love unconditionally, and forging healthy relationships. Your good vibrations will be contagious.
When it’s out of balance, you find it difficult to fully open up to the people in your life. You give in more easily to grief, anger, jealousy and hatred toward yourself and others, especially in the form of holding grudges.
Signs that the heart chakra is out of balance include:
Upper back and shoulder problems, asthma, pain in the arm and wrist, heart and weight problems
Feeling of too much love to the point of suffocation, jealousy and bitterness. This possessiveness and co-dependency can form dysfunctional relationships. A constant insecure feeling of being alone and isolated.
UNBALANCED THROAT chakra / Visuddha
When your throat chakra is open, you feel articulate, honest and truthful, yet firm. You will listen with compassion. Your voice travels through space to communicate your emotions in a healthy way. You are able to honor the personal truths of others without judgment.
When it’s out of balance, you have a hard time finding your voice, your words, or your truth to say how you really feel. You have a constant fear of losing control. You can also be too talkative and not listen to others.
Signs that the throat chakra is out of balance include:
Thyroid problems, sore throat, ear infections, stiff neck and shoulders, toothache, gums and mouth and headache.
This misalignment can also be observed through dominant conversations, gossip and thoughtless talk.
UNBALANCED THIRD EYE chakra (or eyebrows) / Ajna
When the third eye chakra is open, you focus and show determination. You’re open to receiving advice from others. It allows you to cut through all the illusions and dramas, with insight, in order to get a clearer overview. You trust your inner wisdom to face the challenges and choices of life.
When it’s out of balance, you may find it hard to listen to reality - too attached to logic - or you seem less in touch with your inner voice. Less confident and even cynical, you can get stuck trying to remember important facts and learning new skills.
Signs that the third eye chakra is out of balance include:
Headache, dizziness, blurred vision and eye strain, sinus and hearing problems.
Troubles with concentration, stubbornness, depression and anxiety.
UNBALANCED CROWN chakra / Sahasrara
When your crown chakra is fully open, which very few people manage to do, you can access higher consciousness. You demonstrate unwavering confidence in your inner guidance and feel free in any situation.
When it’s out of balance, you think that happiness can only come from the outside, which makes you suffer. You can also show stubborn or skeptical behaviors. You have a feeling of isolation or emotional distress, essentially feeling disconnected from everything.
Signs that the crown chakra is out of balance include:
Rigid thoughts, paralysis of analysis, the constant fear of alienation.
How to balance your chakras?
The best way to balance all of your chakras is to start at the root and work your way up to the crown, one chakra at a time. Although each chakra has its own distinct properties, they also function as a system. This means that if one of them is out of balance, it affects everything else.
When healing the chakras it is wise to start with the root chakra and
explore ideas related to safety, food, belonging, finances and family. Without feeling anchored, stable or safe, open the third eye or crown chakras related to intuition, divine connection and higher knowledge may seem incoherent.
In addition to practicing yoga and meditation, you can experience your chakras by visualizing the color associated with it, from its location in your body, while also repeating the related sound. Try also reiki, crystal healing or sound healing and acupuncture. Some people may see the energy swirling in their mind, or they can feel the vortex with their hands. Others feel sensations in their bodies or mental and emotional changes that are correlating with the chakras.
To integrate into your yoga practice
According to the tradition of yoga, the subtle body is a part of you that you cannot see or
touch - this is where your energy flows - which is why it is also called the body energetic.
The effects of a chakra-based practice can have a ripple effect, tangible and stimulating on your life.
Shari Dernevil, Yoga Teacher, offers a vinyasa flow type, alternating chakra-based postures for 4 weeks. If you're feeling more frantic, hold your yoga poses longer – focussing on root chakra – so you feel more grounded. It even has the potential to inform the rest of your day to the point where you might not misplace things or skip a meal.
Meditation as a tool
Exercise proposed by Shari Dernevil:
Meditation to do daily, morning (even before having your coffee) or evening time, for 5-10 minutes. Pick a comfortable spot on the floor, on your mat, with your eyes closed. Place your hands in the location on your body connected to the chakra to be balanced. Speak out loud or in your head about the situation or problem that needs to be addressed in order to find a guide (you might even speak to someone who has left this earth). Keep your hands in the right place. Take deep, deep breaths (inhale on 4 and exhale on 6). Try it for a month and increase the duration thereafter.
To do so, place on your nightstand the 7 bottles (10 ml) of essential oils BALANCE by Rose Buddha. Composed of organic or wild elements, these precious oils are handmade by the expert aromatherapist and founder of Floressentia, Laurie Duguay, combining the wisdom of Ayurveda. In the morning, then before going to bed, pick a random oil with the conviction that you are guided to what you need right now. Created specifically to have a stabilizing effect on each of the 7 chakras, apply the oil as indicated and let the magic operate... The little extra? Each bottle comes with its mantra to repeat.
You might also come into contact with the thoughts and emotions stored by journaling. To learn more about journaling, click here.
Also, it may be useful for you to keep a simple journal of the changes you feel after each yoga practice, such as "it calmed me down" or "it helped me communicate more clearly". Keeping track this way could show that connecting to the chakras can help you change more than just your physical state.
Use the element of the nature
Also, a fairly straightforward way to use the chakras is to learn how each
is associated with an element of nature (check out the elements here above). As Alan Finger, founder of ISHTA Yoga explains: "Once you have discovered the element that each chakra is associated with, you can start to feel the effect of this element in your body."
Meditation exercise proposed by Janie Pelletier:
As she always starts her coaching outside, she advises you to go take some fresh air in order to return to the earth (in connection with the root chakra). Then, take the time to rest somewhere and identify where you are physically feeling the emotion. Place a reassuring hand on your physical discomfort or sensation. To sit down and experience the emotion will bring you inner peace.
A special thank you to the following therapists for their valuable advices:
Janie Pelletier, Yoga teacher for 10 years (including at Rose Buddha and Wanderlust in the past) and studying Phytotherapy (medicinal plants).
Shari Dernevil, Yoga teacher (independent and at Idolem) specializing in trauma (sports accident, major transition) and who has just completed her training in prenatal and postnatal yoga.
Pascal N. Paquette, Energy healer, Psychosociologist, Coach and Teacher Guide at Parlecoeur