An Easy Guide to What is a Chakra & How to Balance them, their symbology, and how you can incorporate easy ways to hone them to improve your life!
What is a Chakra?
You can think of the Chakras as a seven leveled philosophical modal of the universe. Each one correlates to specific energy pathways in the body. They are unique centers of organization that receive, assimilate, and express life force energy.
In Sanskrit the word "Chakra" means wheel or disk and refers to spinning spheres of bioenergetic activity that begin at the base of the spin up to the top of the head.
Each Chakra is associated with states of consciousness, a color, physical body parts, emotional states, phycological personality traits, and life needs that must be met. They may also correspond to specific crystals, food groups, planets, elements, metals, essential oils, musical notes, hormone gland, & senses.
What are the different chakras?
There are 7 Chakras that run from the base of your spine (root) to the top of your head (crown).
In order from lowest to highest they are the:
Root - At the base of the spine represented by red
Sacral - At the lower abdomen represented by orange
Solar Plexus - At the naval represented by yellow
Heart- In the chest represented by green
Throat - In the throat, represented by blue
Third Eye - In the middle of the forehead represented by indigo
Crown - At the top of the head, represented by purple
What is balancing a Chakra?
When your Chakras are balanced it brings about a sense of harmony in the body within and without. There are many ways to work toward balance, but first you must identify where you might have an excess or deficiency of energy in each of your Chakras.
There is a chart below where you can see some examples to determine where you lie. You may also take this simple Chakra Quiz. I recommend spending some time writing some of your personal concerns for yourself down, and analyzing which Chakras pertain to your needs. Keep in mind to not only consider your mental well-being, but your physical well-being as well. Physical pains and health issues can often point to areas of imbalance that need attention, not only with in person treatment in the physical realm, but often with tender loving care from the spiritual and psychic realms.
Another fun way of learning more about the chakras and how to activate them comes from the Character Aang from Avatar. Below is the video depicting Aang opening his Chakras.
Mini- Guide to Overactive & Underactive Chakras
Overactive Fearful, nervous, insecure, or ungrounded; materialistic or greedy; resistant to change
Underactive Lacking a sense of being at home or secure anywhere, codependent, unable to get into one’s body, fearful of abandonment
Associated Endocrine Glands & Organs Adrenal glands, spine, blood, and reproductive organs
Physical Symptoms of Unbalance Inability to sit still, restlessness, unhealthy weight (either obesity or eating disorder), constipation, cramps, fatigue or sluggishness
Overactive Overemotional, very quick to attach and invest in others, attracted to drama, moody, lacking personal boundaries
Underactive Stiff, unemotional, closed off to others, lacking self-esteem or self-worth, possibly in an abusive relationship
Associated Endocrine Glands & Organs Kidneys and reproductive organs: ovaries, testes, and uterus
Physical Symptoms of Unbalance Lower-back pain or stiffness, urinary issues, kidney pain or infection, infertility, impotence
Navel (Solar Plexus) Chakra
Overactive Domineering, aggressive, angry, perfectionistic or overly critical of oneself or others
Underactive Passive, indecisive, timid, lacking self-control
Associated Endocrine Glands & Organs Central nervous system, digestive system (stomach and intestines), liver, pancreas, metabolic system
Physical Symptoms of Unbalance Ulcers, gas, nausea, or other digestive problems; eating disorders; asthma or other respiratory ailments; nerve pain or fibromyalgia; infection in the liver or kidneys; other organ problems
Overactive Loving in a clingy, suffocating way; lacking a sense of self in a relationship; willing to say yes to everything; lacking boundaries, letting everyone in
Underactive Cold, distant, lonely, unable or unwilling to open up to others, grudgeful
Associated Endocrine Glands & Organs Thymus gland and immune system, heart, lungs, breasts, arms, hands
Physical Symptoms of Unbalance Heart and circulatory problems (high blood pressure, heart palpitations, heart attack), poor circulation or numbness, asthma or other respiratory ailments, breast cancer, stiff joints or joint problems in the hands
Overactive Overly talkative, unable to listen, highly critical, verbally abusive, condescending
Underactive Introverted, shy, having difficulty speaking the truth, unable to express needs
Associated Endocrine Glands & Organs Thyroid, neck, throat, shoulders, ears, and mouth
Physical Symptoms of Unbalance Stiffness or soreness in the neck or shoulders, sore throat, hoarseness or laryngitis, earaches or infection, dental issues or TMJ, thyroid issues
Third Eye Chakra
Overactive Out of touch with reality, lacking good judgment, unable to focus, prone to hallucinations
Underactive Rigid in thinking, closed off to new ideas, too reliant on authority, disconnected or distrustful of inner voice, anxious, clinging to the past and fearful of the future
Associated Endocrine Glands & Organs Pituitary, eyes, brow, base of skull, biorhythms
Physical Symptoms of Unbalance Vision problems, headaches or migraines, insomnia or sleep disorders, seizures, nightmares (though this isn’t a physical symptom per se, it is a common occurrence)
Overactive Addicted to spirituality heedless of bodily needs, having difficulty controlling emotions
Underactive Not very open to spirituality, unable to set or maintain goals, lacking direction
Associated Endocrine Glands & Organs Pituitary and pineal glands, brain, hypothalamus, cerebral cortex, central nervous system
Physical Symptoms of Unbalance Dizziness, confusion, mental fog, neurological disorders, nerve pain, schizophrenia or other mental disorders
How can I balance my Chakras?
Once you have figured out what Chakras need work there are many ways to tackle the process of aligning them.
Affirmations / Mantras - affirmations/mantras help by casting "spells" to activate energies within oneself. They are sound based tools to enact ripples of change and have an effect on your energetic body and unconscious.
2. Diet / Exercise
Diet and Exercise play a huge role in the optimal function of our bodies and so its no surprise that they are super important /effective for balancing Chakras as well. Above is a yoga chart with exercises that pertain to each Chakra. If yoga isn't your style try any exercise/stretch/chi gong/ tai chi/ or massage that targets the particular area the Chakra you want to work on is in. Here Vicki Howie gives specific examples for the best balancing activities for each Chakra.
Eating foods/herbs to aid the balancing of the Chakras is as simple as eating the right colors. Be sure to clean your diet of negative energies, such as inorganic/ processed foods which have lost their vitality, and are less effective for nourishing your body. (The energy levels of foods can be determined by measuring the light levels in the juices with a BRIX meter. In this way you can see if that apple from the store is all its cracked up to be. Not all fruits and vegetables are equal, those grown with love and in harmony with their environments score a higher BRIX score and are more nutritious). Source locally grown, raw and fresh ingredients whenever possible. Don't underestimate the role of ingesting negative vibes, like the saying goes "you are what you eat".
Root Chakra: Elderberry, strawberries, tomatoes, raspberries.
Sacral Chakra: Parsley, oranges, bell peppers.
Solar Plexus Chakra: Chamomile, bananas, lemons.
Heart Chakra: Lemon balm, green vegetables, green apples.
Throat Chakra: Sage, blueberries, black currants.
Third Eye Chakra: Spruce, indigo vegetables.
Crown Chakra: Thyme, eggplant, red grapes.
There are many stones that correspond to the different Chakras. Below is a chart with a selection of them. Stones may be charged with energy and your intentions or may simply act as a reminder of your goals. Keep them in your pocket, under your pillow, or anywhere you will see them often.
4. Energy Healing
There are many forms of energy healing some of my personal favorite beings sound therapy & reiki. You can find a practitioner or learn the skills to practice them on yourself. These activities are able to put your chakras in harmony by harnessing subtle frequencies, tapping into the subconscious, and moving energy on various etheric levels. I particularly enjoy the energy work of Lune Innate who has a lovely video series on Youtube working on each of the Chakras.
It is important to note that there is no one path to aligning the Chakras correctly. Be Creative, Tune in to your Intuition, And Feel Confident in Doing What Works for You. The same goes for meditation. For some sitting quietly works, but for others it might be activity that is needed like dance or running. Some might enjoy music while others prefer silence. You may change from day to day and try different styles or stay with same. You might prefer to simply focus on a color or chant a complex mantra / do some deep thinking. The options are limitless!
Meditation is for quieting the mind, but also about reducing all the subconscious and sometimes conscious noise that muddles up our perception and frazzles our processing. By allowing relaxation, and things that need to be analyzed and sorted out in the mind, to come to the surface. We can initiate a process of self discovery. In this way you can focus in on "problem areas" and tackle them more efficiently, balancing your chakras.
I recommend reading the book Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith for an excellent overview of the 7 Chakras as they are related to human psychological and spiritual development. She does an outstanding job of analyzing and pairing the 7 chakras with the developmental stages of children from infants to adulthood. Her book is a wonderful tool for both self help/discovery/enlightenment and for parents seeking a better understanding of how to raise balanced children.
The History of the Chakra System
As you may well know the history of the Chakra System has its roots in Hindu and yogic traditions. Lesser known is the fact that there are more than one variation of the Chakra systems. Some having 5, 10, or even 21 chakras. The modal described above comes from a Western viewpoint, but it is equally as useful to understand the Chakras from their original viewpoint. Below is an informative excerpt on the history of Charkas from Hareesh Blog called THE SIX MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT THE CHAKRAS.
"The theory of the subtle body and its energy centers called cakras (or padmas (lotuses), ādhāras, lakṣyas (focal points), etc.) comes from the tradition of Tantrik Yoga, which flourished from 600-1300 CE, and is still alive today. In mature Tantrik Yoga (after the year 900 or so), every one of the many branches of the tradition articulated a different chakra system, and some branches articulated more than one. Five-chakra systems, six-chakra systems, seven, nine, ten, twelve, twenty-one and more chakras are taught, depending on what text and what lineage you’re looking at. The seven- (or, technically, 6 + 1) chakra system that Western yogis know about is just one of many, and it became dominant around the 15th century (see point #4 below).
Now, I know what you're thinking—‘But which system is right? How many chakras are there really?’ And that brings us to our first major misunderstanding. The chakras aren't like organs in the physical body; they aren't fixed facts that we can study like doctors study neural ganglia (with which the chakras were confused in the nineteenth century). The energy body (sūkshma-sharīra) is an extraordinarily fluid reality, as we should expect of anything nonphysical and supersensuous. The energy body can present, experientially speaking, with any number of energy centers, depending on the person and the yogic practice they're performing.
Having said that, there are a few centers which are found in all systems: specifically, in the lower belly or sexual center, in the heart, and in or near the crown of the head, since these are three places in the body where humans all over the world experience both emotional and spiritual phenomena. But apart from those three, there’s a huge variety in the chakra systems we find in the original literature. One is not more ‘right’ than another, except relative to a specific practice. For example, if you're doing a five-element practice, you use a five-chakra system (see point #6 below). If you're internalizing the energy of six different deities, you use a six-chakra system. Duh, right? But this crucial bit of information has not yet reached Western yoga. "
I hope you have found insight and tools for self empowerment in this reading. Thank you for taking the time to better yourself!
Much Love & Good Karma!
- Kitchen Witch Renee
Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith
The Subtle Body by Cyndi Dale