The seven main energy centers of the body, known as the chakras, influence your mental, emotional and physical health. Blockages in these figurative wheels that run along your spine can lead to very real physical and emotional issues, including respiratory and digestion issues, fear of commitment and poor self esteem.
Release stale and blocked chakras to bring balance back to your body. A regular yoga practice that includes poses to target each chakra helps, but so do specific mantra meditations and surrounding yourself with the colors of each chakra.
A comprehensive yoga practice that includes a combination of standing, seated and reclined postures helps to balance your chakras. To address each of the seven chakras, include at least one or two postures for each zone in your practice.
This chakra is located at the base of your spine and represents your foundation — home, job, family and security. Standing poses that reinforce your connection to the ground are particularly stimulating for the root. Mountain, Warrior I and II and Standing Forward Fold are a few examples.
Your sacral chakra sits in the area right between your pubic bone and your belly button. It influences your creativity and your sensual self. Hip openers are particularly effective at helping you to find balance in this chakra, including Seated or Standing Wide-Angle Forward Fold, Seated Bound Angle and deep, wide lunges, such as Lizard.
Solar Plexus (or Navel) Chakra
The chakra that exists around the middle of your torso, at the solar plexus, affects digestion, self confidence and anger management. Poses that open, and compress, the abdominal region help bring it into balance. Include poses such as Boat and Bridge, as well as twists, to stimulate the area.
Your heart chakra is located in your upper chest and governs matters of the heart, including relationships, self love and empathy. Bring balance to the heart with poses that open your chest, such as a full backbend in Wheel, Upward Facing Dog and Cow pose.
The throat chakra influences your voice, thyroid and sinuses. It represents your ability to communicate with the world. Unblock it with poses that open it, including Camel, and with poses that compress it, such as Plow.
Located in the middle of your brow, the third eye represents your intuition, or inner knowing. Headaches and a sense of hopelessness can arise when this chakra is imbalanced. Stimulate it with Child's pose — be sure your head makes contact with the mat or the floor — and yoga Nidra, a deep sleep-like, guided meditation.
The uppermost chakra, the crown chakra governs your spirituality. It grounds you in the present, so you're not lingering in the past or too focused on the future. Open it through meditation, Headstand and Downward Facing Dog.
Each chakra is associated with a one-word mantra. Sit cross-legged and spend several minutes meditating on each sound. Alternatively, chant each one for 10 breaths when you're in a pose corresponding to that chakra.
The mantras are:
- Root: Lam
- Sacral: Vam
- Solar Plexus: Ram
- Heart: Yam
- Throat: Ham
- Third-Eye: Om
- Crown: Om
Wearing colors corresponding to the chakras helps open them up and awakens their energy. Eating foods of these colors and holding gems of these colors also stimulate the corresponding chakra. For example, to help your voice and throat chakra, eat blueberries, meditate near a turquoise stone and wear a blue sweater.
Surround yourself with the color of the chakra that seems most blocked to free it:
- Root: Red
- Sacral: Orange
- Solar Plexus: Yellow
- Heart: Green
- Throat: Blue
- Third-Eye: Purple
- Crown: White or Violet