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Chakras 101

Have you heard anything about these so called 'chakras'? It's crazy how someone can dedicate their life to health and wellness and, bam, another theory, diet or exercise comes out. Except the chakra system, which originated in India, originated between 1500-500 BC. I guess we can't chalk this up to another health fad. Read on to understand this spiritual practice and how to help your own body with any energy blockages.

The older I become the more I am intrigued in body alignment and inner peace. I have heard about chakras over the years but never really took the time to fully understand them until the topic was presented in my health coaching class. I remember wondering what these seven spots in the body are and how on Earth can they get blocked?! Well I was forced to understand it in my class and now I'd love to share my findings with all of you.

Chakra is the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "disk". These seven energy centers are believed to regulate the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of each person. The centers start at the base of the spine to the top of the head. These spinning wheels run along the spine but reach to the front and sides of the body as well. These centers correspond with major nerve centers and endocrine glands, so if one center is blocked it can really mess with the overall balance in the body. I will go through each center below to show signs of imbalance and ways to align them again.

The Muladhara, otherwise known as the root chakra, is at the base of the spine near the tailbone. This center encompasses the large intestine, spine, legs, and feet. This is the base that all the other centers rest on so it's vital for this particular center to have balance. The element that is associated with the root chakra is Earth. As you can see from the picture above it's color is red. This is the grounding, security, and stability center. When open, we feel safe and fearless. Obviously when the energy is stuck the reverse is felt. Some signs of imbalance or blockage are fear (not being good enough or being safe), nervousness, restlessness, greediness, resistance to change. Some physical examples are constipation, bladder problems, eating disorders and kidney stones.

There are many ways to unblock the Muladhara chakra. Since the element it is associated with is Earth it is strongly encouraged to get out in nature. Walking, hiking or even gardening are great examples. Wearing the color red or wearing red crystals such as ruby or garnet have been linked to unblocking. The yoga poses 'tree' and 'mountain' help open this area as well as clove and rosemary aromatherapy.

The Swadhisthana, otherwise know as the sacral chakra, is next. This center is the emotional epicenter. It is located about four fingers below the belly button. It encompasses the lower abdomen, bladder, bowel, large intestine and reproductive system. The element associated with this center is water and it's color is orange. Some signs of an imbalance can include hip, lower back, kidney and genital ailments. Trust issues, cold and distant toward others, neediness, shame, and guilt can also be signs. This center can become stuck frequently because when emotions are imbalanced this center can either shut down for protection or become overactive causing depression and addictions.

Ways to open the Swadhisthana chakra involve connecting to your inner child. Dancing wildly or spending time near water can help. Staying hydrated or connecting with your partner intimately are great examples as well. Wearing orange, wearing orange crystals like goldstone or carnelian, smelling orange or sandalwood, and yoga poses such as 'Goddess' or 'Revolved Triangle' can move energy.

The Manipura, also known as the solar plexus chakra, is next. This center is located in the upper abdomen along with the small intestine and upper back. It is linked to the digestive system. Manipura is associated with the fire element and is the color yellow. The solar plexus chakra is associated with personal power. When this center is in balance one can exude confidence without being arrogant. Other signs of balance are self worth, reliability, motivation, and a strong sense of purpose. When this center is blocked there tends to be gastrointestinal ailments. Decisions are hard to make, low self-esteem, and aggression can show up. Major fears are failure and criticism.

Ways to open or unblock the Manipura chakra can be through practicing self love, belly breathing and healing past traumas. Wearing yellow or yellow crystals such as citrine or amber can open this center. 'Boat' pose and 'warrior' pose can open this center as well as lemon and grapefruit aromatherapy.

The Anahata, otherwise known as the heart chakra is fourth in line. This chakra is located in the center of the chest above the heart. This includes the lungs as well as the circulatory and lymphatic systems. It's element is air and it's color is green. Anhata is in the center of the seven centers and acts as a bridge between the physical (bottom 3) and the spiritual (top 3). This center is linked to compassion, love, and acceptance. Everyone has been broken hearted in their life but how you choose to move on determines a blocked heart center. If you become spiteful, unable to forgive, or unable to let go of the past can close this center. This blockage can cause fears of rejection, vulnerability, and connection with self and others. Physical aliments can include cardiovascular, lung, arm and hand issues.

Ways to open the Anahata center are to practice gratitude and forgiveness. Chose love every time. Smile at someone even when you don't feel like it. Compliment co-workers. Try to hold back on the criticism. Wear green and use green crystals such as emerald or malachite. For aromatherapy use rose and jasmine. Yoga poses such as 'crescent moon' and 'camel' are great for opening this area.

The Vishuddha, otherwise known as the throat chakra, is next. It's element is ether (space) and is the color blue. This center contains the thyroid gland, mouth, jaw, and respiratory system. It is the first of the spiritual chakras. To have an open throat chakra is to speak your truth. Being authentic while listening allow this energy to freely move. It is easier to say the things other people want to hear. Therefore, in order to be open you must figure out a way to speak your truth while not offending the other person. This takes more time and effort but well worth the outcome. When there is a blockage in this center often times there are neck, throat, and jaw aliments. There is also a lack of self expression and lack of creativity. When this center is stuck we tend to fear rejection and conflict causing us to become critical of ourself and others.

Ways to open the Vishuddha center are to actually write down what you wish to say to someone and practice saying it out loud. This practice will help push you to not fear the conflict as much while being true to yourself. Laughing, singing and humming are great ways to get rid of trapped words. Even reading out loud can help circulate this energy. Wearing blue or crystals like tanzanite, aquamarine or sapphire can help. For aromatherapy, peppermint and lavender are great and the yoga poses like 'cobra' and 'shoulder stand' can create movement.

The Ajna, otherwise known as the third eye chakra, is sixth in line. I find this chakra so fascinating! When this area between the eyebrows is open our intuition is free to run wild. Who doesn't want their inner knowing to guide us to our purpose or help us sense danger? Just as animals instinctively know to stock up on food in the winter, we too have innate intelligence. We have just lost touch with it in this modern world. It contains part of our brain, eyes, endocrine and automatic nervous systems. It's element is light and the color is indigo. When this center is open we have great insight, imagination, visualization and intuition. If you are having difficulty making a decision, you can ask this center for guidance. You tend to lean one way more than another so start to trust that instinct. Signs of blockages are headaches, sinus and eye aliments. Fear of losing control and having self-doubt are usually present as well. Lack of hope and despair are associated with this blocked chakra.

Ways to open the Ajna chakra are to start to trust your intuition. Eating whole foods helps move this energy but a big tool to open this area is through meditation. Meditation helps open all the chakras but it is definitely more beneficial with this area. Getting a tingly feeling in the head area while meditating has been linked to moving this energy. Wearing indigo or crystals like amethyst or lolite can help. For aromatherapy, the scents clary sage and lemongrass can move stuck emotions as well as the yoga moves 'easy' pose and 'child's' pose. These poses help because you are pressing the forehead to the mat.

The Sahasrara, otherwise known as the crown chakra, is last. It's element is cosmic energy and the colors are violet and white. Sahasrara is located at the top of the head and is connected to the central nervous system and the pineal gland. This chakra is associated with enlightenment, wisdom, beauty and spiritual connection. If ego and physical body are pushed aside a person has a better chance to connect to a higher spiritual being/universe, which then allows this chakra to be fully open. Helping others is a great way to move this energy. Signs this chakra is blocked can be denying spiritual realm and a difficulty making decisions while being too judgmental. The focus of material goods is high while having a fear of being let down.

Ways to open the Sahasrara can be through exploring spiritual practices. Being outdoors and separating thoughts and feelings is very helpful as well. Praying, meditating and being in silence can also be very beneficial. Wearing the colors violet and white or crystals like quartz or selenite, yoga poses 'corpse' and 'butterfly' and the scent rosewood all help to open this chakra.

So there you have it! Although this has been one of my more lengthy blogs, I hope you found this to be insightful as well as a great starting point to do some more investigative work on chakras. If you are suffering from some of these thoughts or aliments, what's the harm in trying some new practices? Let's keep moving to become our highest selves and spread some love.

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