Everything in existence is made of energy. Ancient healing practices, including Yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to name but two, have based their understanding on this and have used their holistic understanding of the natural body, plus the healing powers of nature and energy to benefit, balance and restore both body and mind.
Yoga calls this energy of the subtle body Prana; TCM calls it Qi. When the body is not well, the thoughts unclear, our relationships unstable or our journey through life seems uncertain, we can look to balance the energy of our body to ensure we are functioning well on all levels of our existence.
In the Yoga tradition it is thought that over 72,000 energy pathways called prana nadis lace their way through the human body. Where a collection of pathways meet there forms a vortex of energy and this is called a chakra which is often resembled as a spinning wheel of light or symbolised by a lotus flower. Of these, the most commonly recognised and largest chakras line up near to the spine, along the Sushumna Nadi, tracing a pathway that begins near the pelvic floor and end at the crown of the head.
It is these along these pathways in which energy or life-force, flows. When a pathway is blocked, or a chakra wheel is not spinning freely, we may become dis-eased. For optimum health and well-being, Prana must flow freely throughout the body.
What follows is a brief description of each of the seven main chakras and some advice for how to balance and restore the Prana of the particular chakra.
Beginning at the base of the spine, the root chakra, Muladhara, represents our basic need for survival and safety. We all want to feel grounded and this chakra is governed by the element of Earth – this is why being outside in nature, physical activity, or simply sitting under a tree to meditate is recommended to help bring this chakra into balance. When balanced we feel secure, we feel that we belong and our sense of self-worth is strong.
How can you help to balance the energy of your root chakra?
Positive affirmations repeated daily can really help. Try: “I am safe”, “I am supported” or “I am fearless”. Organise your day/week so you don’t feel overwhelmed and schedule time for fresh-air breaks where you actually go outside and walk around. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep: address your basic needs for wellbeing and survival. Pelvic floor exercises are very important to stabilise this chakra, as well as to support posture and movement.
The second chakra is the sacral chakra – Svadhisthana and is situated between the genitals and the naval. Svadhisthana can be translated as sweetness and as such, this chakra is the seat of our desire for pleasure: relationships, sexuality, nurture and movement. The root chakra gives us safety, the sacral chakra provides us with reasons for living. Represented by the element of water, this chakra is very feminine in nature and is able to cope with change and thrives when we embrace our passions. It governs all bodily fluids including salvia, seminal fluid, blood and lymph. If we remember that our bodies are mostly composed of water, we can then recognised how important this chakra will be to our overall feelings of wellbeing.
How can you help to balance the energy of your sacral chakra?
Due to its watery nature, spending time in or around water can help to balance the energy of Svadhisthana. Enjoy a salt scrub which will support your lymphatic circulation and stimulate your skin’s renewal and end this with a cold shower to really boost your energy. Embrace creative projects that bring you joy and reward yourself with pleasurable activities. Book a dance class or simply play your favourite soundtrack and dance around your house. Drink more water!
Solar Plexus Chakra
If Muladhara chakra is about our belonging to our tribe, Svadhisthana is about developing individual relationships, then the third chakra, Manipura is about the self and how we can connect to all humanity. A balanced solar plexus means we treat everyone as equals and we realise our own self-worth, as an individual, as a partner and as part of a community. Those with good solar plexus energy enjoy challenges, are able to express themselves well, feel able to act with integrity and without the need for constant reassurance.
How can you help to balance the energy of your solar plexus chakra?
Try repeating the mantra: “I accept and value myself exactly as I am.” Stay strong in your core and regularly include core-strengthening exercises. Get outside into the sunshine as often as possible – Manipura energy can be seen in a glowing complexion and sunny disposition. It is recommended to fast to support the energy of the solar plexus – my experience is with the 5:2 diet and intermittent fasting which is where I narrow the number of hours in the day for food consumption. I find this method very beneficial but do your own research and explore what works for you.
The heart centre represents balance. Anahata chakra is situated mid-way along the main 7 chakra pathway and is the intersection between the first three chakras (root, sacral and solar plexus) which are physical in nature, and the next three chakras (throat, third eye and crown) which lead us to our spiritual selves. Because this chakra’s element is air and its sense is touch we feel balanced here. Think about feeling a cool breeze on your skin. You can feel the air but cannot see it; a balance of physical and ethereal; the heart chakra constantly works to harmonise our physical existence with our ethereal one.
Has anyone ever placed their hand on your arm in a warm, kind, healing sort of way and you just sensed that vibe? That person’s heart chakra is likely to be in balance because they are easily sharing their compassion and kindness with you. Your heart centre is also open and balanced, allowing you to connect with that energy. Have you ever felt the opposite, when somebody’s touch felt repellent? It could be that your intuition kicked in to protect you from their possible negative energy or that your heart energy was drained, you were stressed and had gone into self-protection mode.
How can you help to balance the energies of your heart?
Meditation is great and the energetic heart in its central location is perfect for visualisation. You could try a Metta (loving-kindness) meditation. This 60-min Yin Yoga class is a journey through a loving-kindness mediation. Massage (remember sense of touch) is also perfect and can be a great way to connect with loved ones, and to feel loved.
The throat chakra represents communication and can be felt through the tone, clarity and strength of the voice, the ease with which you communicate your thoughts and ideas, and even in your ability to listen and understanding others. It is thought that the heart and throat chakras are in constant communication with each other as you balance how you communicate, with what’s being communicated to you and how you react to it. If a person speaks with a dull, monotonous voice, their throat chakra may be blocked. If a person frequently needs to clear their throat and seems unable to get their words out is another side. A weak throat chakra may be seen in the chin falling towards the chest in a shielding sign of protection or in feeling as though you’re not being heard by those around you.
How can you help to balance the energy of your throat chakra?
Singing, chanting, reading and listening to stories all can help. The Bijah mantra for the throat chakra is Yam (pronounced Yuummmm). Try a couple of minutes of chanting that or even chanting OM and notice how it makes you feel. The next time you speak with a friend, notice how carefully you listen to them. Do you feel heard when you are speaking – can you explore different methods of communication such as writing letters. If you are feeling low, tell somebody and in the same light, when you are feeling loved, let that person know too.
Third Eye Chakra
Ajna chakra is the 6th energy centre and is located between the eyes, slightly above the bridge of the nose. It is associated with the pituitary gland which is often considered to be the master controller of the endocrine system. Ajna chakra is associated with our ability of discernment – there are no excuses where this chakra is concerned. When something is right, we just ‘know it’, and we are therefore able to lead an inspired life. When we are born, it is thought the third eye is very much open, but this sixth sense of wisdom, intuitiveness and insight can make life very uncomfortable and so we may train ourselves to shut this facility down. Those with an open or balanced third-eye chakra are alert to coincidences and often experience moments of pure insight, perception or clairvoyance.
How can you help to balance the energy of your third eye chakra?
When this energy centre is blocked we may limit ourselves and our abilities, second guessing outcomes instead of trusting the path of fate. Taking time to meditate, becoming still and turning your gaze inwards, literally looking towards the third eye centre (although this can be tiring to begin with so I would begin by focusing on the tip of the nose first before moving the internal gaze upwards). You can also help by regularly performing eye exercise, similar to those we practice in yoga class – roll your gaze around the edges of your eye-sockets and look to the periphery of your vision.
This chakra is benefitted by stillness and quiet and so any practice that provides this will help. Try lying on your yoga mat under the stars and contemplating the site of the universe and how small we are as individuals. Even though we may be tiny in comparison, we always remember the intricate part we have to play and how necessary we are. Listen to the sound of your own heart beating and remember that our true guide comes from within.
The final chakra, Sahasrara is situated at the crown of the head, floating like a halo and is symbolised by a 1000 petalled lotus flower representing infinity. Our aim in life to rid ourselves of any negativity, or obstacles that hinder our pathway to the discovery of our true inner selves. The crown chakra is pure spirit and a place where we feel complete peace and wholeness. We may occasionally gain glimpses of this state of being and it is so wonderful, that we know that there is no other true meaning to life. When connecting to this chakra, we can perceive our life’s true meaning and this focuses and guides us on the path to spiritual enlightenment; we transcend the ego and the material world.
How can you help to balance the energy of your crown chakra?
Meditation with crystals is a lovely way to purify the spirit and connect with our true meaning. Create a sacred space with an alter in a light and airing corner of your home where you go to to find stillness, space and peace. Place upon your alter cleansed crystals, objects or pictures, flowers or other symbolic objects that have meaning for you. Make sure it is not cluttered and apply this principle to other areas of your home – give away or repurpose items that are no longer in use and are simply taking up space. Regularly visit your alter and sit, allowing yourself to be open to infinite possibility, to the inter-connectedness of all things and the Devine wisdom to make wise choices.