Consider this your manual on how to tap into the seven chakras, or energy centers, for a deeper mind-body connection
  • 15 Aug - 21 Aug, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly

Raise your hand if you've ever attended a yoga class, heard the word "chakra," and then promptly entered a state of total confusion as to what your instructor is actually saying. Don't be shy-both of our hands are raised. As someone who only does yoga every now and again, these so-called "energy centers" have always been a big mystery to us, despite the fact that they provide the basis for yoga practice at all levels. (Equally as important: meditation.)

First, the facts: The idea of an energy hub may sound a little hokey to you, but chakras have earned their name for good reason. All the major chakras occur at points called physical counterparts, the sites of major clusters of arteries, veins, and nerves. These spots, therefore, capture a tremendous amount of energy thanks to the amount of blood flow and nerve endings that connect and concentrate there.

While there are many minor energy streams throughout our body, the seven primary chakras run along our spinal column, starting at our tailbone and going all the way up to the top of our head, and have the biggest impact on our physical and emotional wellbeing. We'll break them down for you:

Root chakra

The root chakra represents our foundation. On the human body, it sits at the base of the spine and gives us the feeling of being grounded. When the root chakra is open, we feel confident in our ability to withstand challenges and stand on our own two feet. When it's blocked, we feel threatened, as if we're standing on unstable ground.

• Location: Base of spine, in tailbone area

• What it controls: Survival issues such as financial independence, money, and food

Sacral chakra

The sacral chakra helps inform how we relate to our emotions and the emotions of others. It also governs creativity and physical energy. Those with a blocked sacral chakra could feel a lack of control in their lives.

• Location: Lower abdomen, about two inches below the navel

• What it controls: Your sense of abundance, well-being, and pleasure.

Solar plexus chakra

The third chakra, the solar plexus chakra, speaks to your ability to be confident and in control of your life. Think back to the last time you had butterflies or felt a pit in the stomach: That's this chakra at work. If your solar plexus chakra is blocked, you might feel overwhelming amounts of shame and self-doubt. Those with open sacral chakras are free to express their true selves.

• Location: Upper abdomen in the stomach area

• What it controls: Self-worth, self-confidence, and self-esteem

Heart chakra

The heart chakra is the bridge between the lower chakras (associated with materiality) and the upper chakras (associated with spirituality). As the name suggests, this chakra can influence our ability to give and receive love – from others and ourselves. Someone with a blocked heart chakra will have difficulty fully opening up to the people in their life. If someone's heart is open, they can experience deep compassion and empathy.

• Location: Center of chest, just above the heart

• What it controls: Love, joy, and inner peace

Throat chakra

The throat chakra gives voice to the heart chakra and controls our ability to communicate our personal power. When it's functioning at full capacity, it allows us to express ourselves truly and clearly. Someone with a blocked throat chakra will feel like they have trouble finding the words to say how they truly feel.

• Location: Throat

• What it controls: Communication, self-expression, and truth

Third-eye chakra

As we move up the body, we're getting closer to communion with the divine. The third-eye chakra controls our ability to see the big picture and connect to intuition. Think of it as the eye of the soul: It registers information beyond the surface level. Visions and intuitive hits are not uncommon for someone with an open third-eye chakra.

• Location: Forehead between the eyes (also called the brow chakra)

• What it controls: Intuition, imagination, and wisdom

Crown chakra

The crown chakra, the highest chakra, sits at the crown of the head and represents our ability to be fully connected spiritually. When you fully open your crown chakra – something very few people ever do! – you're able to access a higher consciousness.

• Location: The very top of the head

• What it controls: Inner and outer beauty, spiritual connection

While each yogi will experience these poses and chakras differently, the ultimate goal is to stimulate these energy centers by changing blood flow and opening up new spaces within our physical body. No matter your level of yoga expertise, you can do this, and you will find more balance just by thinking about these centers as you move through your flow and find your zen.