Yoga Poses to Balance the Chakra SystemApr 01, 2022 06:00AM ● By Mila Burgess
The chakra system is an ancient map of energy flow in the body. In Sanskrit, the word “chakra” means “disk” or “wheel.” Although people have differing opinions about how many chakras exist in the body, it is widely held that there are seven major chakras that line the spine and correspond to specific nerve bundles and major organs. These spinning vortexes of energy cannot be seen but can be intuited and felt by many.
Each chakra is connected to a certain realm of life. The three lower chakras are associated with earthly matters—survival, sex and willpower, respectively—while the upper three are connected to higher consciousness, truth, purpose and intuition. Between these three material and three spiritual energies lies the heart center, a chakra that bridges the gap between upper and lower with qualities of compassion, empathy and love.
While the metaphysical properties attributed to chakras have not yet been backed by scientific evidence, many cultures, philosophies and traditions believe that the subtle energies of the chakras govern aspects of our physical, mental and emotional bodies and is key to maintaining homeostasis for maximum wellness. Thus, chakra-balancing work is beneficial.
To function at their best, chakras need to stay wide open and unobstructed. Swirling like a whirlpool, each chakra is most effective when it spins freely. And, while each chakra spins on its own, the maximum energetic benefits arise when all seven chakras are aligned and flowing fluidly. If a chakra is blocked, one might experience physical or emotional symptoms related to the specific areas to which a chakra connects. Some popular chakra-opening techniques include chakra meditation, acupuncture, Reiki, and sound healing. In yoga, certain yoga poses can be done to help move and expand energy through the body so that the chakras can remain unfettered.
Located at the base of the spine, muladhara, or root chakra, is associated with feelings of safety, vitality, security, stability, strength, loyalty and acceptance. “Muladhara” means “the root of existence,” and in the physical body, it corresponds to the organs of elimination, the sciatic nerve, the bottoms of the feet and the adrenal glands. The root chakra is represented by the color red and is connected to the earth element. When the root chakra is open, balanced and spinning freely, we feel grounded.
Yoga Poses to Balance the Root Chakra:
• Easy Seated Position
• Easy Seated Position
• Mountain Pose
• Standing Forward Bend
• Garland Pose
• Warriors 1 and 2
• Seated Forward Fold
Above the root chakra lies svadhisthana, or sacral chakra. “Svadhisthana” translates to “the place of the self.” Located above the pubic bone and below the navel, the sacral chakra is associated with sexuality, creativity, freedom, adaptability, pleasure and fun. It’s connected to the reproductive organs, the low back and circulation. Associated with the color orange, the sacral chakra is connected to the element of water. When their sacral chakra is balanced, people feel free to express themselves creatively and experience playfulness, joy and pleasure.
Yoga Poses to Balance the Sacral Chakra:
• Lizard Pose
• Half Split
• Goddess Pose
• Deer Pose
• Frog Pose
• Bound Angle Pose
SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA
The solar plexus chakra, manipura, or “lustrous gem,” lies along the spine between the belly button and breastbone. It is associated with the fire element and the color yellow, and it is easily connected to the idea of “fire in the belly” because it is the seat of willpower, determination, self-control, pride and self-worth. Fire is also an element of transformation; thus, the solar plexus chakra supports the ability to take action to grow and change. Physically, manipura relates to the digestive system, pancreas, liver and gall bladder. When the solar plexus chakra is balanced, people feel courageous and strong, proud and self-sufficient.
Yoga Poses to Balance the Solar Plexus Chakra:
• Downward Facing Dog
• Revolved Triangle
• Cobra Pose
• Boat Pose
• Half Lord of the Fishes
• Supine Twist
Serving as the bridge between the upper and lower chakras, anahata, which translates to “unhurt,” the heart chakra unites the chakras of matter and materiality to chakras of spirituality. As the center point of the chakra system, located in the middle of the chest just above the heart, anahata is generally believed to be a larger energetic force than the other chakras. Physically, the heart chakra is associated with the heart, lungs, hands and thymus gland. Emotionally, it is the seat of compassion, kindness, unconditional love, tranquility, goodwill and liveliness. The heart chakra is illustrated by the color green and is associated with the air element. When balanced, people both give and receive love with ease, have a general sense of well-being, feel connected to themselves and others and trust their hearts to guide them.
Yoga Poses to Balance the Heart Chakra:
• Wild Thing
• Kneeling Crescent
• Dancer Pose
• Camel Pose
• Bridge Pose
• Reclined Bound Angle
The fifth chakra is vishuddha, meaning “especially pure.” Known more widely as the “throat chakra” and located in the middle of the throat, it’s represented by the color turquoise blue and correlates to the throat, cervical spine, thyroid and parathyroid glands, jaw, mouth and tongue. The throat chakra, not surprisingly, is associated with communication, sound, vibration and self-expression. This chakra embodies the element of sound and is closely connected to music and musical harmony. When in tune, a balanced throat chakra’s energy manifests as easy communication, artistic expression, relaxation and the ability to speak one’s highest truth.
Yoga Poses to Balance the Throat Chakra:
• Cat/Cow Flow
• Reverse Tabletop
• Locust Pose
• Shoulder Stand
• Plow Pose
• Fish Pose
THIRD EYE CHAKRA
Located in the center of the brain, between the eyes, ajna, which means “beyond wisdom” in Sanskrit, is the third eye chakra and the seat of wisdom, intuition, imagination, illumination and intelligence. This dark blue orb is associated with the element of light, as it is said to reveal the true nature of all things. Ajna is connected to the brain, pituitary gland and ears. It’s also considered to be associated with the pineal gland, which regulates circadian rhythm. When the third eye chakra is balanced, people experience clarity, understanding, evolution, patience and insight.
Poses to Balance the Third Eye Chakra:
• Child’s Pose
• Eagle Pose
• Half Moon
• Humble Warrior
• Dolphin Pose
• Double Pigeon
Sahasara is Sanskrit for “thousand-petaled” and refers to the seventh chakra. Located at the top of the head and often referred to as the “crown chakra,” Sahasara is the center of enlightenment and spiritual connection to self and others. Represented by violet light, this seat of universal intelligence is associated with the central nervous system, particularly the thalamus. The corollary element is divine consciousness; when this chakra is open and balanced, it serves as a bridge to enlightenment, happiness and connection to the Universe.
Yoga Poses to Balance the Crown Chakra:
• Half Lotus or Lotus
• Rabbit Pose
• Tree Pose
• Extended Side Angle
• Corpse Pose
Albert Einstein once said, “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want, and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”
The place of chakras might not fit snugly into modern scientific data; however, the idea that everything is dynamic and we can choose our frequency supports the practice of intentionally moving subtle energy throughout the body to reap its healing benefits physically, mentally and emotionally. While there are many ways to approach chakra work, yoga is an excellent vehicle to balance and heal this energetic system. ❧
Mila Burgess, E-RYT 500, YACEP, teaches at LifePower Yoga in Sandy Springs. She is the owner of Metta Yoga, offering workshops, private lessons, virtual classes, teacher trainings and retreats. Contact her at [email protected]