Navigating the Rainbow: A Beginner’s Guide to Chakras
Does this scenario sound familiar? At the end of yoga class, you approach the instructor to ask about the tightness you feel in the middle of your back each time you attempt cobra pose. He or she listens and then suggest that it might be due to a “blocked heart chakra.” Not wanting to appear stupid, you nod your head in agreement while wondering, “What the heck is she talking about?”
This seemingly New Age concept of chakras has its foundation ancient teachings of the Vedas and Upanishads which date back to 600 CE. The chakras system describes the interplay of physical and psychic energy through our bodies. This energy affects our physical, mental and emotional health. Let’s explore the origins of this concept.
What is a Chakra?
The word chakra (pronounced “chaa-kruh”) is a Sanskrit word meaning “wheel” or “disk.” Chakras denote a point of intersection where mind and body meet.
Described as a spinning wheel of energy, there are seven ‘main’ chakras running along the spine. They begin at the tailbone and extend to the crown of the head. Each chakra corresponds to major nerve ganglia and to one or more glands in the endocrine system. The nerve ganglia are places where there is a high degree of nervous system activity. For example, the fourth chakra, located in the center of the chest, corresponds with the cardiac plexus of the heart and with the thymus gland.
What is the “Rainbow Bridge?”
Each chakra corresponds to a color, forming a “rainbow” from the tailbone to the crown of the head. The first three chakras are closely related to our physical needs, whereas the last three to our spiritual being. Here is a brief overview of the seven chakras:
Located at the first three vertebrae of the spine, bladder and colon, this first chakra governs our sense of stability, security and basic survival. Color: red.
Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana)
Located above the pubic bone and below the navel in the area of the reproductive organs, the second chakra influences creativity and sexual energy. Color: orange.
Located in the area from the navel to the breastbone, the third chakra is our source of personal power and tied to our ability to digest both food and experience. Color: yellow.
The fourth chakra is located in the chest, around the physical location of our heart and is our source of love and connection to others. It serves as a bridge between the physical energy of the first three chakras and the spiritual-emotional energy of the next three. Color: green.
Located in the area of the throat and thyroid, the fifth chakra our source of verbal expression and ability to speak our truth. Color: blue.
Located between the eyebrows, the sixth chakra is our center of intuition and concentration. Color: indigo
The seventh chakra, located at the very top of the head, is our center of spiritual connection and enlightenment. Color: purple.
The health of the chakras is directly connected to our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. When open and balanced, healthy chakras bring harmony to body, mind, and spirit. When blocked or overstimulated, we experience “dis-ease.”
What Does A “Blocked Chakra” Mean?
According to chakra theory, it is essential that the seven main chakras stay open, aligned, and fluid. If one of these energy centers becomes blocked, energy flows are restricted bringing imbalance and often illness.
Michelle Fondin, a Vedic educator, describes these blockages as being like a clogged bathtub drain. “Think of something as simple as your bathtub drain. If you allow too much hair to go into the drain, the bathtub will back up with water, stagnate and eventually bacteria and mold will grow. So is too with our bodies and the chakras. A bathtub is simple; it’s physical so the fix is easy.”
Fondin explains that awareness is the key to keeping a chakra open. Understanding the mind-body-spirit connection, bringing awareness to an imbalance in one chakra and working to bring that chakra back into harmony will serve to bring the other chakras into balance as well.
I hope this introduction has given you a better understanding of chakras. Stay tuned to learn more about the individual chakras and how to bring balance to each of them. Be well!