Jenna Brillhart, Jasmine Purdie, HelloGiggles
If you’ve ever attended a yoga class, had a reiki session, or listened to a meditation, you might’ve heard your teacher or instructor say to “balance your chakras” or “open your third eye chakra.” And then you might’ve pretended to know what you were doing, all the while asking yourself, “Okay, why, and how am I supposed to be doing this?”
I definitely had those thoughts years ago when I was first exploring my spiritual journey with chakras. I knew that chakras were important and integral to my well-being, but it took me a while to understand how and why they work.
“The Sanskrit word ‘chakra’ literally translates to 'wheel' or 'disk,'" Luisa Jackson, healer and cofounder of Earth’s Elements, tells HelloGiggles. “In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, this term refers to wheels of energy throughout the body. There are seven main chakras, which align in the spine, starting from the base of the spine through the crown of the head.”
In order to visualize a chakra in the body, Jackson suggests imagining a swirling wheel of energy where matter and consciousness meet. “This invisible energy, called Prana, is a vital life force, which keeps us vibrant, healthy, and alive.”
The chakra system originated in India between 1500 and 500 BC in a text called the Vedas (also known as religious texts); so, in many ways, learning and understanding the chakras is often the foundation to learning just how energetically powerful we are.
When Natalia Benson—a women's empowerment coach, astrologer, and modern mystic—first started her spiritual journey, a chakra book was the first thing she picked up, she tells HelloGiggles. “The fascinating thing about chakras is that mystics from unique traditions throughout the world knew of their existence via meditation, yogic practice, and intuition, while modern science is just starting to confirm what the mystics have known and worked with for thousands of years,” she says.
As Jackson points out, each chakra is located at the main branching of the nervous system communicating via the endocrine glands. “Interestingly, each chakra is paired with an endocrine gland. For example, the root chakra corresponds to the testes in men and ovaries in women. The sacral chakra corresponds to the adrenal glands and sexual organs. The solar plexus corresponds to the pancreas. The heart center corresponds to the thymus gland,” she says. Plus, the throat chakra is connected to the mouth, throat, and lungs, and the crown chakra involves the brain and central nervous system.
So what are the chakras, how can we balance them, and why should we know about them in the first place? Jackson and Benson share their tips below.
Why do we need to check in with our chakras, anyway?
“Look at the issues and troubles in your life. When you get to know more about the chakras, you can very easily attribute to which chakra is perhaps imbalanced, blocked, and sluggish,” says Benson. “For example, having deep money fears and always wanting to count your pennies can be a sacral and/or root chakra imbalance. Issues speaking up at work or in a relationship might be a blockage in the throat chakra.”
Benson says she believes that our chakras embody and perpetuate our basic belief systems or attitudes that we hold true about ourselves. However, “they don’t behold us to anything. We can always make changes once we are aware and willing to work through what seems to be ‘wrong.’”
Jackson says it’s important to remember that our energetic system (the chakras) is always in constant communication with us, providing important information about our lifestyle and perception of the world (belief system). That's why it's important to keep your chakras in check—but how exactly can you do that?
“A way to keep them in check quickly is simply by choosing to pay attention, bringing awareness to your body and the areas that need healing,” she says. “To approach the chakras from an everyday experience is simply a matter of awareness. How aware can you be about what is going on inside your body—not only physically but also emotionally and mentally?"
Jackson explains that our emotions and thoughts greatly impact our health. And the chakra system is in constant communication with you and the outside world—so it's imperative for you to be mindful of the signs that indicate your chakras may be imbalanced. “Your emotional, spiritual, and physical body are all intimately tied together. Remember, all chakras must be open in order to experience health and well-being," she explains.
How many chakras are there?
The Muladhara (root chakra)
According to Jackson, this is the chakra of stability, security, and basic needs. “It encompasses the first three vertebrae, the bladder, and the colon. When this chakra is open, we feel safe and fearless. When it’s imbalanced, you may experience anxiety, lack of physical energy, a sense of being ungrounded," she says.
When it’s unbalanced: You might experience bone, joint, blood, immune system, and skin disorders, which are blocked by fear.
To help balance: While Jackson suggests using the gemstone red jasper, Benson recommends exercising, moving your body, eating nourishing foods, and practice working with an abundant mentality. Repeat this mantra: "I am abundant, powerful, and always taken care of."
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The Svadhisthana (sacral chakra)
“This is our creative and sexual center. It is located above the pubic bone, below the navel, and is responsible for our creative expression,” says Jackson.
Adds Benson: “Its element is water, and it has to do with flow, surrender, and trust—all important elements in trusting ourselves as creative beings (whether this is sexual/reproductive or with the creativity of art or manifesting).”
When it’s imbalanced: You may experience creative blocks, intimacy issues, inability to flow with the change. Or you may have lower back, pelvis, fertility, or bladder trouble, which could be blocked by guilt, says Jackson.
To help balance: Jackson suggests using the gemstone carnelian, while Benson recommends creating, journaling, engaging in self-pleasure, doing mirror work, and practicing self-acceptance. Practice the mantra: “I am whole, creative, and beautiful just as I am.”
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The Manipura (solar plexus chakra)
Located in the area from the navel to the breastbone, the third chakra is our source of personal power. “This chakra embodies your relationship to your inner power and your individuality,” says Benson. It is also keyed to your digestion. "I always like to refer to this chakra as the inner sun since it’s bright, yellow, and super warm!”
When it’s imbalanced: You may experience low self-esteem, lack of willpower, and fear of rejection. It might also show up as indigestion issues, weight gain or loss, kidney issues, and addictions, which Jackson says is blocked by shame.
To help balance: “[Shine] sunshine on the tummy, [do] yoga, [and] eat clean foods. Yellow whole foods strengthen this chakra,” says Benson. You can own your power by reciting this affirmation: “I am a powerful individual. I utilize my power for the greatest good.”
In addition, Jackson recommends using the gemstone citrine.
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The Anahata (heart chakra)
Located at the heart center, Jackson says, “the fourth chakra is in the middle of the seven [chakras] and unites the lower chakras of matter and the upper chakras of spirit,” she says. “This chakra is also spiritual but serves as a bridge between body, mind, emotions, and spirit. The heart chakra also means love and connection.”
When it’s imbalanced: You may experience difficulty with relationships, lack of compassion, and feel hopeless. You might also experience heart, breast, and lung problems, which could be blocked by grief.
To help balance: Jackson’s gemstone recommendation: rose quartz. Benson recommends saying “I love you” to yourself; practicing compassion; getting into nature; and wearing green. Recite the mantra: “I am love, I am compassionate, I am at peace at this moment, all is well.”
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The Vishuddha (throat chakra)
The fifth chakra is located in the area of the throat and includes the neck, thyroid, jaw, mouth, and tongue. “The throat chakra embodies communication, expression, and empowerment,” says Benson. “This is where we express and communicate ourselves with clarity or feel blocked, stagnated, and unsafe to share our truth, whether it’s in a relationship, on social media, or at work.”
When it’s imbalanced: You may experience difficulty communicating your thoughts and speaking your truth. You might also experience issues associated with the thyroid, neck, jaw, or mouth. You may also have dental disorders, which could be blocked by unspoken truths or not telling the whole truth.
To help balance: Benson suggests practicing speaking and active listening, journaling, speaking up, taking voice lessons, and chanting. Practice the mantra: “My voice is powerful and strong; I am a powerful being who lives in my truth,” and use the gemstone lapis lazuli.
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The Ajna (third eye chakra)
Located between the eyebrows, the “third eye chakra” is our center of intuition and our sixth sense. “The third eye is all about our inner knowing and our relationship to our sacred intuition,” says Benson. “This chakra reminds us that we always know! Relations to wisdom, our guides or angels (if you are open to this idea), and subtle energy are all a part of this chakra.”
When it’s imbalanced: You may experience difficulty making decisions, poor intuition, and lack of inspiration. You might also deal with the brain, ear, and eye disorders, which Jackson says could be blocked by illusion.
To help balance: Jackson suggests using the gemstone amethyst. In addition, Benson recommends doing meditation, yoga, chanting, and answering journal prompts to get to know yourself and your intuition. Recite the mantra: “I trust my intuition and live in harmony with myself.”
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The Sahasrara (crown chakra)
“This is the chakra of enlightenment and spiritual connection to our higher selves, others, and ultimately to [the] divine,” says Jackson. “It represents unity and wholeness.”
When it’s imbalanced: You may experience difficulty meditating, have a lack of spiritual connections, and feel aimless. Jackson says you might also experience genetic disorders and life-threatening illnesses, which are blocked by earthly attachments.
To help balance: Benson suggests doing self-inquiry work, practicing faith in something bigger than your mind, and reciting the mantra, “I am [what] I am. I am whole. I am connected. I am complete.” Jackson suggests using clear quartz gemstones.
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