In a nutshell, chakras are concentrated energy centers that inform our physical and emotional health and well-being. By learning to recognize psychological and physiological symptoms of chakra imbalance, we can restore energetic flow, combat dis-ease and live a more vibrant, optimal life full of happiness, connection and flow. Cultivating an understanding of the chakras and what they're communicating to us can be one of our most helpful tools in healing, personal growth and maintaining homeostatis.
The word chakra (pronounced with a hard “ch” like chocolate) translates to ‘wheel’ in Sanskrit. Each chakra is essentially a spinning wheel of energy that's responsible for vitalizing the body, governing actions and emotions and keeping prana or ‘life force’ flowing smoothly through the 12 meridians of the body.
When one or more of these energy centers becomes blocked – through trauma, abuse, disease, conflict or negative experiences, just like when the spokes of a wheel get clogged or stuck, we start to experience declined function. This can manifest in several ways and can be tangibly observed through specific health issues such as chronic ear infections and sore throats (a 5th chakra imbalance) to general decreased vibrancy and well-being.
When we remove the muscles and bones from the body, we are left with bundles of nerves and glands. Each chakra corresponds to a major gland and organ and is responsible for different functions within the body. By bringing focused awareness to each of these different pockets of energy, we can better identify any negative patterns we may have developed, gain a deeper understanding of the source of our energy blockages and work to bring ourselves back into balance.
Many civilizations have worked with chakras – from the Hindus and the Egyptians to Africans, Mayans and Cherokee. Each culture has slightly varying ideas of the location and number of chakras, which is understandable given that there are 114 chakras in the human body, but for now, we will work with the 7 main chakras that align the spine. The bottom three chakras - the root, sacral and solar plexus chakras comprise the physical chakras. The top three chakras – the throat, third eye and crown chakras, are the spiritual chakras and the middle chakra- the heart chakra, unites them all.
Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up because much like building a house, if our foundation isn’t strong, nothing else will be either. I love the term that’s popular in yoga circles, “root to rise,” meaning we must first build a strong foundation so that we can experience freedom and expansion in a safe, supported and thoughtful way.
FIRST CHAKRA - ROOT CHAKRA
We begin with the 1st chakra- the root or base chakra. It's located at the very base of our tailbone and is responsible for our feelings of survival, safety, security, financial and physical well-being. Muladhara in Sanskrit translates to 'supported base.' This center governs our right to be here on this earth and to have. It rules the adrenal glands and is symbolized by the color red and the element earth. Physically, this chakra governs the legs, feet, adrenals, fight or flight response, bones and skeletal structure. When this chakra is stable, we find ourselves fit, grounded, secure, present, prosperous, fulfilled by our work, physically healthy and strong with no food addictions or cravings.
Excessive/Deficient: When overactive - we may overspend, display excessive materialism or greed, struggle to maintain a healthy weight or experience fear or anger issues. When deficient, we can experience insecurity, restlessness, laziness and lack of discipline.
Psychology: The energy of this center is blocked by fear. Blockages here arise from our early lives and tend to manifest later on due to birth trauma, poor bonding with our mother or as a result of feeling abandoned or unwanted by our parents. Experiencing an unstable home life in our early years also contributes to root blockages as does inherited trauma (e.g. Holocaust survivors and their descendants) or being raised in unpredictable or violent surroundings.
To balance: Bringing more red into our lives through décor, food or clothing, and activities that connect us to nature such as walking among trees or on the beach or rooting into the Earth through grounding activities such as gardening will help repair energy at this center. Also any activity that requires strength in our legs and feet such as running or squats will help deepen our connection to this earthy energy. You can read more about the root chakra in my blog post here.
Essential oils to balance root chakra: patchouli which promotes feelings of balance and peace and helps fight body shame, clove to promote clear boundaries, orange for abundance, sandalwood to help combat feelings of emptiness and purposelessness and myrrh for nurturing and protection. I created the “CONNECTED” rollerball to help promote strengthening of root chakra energy.
Crystals to balance root chakra: red, brown, silver and black crystals such as red jasper, garnet, smoky quartz, bloodstone, lava rock, petrified wood, obsidian, onyx and hematite are all associated with this chakra. These are protective stones, which, much like trees, help absorb negative energy and physical pain and help promote self-healing and feelings of stability, safety, protection and abundance.
See the EARTH crystal set here
First Chakra Summary: Muladhara, or supported base
Mantra: “I am safe.”
Right: To be here on this earth & to have
Essential oil: Patchouli
Crystal: Bloodstone (see more recommendations for 1st chakra healing here)
To Heal: Fear less, love more
Yoga Pose: Child's Pose, Tree or Mountain
Journal Question: "Do I feel at home in my body?"
SECOND CHAKRA - SACRAL CHAKRA
Working into the 2nd chakra now, the sacral chakra is located about two inches below the belly button. The Sanskrit name for this chakra is Svadhisthana which translates to 'dwelling place of self' or 'sweetness.' This chakra corresponds with the reproductive organs, is represented by the color orange and the element water. It governs our emotions, creativity, joy, intimacy and sexuality and rules our right to feel and to desire. When this energy center is balanced, we find ourselves energetic and joyful, compassionate, creative, forgiving, gentle, graceful, sensual and able to experience pleasure. Our lives flow with a juicy rhythm and we then can extend that sweetness to the world through our interactions.
Excessive/Deficient: When this chakra is excessive, we may become emotionally unstable, oversensitive, judgmental, resentful, controlling, or overly promiscuous. When this center is deficient, we can experience mood swings, lack of energy, emotional dependency, creative blocks, sexual dysfunction or low libido.
Psychology: This chakra governs our right to feel and experience pleasure and becomes blocked by guilt. Damage to this center can result from being denied our feelings or told that our feelings don’t matter, sexual, physical or emotional abuse, neglect, rejection, emotional manipulation or growing up in an alcoholic family. Oftentimes, our adolescent awkwardness and body issues become trapped in this center, causing insecurity and imbalance into our adult years.
To balance: Eating orange foods, wearing orange, bringing orange into the home through art or decor, drinking water, swimming, spending time in and around water, movement such as dance and yoga, and creative activities such as coloring and writing are all good ways to help stimulate healing of this chakra.
Essential oils to balance the sacral chakra: My IGNITE aromatherapy blend is comprised of ylang ylang which promotes a sense of playfulness, a citrus blend to promote creativity, bergamot for self-acceptance, clary sage to help boost intuition, or ‘gut feeling,’ cinnamon for sexual harmony and vanilla for sweetness.
Crystals to balance sacral chakra: Orange crystals such as carnelian, amber, goldstone, sunstone and orange calcite work with the sacral chakra to promote creativity, courage, positive energy and help smooth out emotions.
Second Chakra Summary: Svadhisthana, or dwelling place of self and 'sweetness'
Mantra: “I am creative.”
Right: To feel & to desire
Essential oil: Ylang Ylang
Crystal: Carnelian (see more crystal suggestions in my CREATE set here)
To Heal: Complain less, appreciate more
Yoga Pose: Sufi Grinds, Reclined Bound Angle, Vinyasa Flow
Journal Question: "How would I like to feel? What would I like to create?"
THIRD CHAKRA - SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA
Now we travel upwards to the solar plexus chakra which, translated from Sanskrit – Manipura, means 'lustrous gem.' Located at the solar plexus, this center is represented by a brilliant yellow, governed by the fire element, and is responsible for our energy levels, vitality and personal power. It rules the pancreas, spleen and liver. When in balance, we experience feelings of inner harmony, playfulness, confidence, spontaneity, self-acceptance and respect. We are responsible, reliable, confident and able to meet challenges. Just like the flames of a candle reaching upwards, this center is also where energetic consciousness starts to shift from survival and physical needs to self-actualization - a strong, engaged 3rd chakra can be truly transformative.
Excessive/Deficient: When deficient, we can experience low energy, slow digestion, chronic fatigue, poor self-esteem and self-discipline and have a “victim mentality.” When overactive, we can become overly aggressive, controlling, power hungry, arrogant, excessively competitive or ambitious and have an overwhelming need to be right.
Psychology: This chakra governs our right to act and the right to be free and is damaged by shame. This center can also become damaged by growing up in overly controlling household where there was constant fear of punishment; when our right to act is restricted, will and spontaneity go with it and our vitality decreases.
To balance: Getting healthy amounts of sunshine, vigorous exercise, goal-setting, martial arts, keeping cheerful, yellow flowers such as honeysuckle and sunflowers in your space, wearing yellow and eating yellow foods can all help contribute to healing this chakra.
Essential oils to balance the solar plexus chakra: lemon to promote focus, lavender for expressiveness, chamomile for a sense of purpose, citrus for cheerfulness and abundance, lemongrass to fight feelings of lethargy and peppermint to stimulate motivation.
Shop the POWER set here
Crystals to balance the solar plexus chakra: Yellow crystals such as tiger’s eye, pyrite, bumblebee jasper, golden quartz and citrine will help eliminate doubt and fear and restore a feeling of focus, confidence, abundance, manifestation, motivation and clarity.
Third Chakra Summary: Manipura or lustrous gem
Mantra: “I am strong.”
Right: To act
Essential oil: Lemongrass
Crystal: Tiger’s eye (see my 3rd chakra POWER set here)
To Heal: Watch less, do more
Yoga pose: Supine Twist, Headstand, Crow
Journal Question: "Do I give up my power easily?"
FOURTH CHAKRA - HEART CHAKRA
We now enter into the 4th chakra, the heart chakra. The heart chakra unites the three lower physical chakras with the three upper spiritual chakras and promotes a sense of integration within the body. Anahata in Sanskrit translates to 'unstuck,' 'unhurt,' or 'unbeaten.' This chakra is located in the chest/heart space, is represented by the color green, the element of air and is associated with the thymus gland, lungs and heart, which emanates thousands of times more electricity and magnetism than the brain. This center is responsible for feelings of love, hope and compassion. When in balance, we experience a blissful feeling of being deeply connected to everyone and everything, we are compassionate, loving, peaceful, empathetic and have a strong immune system.
Excessive/Deficient: When deficient, we may become withdrawn, hateful or antisocial, judgmental, narcissistic, have an inability to forgive or feel closed off from the rest of the world. When overactive, we become jealous, codependent, overly sacrificing and perfectionistic.
Psychology: This center is damaged by grief. Heart blocks develop from being raised by a cold or narcissistic parent, rejection, shaming, constant criticism, unacknowledged grief, divorce, death of a loved one, conditional love, enduring physical or emotional abuse as a child or developing unhealthy beliefs surrounding love which cause us to form self-destructive habits that block the giving and receiving of love. As this is the center chakra, it is also depleted when any of the other centers are lost or damaged.
To balance: Wearing green or pink or bringing these colors into the home or wardrobe will help strengthen the heart energy. Spending time among lush, green trees, breathwork, forgiveness and keeping a gratitude journal can all be healthy ways to heal blockages of the heart.
Essential oils to balance the heart chakra: The Love Letter essential oil blend combines rose to promote feelings of love, lime for love of life, geranium for openness , ylang ylang for playfulness and Hawaiian Sandalwood for uplifting qualities.
Crystals to balance the heart chakra: All green and pink crystals such as jade, emerald, malachite, green calcite, green aventurine, rose quartz, cherry quartz, rhodonite and watermelon tourmaline help promote feelings of love, peace, acceptance and forgiveness. (shop the LOVE set or LOVE LETTER set here)
Fourth Chakra Summary: Anahata or unbeaten, unbroken, unstuck
Mantra: “I am loved.”
Right: To love and be loved
Color: Green and pink
Essential oil: Rose
Crystal: Rose Quartz (see more crystal suggestions for the heart chakra in my LOVE set here)
To Heal: Judge less, accept more
Yoga Pose: Upward Facing Dog, Puppy or "heart-melting" pose, Camel
Journal Question: "How open am I to giving and receiving love?"
FIFTH CHAKRA - THROAT CHAKRA
Next we enter the 5th chakra, the throat chakra. It is located in the center of the neck at the 4th cervical vertebra. Vishudda translates to ‘especially pure’ and is the first of the 3 spiritual chakras. It is represented by the color blue and the element of sound or ether. It governs the throat, vocal chords, ears and thyroid gland is responsible for our communication, healing and expression, our ability to listen and communicate our authentic self and truth to the world and gives a voice to our inner heart. When it is in harmony, we have good communication skills, are good listeners, honest, patient, and are able to express ourselves authentically and artistically.
Excessive/Deficient: When this center is imbalanced, we can experience disorders of the throat, ears, voice or neck or feel overly toxic. When deficient, you may find yourself frequently at a loss for words, have difficulty expressing thoughts or feelings or be terribly shy. When overactive, we can find ourselves talking too much, gossiping or being unable to listen.
Psychology: Psychologically, this center is considered to open us up to higher wisdom and is the keeper of our dreams. This chakra controls our right to speak and hear the truth – its enemy is lies. It can become blocked through verbal abuse, constant criticism, authoritarian parents who may have silenced our voice, or if we were forced to keep family secrets or were constantly lied to in our childhood.
To balance: Self-doubt, self-judgment and self-censoring are all acts of control that shut down the throat. Allow yourself to rest and just be. Notice any sensations you may feel throughout your physical body. To heal a blocked throat chakra, allow yourself to speak your truth and openly share your thoughts, feelings and ideas. You can also write, sing, tell stories, read out loud, chant a simple mantra like om, sound bathe, or simply let your voice rest. Surrounding yourself with the color blue in the form of accessories, jewelry, clothes, food or decor will also help strengthen this center.
Essential oils to heal the throat chakra: spearmint for confident speech, chamomile for calming, bayberry to harness the energy you wish to direct, sage for purification, eucalyptus for inner freedom and expansiveness, rosemary for expressing knowledge clearly, bergamot for empowerment and peppermint for mental stimulation and self-expression.
see the EXPRESSION set here
Crystals to heal the throat chakra: turquoise, aqua obsidian, larimar, blue lace agate, sodalite, aquamarine, amazonite, and lapis lazuli will all help promote a clear, calm strong voice.
Fifth Chakra Summary: Vishudda or “especially pure”
Mantra: “I am expressive.”
Right: To Speak and to be heard
Essential oil: Eucalyptus
Crystal: Aqua Obsidian (see more crystal suggestions for the throat chakra in my EXPRESSION set here)
To Heal: Talk less, listen more
Yoga Pose: Sphinx, Cat & Cow, Chanting AUM "Om"
Journal Question: "Are my thoughts, words and actions in alignment?"
SIXTH CHAKRA - THIRD EYE CHAKRA
We now move into the 6th chakra- the third eye chakra, or ajna which translates to ‘to perceive or command.’ This center is represented by the color indigo, ruled by the light element, located at the brow in the space between our eyes, and is associated with the pituitary gland and eyes and governs perception, memory, intuition and self-realization. When this chakra is in balance, we lead clear and harmonious lives and possess strong intuition, insight, self-awareness and perception; illusion damages this center.
Excessive/Deficient: When the third eye is deficient, we may experience poor vision or memory, lack of imagination, insomnia, closed-mindedness, cynicism, paranoia or other mental illnesses, depression, anxiety and migraines or have a hard time focusing or recalling our dreams. When overactive, we may be delusional, obsessive, and experience hallucination, insomnia or nightmares.
Psychology: This chakra governs our right to see and becomes damaged when we are told that our visions or perceptions aren’t real or when things are kept hidden from us such as alcoholism or abuse.
To balance: Locate the pineal gland by imagining the space between your eyes, go straight back from that space about 2/3 of way into your brain. There is a tiny pinecone shape gland about 1/3 of an inch long. Decartes referred to the pineal gland as the “seat of the soul” and it’s often associated with the 3rd eye and crown chakras. Over time, this gland becomes calcified by excess amounts of phosphorous, fluoride, caffeine, calcium, alcohol and television. Meditation helps reset the nervous system and removes these calcifications. Sleeping in a completely dark environment helps heal this center as the darkness helps stimulate the production of a melatonin which activates the pineal gland. Chanting the sound om which is the natural frequency of the earth of everything on the earth also helps heal this center by dissolving the illusion of separateness between the individual and the world.
Essential oils to balance the third eye chakra: frankincense for enlightenment, lavender to aid calmness and peace during meditation, rose to elevate the mind, clary sage for balancing brain activity and helping to alleviate headaches and sandalwood which aids to quiet mental chatter.
Crystals to help balance the third eye chakra: Purple or blue crystals such as amethyst, fluorite, kyanite, lapis lazuli, sodalite, labradorite and iolite will help us tap into our personal wisdom by cleansing our energy, connecting us to a higher truth and bringing clarity to our situation.
Sixth Chakra Summary: Ajna or “to perceive or command”
Mantra: “I am wise and intuitive.”
Right: To see
Essential oil: Clary sage
Crystal: Amethyst (see more crystal suggestions for the throat chakra in my ANGEL set here)
To Heal: Frown less, smile more
Yoga Pose: Seated Meditation, Child's Pose with forehead resting on floor, stacked hands or blocks, Nadi Shodana (alternate-nostril breathing)
Journal question: "Do I trust my intuition?"
SEVENTH CHAKRA - CROWN CHAKRA
And finally we make our way to the 7th and final chakra – the crown chakra. Sahasraha or ‘thousand petaled’ this center is located just at the top of our skull where the fontenelle is located on a newborn baby. Just as our root chakra connects us to the earth, the crown chakra connects us to divine spirituality, awareness and understanding. It is traditionally represented by white (sometimes violet or gold too) and governs the pineal gland, cerebral cortex, skull and central nervous system. When this chakra is balanced, we are intelligent, aware, open-minded, spiritually connected, and have the ability to easily perceive, analyze & assimilate information.
Excessive/Deficient: When this center is underactive, we may become overly cynical, close-minded or have difficulty learning. When overactive, we can develop spiritual addictions and become disassociated from the physical body.
Psychology: This chakra governs our right to know and understand and becomes damaged through attachment. It can become deficient when our beliefs are invalidated, we are fed misinformation or lies or we aren’t allowed to follow our own spiritual path by being forced to accept our family’s religious or societal beliefs.
To balance: Decluttering your environment, learning something new, performing a liquid or raw foods fast, prayer and meditation are all ways to help heal this chakra. Crown chakra meditation: Get comfortable grounding your sitz bones into the earth, sitting up tall, reaching the crown the head to the sky. Place your hands on your lap or knees and turn your palms to the sky, cultivating a receptive energy. Soften your eyes and inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Imagine a lotus at the top of your head. As you continue to breathe slowly and evenly, see the lotus petals uncurling to show you a bright violet light. Picture that light getting brighter and brighter, warming the crown of your head, radiating out around your skull and ears and spreading downwards throughout your body.
Essential oils to help balance the crown chakra: Vanilla, balsam fir and lavender to help soothe the nervous system and promote spiritual connection as found in my Luminous Aura Meditation & Sleep spray.
Crystals to help balance the crown chakra: Clear, gold, iridescent or violet crystals such as clear quartz, ametrine, opalite and selenite all help balance energy and promote spiritual cleansing and connection.
Seventh Chakra Summary: Sahasraha or thousand-petaled
Element: All elements
Mantra: “I am connected.”
Right: To Know & to Understand
Color: Lavender, white or gold
Essential oil: Frankincense
Crystal: Selenite (see more crystal suggestions for the crown chakra in my ANGEL set here)
To Heal: think less, feel more
Yoga pose: Rabbit Pose, Prayer/Meditation, Silence, Savasana
Journal question: "what is my divine purpose?"
And when in doubt - SMILE! Smiling helps open the heart and the crown allowing for more light to penetrate while also increasing the vibration of the two most powerful organs in the body.
Have you worked with chakras before? From the descriptions listed above, which do you intuitively feel could be out of balance for you? What's your favorite color?
Happy Summer Solstice! The longest & brightest day of the year has been observed across all societies and cultures from Egyptian to English to Aztec as a a celebration of light, joy and illumination.
With so much darkness and heaviness in the world lately, now seems like a perfect time to Lighten Up!
Working with the moon phases is an accessible way to deepen our connection both to nature and to ourselves. I find that honoring these rhythms of nature can make it easier to identify, recognize and honor our own natural ebbs and flows.
During the new moon cycle, the sun and moon align with each other, merging yang energy - the heating, masculine, assertive energy of the sun, with yin energy - the cooling, feminine, receptive energy of the moon. The balancing of these two polar opposite energies in the dark sky creates a powerful invitation to both let go and start new - it's the perfect canvas for a fresh start.