What Are the 7 Chakras?

Learn more about the 7 main chakras.

October 4, 2013    BY Yoga International
what are the 7 chakras

According to yogic philosophy, chakras (pronounced “chuhk-ruhs” and often translated as “circle” or “wheel”) refer to centralized locations where subtle energy channels, known as nadis, converge.  

Many yoga systems consider there to be seven main chakras, all of which we will explore soon. They are said to run along the length of the spine, from the pelvic floor to the crown of the head.

There is no shortage of information on this topic, as it is becoming more and more mainstream. Many yoga teachers theme their classes around these energy centers. Anodea Judith, a renowned teacher of the chakra system, wrote a popular book called Chakra Balancing that you may have seen sitting on an end table at your favorite yoga studio. You can even find chakra-themed clothing, jewelry, fragrances, and beauty products.

Understanding more about these energy centers can inspire us to understand ourselves on a deeper, more multidimensional level. So let’s take a closer look at them.

1. Muladhara (the Root Chakra)

Muladhara (literally, “root support”) is located at the base of the spine. It is often depicted as a red four-petaled lotus, and it’s connected to the earth element.

Muladhara governs what are considered the four primal urges: food, sleep, sex, and self-preservation. Its energetic function is to help us maintain a sense of groundedness and inner stability.

Root chakra affirmation: “I am connected to the earth. I am strong and I am stable.”

Yoga practices for connecting with this energy center:

2. Svadhisthana (the Sacral Chakra)

Svadhisthana (literally, “her own abode”) is located at the pelvis. It is often depicted as an orange lotus with six petals, and it’s associated with the water element—fluidity, adaptability, creativity, emotions, sexual energy, and the unconscious. The second chakra’s energetic function is to help us regulate our emotions and desires, so as not to be driven by them.

Sacral chakra affirmation: “I am a creative being with unlimited potential.”

Yoga practices for connecting with this energy center:

  • hip-opening poses
  • forward folds

3. Manipura (the Navel Chakra)

Manipura (literally, “city of jewels”) is located at the navel center. It is commonly depicted as a downward or upward-facing red triangle, and it’s associated with the fire element. Having a strong inner fire (agni) can help us digest not only our food, but also our life experiences.  

Energetically, manipura’s function is to optimize our personal power so that we can navigate our lives with strength and determination. Manipura gives us the confidence we need to process and eliminate what does not serve us, and to let it go.

Navel chakra affirmation: “I am confident, powerful, and I can handle anything.”

Yoga practices for connecting with this energy center:

  • core work
  • twisting poses

4. Anahata (the Heart Chakra)

Anahata (literally, “unstruck”) is located at the heart center. Anahata is typically depicted as a green six-pointed star surrounded by 12 lotus petals. On a spiritual level, it’s said to be the home of the higher/infinite, “unstruck” or indestructible self. Anahata is associated with the air element, and with emotional qualities such as peace, love, and openness. Energetically, anahata helps us tap into unconditional love.

Heart chakra affirmation: “Give love to receive love, and be love.”

Yoga practices for connecting with this energy center:

  • chest stretches
  • backbending poses
  • kirtan

5. Vishuddha (the Throat Chakra)

Vishuddha (literally, “to purify”) is located near the base of the throat. It is often depicted as a blue downward-facing triangle inside a lotus with 16 purple petals. Vishuddha is associated with the element ether, or “space” (akasha), and with speaking one’s truth. Its energetic function is to help us find authentic self-expression.

Throat chakra affirmation: “I speak my truth. I live my truth.”

Yoga practices for connecting with this energy center:

6. Ajna (the Third-Eye Chakra)

Ajna (literally, “command center”) is located between the eyebrows. Represented by a transparent lotus with two white petals, it’s considered to be the seat of the mind, of conscious and unconscious awareness. It is not associated with any element, as this chakra is considered “beyond” the physical elements. It is held to be the center of intuition, vision, prophecy, imagination, inner knowing, and self-assurance. The energetic function of ajna chakra is to help us learn to know ourselves: emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Third-eye chakra affirmation: “I am open, intuitive, and self-assured.”

Yoga practices for connecting with this energy center:

7. Sahasrara (the Crown Chakra)

Sahasrara (literally, “thousand-petaled lotus”) is located just above the crown of the head. Said to be the doorway into pure consciousness, it is often depicted as a thousand-petaled lotus with a pinkish aura, and it is not associated with a physical element (as it too is considered to be beyond the elements). Sahasrara serves as a way of connecting to divine energy and is associated with our highest self. Sahasrara helps us function in a more enlightened way, cultivate self-mastery, and find a sense of connection with all.

Crown chakra affirmation: “I surrender to the wisdom of pure consciousness.”

Yoga practice for connecting with this energy center: meditation.

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