Why You Need to Know about the Chakras: An Introduction
The chakra system is a very large topic; books have been written and discussions had and workshops given... So, what you’ll get here is a brief introduction & understanding (and bits of my experience with them). Over the next weeks, you’ll also learn about a specific aspect of each chakra and how to bring each of them closer to balance.
As always, there is no magic recipe for healing and my aim is simply to provide you with some tools you can use in your own time and space to find peace and release.
The first time I came across the word ‘chakra’ was from a movie I watched when I was 12, where a lady practiced yoga on the beach and ate salads all day long, and when her husband stressed her out she shouted ‘please calm down, you’re going to close all my chakras!’ It was meant for the audience to find her crazy, which definitely made me diminish the seriousness of the whole chakra topic.
Getting acquainted with the practice of yoga, I came across the word ‘chakra’ again but never paid too much attention to it; it was a bit ‘too much’ for me, I didn’t really ‘believe’ we had energy centers with colors associated to them, and definitely needed to ‘see it to believe it.’
And that’s exactly what happened!
But first, you might ask…
… Why do I need to know about the chakras?
We’re all on a journey through life: trying to figure out things, to learn about who we are, how to handle and heal our positive & negative experiences (especially the negative), trying to understand. Luckily for us, there are ways to do that so we don’t feel lost on the journey, navigating through humanity.
We also need to remember that yoga means ‘union’ and that through the practice of yoga, we work to unify physicality with spiritual being (or the divine), in other words, to make our body match in harmony with our mind (however you might want to understand that...).
Practicing yoga means aiming to create a harmonious union
between our mind and body
Even if the words ‘divine’ or ‘spirituality’ intimidate you, you can see the chakra system as a colorful and, more importantly, inspiring & accessible way to learn about yourself, find balance in your life and know where to go when your world goes a bit too crazy (like during a break up, after loss, or simply when someone you love says hurtful things to you).
My Crystal Pendulum Experience
After a couple of weeks into my teacher training came the time to be introduced to the chakra system. Our teacher had us do an exercise; we had to lie down on our backs while someone else would hover a pendulum above the places on our bodies where our chakras are - from the basis of the spine to the very top of your head (like on the picture!).
Someone tried it out on my body, and I remained skeptical - surely they must be unable to stay stable in their hands, that’s what makes the pendulum move in circles above random places in my body. My turn came to try it out - as I hovered the pendant over the third chakra, the one that’s at your solar plexus (the yellow one on the picture), I felt the pull and could see the circles the pendant was creating without me doing anything. And each chakra had their own kind of circles: large, slow ones, or small, fast ones - I was so incredibly surprised and impressed! And so the learning journey began...
So, what are the chakras?
There are two parts to the definition; first, the one I witnessed during the pendulum experiment, which is purely physical: each chakra is a center where energy comes in, gets transformed, goes. See it this way: when you eat food, your body has to digest it for you to have energy to walk, run, jump, think. Each chakra is a bioenergetic center where life force energy is processed, the same way your body digests food.
‘Chakra’ means wheel or disk, in reference to the physical aspect I just described. But in the spiritual sense, they cannot be physically placed on the body - like thoughts, although you know you have them, you can’t physically place them in boxes in your mind. Anodea Judith, in her book ‘Eastern Body, Western Mind’ describes the chakras as programs (a bit like apps on our phones), linked to and used for different areas in our lives.
So, simply put, chakras are centers where energy comes and goes and gets transformed - both on the physical & spiritual level.
The Seven Chakras
The seven chakras are represented in the picture + the infographic above.
As mentioned above, the chakras cannot be represented physically on the body (like ideas and thoughts), but each chakra, depending on where it is on the body, is linked to a specific area of our lives. We’ll see this in more details over the next few weeks.
What I can tell you here is that each chakra is associated with specific issues, rights we have as human beings, with their own goals - and all of them are linked to a certain aspect of your identity, e.g. the root chakra, linked to your survival, helps you create your physical identity, the solar plexus is linked to your ego, and so on.
the Chakra Lingo you need to know
Here are 5 concepts you need to know in order to understand what the chakras are and what they do.
1. Liberation & manifestation*
Another way to see the chakra system works like a relay race: each chakra would be like a person you have to pass the stick to in order to move forward in the run. The goal of the run here would be to reach full awareness, or simply develop our ability to grow and change; to do so, your energy has to travel from the ground up (from the root chakra, your sense of groundedness to your crown chakra, sense of spirituality). And the same way you wouldn’t start running with just a theory and no running shoes on (you wouldn’t go very far), the energy has to go from the bottom down, too, anchoring you in the ground and allowing you to take action.
Imagine the chakra system like a relay race
This is important to understand because it allows you to change thought patterns and act on them. For example, knowing you have to change the way you eat because you want to become healthier will not be enough if you want to feel healthier, you also have to take action. Liberation means understanding why you want to be healthier, manifestation is taking the physical steps towards this new goal.
2. Are my chakras ‘closed’ or ‘open’? What does that mean?*
Chakras can get blocked, which means, the energy that has to go through them cannot go through because of trauma, an experience that you haven’t healed or recovered from. For example, if you’ve had a bad love experience in the past and haven’t grieved or still feel anger because of it, your heart chakra might be blocked. This will make it hard for you to receive and give love as freely as you’d ideally want to.
3. Giving and receiving*
Information (or energy) goes through your chakras. We express ourselves through the seven chakras, but again, if one of them (or more) is blocked, this information cannot come in and out. This translates into our ability or inability to apply for a job we want, to go for the love relationship we long for, to say what’s on our hearts. But imagine this: let's say money is an energy you receive and give. If you can't receive money then how can you buy food? Your bank account stays there inactive and unused and your life experience becomes significantly reduced. Your chakras are like banks accounts, then, storing money for different life experiences (what can I say, I'm trying to make this as easy as possible!).
4. Excess and deficiency*
Your chakras can be in balance and off balance. As we go through life experiences, we have our own ways to cope with difficulties: either we pay extra attention to these situations or choose to pretend they don’t exist. If we feel ungrounded, we might compensate and buy all kinds of things we don’t need (in an attempt to feel more grounded) or the opposite, we might avoid the feeling and remain in a constant state of restlessness, both physically and mentally unable to sit down. In both cases, the root chakra (where your sense of stability and groundedness stems from) is off balance and either translates into excessive or deficient chakra energy. Here is an illustration:
5. Balancing/aligning/healing the chakras
Knowing about the chakras means you can eventually heal them where they feel blocked, you’re giving out too much or not receiving enough (as explained above). The good news is you can work with both your body (your physicality, the energy centers as presented above) & your mind. This can be done through yoga (asana), of course, but also through other kinds of physical exercises like dancing or running; you can also work with your thought patterns through affirmations, visualizations, or simply writing thoughts down and spending time processing feelings and situations.
Over the next couple of weeks, all words of the week will have to do with the chakras. Each week, I’ll choose a word related to a given chakra so we can learn together about them and how to heal them. Each week, I’ll give an exercise or tool, either involving body movement like yoga, or meditations and visualisations, or new things I'll find along the way. Stay tuned and click here if you want to receive the articles straight to your inbox!
More Chakra Learning
Here is a list of articles I wrote about the chakras:
• Heart Chakra: Acknowledging Negative Self-Talk (and Getting RID of it!)
• Third Eye Chakra: What If? The Power of Seeing Things Differently (and the reality for what it is!)
• Crown Chakra: 7 Important Ways Spirituality & Religion Are Different (and #1 technique to heal all chakras!)