May 13, 2022 4 min read
If you’re here, chances are you’ve wondered… “What are chakras, how were they discovered, and what the heck does it mean for them to be balanced?”
You’ve come to the right place. Ahead, we’ll lay out what chakras are, what each of them represents, and how to keep them aligned so your inner self can live its best life.
Here’s your Chakras 101 — a primer for all things chakra.
The wordchakra can be traced back to early Sanskrit — the sacred language of Hinduism — and Theravāda Buddhism's Pāli language (where chakrais actuallycakka). In both languages, it means wheel.
Teachings of chakras were handed down as an oral tradition for generations, but were finally committed to text in The Vedas (वेद in Hindi) between 1500 and 500 BCE. In English,vedas means “knowledge”.
One of the more famous texts depicting the chakras is a late 19th century manuscript known as the Sapta Chakra, which contains color illustrations of yogic poses depicting the chakras. The Sapta Chakra inspired the English theosophist (a religious movement; don’t worry, we had to Google it too) Charles W. Leadbeater’s 1927 book, The Chakras.
While many Western people sought to introduce yoga and the chakras before, The Chakras is what truly popularized the concept in the West.
If you have any level of familiarity with chakra imagery, you’ve probably noticed the brilliant rainbow that almost always accompanies their portrayal. That’s no accident! Although yogic tradition generally opted to symbolize chakras with shapes or deities, things started to change in the 70s. Investigative author Kurt Leland traces the chakra color system back to Christopher Hills’ 1977 book Nuclear Evolution: Discovery of the Rainbow Body, and that color system is still generally accepted as an accurate depiction of energy systems (and auras!) today.
As Westerners (read: outsiders), we’reso fortunate to have access to these ancient (and sacred) practices. As such, we should always approach them intentionally and respectfully.
“OK…we love a history lesson, but I still don’t know what a chakra actually is.”
Right. About that…
Chakras represent different energy points in your body. Each has a unique name and function.
Represents stability, security, and our basic needs.
This is our creative and sexual center and is responsible for ecstatic expression.
Our power source.
The heart chakra unites our chakras of matter in the lower half of the body, and our chakras of spirit in the upper half. It’s the bridge between the body, mind, emotions, and spirit. More directly, the heart chakra is our source of love and empathy.
Literally, our source of verbal expression and responsible for expressing our divine truth.
Our source of intuition.
Also known as the “thousand petal lotus,” the Crown Chakra is our source of enlightenment and spiritual connection to our higher selves, others, and the divine.
Aligning your chakras starts with becoming intimately familiar with which chakras rule which parts of you, and then listening to your body. That can be hard at first, but it gets easier with practice!
Are you having trouble speaking your truth? Check in on your Throat Chakra. Feeling adrift and out of touch with your true self? Your Crown Chakra may need some TLC.
Once you know what may be out of alignment, you can determine how you’ll address it. Speaking of which…
Yoga and meditation are excellent ways to align chakras — especially when paired with breathing exercises, like pranayama breathing, and visualization rituals such as this simple one courtesy of Sivana East:
“On your next inhale, you begin to visualize a white light filling the space in your belly and heart, and on your exhale, visualize this white light radiating throughout your entire body from head to toe.
You can choose to visualize and balance all chakras…by returning to the white light permeating your inhales before moving onto each, or just [focus on] one at a time.”
One of the most long standing and effective practices to align chakras — if executed with careful intention — is chanting. Each chakra responds to a different word:
Root Chakra: Chant “LAM”
Sacral Chakra: Chant “VAM”
Solar Plexus Chakra: Chant “RAM”
Heart Chakra: Chant “YAM”
Throat Chakra: Chant “HAM”
Third Eye Chakra: Chant “AUM” (“OM” also works, though that can be reserved for your crown chakra).
Crown Chakra: “OM” or “AH”
There are many supplemental items that can augment your balancing practice — a couple of them are crystals and incense.
Much like the chakras, different crystals hold unique vibrations of energy that can be applied in a variety of ways. (Here’s a useful crash course in crystals.) Incense is also known to be a grounding force that can help you focus and remain calm while you search yourself for opportunities to bring your chakras into alignment.
We hope this primer helps you on your way to relaxing, unwinding, and aligning so you can enjoy a happier, more balancedyou.