A Beginner's Guide to the Chakras and How to Balance Them

A Beginner’s Guide to the Chakras and How to Balance Them

written by: Kyneret Azizo

In the tradition of yoga and other spiritual practices, you’ll often hear mention of the chakras. 

Translating from Sanskrit as “wheel,” chakras are vortexes of energy that act as a junction between our physical and astral body, regulating energy flow throughout the entire human system. 

There are 114 chakras in the body, but we’ll focus on the 7 primary chakras in the yoga tradition, as they are the most prominent ones. 

These primary chakras are positioned along the spine sequentially, starting with the first at the base of the spine and ending with the last at the crown of the head.

Illustration of seated woman with all 7 primary chakras showing: Muladhara, Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajna and Sahasrara

Chakras govern everything from our biology to our psychology and even go beyond the material plane into the spiritual aspect of our being. When they’re blocked or overactive, they can lead to imbalances in the physical body and in the mind.

Read on to learn about each of the 7 primary chakras and how to balance them.

Muladhara or root chakra

Image Source: Meditative Mind

1: Muladhara

Colour: Red
Natural Element: Earth
Sense: Smell

Muladhara, or the root chakra, sits at the base of the spine, between the anus and the genitals. Muladhara means “foundation” in Sanskrit. This chakra is thus regarded as the foundation or root of our existence. 

The root chakra is all about our sense of safety and security in this body and life. It is connected with the adrenal glands, which regulate metabolism and the immune system as well as manage the body’s stress response.

Being associated with the element of earth, the sense of smell and the action of excretion, this chakra is primal or animalistic in its nature. Nevertheless, aligning Muladhara is paramount to attaining Moksha, or spiritual liberation, according to the yoga gurus.

When energy flows through our root chakra, we vibrate with vitality and strength, our immune system is strong and we feel an unshakeable sense of purpose and stability.  

How to Tell if Muladhara is Blocked

  • Excessive fear and anxiety 
  • Feeling lethargic and drained
  • Weakened immune system 
  • Feeling powerless and not in control of your life
  • Digestive disorders
  • Colon, bladder and lower back issues
  • Unexplained body aches & pains
  • Insomnia 
  • Reproductive problems

How to Unblock and Balance Muladhara

When we talk of “energetic grounding”, we’re talking about activating and balancing the root chakra. Being in nature and walking barefoot in soil, mud or grass helps align Muladhara by matching our energetic frequency with that of the earth’s. Another way to revitalize and align Muladhara is to breathe in fresh, invigorating scents. Thieves by Young Living is great for creating that energetic spark in Muladhara. 

Yoga Poses for Muladhara
Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
Malasana (Garland Pose)
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Affirmations for Muladhara
“I am nourished and supported by Mother Earth.”
“I am safe and secure.”
“I am protected in this world.”

Crystals for Muladhara
Red Jasper

Mantra Healing for Muladhara
The bija mantra for Muladhara is “LAM”

Swadhisthana or Sacral Chakra

Image Source: Meditative Mind

2: Swadhisthana

Colour: Orange
Natural Element: Water
Sense: Taste

The second chakra, known as Swadhisthana or the sacral chakra, is situated two finger-widths above the root chakra

Swadhisthana means “where one abodes” and is regarded as the seat of our emotions. It is associated with creativity, self-expression, pleasure, relationships, sensuality and procreation. 

Whereas Muladhara is about stability and roots, Swadhistana is connected with movement and flexibility – the attributes of water. It is also strongly correlated with fertility, cycles and an abundance mindset.

When this chakra is balanced, we have no shame or guilt in experiencing pleasure and are free to be who we are. We’re also more open to the notion of change, letting things go, and moving with the ebb and flow of life.

How to Tell if Swadhisthana is Blocked

  • Difficulty expressing ourselves creatively
  • Feeling closed off intimately from ourselves and others
  • Low libido 
  • Hyper-sexualization (when overactive)
  • Attachment and possessiveness in relationships
  • Excessive guilt and fear
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Reproductive issues

How to Unblock and Balance Swadhisthana

Since guilt and fear block Swadhisthana, a good way to balance this chakra would be to heal the trauma related to these emotions. Meditating on the principle of non-permanence and understanding and accepting death also works to heal this chakra. 

Dancing is another great way to rekindle Swadhisthana’s vibrancy, as is engaging in any kind of creative play. Giving ourselves permission to feel pleasure is the key to a healthy sacral chakra!

Yoga Poses for Swadhisthana
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Baddha Konasana (Cobbler’s Pose)
Malasana (Garland Pose)

Affirmations for Swadhisthana
“I allow my creativity to flow freely.”
“I trust my feelings. I trust myself.”
“I allow myself to feel pleasure.”

Crystals for Swadhisthana
Snowflake Obsidian

Mantra Healing for Swadhisthana
The bija mantra for Swadhisthana is “VAM”

Manipura or solar plexus chakra

Image Source: Meditative Mind

3: Manipura

Colour: Yellow
Natural Element: Fire
Sense: Sight

The third primary chakra is Manipura, known as the navel chakra. It’s located just above the navel and is associated with the outer adrenal glands and Solar Plexus of the physical body. The name of this chakra translates to “city of jewels” from Sanskrit. 

This is the body’s pranic hub or energy power-house, supplying the entire system with what it needs to carry out its functions. Manipura is the direct link to your sense of self – it’s the seat of your ego, willpower, vitality, stamina and inner power. 

Manipura is all about movement and transformation. When this chakra is strong, we easily get things done and encounter few obstacles on our life path. When we do encounter obstacles, we’re able to climb over them effortlessly, as they simply burn away in the fire of Manipura. 

It’s no surprise that Manipura governs our digestive organs and metabolism, and represents how we process, or “digest” life itself. A healthy-functioning solar plexus chakra results in optimal digestion, free of undigested metabolic waste buildup (known as “ama” in Sanskrit).

How to Tell if Manipura is Blocked

  • Low self-esteem
  • Victim mindset
  • Feeling stuck in life
  • Digestive issues
  • Ulcers
  • Illnesses relating to the liver, pancreas and colon
  • Eating disorders
  • Excessive anger and irritability
  • Aggressive behaviour

How to Unblock and Balance Manipura

A great way to fire up this energy hub is to engage it with core exercises. You can also ignite Manipura by connecting with the fire element. When meditating, decorate your space with lit candles and use one as the focal point for your meditation. Manipura also responds well to pranayama techniques like Kapalabhati and bandha exercises.

Yoga Poses for Manipura
Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath)
Navasana (Boat Pose)
Parivrtta Utkatasana (Twisted Chair Pose)

Affirmations for Manipura
“I am confident being my true self.”
“I am powerful.”
“I am strong and I can get through anything.”

Crystals for Manipura
Tiger’s Eye

Mantra Healing for Manipura
The bija mantra for Manipura is “RAM”

Anahata or heart chakra

Image Source: Meditative Mind

4: Anahata

Colour: Green
Natural Element: Air
Sense: Touch

The fourth chakra is Anahata or the heart chakra. It’s positioned in the center of the breastbone and associated with the thymus gland and the cardiac plexus. 

Anahata means “unstruck,” “unbeaten,” or “unhurt”, referring to the Vedic notion of unstruck sound – the sound of the celestial realm. 

The higher-vibration emotions associated with this chakra are empathy and forgiveness. When consciousness flows through Anahata, we have a profound love for ourselves and others. We’re fueled by the desire to care for all living beings. There is no possessiveness or selfish quality to the vibration of love that emanates from this energy center. It is unconditional and free of all judgement.

How to Tell if Anahata is Blocked

  • Emotionally closed off from others
  • Lack of empathy
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Possessiveness
  • Blood circulation problems
  • Loneliness
  • Depression/anxiety

How to Unblock and Balance Anahata

Gratitude journaling and loving-kindness meditation awaken the heart chakra, which can be felt almost immediately. Placing your hand on your heart center and feeling the warmth of your touch is also a powerful way to connect with Anahata. This action boosts oxytocin, the same love hormone that gets secreted when we receive an affectionate embrace. 

Yoga Poses for Anahata
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Anahatasana (Melting Heart Pose)

Affirmations for Anahata
“My heart radiates with compassion.”
“I am open to unconditional love.”
“I am grateful for all of my blessings.”

Crystals for Anahata
Rose quartz

Mantra Healing for Anahata
The bija mantra for Anahata is “YAM”

Vishuddha or throat chakra
Image Source: Meditative Mnd

5: Vishuddha

Colour: Blue
Natural Element: Ether
Sense: Hearing

Moving onto the fifth primary chakra, we have Vishudda, otherwise known as the throat chakra. It resides in the throat area and is linked with the thyroid gland and the cervical plexus.

The meaning of Vishuddha is “pure” or “purification” and it is thought to be the purification center where the nectar of enlightenment, “amrita” drops down from the Bindu chakra. As it goes, when amrita is ingested, it bestows immortality. Thus a thriving Vishuddha chakra is very much associated with youthfulness and vigour. 

The throat chakra is known to be connected with the sacral chakra. But while both are related to self-expression and creativity, Vishuddha governs a higher form of refined communication with more clarity and precision. 

Vishuddha acts as the gateway between the heart and the brain center, allowing us to seamlessly assimilate information from both these faculties. When it is balanced, we can enunciate our thoughts and feelings clearly to project an authentic version of ourselves into the world. 

How to Tell if Vishuddha is Blocked

  • Sore throat/hoarseness
  • Thyroid issues
  • Sinus issues
  • Mouth or tongue sores
  • Ear infections
  • Hearing sensitivities
  • Neck and shoulder aches
  • Jaw pain or TMJ
  • Difficulty verbally communicating 
  • Difficulty listening attentively

How to Unblock and Balance Vishuddha

Singing or chanting, especially the bija mantra ‘HAM,’ is an effective way to stimulate Vishuddha. If you place a crystal or sacred gem in the pit of the throat and meditate on the sensations it creates, you’ll find it quite easy to forge a connection with Vishuddha. Staying true to ourselves and others helps keep Vishuddha open and flourishing.

Yoga Poses for Vishuddha
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Marjaryasana and Bitilasana (Cat and Cow Pose)
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose)

Affirmations for Vishuddha
“I speak my truth.”
“I express myself with clear intent.”
“I am liberated by speaking words of truth”

Crystals for Vishuddha
Lapis Lazuli
Blue Kyanite

Mantra Healing for Vishuddha
The bija mantra for Vishuddha is “HAM”

Ajna or third eye chakra

Image Source: Meditative Mind

6: Ajna

Colour: Indigo
Natural Element: Light
Sense: Intuition

Located in the center of the forehead between the eyebrows we have the sixth chakra, Ajna (pronounced “Agnya”), which is also called the third eye chakra. Translating to “authority” or “command”, it is said to be part of the pranic body rather than the physical one. This chakra is linked with clarity of perception, intuition, imagination and concentration. 

Ajna is said to be connected to the pineal gland – a pea-size gland in the shape of a pine cone that’s located near the hypothalamus and pituitary gland of the brain.

Ajna offers wisdom and insight and deepens your spiritual connection, allowing you to see the true nature of yourself and all things. When Ajna is open, it stimulates the release of DMT, the chemical in our brain that produces psychic visions. 

How to Tell if Ajna is Blocked

  • Brain fog
  • Inability to tap into inner vision and wisdom
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Blurry vision
  • Memory issues
  • Insomnia

How to Unblock and Balance Ajna

Simply tapping on the space between the brows is enough to stimulate energy movement through this chakra center. So does focusing on the third-eye drishti point with eyes closed, in meditation. Chanting the bija mantra “AUM” is a compelling way of breaking through any stagnant energy here.

Yoga Poses for Ajna
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Third-eye chakra seated meditation

Affirmations for Ajna
“I trust my intuition, always.”
“I am connected to the wisdom of the universe.”
“I am the source of absolute truth.”

Crystals for Ajna
Eye of Shiva

Mantra Healing for Ajna
The bija mantra for Ajna is “AUM”

Sahasrara or crown chakra

Image Source: Meditative Mind

7: Sahasrara

Colour: Violet
Natural Element: Thought
Sense: None 

Located at the crown of the head we have the 7th and final chakra, Sahasrara. Sahasrara means ‘thousand-petaled’ and represents the thousand-petaled lotus of enlightenment. It is said to bloom open upon the attainment of Nirvana, which happens when kundalini energy rises up through all the chakras into Sahasrara. The parts of the body associated with Sahasrara are the head, brain, nervous system, pituitary gland, pineal gland and hypothalamus.

When consciousness flows through this chakra, we recognize ourselves as being one with the Universe/Creator and deeply connected with its higher wisdom and guidance. Our higher self and the Divine coalesce harmoniously, allowing us to fulfill our highest potential while leading a healthy, balanced spiritual life. 

You could say Sahasrara is our umbilical cord to the Divine, connecting our human existence to the oneness of all things. At this level of consciousness, the ego starts to dissolve and we’re no longer trapped within the boundaries of a “me, myself and I” mentality. Instead, we recognize ourselves in all people and things.

How to Tell if Sahasrara is Blocked

  • Feeling cut off from the rest of the world
  • Instability in the physical body
  • Poor coordination
  • Lack of focus
  • Poor mental functioning
  • Confusion
  • Hyperspiritualization (excessive meditation)

How to Unblock and Balance Sahasrara

Since the essence of this chakra is sacred silence, it’s beneficial to embark on a silent meditation retreat in order to activate Sahasrara. Mentally chanting the bija mantra ‘AUM’ also helps shift our energy there to align Sahasrara.

Yoga Poses for Sahasrara
Padmasana (Lotus)
Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand)
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Affirmations for Sahasrara
“I honour the Divine within me.”
“I am guided by a higher power and inner wisdom.”
“I am love. I am light. I am connected to all.”

Crystals for Sahasrara

Mantra Healing for Sahasrara
The bija mantra for Sahasrara is Silent “AUM”


Want to Charge Up and Align your Chakras in a Fun Way?

Come journey through the Chakras with Ashleigh!
Journey Through The Chakras_square

✅ Get insight into each chakra
✅ Explore yoga poses that support each chakra
✅ Engage in an interactive workshop where you can ask questions

Date: Saturday, June 11
Time: 3:00-5:00 pm
Price: 45+ HST

[Click here to register today]



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Kyn Blogger

Kyneret has been practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade. She began as a yoga teacher for Modo Yoga Maple in 2012, and has recently set off on a nomadic adventure to South East Asia. She remains active within our Modo community as a blog writer.

When not writing, she is fully immersed in the day-to-day adventures of travel life and actively seeks out as many foreign yoga experiences as possible to further her knowledge and skills! You can follow Kyneret’s travels on her instagram account @planes_trains_autoimmunity