Traditionally, Indians saw the body as containing seven main chakras, arranged vertically from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Chakra means wheel, spinning vortex of energy.

Each chakra is associated with particular functions within the body and with specific life issues and the way we handle them, both inside ourselves and in our interactions with the world. As centers of force, chakras can be thought of as sites where we receive, absorb, and distribute life energies. Through external situations and internal habits, such as long- held physical tension and limiting self- concepts, a chakra can become either deficient or excessive, and therefore imbalanced.

These imbalances may develop temporarily with situational challenges, or they may be chronic. A chronic imbalance can come from childhood experiences, past pain or stress, and internalized cultural values. For instance, a child whose family moves every year to a different state may not learn what it’s like to feel rooted in a location, and she can grow up with a deficient first chakra.

1. Root Chakra

The root chakra governs your family ties and feelings of survival, belonging, and groundedness. Your earliest memories are stored here, including whether or not your basic needs were met. When it is blocked or out of balance, you can become needy, have low self- esteem, or have self- destructive behaviours. When the root chakra is in balance, you feel strong and confident; you can stand up on your own two fee and take care of yourself. You take good care of your body, and purge the body of wastes. You feel alert, secure and stable.

Associated body parts: base of the spine, legs, feet, large intestine.

Circumstances that pull up our roots and cause a first chakra deficiency include travelling, relocation, feeling fearful and big changes in our body, family, finances, and business. Often people with busy minds and active imagination feel ungrounded and live more in the head than in the body.

This chakra is associated with the element earth, representing physical and emotional grounding, and with the color red.

To help balance this chakra, try following:
• Roll a tennis ball underneath the foot, to awaken the soles
• Foot massage
• Sitting on the heels
• Calf stretching, hamstring stretching, standing poses
• Dandelion root tea

Affirmations:
• Calmness, patience
• Willingness to slow down and stay in one place
• Confidence and commitment to the next step in life
• Trust, in yourself and your surroundings
• Surrender to gravity

2. Sacral or Pelvic Chakra

This chakra corresponds with your reproductive and sexual organs, and represents fluidity, creativity, and fertility. You can take a literal interpretation of this, or associate this chakra with whether or not your feel deserving of a pleasurable, abundant, creative life. When it is out of balance, you can feel emotionally unstable, guilty, or hard on yourself. When it is in balance, you feel creative, positive, and receptive to change- like the ocean and its tides, you are in the flow.

Balancing this chakra will help you to create a greater sense of intimacy and companionship with your partner, and it will enhance creativity in all areas of your life. It also helps create healthy boundaries so that you are not emphating other peoples feelings to a point of hurting or confusing yourself and your choices.

Instead of demanding that our body or a relationship be different, the second chakra encourages us to feel the feelings that arise as we open to life just as it is.

Associated body parts: hips, sacrum, lower back, genitals, womb, bladder, kidneys

Associated feelings: Sensuality, sexuality, emotions, intimacy, desire.

To help balance this chakra, try following:
• Calendula tea
• Lighten up and remember the game of life can be Fun
• Hip openers

3. Navel Chakra

Located in the area of the solar plexus, navel and the digestive system, the fiery third chakra is involved in self- esteem, warrior energy, and the power of transformation. It also governs digestion and metabolism. When the Navel chakra is in balance, you feel alive and have the self- esteem and confidence to take action and be productive. When it is blocked, you lack courage, have low self- esteem, and feel stagnant and inert. By working on this chakra, you can awaken your true personal inner power and work through your fear of taking risks.

Balancing this chakra will soften our personal efforts to control life. It will help you detach from the outcome of a situation or plan. It is also known as your solar plexus, and is the seat for personal power and positive self control. When we feel powerless or that our life is in charge by someone else, we can create a “knot in our stomach”, up to an actual ulcer.

Associated body parts: navel, solar plexus, digestive system, metabolism.

To help balance this chakra, try following:
• Marshmallow root
• Sensible risk taking, confrontation, setting limits, asking for what we need = reclaiming our power
• Core exercises

4. Heart Chakra

The fourth chakra is the balance point, integrating the world of matter (the lower three chakras) with the world of spirit (the upper three chakras). Through the heart chakra, we open to and connect with harmony and peace. When we lead with our head and not with our heart, we may be overly focused on thought and tend to cut ourselves off from the emotions and the body. When the heart chakra is blocked, you become possessive and codependent, and may form dysfunctional relationships. You may also stay isolated for fear of rejection, feel shy, lonely, with an inability to forgive or a lack of empathy. When you stimulate the Heart Chakra, you can heal past wounds by reopening your heart, learn to love unconditionally, and form healthy relationships.

Associated body parts: heart, upper chest, upper back

Associated feelings: joyful, loving, empathetic, compassionate. Being able to receive love, self- love and give love. Learning to trust and surrender. Letting go.

To help balance this chakra, try following:
• Chest openers such as back bends, shoulder stretches
• Hawthorne berries tea or tincture

5. Throat Chakra

The throat chakra resonates with our inner truth and helps us find a personal way to convey our voice to the outside world. When this chakra is blocked, you may feel like you can’t find your voice or your truth. You may also be overly talkative and not listen to others. It leads to neck stiffness, shoulder tension, teeth grinding, jaw disorders, throat ailments, and underactive thyroid. When this chakra is open and stimulated, your voice moves through space to help you communicate your emotions in healthy ways. You also become better at listening to others and honoring their personal truths without judgment.

This chakra is the “gateway” to the more spiritual elements of the third eye and crown chakra. It opens up through purification of the body, such as diet, yoga, meditation.

Associated body parts: neck, throat, jaw, mouth

Associated feelings: being able to communicate your thoughts, needs and feelings. Integrity

To help balance this chakra, try following:
• Clover tea or tincture
• Neck stretches and shoulder openers such as Shoulder Stand, Bridge Pose, Plow Pose

6. Third- Eye Chakra

The third eye is associated with learning new things, trusting your instincts. Your intuition, or sixth sense, imagination and visualisation. When it’s functioning well, you have insight, and you trust your inner wisdom to face life’s challenges and choices. When it is blocked, you feel close- minded, too attached to logic, untrusting, and cynical. Depression is strongly linked to a closed sixth chakra. Working on the sixth chakra opens your mind to the bigger picture and different perspectives, and it helps you receive the wisdom that cannot be seen or heard by ordinary senses.

To help balance this chakra, try following:
• Eyebright/ Euphrasia
• Supported forward bends
• Creating positive images and visualisations

7. Crown Chakra

The crown chakra connects to beauty itself and the spiritual realm. When it is closed, you think happiness can only come from the outside, and you suffer. Working on this chakra helps you to feel free in any situation. It lifts your mood, detaches from ego.

To help balance this chakra, try following:
• Lavender
• Inversions

A balancing act: Feminine and masculine qualities

All even numbered chakras (2,4,6)

• Concerned with the feminine qualities of relaxation and openness. These chakras exercise our rights to feel, to love,
and to see.

Odd- numbered chakras (1,3,5,7)

• Concerned with the masculine endeavor of applying our will in the world, asserting our rights to have, to ask, to speak,
and to know.

The masculine chakras tend to move energy through our systems, pushing it out into the world and creating warmth and heat. The feminine chakras cool things down, attracting energy inward.

In the modern world, the masculine and feminine principles of life are out of balance: The masculine energy of action and expression too often overrules the feminine energy of wisdom and acceptance, causing increased stress in our lives.

We live in a time where there is little encouragement for paying attention to our body’s natural energy levels and giving it what it needs. So often when we are really tired, we ignore our longing for rest and manipulate our bodies with caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants to create a false sense of energy. When we are overstimulated and want to relax or draw inward, many people turn to overeating, alcohol, or drugs to slow down.

Instead, try to listen to what our body requires and to truly nourish yourself, using appropriate asanas and breathing exercises to create more energy or relaxation.

The most powerful way to open, energize and balance not just the heart chakra but all of our chakras is to love ourselves and others.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me to mirthe@livemiani.com.