What are chakras?
In Sanskrit, the word “chakra” means “disk” or “wheel” and refers to the energy centres in your body. These wheels or disks of spinning energy each correspond to certain nerve bundles and major organs.
To function at their best, your chakras need to stay open, or balanced. If they get blocked, you may experience physical or emotional symptoms related to a particular chakra.
There are seven main chakras that run along your spine. They start at the root, or base, of your spine and extend to the crown of your head. That said, some people believe you have at least 114 different chakras in the body.
The chakras most often referred to are the seven main ones that we’ll explore in more detail below.
What are the 7 main chakras?
The chakra system refers to the energy centres we have in our bodies. There are seven major chakras, each in a specific location along your spine. Let’s look at each one more closely.
Root Chakra - The root chakra, or Muladhara, is located at the base of your spine. It provides you with a base or foundation for life, and it helps you feel grounded and able to withstand challenges. Your root chakra is responsible for your sense of security and stability.
Sacral Chakra - The sacral chakra or Svadhisthana, is located just below your belly button. This chakra is responsible for your sexual and creative energy. It’s also linked to how you relate to your emotions as well as the emotions of others.
Solar Plexus Chakra - The solar plexus chakra, or Manipura, is located in your stomach area. It’s responsible for confidence and self-esteem, as well as helping you feel in control of your life.
Heart Chakra - The heart chakra, or Anahata, is located near your heart, in the centre of your chest. It comes as no surprise that the heart chakra is all about our ability to love and show compassion.
Throat Chakra - The throat chakra, or Vishuddha, is located in your throat. This chakra has to do with our ability to communicate verbally.
Third Eye Chakra - The third eye chakra, or Ajna, is located between your eyes. You can thank this chakra for a strong gut instinct. That’s because the third eye is responsible for intuition. It’s also linked to imagination.
Crown Chakra - The crown chakra, or Sahasrara, is located at the top of your head. Your Sahasrara represents your spiritual connection to yourself, others, and the universe. It also plays a role in your life’s purpose.
What does it mean if a chakra is blocked or unbalanced?
Diane Malaspina, PhD, a yoga medicine therapeutic specialist, says she prefers to think of chakras as out of balance versus blocked.
“There can be a depletion of energy flow or too much energetic activity in a chakra — each will manifest into different outcomes,” she explained.
When a chakra is low in energy, she said, you’ll have difficulty expressing the particular qualities associated with that chakra. When a chakra is overactive, Malaspina said, the qualities are a dominant force in the person’s life. This can have both physical and emotional effects.
For example, the first chakra is about security, survival, and the foundation of our life.
If it’s underactive, Malaspina said, it can show up as depression and insecurity. If there’s too much energy, it can show up as fearlessness without precaution or hoarding because you need more to feel secure.
Can a blocked chakra affect your health?
In general, the location of the chakra that’s out of balance may affect the parts of your body in close proximity to that chakra, according to Malaspina. This includes your organs, bones, joints, and tissues near that area.
Psychologically, she says, imbalances in the chakras may cause an emotional imbalance. This may lead to increased anger, sadness, fear, or indecisiveness.
“It’s important to pay attention to both the psychological and physiological sensations because they can inform each other and uncover the root cause of the experience,” said certified yoga teacher and master reiki healer, Guadalupe Terrones.
According to Terrones, experiencing too much stress — physically or mentally — may cause one or more chakras to be out of balance.
“Personal habits such as poor physical alignment or posture, eating unhealthy food, or self-destructive behaviour may cause a chakra to be imbalanced,” she said.
Terrones also said that prolonged imbalance may lead to physical disease and illness, musculoskeletal issues, and mental health challenges like depression or anxiety.