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Chakras and Yoga 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 endocrine organs. To function at their best, your chakras need to stay open, or balanced. If they get blocked, you may experience symptoms related to a particular chakra which makes you feel unbalanced. Think of it as a building up of debris or dams in a river - this slows down or stops the flow of water which then stagnates or floods the surrounding land.
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. There are more than 100 more minor chakras in the body corresponding to joints, bandhas, nerve and hormone centres.
The root chakra (Muladhara) 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. The sacral chakra (Svadhisthana) located just below your navel. 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. The solar plexus chakra (Manipura) located in your upper abdomen. It’s responsible for confidence and self-esteem, as well as helping you feel in control of your life. The heart chakra (Anahata) located near your heart, in the chest. The heart chakra is all about our ability to love and show compassion. The throat chakra (Vishuddha) located in your throat. This chakra has to do with our ability to communicate verbally and creatively. The third eye chakra (Ajna) located between your eyes. The third eye is responsible for intuition. It’s also linked to imagination. The crown chakra (Sahasrara) located just above 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? The blockage causes either a depletion of energy flow or too much energetic activity in a chakra. When a chakra is low in energy, you’ll have difficulty expressing the particular qualities associated with that chakra. When a chakra is overactive the qualities become an overpowering dominant force in your 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 it can present as insecurity. If there’s too much energy, it can present as recklessness, hoarding or overeating 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 physically affect the parts of your body in close proximity to that chakra ie your organs, bones, joints, and tissues near that area. There might also be hormonal, physiological or psychological imbalances in the chakras which may cause an emotional changes such as increased anger, sadness, fear, or indecisiveness. Prolonged imbalance may lead to physical disease and illness, musculoskeletal issues, and mental health challenges like depression or anxiety. What causes the blockage? There are many reasons but most commonly experiencing too much stress — physically or mentally — may cause one or more chakras to be out of balance. In some cases personal habits such as poor posture, poor lifestyle, eating unhealthy food, or self-destructive behaviour may cause a chakra to be imbalanced. How can you unblock a chakra? A simple way to promote balance in a chakra is to create alignment in your physical body through a specific yoga practice emphasising certain postures, breathing practices to encourage the flow of energy and meditation to bring about clarity of mind. Another way is to follow a holistic therapy pathway such as Reiki or Crystal therapy.