The ancient wisdom of the chakra system

The ancient wisdom of the chakra system

If you participated in a meditation or yoga class, you’ve perhaps heard the instructor mention the chakra system. But what is it, and how does it affect your mental and physical well-being?

“The concept of the chakra system has been around for 2,500 years,” says Angela Buttimer, MS, NCC, RYT, LPC, a licensed psychotherapist at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont. “It came from the Hindu world and evolved with the yogic practice.”

Chakras are spiritual energy centers in the body and there are seven basic chakras. Each chakra corresponds to specific internal organs and nerve bundles and contains “prana,” or healing energy.

If a chakra becomes blocked or unbalanced, you may experience physical or mental symptoms, says Buttimer. The belief is that keeping the chakras open and balanced allows positive energy to flow throughout the body and promotes physical and mental well-being.

What do the seven chakras represent?

There are seven main chakras. These include:

  • Crown chakra (at the top of your head): Represents your life’s purpose and spiritual connections to a higher power, others and yourself

  • Third eye chakra (between your eyes): Supports your intuition, gut instinct and imagination

  • Throat chakra (in your throat): Helps you communicate verbally

  • Heart chakra (in the center of your chest): Represents your ability to love and practice compassion

  • Solar plexus chakra (in your stomach area): Helps you feel in control of your life; supports self-esteem and confidence

  • Sacral chakra (just below your navel): Contains your creative and sexual energy; helps you relate to your emotions and the emotions of others

  • Root chakra (at the base of your spine): Considered the foundation for life; provides a sense of stability and security; helps you feel grounded

What happens when a chakra is blocked or unbalanced?

When a chakra is blocked or out of balance, you may experience too little or too much energetic activity in that area.

“When people have chronic problems, they often blame themselves, but the chakras give them another way to frame what’s happening and tools that can help,” says Buttimer. “Perhaps you’ve been stuck in a pattern of financial lack. Doing healing work around the root chakra, which is associated with money, can give you a boost so you can move forward and work through the issue.”

If a chakra is blocked or unbalanced, practitioners say you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Crown chakra: Apathy, greed, arrogance  

  • Third eye chakra: Trouble trusting your intuition, judgmental attitude, overactive imagination, depression, headaches, dizziness

  • Throat chakra: Difficulty expressing yourself, worries about the judgment of others, thyroid issues, tension headaches, sore throat, neck and shoulder tightness  

  • Heart chakra: Anger, jealousy, grief, hatred, lack of boundaries, being overly dependent  

  • Solar plexus chakra: Low self-esteem, anger or control issues, difficulty making decisions, digestive issues  

  • Sacral chakra: Sexual dysfunction, addictive behaviors, depression, fear of change   

  • Root chakra: Nightmares, anxiety disorders or problems with the bladder, colon, feet, lower back or legs

“When your chakras are unblocked, you will feel vibrant,” she says. “Your body is healthy and strong. You’re more dialed in and intuitive. You may start getting more psychic hits when you unblock your upper chakras.”

What can you do to unblock a chakra?

Unblocking your chakras isn’t about being perfectly balanced.

“We may get blocked one day and unblocked the next or we may stay blocked for years,” says Buttimer. “It’s not about arriving; it’s about knowing how to be in process.”

She compares balancing your chakras to exercise.

“Your body is always changing and you have to keep exercising,” she says. “It’s the same with balancing the chakras.”

You can unblock and balance the chakras through:

  • Yoga postures, such as:

    • Crown chakra: Savasana (also called corpse pose)

    • Third eye chakra: Forward fold or folded eagle

    • Throat chakra: Fish or plow pose

    • Heart chakra: Wheel or camel pose

    • Solar plexus chakra: Triangle or boat pose

    • Sacral chakra: Pigeon or bridge pose

    • Root chakra: Mountain or warrior pose

  • Meditation

  • Breathing exercises to encourage energy flow

This is a quick overview of the chakra system. If you’d like to learn more:

  • Attend Buttimer’s in-person class.

  • Meet with a certified yoga instructor or reiki practitioner.

  • Explore teachings from Buttimer’s favorite teachers Caroline Myss and Anodea Judith.

Learn more ways to reduce stress and improve your well-being.

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