It's a classic case of confusion: Your yoga teacher calmly instructs you, "Open your heart chakra and let your mind-body connection flow" in the middle of class, and you ohm in agreement. But you're actually thinking, "Wait, what?"
Don't be intimidated by the terminology. Your teacher is trying to get you to embrace the concept of chakras, the seven wheels of energy that correspond to your body’s vital organs and nerve centers and play a huge role in Ayurvedic medicine. According to Ayurveda—the traditional system of natural healing in Indian culture—chakras are where your energy flows to and from, and you want these powerful energy sources to be open to attracting good energy.
Blocked chakras can make life feel dreary. Not only do you feel stuck in a rut, but your body will also manifest those obstructions physically. Your nagging chest cold, foot pain, and weight gain could all be symptoms of energy blockages that need to be dislodged.
Balancing, opening, and getting those chakras working in harmony can help keep your body strong and healthy and your mental health positive and vibrant. Each chakra is associated with a different emotion and body part. The three lower chakras are your instinctual energies, while the four upper chakras influence your mental state.
The Root Chakra
The first chakra is located at the base of your spine and controls your stability, security, and connection with the world. A blocked root chakra can cause you to be fearful and feel boundaries in relationships. Grounding yoga asanas like Tree Pose can unleash your root chakra energy.
The Sacral Chakra
Your second chakra is all about creativity, movement, and sexuality and is located right below your belly button. Having issues in your relationships? You might have a blocked sacral chakra. Sandalwood and ylang ylang oil can help support your second chakra and keep energy moving. You can use these oils as aromatherapy and just take a whiff to refresh yourself, or use them with a carrier oil on your pressure points to perfume your body.
The Solar Plexus
Right below your ribcage, your third chakra governs your self-esteem and personal power. If you’re plagued with stomach issues or anxiety, you could have a blocked solar plexus chakra–when you feel something 'in the pit of your stomach,' that’s your chakra calling. Open up your solar plexus with Bow Pose. Cinnamon is the spice that’s associated with your third chakra, so try adding a little to your morning cup of coffee to revive your energy.
The Heart Chakra
Found smack dab at your heart center, the fourth chakra serves as a bridge from your mind to your body—it's that mind-body connection yogis are always waxing poetic about. You might be blocked if you’re feeling upset or lonely, so support this chakra (and your mental health) with rosewater or rose oil, which is thought to awaken your capacity for self-love.
The Throat Chakra
Your fifth chakra is located right at your throat and, naturally, affects your ability to speak your mind. Tooth, jaw, and thyroid issues can be a symptom of a blocked throat chakra, but if you’ve got shoulder or neck pain you can blame that on it, too. Drinking chamomile tea, the herb associated with this area, can help you to speak your truth.
The Third Eye
Located between your eyebrows, your Third Eye is the center of your intuition. Tap into your Third Eye to make more powerful decisions with a simple meditation.
The Crown Chakra
Closest to the heavens, the seventh and final chakra is associated with enlightenment and and spiritual connection. Headaches, vertigo, and depression got you down? Opening up your crown chakra could be the cure you need. Headstands in yoga can reconnect you to your crown chakra, or lavender oil can clear it with its calming aroma.
Short on time but want to keep your energy clear and your chakras open? Try a chakra mist that you can use whenever you’re feeling uninspired or just stuck. They smell amazing and can align your energy—nirvana in a bottle.
Illustration by Karley Koenig