"Chakras are energy centers in the body that each have different attributes," says Alicia Armitstead, DC, founder of Healing Arts NYC. Chakras were first described in ancient Vedic texts from India, and are closely associated with yogic practices—which is why that terminology might come up often in vinyasa flow. "And when your chakras are balanced, you can achieve health and happiness," she says.
That's why it's well worth investigating the seven different energy centers in the body, all of which come with potential benefits. The word chakra, in Sanskrit, literally means "wheel of light," which conjures something that needs to be in motion, needs to be luminous, or both. To that end, each chakra represents a different type of energy—and each is said to vibrate at a different frequency and give off a different color, starting at the pelvis and moving upward to the top of the head.
"If the chakras aren't aligned or balanced, the energy can't flow through properly, and imbalances can show up as negative thoughts, emotions, or physical ailments." —Dr. Alicia Armitstead
The key, Dr. Armitstead says, isn't necessarily to just focus on one chakra, but rather to get them all aligned. "The chakra energy is thought of coming from whatever higher power you believe in," she says. "And each center of life force can either be balanced, overstimulated, or under-stimulated."
When your chakras aren't balanced, you may experience a variety of emotions. "So the next time you're upset in any way, that would be a good time to balance your chakras in order to feel better," Dr. Armitstead says. "If the chakras aren't aligned or balanced, the energy can't flow through properly, and imbalances can show up as negative thoughts, emotions, or physical ailments."
So how do you actually balance your chakras? Color therapy is one way, Dr. Armitstead says. It's essentially using the color that correlates to the energy center, and letting that heal you. "So if you want to balance the throat chakra, you wear more blue, light a blue candle, or wear a blue necklace," she says. Different crystals, tuning forks, essential oils, or exercises also help open up the chakras.
But perhaps the simplest way to balance chakras is by using affirmations. "Words are energy as well, so thinking a particular thought sends energy to chakras, which can block them, overstimulate them, or balance them," Dr. Armitstead says.
Below, learn about chakras—including chakra affirmations—to help stay balanced and healthy.
1. Root chakra
Your root chakra is the foundation that everything else builds upon. It relates to our core need to feel grounded, safe, and secure, and it's red color helps us to stop (think of a traffic light), slow down, and find a sense of shelter.
Where you'll find it: At the base of the spine or groin
Signs that it's overactive: Heaviness, sluggishness, resistance to change, overeating, hoarding, material fixation, greediness, workaholic
Signs that it's underactive: Fear, anxiety, underweight, restlessness, difficulty manifesting
Signs that it's balanced: Groundedness, physical health, being comfortable in your body, a sense of safety and security, stability, prosperity, ability to be still
Affirmation or mantra: "I am safe."
2. Sacral chakra
The sacral chakra is the center of creativity, sensitivity, self-expression and sexuality. No wonder you can find it at a pivotal spot in the [ahem] groin. It relates to orange, a color that exudes warmth and excitement.
Where you'll find it: Right below the belly button
Signs that it's overactive: Sexual addictions, obsessive attachments, excessive mood swings, excessively sensitive, poor boundaries
Signs that it's underactive: Rigidity in your body and behavior, emotional numbness or sensitivity, fear of change, lack of desire or passion, boredom
Signs that it's balanced: Graceful movements, ability to embrace change, emotional intelligence, creativity, ability to enjoy pleasure and passion
Affirmation or mantra: "I belong to the universal oneness, and I create with love."
3. Solar plexus chakra
It checks out that the solar plexus chakra is yellow, taking its cue from the light of the sun. It's the most energy-oriented energy center, speaking to what fuels us and makes us shine.
Where you'll find it: Between your belly button and your solar plexus
Signs that it's overactive: Controlling, arrogant, ambitious, hyperactive, stubborn
Signs that it's underactive: Passivity, lack of energy, poor digestion, tendency to be cold, blaming, low self-esteem, poor self-discipline
Signs that it's balanced: Responsible, reliable, good self-discipline, confident, warm, energetic, playful
Affirmation or mantra: "I am powerful."
4. Heart chakra
Your heart chakra relates to the love you have for yourself, and the love you have for others. When balanced, you're left with healthy, happy, and full relationships. And while red or even pink may sound like they suit this energy center, the green is actually emblematic of healing...perfect if you're nursing a broken heart.
Where you'll find it: At the chest
Signs that it's overactive: Codependency, focusing too much on others, poor boundaries, jealousy
Signs that it's underactive: Antisocial, withdrawn, critical, intolerant, lack of empathy, fear of intimacy
Signs that it's balanced: Caring, compassionate, empathetic, accepting, loving, peaceful, content
Affirmation or mantra: "I am loved."
5. Throat chakra
The throat chakra speaks to, well, being able to speak your truth. It's naturally located in the channel that makes most communication possible, but it also extends to written communication (see: crossed wires when texting). It's blue, the color of the spirit, but also the color that grants us calm. Both courage and inner stillness are necessary for saying what needs to be said.
Where you'll find it: At the throat
Signs that it's overactive: Talking too much or inappropriately, gossiping, stuttering, excessive loudness
Signs that it's underactive: Difficulty putting things into words, fear of speaking, speaking with small or weak voice, secretiveness, excessive shyness
Signs that it's balanced: Resonant, full voice, clear communication, good listener, good sense of timing and rhythm
Affirmation or mantra: "I speak my truth."
6. Third eye chakra
The third eye chakra is about being of a higher mind; when you open your third eye, you're giving the vision to peer into radical possibilities. As such, the third eye chakra is purple, a regal and mystical shade that wields next-level power.
Where you'll find it: Middle of the forehead
Signs that it's overactive: Hallucinations, delusions, obsessions, nightmares, intrusive memories, difficulty concentrating, excessive fantasizing
Signs that it's underactive: Lack of imagination, difficulty visualizing, insensitivity, excessive skepticism, denial, inability to see alternatives
Signs that it's balanced: Strong intuition, creative imagination, good memory, good dream recall, ability to visualize
Affirmation or mantra: "I am open to and trust the universe."
7. Crown chakra
Finally, the crown chakra is representative of the highest level of enlightenment. This is where the magic happens, balancing the crown chakra can help you deepen your connection to the universe and unlock whatever you want. It also manifests as deep purple, or occasionally white, both connected to spiritualism.
Color: White/Deep purple
Where you'll find it: Right over the head
Signs that it's overactive: Confusion, excessive attachments, over-intellectualization, living "in your head"
Signs that it's underactive: Spiritual cynicism, a closed mind, learning difficulties, rigid belief systems, apathy
Signs that it's balanced: Spiritual connection, wisdom and mastery, intelligence, presence, open-mindedness, ability to question
Affirmation or mantra: "I am connecting to spiritual consciousness." (Fifteen minutes or more of daily meditation will specifically help this chakra, Dr. Armitstead says.)
Originally published on October 16, 2018; updated with additional reporting by Mary Grace Garis.
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