What Are the 7 Major Chakras?
At Up Yoga, our yoga practice encompasses much more than asana (physical postures). We strive to live our yoga on and off our mats, and that means becoming intimately in-tune with our mind, body, and soul. One way to tune in is to learn about the seven major chakras.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard about or seen references to the seven major chakras at some point in your life. There are actually thousands of chakras within us, but we most commonly focus on the seven major chakras–each of which aligns with an endocrine gland or plexus of nerves in the human body. Pretty cool, right?
What do the chakras represent?
Each of the seven major chakras is tied to certain qualities within us. With an excess or deficiency in one or more of the chakras, we feel out of balance and out of sorts.
1. Muladhara (Root Chakra)
Muladhara, commonly known as the root chakra, is located at the root of our spine. When our root chakra is balanced, we feel grounded, safe, stable, and secure. With too much root support, we may feel greedy, lethargic, or “stuck in the mud.” With too little, we feel unstable.
Think of the root chakra the way you think about the first tier in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For Muladhara to be in balance, our most basic needs–like food, shelter, and water–need to be met.
2. Svadhisthana (Sacral Plexus)
Svadhisthana means “one’s own dwelling place.” The second chakra, which we like to think of as “the sexy chakra,” is responsible for our creative expression, adaptability, and healthy sexuality. When our second chakra is balanced, we experience all of our senses fully. An excess in Svadhisthana shows Up as addiction, while deficiency shows Up as feeling stuck, closed off, or lacking inspiration.
3. Manipura (Solar Plexus)
The third chakra is responsible for a healthy willpower, determination, and strong self-esteem. The word Manipura means “lustrous gem,” which is exactly what we feel like when our third chakra balanced. However, an excess may make us arrogant, self-centered, or narcissistic, and a deficiency makes us feel aimless.
4. Anahata (Heart Chakra)
The fourth chakra, our heart chakra, allows us to remain non-clinging by maintaining an open heart and an open mind. When our heart chakra is imbalanced or closed off, we are unable to remain independent. Instead, we cling to whatever we think our heart desires. An excess in Anahata can lead to possessiveness, clinginess, and jealousy. A deficiency often shows Up as feelings of loneliness or withdrawal.
5. Vishuddha (Throat Chakra)
Vishuddha means purification, and is situated at our throat to encourage clear, honest communication and expression. Someone with an excess in the throat chakra is likely someone who talks over others, listens poorly, and speaks loudly but not truthfully. A deficiency often shows Up as a weak voice, fearful tone, or reluctance to make oneself heard.
6. Ajna (Third Eye)
The sixth chakra, Ajna, is our command center. When balanced, Ajna is responsible for strong intuition, a clear mind, and a sense of deep wisdom. However, an excess can show Up as spiritual addiction, AKA too much of a good thing. An excess in our third eye chakra can also lead to a lack of grounding or practicality. A deficiency, on the other hand, shows Up as distrust in our sense of innate wisdom, or the supposed need to second-guess everything we do or say.
7. Sahasrara (Crown Chakra)
The seventh and final chakra in this system is known as the crown chakra, and is actually located slightly above the top of our head. Sahasrara connects us to others, as well as to a higher power. In excess, we lack embodiment and operate outside ourselves. When deficient, we likely feel detached from or are reluctant to believe in something greater than ourselves.
Balancing the Chakras
There are many ways to balance the seven major chakras, including practicing different types of asana, meditation, and pranayama (breathwork). However, focusing our energy on just one imbalanced chakra can be difficult. Remember: As it is above, so it is below. In other words, it’s easier to work on the chakras above and below whichever chakra is imbalanced, so if your second chakra feels closed off, work on balancing your first and third chakras, too.
Understanding the seven major chakras and how they work within us helps us take our yoga off our mats and into the world. Like the Yamas and Niyamas, you already have each of these seven major chakras within you. You are bliss, but how you access that bliss depends on how much baggage you carry around with you. Remove the baggage, clear up your chakras, and discover what’s possible when you create space for something new to happen within you.