According to ancient wisdom, our bodies have seven main energy centers called chakras. The chakras are channels for the life force, called chi. When they are open, chi flows easily throughout the energy system. Each of the seven chakras has a specific purpose, and you may find your yoga teachers referring to these hubs of energy from time to time.
An Overview of the Seven Chakras
The seven main chakras run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Yoga is one tool for opening the chakras. You’ll often hear teachers suggest certain poses for certain types of energy blocks in the body.
Here’s an overview of each of the seven chakras and poses that help open them.
The Root Chakra: Muladhara
The first of the seven chakras keeps us grounded. It is the root chakra. As you might guess, the root chakra is located at the base of the spine. Its purpose is to keep us secure and stable. When the root chakra is out of balance, we may have trouble with basic needs such as shelter, food, or finances.
Grounding poses like tree pose, downward-facing dog, and warrior poses can help open the root chakra.
The Sacral Chakra: Svadisthana
The second chakra’s job is connection. When energy flows through this channel, which is located about two inches below the naval, we’re likely to feel content and accepted. If sacral chakra energy is blocked, we can feel isolated and alone.
Poses that root the pelvis to the earth like cobra and bow pose are good for balancing the sacral chakra.
The Solar Plexus Chakra: Manipura
You probably understand the importance of a strong core physically. The solar plexus chakra is the core of the body’s energy system. It represents self-confidence and personal power. An imbalance in the solar plexus chakra can make you feel insecure or uncertain of your value.
Any yoga pose that strengthens the core—and there are many—can help balance the solar plexus chakra. Plank pose and chaturanga top the list, of course.
The Heart Chakra: Anahata
The fourth chakra is at the heart center. As you probably guessed, it’s associated with love, joy, and inner peace.
Yoga poses that open the heart include camel, bridge pose, and backbends.
The Throat Chakra: Vishudda
The fifth chakra is the center of communication. When it’s open, you can express yourself well. If you find you are often in disagreements with others or if you are afraid to speak your truth, your throat chakra may be blocked.
To open the throat chakra, try poses like shoulder stand or fish pose.
The Third Eye Chakra: Ajna
The third eye is located between your two physical eyes. It is responsible for inner seeing, or intuition. When this channel is open, you have access to insight and wisdom. When it’s blocked, you may find yourself frozen with indecision or locked in an endless cycle of overthinking.
Child’s pose, downward dog, and forward bends can help activate the third eye chakra.
The Crown Chakra: Sahasrara
The seventh chakra is located at the crown of the head. It is our connection to spirit. When you feel connected to something greater or in tune with your higher self, energy is flowing through the crown chakra.
Inversions are the yoga poses of choice for the crown chakra.
Understanding the energy of the seven chakras helps us see ourselves as holistic beings. Whenever you feel a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual imbalance, it’s worth taking some time to consider which of your energy centers may be blocked.