Chakras 101: Deepening Your Yoga Practice
The more yoga classes you attend, the more you might hear about the concept of chakras (pronounced chalk-ruhs). Perhaps at the beginning of a podFLOW or podHOT class, your instructor sets an intention around one of the chakras. Maybe you have seen people walking around the yoga studio with the same type of necklace, and they say it’s a mala bead the color of one of the chakras. If you’ve started to wonder what chakras are, this article will explain the foundational yoga concept.
Even for those yogis who enjoy yoga purely for its physical and mental benefits and could do without the philosophy, understanding chakras is actually a really powerful way to strengthen your practice.
What are Chakras?
In its most basic form, a chakra is an energy center in your body. The Sanskrit term translates to “wheel,” so you could picture your body’s energy rotating inside you at seven main points — your seven chakras.
Yoga classes are all about harnessing energy and mindfully using it, so having an awareness of chakras helps you to find strength in a yoga practice.
The Seven Chakras Explained
First Chakra: The Root Chakra (Red)
The root chakra is located at the base of your spine, close to your tailbone. This energy center is said to be responsible for basic needs and groundedness.
In a yoga class, grounding postures such as child’s pose help to balance this chakra.
Your sacral chakra is located right below your belly button, and it relates to identity, creativity, and pleasure.
During a yoga class, you might balance your sacral chakra when you engage your core muscles and pelvic floor in a posture like reclined bound angle pose.
Third Chakra: Solar Plexus (Yellow)
Moving up the center of your body, the third chakra is located at the center of your stomach. Often referred to as the “seat of your intuition,” your third chakra is responsible for personal identity, power, and confidence. If you have a “gut” feeling that something might be wrong, chances are it’s your solar plexus talking.
Any core exercise will work your third chakra, especially a core-heavy pose like boat. When this chakra is balanced, you feel powerful and strong.
Fourth Chakra: Heart Chakra (Green)
Your heart chakra, as the name suggests, has everything to do with your heart and is located at the center of your chest. This chakra is tasked with relationships, compassion, and the ability to love.
Any backbend during a yoga class will stimulate your heart chakra which is how they get the name “heart-openers.” Camel is an especially powerful heart opener for your fourth chakra.
Fifth Chakra: Throat Chakra (Blue)
Located at the base of your throat, your fifth chakra is related to communication and expression. When your fifth chakra is in balance, you tend to have a sense of self and are able to articulate your needs and desires.
Yoga classes work on the fifth chakra through intentional breathing. Postures like shoulder stand and forehead-to-knee also affect your throat chakra.
Sixth Chakra: Third-Eye Chakra (Indigo)
Your third-eye chakra is in the center of your forehead, and it controls cognitive function and perception. Commonly associated with wisdom, the third-eye chakra is an important one of which to be aware during a yoga class.
Any balancing posture that requires a fixed gaze, or drishti point, works your third-eye chakra – like tree pose. Additionally, poses where you can close your eyes and fix your gaze inward, such as easy pose, also connect to the third-eye chakra.
Seventh Chakra: Crown Chakra (Violet)
Your crown chakra exists just above your head (if you ever played the Sims, picture the shape above your Sim’s head), and it is usually connected to a higher consciousness or universal connection.
Believe it or not, savasana is one of the best postures to balance your crown chakra. In this pose, you can detach from your ego and conscious thoughts and instead focus on true mindfulness.
While chakras might seem a bit mystical, at the least awareness of different parts of your body can ensure you have a more balanced yoga practice. At Yoga Pod Fort Collins, we intelligently sequence our yoga classes so that they work different parts of your body and leave you feeling centered.