Chakras are energy centers (chakra means "wheel" in Sanskrit) in the body, along the spine. Each chakra correspond to a specific part of the body and a type of energy. We start at the root, the tailbone, and move up all the way to the crown of the head. There are 7 chakras.
Chakra energy can be balanced, deficient or excessive. Knowing and exploring this piece will help determine how to work with regulating what is present.
The first chakra is called Muladhara, and “mula”, in Sanskrit, means root. Its physical location are the feet, the legs, and the base of the spine. The color associated with the chakra is red, and the element associated with the first chakra is Earth. The first chakra is the foundation of the entire chakra system: it is our base, our roots, our solid foundation. It relates to our physical identity and our basic needs.
The first chakra is all about feeling safe and secure, knowing we have a right to be where we are, feeling legitimate, and a right to be, very simply, a right to exist. It relates to our ability to feel grounded, to relax and be still, to be comfortable in our bodies, and to have trust and faith in the world. Its demon, or shadow, is fear.
The second chakra is called Svadhisthana. Its physical location are the hips, the lower abdomen and it also includes the reproductive organs. The color associated with the chakra is orange, and the element associated with the first chakra is Water. The second chakra is all about our right to feel, and also our right to pleasure and joy. It relates to our emotional identity.
The second chakra is all about our ability to experience pleasure, to explore the world through our senses, as well as to nurture ourself and others. It relates to our capacity to be okay with feeling, and to be okay with the fact that are emotional beings. It manifests as our appetite for life, for food, for pleasure and joy. Obviously, because of its location, it’s also strongly linked to desire, passion and sexual pleasure. The demon, or the shadow, of the second chakra is guilt.
The third chakra is called Manipura chakra. Its physical location is the solar plexus, which is a bit higher than the belly button, more towards the diaphragm. The color associated with this chakra is yellow, and the element that relates is Fire. The third chakra is all about our right to act and our ego, not necessarily in a negative way, but more in the sense of "who I am as an individual" and "what defines my identity."
With the third chakra, we move into action, into manifesting and making things happen. It is also linked to our confidence and self esteem, in how we relate to the notion of control and responsibility. The third chakra is all about honoring the power within us (the fire, which is the element) and then using it to accomplish what we deeply desire. The demon of Manipura is shame, because shame is very related to the ego identity, to how acceptable we are exactly as we are.
The fourth chakra is called Anahata chakra. Its physical location is the chest, so it includes the heart of course, but also the lungs and the respiratory system. The color associated with this chakra is green, and the element that relates to it is Air, which makes sense if you think of the 4th chakra including the lungs.The fourth chakra is about our right to love and to be loved, so to offer but also to receive love.
It relates to our ability to connect with others, to feel compassion and empathy, and receive these for ourselves as well. In the 7 chakra system, the 4th chakra is right in the middle, and so it is said to bridge the gap between the lower chakras, which are linked to our physical and emotional body, and the higher chakras, which are more about our intuitive and spiritual body. Or we could think about it too as bridging the individual with the collective, the “me, myself and I”, with “us”. The fourth chakra is also all about being at peace and feeling balanced within the world. The demon of the 4th chakra is grief.
The fifth chakra is the place where “our attention moves to vibrations as the subtle, rhythmic pulsations that move through all things”, according to Anodea Judith. The vibrations she refers to are the vibrations of our voice in our throat, which is the physical location of the fifth chakra, also called Vissudha. The element of this chakra is Sound. The color associated with the fifth chakra is bright blue. Vissudha chakra relates to our right to speak, to express ourselves through our voice. The demon or shadow aspect of the fifth chakra is lies.
Depending on how balanced the energy of our fifth chakra is, we may find it easier or harder to communicate clearly, or even to communicate at all, to speak up and advocate for ourselves and what we really need, and it also relates to how able we are to put our feelings into words. On the receiving end, fifth chakra energy is visible in how well we are able to listen to others.
The sixth chakra is Ajna chakra. Its physical location is the third eye, slightly above the space between the eyebrows. The color associated with this chakra is indigo, and the element is light. The fifth chakra is our right to see and our ability to use our inner wisdom, our intuition, to guide our daily lives.
The sixth chakra also relates to our ability to self reflect and to see clearly what our patterns and limiting beliefs are. Everybody has strong intuition, the problem is that we’ve often been taught not to trust it, to rely instead on our logic, on our sensible brain and our capacity to think and analyze. We can also have learnt to ignore what our gut feelings and inner knowledge are telling us about a situation, or about a person. What ends up happening is that we haven’t really developed that skill, and so it seem not to be there.
The seventh chakra is the Crown chakra, or Sahasrara chakra. Its physical location is the crown of the head, and the cerebral cortex. The color associated with this chakra is violet, and the element is thought. Sahasrara chakra relates to our right to know and to learn, and to allow the world to be our teacher.
If the 6th chakra was our connection to the Soul, the deep inner longing and wisdom, the 7th chakra is our connection to Spirit, meaning our ability to think beyond the material world, to connect to others and recognize our shared humanity. This chakra is all about realizing, accepting and honoring that we are divine beings beyond our physical envelope, and that through this universal identity, we are all connected.
We need a balance between the physical and the spiritual, between the lower chakras and the higher chakras, in order to feel fulfilled and be our most enlightened selves. If you want to explore ways to work with each chakra, I highly recommend Anodea Judith's book Eastern Body, Western Mind, which has been a favorite of mine for a decade now.