What are Chakras?
The Sanskrit word ‘Chakra’ means ‘wheel’ or ‘whirlpool’. We can imagine a Chakra as an energy vortex, which connects our body with our aura (light body). The chakras control the flow of prana (life energy) in our body.
The concept of Chakras is probably the most misunderstood topic in the esoteric world. It is a very complex system used in yoga, tantra, Tibetan Buddhism and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Comparable systems are known worldwide and have been handed down from generation to generation.
Cleaning Chakras versus opening Chakras
The many misunderstandings about the Chakras arise because the cleaning and opening of the Chakras are considered one and the same. That’s not the case! The first one removes unwanted energy and the other raises awareness.
How can I clean my chakras?
Imagine a hot tub in a beautiful garden. It is turned off and the leaves of the trees around are floating on the water. Now you pick the leaves out of the basin until the water is clean again. This is how Chakra cleaning works. Energies which stick in the chakras because of negative emotions and events are filtered out again. Cleansing the Chakras is a simple exercise that anyone can easily do for himself. You do not need a “miracle healer” for that. Read here how you can cleanse your Chakras.
How can I open my Chakras?
It will be more difficult to open a Chakra. Imagine the hot tub again. The leaves are out, the water clear. And now we turn on the bubbles. Activity and energy come into play.
I have met many people in my shamanic work who proudly claim that all their Chakras are open. Some even said that all are open and only the heart Chakra or any other is closed. How absurd that is, you will understand after reading this. And to clarify one thing right at the beginning: I have been working for more than ten years with different methods, to raise the awareness and I cannot claim that all my Chakras are open. That would mean that I am enlightened…and that’s still a long way to go.
The way to higher consciousness
The system of Chakras is a system that leads us to higher consciousness. You start at the bottom with the Mooladhara Chakra (Root Chakra) and work your way up Chakra by Chakra. In yoga this process is called the awakening of the Kundalini. Each Chakra holds a new challenge ready, and when mastered, the Chakra opens and you enter a new level of consciousness. Once a Chakra is open, it is very unlikely to close again. A particularly cruel, profound event could cause a Chakra and all Chakras above to close. One would fall back one or more levels of consciousness. I have never met anyone in my life who has lost his heightened consciousness.
The opening of the Chakras can be assisted with yoga. Therefore there are special exercises for each Chakra. Through meditation we can direct energy into specific regions and thus support activation. So let’s go!
The 7 main Chakras
People mostly talk about 7 Chakras, but we have a lot more: for example on the hands and soles of the feet. The 7 main Chakras are located along the sushumna (energy channel or ‘nadi‘ along the spine) at the crossroads of Ida and Pingla.
Each Chakra is connected to a specific energy frequency and can thus be assigned to a level of consciousness. All our feelings, thoughts and perceptions are related to the energy in our Chakras. Each Chakra is connected to a colour, an element and a bija mantra (seed mantra, seed syllable). With the help of the colour, the mantras and the element, we can sense, hear and see the individual Chakras in meditation.
1. Mooladhara Chakra (Root Chakra)
Colour: red / Mantra: LAM / Element: earth / Sense: smell / Physical connection: excretory organs
The Mooladhara Chakra is found in men in the perineum and in women in the cervix. ‘Mool’ means root and ‘adhara’ place. This is the source of energies: sexual, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. It is the place where the kundalini energy rests. This is often portrayed as a rolled up snake (Sanskrit: kundala ‘rolled’). To open this Chakra, we have to face our fears of survival. It is about self-preservation instinct, basic trust, stability and vitality.
Yoga exercises for the Mooladhara Chakra: Mula Bandha and Ashvini Mudra (contraction of anal sphincters)
2. Swadhishthana Chakra (Sacral Chakra)
Colour: orange / Mantra: VAM / Element: water / Sense: taste / Physical connection: genitals, tongue
The Swadhishthana Chakra is located at the tailbone. ‘Swa’ means ‘self ‘and ‘sthana’ means ‘abode’. This Chakra is associated with pleasure and safety. To open the Swadhishthana Chakra, you have to develop your sensuality and creativity and overcome your fears. It is directly connected to the unconscious. According to Tantric philosophy, all animal instincts as well as the potential of their overcoming rest here. Opening this Chakra can be very difficult, as many painful experiences are released.
Yoga exercises for the Swadhishthana Chakra: Ashvini Mudra (contraction of the anal sphincters) and Vajroli Mudra (contraction in the bladder area).
3. Manipura Chakra (Navel Chakra, Solar Plexus)
Colour: yellow / Mantra: RAM / Element: fire / Sense: seeing / Physical connection: digestion, metabolism
The Manipura Chakra is located on the spine at the level of the navel. It can feel it throughout the lower abdomen till the lower ribs. ‘Mani’ means ‘jewel’ and ‘pura’ city. Here lies our energy and our willpower. It is our fire center and responsible for us being able to prevail and realize our dreams. To open the Manipura Chakra, you must take responsibility and control over your own life. When it is open, we are flooded with self-esteem and inner strength. An awakened Manipura Chakra makes the body glowing and free of disease.
Yoga exercises for the Manipura Chakra: Uddiyana Bandha, Agnisara Dhauti, Nauli Kriya and Kapalabhati
4. Anahata Chakra (Heart Chakra)
Colour: green or blue / Mantra: YAM / Element: air / Sense: feeling / Physical connection: heart, lungs
The Anahata Chakra is located on the spine behind the sternum. ‘Anahata’ means unbeaten, undamaged or unstuck. This chakra is directly related to our hands and the ability to give and receive. It is the source of all our emotions; from jealousy to unconditional love. The opening of the Anahata Chakra is accompanied by strong, unrestricted love for all beings. We open it by bringing deep painful experiences to the surface and working through them. It is a purification process that removes fate and karma.
Yoga exercises for the Anahata Chakra: Bhramari, mantra meditation (So-Ham) and concentration on the heart
5. Vishuddhi Chakra (Throut Chakra)
Colour: blue / Mantra: HAM / Element: Ether / Sense: hearing / Physical connection: neck, ears, throat
The Vishuddhi Chakra is in the neck. ‘Shuddhi’ means ‘purification’ or ‘clarification’. In this chakra lies the power to get rid of poisons in our body, which let us age. Furthermore, the Vishuddhi Chakra is connected with the communication. To open the Vishuddhi Chakra, we must learn to express our own needs. Once opened, it gives us the ability to transform negative experiences into wisdom.
Yoga exercises for the Vishuddhi Chakra: Simhasana (lion), all Pranayamas (especially when performed with the Bandhasa
6. Ajna Chakra (Third eye chakra)
Colour: indigo blue to violet or silver / Mantra: AUM / Element: not a conventional element, but consciousness and duality / Sense: sixth sense, heightened sense / Physical connection: brain
The Ajna Chakra is located in the midbrain at the end of the spine. We feel it especially between the eyebrows at the root of the nose. The element of the Ajna Chakra is the mind. The supernatural abilities of advanced yogis are rooted here, as well as the sixth sense and willpower. Through a completely purified mind, this Chakra can be opened. This gives one the ability to break away from the world of opposites (duality) and to recognize the unity of all things. In Christian paintings, the gloriole on saints is a sign that the Ajna Chakra is open.
Yoga exercises for the Ajna Chakra: all inverted postures (especially Shirshasana = headstand), Balasana (child pose), Tratak, Kapalabhati, concentration on Ajna Chakra, eye exercises and visualization exercises
7. Sahasrara Chakra (Crown Chakra)
Color: none / Mantra: none / Element: none / Sense: none / Physical connection: none
The Sahasrara Chakra can be located at the top of the head and slightly above it.
The symbol is a shining, thousand-petalled lotus (‘sahasrara’ = ‘thousand’). This shows his transcendent nature, because the Sahasrara Chakra is beyond all symbols, mantras and colours. This Chakra overcomes the limits of our being and strives outward. It cannot be associated with the physical body. Sahasrara is not really a Chakra, but the sum of all the other Chakras that transcend here. He or she who opens this Chakra is enlightened / transcendent / has returned to the source / is in the state of the eternal universal self.
Yoga exercises for the Sahasrara Chakra: same as with Ajna Chakra.
Opening the Chakras is a natural process. Everyone goes through it. Many will open only a few Chakras in this life and continue to work on it in the next life. However, some will be able to open all Chakras in this lifetime and achieve a very high level of consciousness.
To learn more about the Chakras, visit our internationally recognized yoga teacher training or our shamanism course.