A Beginner's Guide to Using the Chakras in Yoga

Kirsty Gallagher
A Beginner's Guide to Using the Chakras in Yoga

The chakras are our inner universe. The word chakra is a Sanskrit word that means wheel, and the chakras are seen as spinning energy centers running along the spine.

There are seven main chakras connected to each other by the three main nadis (or energy pathways) in the body -- Sushumna (the spine), and then the Ida (the feminine, cooling, lunar current) and Pingala (the masculine, fiery, solar pathway). These two nadis begin on either side of the base chakra and cross over each other at each chakra point until they merge together at the third eye.

Under- or overactive chakras can contribute to imbalances and physical, mental, and emotional illnesses, so it really helps to keep your chakras as balanced as possible to keep the flow of energy through your entire being.

Luckily our yoga practice can help us to work with and keep these energy centers aligned, balanced, and flowing.

1. Muladhara Chakra

This is also known as the root or base chakra, and is associated with our physical identity, survival, and material needs.

In Your Practice: Work with feeling deeply grounded in each pose; really connect to your feet or the parts of your body on the earth beneath you. Feel a sense of self-awareness, stability, and most of all, feel present and rooted into the safety of the earth.

Balancing poses such as Tree Pose are fantastic for bringing you into the present moment and feeling rooted, safe, and grounded.

2. Svadisthana Chakra

This is also known as the sacral chakra and is associated with our emotions, sexual desires, and emotional security.

In Your Practice: Add fluidity into your practice, learning to "go with the flow."

Think about free-styling your Cat/Cow, Dancing Warrior, or anything which gets you in touch with what really feels good in the moment. This will help you to get in touch with your deep emotions and desires and find your creative spark.

3. Manipura Chakra

This is also known as the solar plexus chakra, and is our center of self-awareness, power, manifestation, and achievement.

In Your Practice: Think about a mini ball of sunshine in your center and radiate power, strength, and self-belief through every part of your body.

Expansive poses like Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and Warrior II are amazing for feeling your power and awesomeness radiate into every part of your body. Core work or anything that creates heat and fire will also connect you to your power within.

4. Anahata Chakra

This is also known as the heart chakra and is associated with love, compassion, and forgiveness on all levels.

In Your Practice: Find a love and passion for your practice and also towards your body for all that it achieves for you. Be your own best friend on your mat.

One of the best ways to connect with and heal this chakra is to offer your heart out openly to the world, so in all backbends, shine your heart and authentic self out into the world.

5. Visshuda Chakra

This is also known as the throat chakra and is associated with all levels of communication and self-expression.

In Your Practice: Try adding chants to your practice. The Surya Namaskara mantras when chanted doing Sun Salutations can be so powerful.

Express yourself through your poses. Make them about something more than a shape, and fill them with expression and intention. Make your practice come to life, and use it as a way to express whatever is going on for you in the moment.

6. Ajna Chakra

This is also known as the third eye chakra and is our center of intuition, wisdom, and deep inner awareness.

In Your Practice: Set an intention at the start of each practice to take it to a deeper level than simply the physical. Listen to the needs of your body the whole way through your practice, and try to practice from a place even deeper then the physical body.

Tune into yourself during your practice, using it as a time of reflection and hearing your deep inner wisdom.

7. Sahasrara Chakra

This is also known as the crown chakra, and is our connection to the higher spiritual realms and our higher selves.

In Your Practice: Surrender to what is. The best place to heal and tune into this chakra is Savasana. At the end of your practice time, come into a place of complete surrender where you can simply be.

Become your breath, become your relaxation, become bliss, become stillness, become the truth, become your highest self.

Do you love using the chakras in yoga? How has it changed your practice? Share with us in the comments below!