by Tonya Madia
According to yogic tradition, the subtle body or energy body is comprised of Prana. Prana is distributed through the body through the seven chakras (Sanskrit for wheel), and when these centers are healthy and functioning properly they spin in a clock-wise motion like a wheel.
On a physical level, each of the seven major chakras align with the body through nerve ganglia, correspond to glands and organs in the body, and are situated at various points along the spinal column. Each of the seven energy centers serves to connect the physical body to the emotional and spiritual realms and corresponds to patterns of behavior and specific “life themes.” Symbolically, each chakra is represented by a lotus, which is depicted by a specific color and number of petals. Each of the chakras, or energy centers, vibrates at different frequencies, corresponding to sound vibrations and the sound vibrations produced by each chakra correspond to seven notes on the musical scale and are associated with “seed sounds,” referred to as Bija Mantras.
When the chakras are functioning properly energy flows freely and the body is both physically and emotionally balanced. Factors such as our external environment and internal states can affect the vibrational flow of energy into and out of the chakras and when this occurs, one or more of these energy centers can become out of balance, resulting in the presence of either too much or too little energy. These imbalances can manifest physically as illness and disease, emotionally as depression, anger or mania and spiritually as patterns or themes that perpetually reoccur in our lives.
The seven major chakras from bottom to top are as follows:
The First Chakra: The Root, in Sanskrit: Muladara or “Root Support.”
The Muladhara chakra is located at the base of the spine near the coccygeal plexus and is represented by a four-petaled lotus. Physically this chakra relates to the base of the spine, the legs, the feet and the large intestine. Muladhara corresponds to the life themes of self-preservation and to basic needs such as food, water, shelter and safety. The first chakra also establishes our connection to familial and cultural traditions that form our sense of identity. Patriotism, societal belief systems and family traditions are all part of the energy circulating in the root chakra. This energy center literally represents our “roots” and is expressed when we share belief patterns with a large group of people. The Muladhara chakra is associated with the element of earth, its color is red, its musical note is “C” and its seed sound is “Lam.”
The Second Chakra: The Sacral, in Sanskrit: Svadhisthana or “Dwelling Place of the Self.”
Svadhisthana is located above the pubic bone and below the navel in the location of the sacral ganglia. It sits two finger-widths above the Muladhara and is represented by a six-petaled lotus. Physically this chakra relates to the ovaries in women, the testes in men and the adrenal glands, spleen, uterus, urinary and circulatory systems. Svadhisthana corresponds to the life themes of sexuality, fertility, creativity and one-on-one relationships. The seeds of self-identity and personal boundaries lie within this energy center, as does our ability to bring creative ideas to fruition. Imbalances in this energy center might manifest as addiction, excessive emotional attachment to others, codependency or excessive neediness in relationships. Water is the element of Svadhisthana, its color is orange, its musical note is “D” and its seed sound is “Vam.”
The Third Chakra: The Solar Plexus, in Sanskrit: Manipura or “Lustrous Gem.”
The ten-petaled Manipura is located in the middle of the abdomen behind the navel, near the lumbar ganglia and is also known as the navel center. Physically Manipura relates to the pancreas, stomach, liver, small intestine and the digestive and endocrine systems. This chakra corresponds to the life themes of self-esteem, personal power and identity. The energies in this chakra directly relate to self-respect, self-discipline and strength of character. Imbalances in this energy center can manifest as lack of confidence, inability to make decisions and giving our power over to others. Manipura’s element is fire, its color is yellow, its musical note is “E” and its seed sound is “Ram.”
The Fourth Chakra: The Heart, in Sanskrit: Anahata or “Unhurt, Unstruck, and Unbeaten.”
The twelve-petaled lotus of the Anahata chakra is located in the center of the chest at the cardiac plexus and is also referred to as the heart center for good reason; it is the center of the human energy system. Physically this chakra relates to the lungs, heart, pericardium, arms and hands. Corresponding life themes are compassion, love and healing. While the lower three chakras relate to our interactions with the physical world, the heart chakra is the bridge between the three lower chakras (physical) and the three higher (spiritual) chakras. The energies of the fourth chakra relate to our emotional development and our ability to express our emotions with ease. Imbalances may manifest as being overly critical of yourself and others, holding grudges and an inability to give or receive love freely. The element of Anahata is air, its color is green, its note is “F” and its corresponding seed sound is “Yam.”
The Fifth Chakra: The Throat, in Sanskrit: Visuddha or “Purification.”
The sixteen-petaled Visuddha chakra is located in the throat at the pharyngeal plexus and physically relates to the thyroid, parathyroid, voice box, ears, neck and shoulders. Known as the purification center, the Vishuddha chakra gives voice to our spirit. Corresponding life themes include self-expression and communication, the energies expressed through this chakra relate to keeping our word, speaking and hearing the truth and owning the consequences of our actions. When we lie to ourselves or to others we create imbalances in this center. Visuddha’s element is sound, its color is blue, its note is “G” and its corresponding seed sound is “Ham.”
The Sixth Chakra: The Third Eye, in Sanskrit: Ajna or “To Perceive.”
The third eye chakra is represented by a two-petaled lotus and is located just above the carotid plexus in the center of the forehead. Physically this chakra relates to the eyes, brain and pituitary gland. The Ajna chakra corresponds to the themes of higher perception, wisdom, inner awareness, self-reflection, imagination and intuition. Imbalances in this energy center manifest in the physical body as neurological disturbances, learning disabilities, coordination or balance issues and vision problems and emotionally as daydreaming and escapism. Its element is light, its color is indigo, its note is “A” and its seed sound is “OM.”
The Seventh Chakra: The Crown, in Sanskrit: Sahasrara or “Thousand Fold.”
The crown chakra is depicted as a thousand-petaled lotus located on the top of the head and represents our connection to the divine. Sahasrara governs the pineal gland and the central nervous system, and is the center of spirituality and enlightenment. It corresponds to learning how to experience the divine, and imbalances can manifest as feeling a lack of purpose, denying spirituality or as an addiction to spirituality. Sahasrara’s element is thought, its color is white and its sound is silence.