Chakras: What the heck do they have to do with wellness?
Okay, so I've become that woman who talks about chakras, but it's not as strange as you might think. First, let me say I grew up in a small-town environment. Everybody was friendly enough, however there were unspoken rules. As a child or teenager, you knew it was okay to talk about God, or your horse or even your hangover, but any mention of yoga or chakras, and you'd most certainly get some strange looks. I didn't talk about yoga or chakras, because I had never heard of them. But if someone had, I likely would have been one to give the look. I imagine views have changed in my hometown, as it's 25-30 years later, and yoga has become a household word. Many of us now know professional athletes do yoga, moms do yoga, executives, artists, nurses, teachers, kids and seniors all do yoga. Now I do yoga. I know I've changed and grown, including (thankfully) letting go of my judgmental attitudes.
As a writer and someone who has been teaching yoga for 9 years now, it can be easy for me to get swept up in the energy and feeling-experience of the practice and come up with all sorts of flowery language as I gently guide my students through movement and breath. However, I strive to keep in mind those early years, my roots, and how there continue to be a number of individuals (in small towns and big cities) with little to no experience of yoga. I also understand that we're all living our day-to-day lives. We're going to work, taking the kids to soccer practice, cleaning the house, connecting with friends. In order for yoga to fit into our busy schedules, it needs to make sense. So I work to balance the flowery element with pure practicality.
I strive to provide an atmosphere in which beginners can feel comfortable. Yoga is a science, an art, and a path to greater wellness. It helps our bodies be strong and flexible, prevent injury and disease, helps us better manage our stress and feel more balanced. I teach the practical health benefits and also hope to convey the pure joy of being in motion.
In addition to the practical, I feel the flowery language has a place. It can provide a gratifying depth to the practice.
Some of that flowery language happens to be chakras. The very word, "chakra" may cause us to shift uncomfortably (or not). In this blog post, I want to talk about chakras briefly and hopefully help remove any fear around these awesome energy centers.
I like to think of the chakra system as another layer of being us. We have our physical body, our emotions and thoughts. Our body, emotions and mind might be thought of as different aspects or layers. The 7 chakras (translated from the Sanskrit word meaning "wheels") are part of our energy layer. Main hubs, if you will. We notice the energy part of ourselves when we say things like, "I feel like I have no energy today." The chakras are just one way to look at our energy.
The chakra system was first written about in ancient Indian texts dating back 2,500 to 3,500 years. Several ancient cultures had practitioners who worked to heal and balance the energy system. In India, the energy was referred to as prana. In China, it was ch'i. Energy work continues today.
Chakras are often illustrated as different color lights or as lotus flowers, each a different color and different number of petals, located in 7 places along the path of the spine. Each chakra is associated, not only with a color, but with a sound and various qualities, such as strength, integrity or vision. There is a lot a person can learn about the chakras. Here is a quick and simple overview.
1. Root (red) - Located at base of spine, tailbone. Stability, security, feeling grounded
2. Creative center (orange) - Sacral/pelvic area. Creativity, sensuality, adaptability
3. Power center (yellow) - Solar plexus. Strength, integrity, self-esteem
4. Heart (green) - Love, compassion
5. Throat (blue) - Communication, expression
6. 3rd Eye (violet or indigo) Located at the brow - Vision, intuition
7. Crown (white, rainbow, [sometimes shown as violet]). Oneness, spirituality, higher thought
The chakra system can be a helpful tool for greater wellness. As we work to balance these qualities in ourselves, we may find we have more energy, improved physical and mental health and a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in life.
I don't always talk about chakras when I teach yoga. But I feel we're always working with them. This is one of the gifts of yoga and also what distinguishes yoga from other forms of physical exercise. It reaches through all of our layers, helping us enjoy happier, healthier lives.
In my new yoga video (just released!), I offer a special, 45-minute home practice. It is designed for beginner to intermediate yoga students. This video can not only increase your physical fitness, but help you de-stress, feel more balanced and have more energy! Please don't let the word "power" scare you in this Chakra Power Flow. It's not strenuous, it's about energy. It includes a focus on each of the 7 energy centers, so you can feel good inside and out!
Chakra Power Yoga Flow (45 min) - Whole-Body Home Practice w/Kristi
Feel free to let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy it.
Wishing you well in all ways!