Chances are that by now if you've been to a few yoga classes, browsed Indian philosophy or seen a meditation picture of a figure with rainbow colours in points across their body, you have probably stumbled across the chakras in one way or another.
You might have heard about blocked chakras, balanced chakras, chakra healing- but wait, what even are chakras anyway?
The concept of chakras originated thousands of years ago in India, and the Sanskrit word 'Chakra' means 'wheel', 'disk' or 'cycle'.
In relation to the human body, chakras are said to be centres of concentrated energy, at seven varying points along the spine, starting at the base and ascending upwards towards your crown.
They are often represented as lotus flowers with different colours and petals – just as a lotus has roots in the mud but floats on water, the chakras begin at the base of the spine with earth, ascending in consciousness towards the crown of your head and connecting to the universe.
These centres of energy and their 'flow' or rotation, the way in which energy is able to move, is said to affect us in various ways: each chakra corresponds to different aspects of our lives and has an effect on our physical, emotional and spiritual health.
There are seven main chakras, with many smaller ones. Of the main seven, the higher chakras (eg. the third eye, chakra six) are more well known and get a bit more attention as they are connected with spirituality; but really each chakra is preceded by a healthy one before it. A lot of us have issues the in lower down chakras, (as the saying goes- the root of our problems...) which is why they are just as important as the higher up, more spiritual ones.
I will now explore the basics of the first two chakras.
First Chakra – Muladahara – 'Root Chakra'
Physical proximity: Base of spine
Main Issue: Survival – 'I am'
The First chakra is concerned mostly with the basic needs for survival, your right to be here and right to live. It is your connection to the earth and physical world, your birthplace, your family, your foundation- literally your roots.
If the first chakra is well balanced, you will feel grounded in life and connected to yourself and the world and feel that you have a place in it. All things related to surviving in the world will come easily to you; financial stability and prosperity, good health and a well-suited career. You will feel safe and secure in life and have little anxiety or fear for the future.
On the other hand, if you're always struggling financially, can't find the right career, feel chronically anxious and uprooted in body and mind, you may have a first chakra imbalance.
This could also extend onto your physical health- for example, lower back pain, problems with legs/knees/feet, or feeling constantly drained of energy and unwell.
An excess of energy in this chakra could express itself as material obsession or greed, fear of change, stagnation or laziness.
Second Chakra – Svadhisthana – Sacral Chakra
Element – Water
Colour – Orange
Physical Proximity – Lower abdomen
Main Issue: Sexuality, Emotions – 'I feel'
The Second chakra is all about our sexuality, creativity, and deep emotions.
When balanced it will be expressed in emotional intelligence, healthy relationships and an ability to experience pleasure. Creativity originates in the second chakra, and an ability to nurture this and move fluidly in life are expressions of a healthy second chakra.
Deficiencies in the second chakra can be seen through a lack of desire or passion, denying oneself of pleasure, being rigid in demeanour. Sexual addiction, addiction to pleasure and emotional instability are the excesses of the second chakra. Codependency in relationships, addiction to drama, fear of separation or poor boundaries are also signs of imbalance. Feelings of guilt are the demon of the second chakra, inhibiting the free expression and movement that this water element desires.
How do chakras become out of balance?
If we are experiencing problems related to a certain chakra, it is helpful to look into how the imbalance occurred. Often these are due to traumas early on in life which have not been resolved, which later evolve into patterns of behaviour to avoid, relive, or overcompensate for the initial wound.
Examples of the first chakra traumas- unstable early life, physical or emotional neglect, being 'uprooted', poor bonding with parents, inherited traumas from parents eg. poverty, survival fear.
For the second chakra, emotional or physical abuse, neglect or manipulation, feelings of shame or guilt around sexuality.
How to heal
Understanding where your trauma came from is helpful in regaining balance and moving forward.
Practices which are healing for your root chakra are physical, grounding exercises. Connecting to earth and your body, through spending time in nature, walking barefoot, gardening, massage and meditating are all helpful in healing the first chakra, and in reclaiming your right to be here, be safe and supported.
Affirmations can be a great help too, making sure the formulation is positive. For example for second chakra issues- 'I respect the boundaries between myself and others', 'I allow myself to move forward', 'I celebrate my sexuality', 'I deserve to have pleasure in my life', 'I nourish my creativity'.
Finding the right type of therapy for you is also very helpful; this could be traditional talking therapies, counselling, movement therapy, art therapy or other alternative therapies such as Reiki and energy healing can all help you to navigate your way to a happy, healthy and balanced life!
Stay tuned for an exploration of the other chakras soon.