Get to Know Your Chakras
Use your energy centers to be balanced, healthy, and connected
Feeling anxious? Check your solar plexus. Intimacy issues? Could be your heart chakra. Low libido? Blame your lower belly.
That’s right. According to the ancient Hindu belief system of chakras, the human body isn’t just made up of muscles, skin, tissue and bone; it’s also made of energy. A lot of it.
What Are Chakras?
Chakras (sanskrit for “wheel”) are concentrated points of energy in the human body which work to keep us healthy and in balance with the world around us. There are hundreds of chakras in our bodies, proponents say, but it is the seven major ones that control the bulk of our physical and mental well-being.
“We are beings of energy,” said Kim Vincent, a certified energy healer and founder of the Ojai-based Healing In America Holistic Center, an organization dedicated to training energy healers and offering energy healing across the country. “When our energy systems are in balance, we don’t get sick.”
The idea behind chakra therapy is simple: We are at our best selves when our chakras are balanced. If our chakras are blocked or unbalanced, then we suffer, physically and emotionally. Someone with a blocked throat chakra, for instance, may have difficulty with communication, as well as physical dysfunctions such as swollen glands or mouth ulcers.
According to Vincent, balancing your chakras can be as simple as taking deep breaths and focusing your thoughts on the area that needs work. Energy healers can also help.
“Energy healing is the oldest form of medicine,” said Vincent, who explained that a typical energy session takes about an hour and that four to six sessions are usually needed. “We can’t guarantee cures, of course. But we have seen spontaneous healings.”
While chakra therapy isn’t the first line of defense for most Western medicine doctors, it’s not all fringe science. After all, in 2012 the National Institutes for Health doled out $104,000 in grants to study energy healing. Many U.S. hospitals now offer alternative medicine therapies adjunct to doctor-approved protocols (a partnership that has long been the standard in Europe, Vincent says).
While most studies haven’t found any concrete evidence to support its validity, research has been promising.
The Science of Energy Healing
Scientists at Stanford University, for instance, have demonstrated that energy healing, also known as “healing touch” or “therapeutic touch,” can decrease pain, depression, and anxiety for cancer patients. And a University of Connecticut study led by biologist Gloria Gronowicz showed that therapeutic touch by trained energy healers stimulated the growth of bone and tendon cells in lab dishes.
“Should somebody with osteoporosis or a broken leg go to a Reiki practitioner?” Gronowicz told the Hartford Courant. “We don’t know.”
Sound too good to be true? Open your sixth chakra — also known as your “third eye” — and see for yourself.
The Chakras: Quick Reference Guide:
First Chakra: Muladhara
Also called: The Root Chakra
Where is it: The base of the spine
What it influences: Physical identity, ambition, stability
When it’s out of balance, you may feel: (physical) fatigue, insomnia, lower back pain, sciatica, constipation, depression, immune disorders, obesity; (emotional) anger and self-esteem issues
Second Chakra: Svadhishthana
Also called: The Sacral Chakra
Where is it: The lower abdomen, below the belly button
What it influences: Emotional identity, creativity, pleasure, sexuality, and personal relationships
When it’s out of balance, you may feel: (physical) lower back pain, sciatica, low sex drive, pelvic pain, urinary or digestive problems, lowered immunities, fatigue, menstrual problems, drug and alcohol abuse; (emotional) irritable, shy, controlling, lack of creativity, intimacy issues.
Third Chakra: Manipura
Also called: The Solar Plexus chakra
Where is it: The stomach
What it influences: Self confidence, emotional regulation, ego
When it’s out of balance, you may feel: (physical) stomach pains/ulcers, arthritis, diabetes, adrenal imbalances, digestive upset; (emotional) anxiety, depression, fear of rejection, self-esteem issues, indecision
Fourth Chakra: Anahata
Also called: The Heart Chakra
Where is it: The chest
What it influences: Trust, love, compassion
When it’s out of balance, you may feel: (physical) heart conditions, asthma, shallow breathing, lung diseases; (emotional) hopelessness, lack of compassion, difficulty with love, sadness, anger, moodiness
Fifth Chakra: Vishuddha
Also called: The Throat Chakra
Where is it: The throat
What it influences: Communication, creativity, truthfulness, intuition, self-knowledge and self-expression
When it’s out of balance, you may feel: (physical) thryoid dysfunctions, sore throat, stiff neck, mouth ulcers, swollen glands, tooth or gum problems, tooth-grinding, hearing problems; (emotional) indecision, lack of faith and creativity, mood swings
Sixth Chakra: Ajna
Also called: The Third Eye
Where is it: The forehead
What it influences: Intuition, imagination, self-realization, intelligence
When it’s out of balance, you may feel: (physical) headaches, sleep problems, nightmares, learning disabilities; (emotional) lack of concentration, impaired judgement, confusion, depression
Seventh Chakra: Sahasrara
Also called: The Crown Chakra
Where is it: The top of the head
What it influences: Inspiration spirituality and faith, connection with the divine
When it’s out of balance, you may feel: (physical) exhaustion, sensitivity to light and sound; (emotional) aimless, apathetic, lack of spiritual connections, materialistic