Chakras 101

When you travel in yoga, healing, and spiritual circles, it’s hard to avoid hearing about the concept of “chakras”. But what exactly are people talking about, and how does this impact your own healing?

The word “chakra” means “wheel” in Sanskrit. In the body, these wheels are vortex sites where energy is churned, and are thought to be powerful access points to connecting with universal energy. You can picture them like an eddy in water, or akin to the spiraling of a galaxy in space.

There are many varying Buddhist and Hindu texts and ideas about how many major chakras there are, usually between four and eight, lined up along the spine. The most widely accepted western model that most practitioners refer to uses the seven-chakra model. Though I will share what many practitioners have experienced regarding what these areas relate to and represent, I encourage you to meditate upon these areas yourself and trust what you actually feel.

Chakras are multi-dimensional energetics that open to the front and back of the body, or in the case of the root or crown, extend upwards and downwards. My own experience of them is that they are more sphere-like. As you explore, feel into all directions in your own body and see what you experience.

Now we will explore each of the seven chakras in this model, including what each one is said to represent, an affirmation you can speak to access the essence of each chakra, as well as the color and bija (seed) sound for the elements associated with each chakra. Sounding each of these bija mantras is a simple way to get in touch with and move energy in the chakras, especially if your attention is held in the area of each chakra as you vocalize the sound. You can listen to and join a guided led practice of chanting to the chakras here.


Also known as the “root chakra”, Muladhara is said to exist at the base of the spine at the level of the tailbone and pubic bone. It is thought to correlate to feelings of safety, strength, and stability, and is associated with the color red and the earth element. The body parts most often associated with this chakra are the hips and legs, feet, low back, bones, and joints. The bija sound for earth is LAM. Affirmation: “I am safe and supported on the earth.”


The second chakra, also called the sacral chakra, is positioned in your pelvis between your sacrum and low belly. Svadhistana is the center associated with creativity, sexuality, tribal belonging, and family connection. It is associated with the color orange and the element of water. The body parts ruled by this chakra are the hips, low back, reproductive organs, and bowels. The bija sound for water is VAM. Affirmation: “I am connected to my sensual vitality and creative life force.”


The third chakra lives in the solar plexus: the space below your ribs in your upper abdomen and extending back between your kidneys. It is associated with personal power, strength, and will. It is associated with the color yellow, the color of the sun, and with the element of fire. This chakra is associated with the digestive organs including the liver, stomach, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and mid to lower back and ribs. The seed sound for fire is RAM. Affirmation: “I am powerful. I assimilate life with ease and grace.”


The heart chakra sits behind the sternum in the center of the chest and is the transition point between what are known as more “personal” chakras below it and the “transpersonal” chakras above. It is associated with compassion and feelings of love for self and others. The colors are green and pink, and the associated element is air. The heart, lungs, upper back, ribcage, scapula, shoulders, and arms can be affected by the Anahata chakra. The bija sound for air is YAM. Affirmation: “I am love.”


The throat chakra sits between the base of the neck and the front of the throat and is associated with speaking the truth, clarity, connecting the head to the heart, and creative expression. It is associated with the color blue and the element of ether, and it governs the neck throat, thyroid, jaw, mouth, and tongue. The bija sound is HAM. Affirmation: “I communicate clearly and speak my truth.”


Ajna is also known as the third eye chakra. It sits behind the center of your brow and extends toward the base of the skull. It is thought to correlate to higher thinking, intuition, and psychic seeing. It governs the pituitary and pineal glands, brain, head, mouth, and jaw. The Ajna chakra is considered beyond the elements, and is associated with the color indigo and the seed sound of OM. Affirmation: “I am intuitive and wise.”


The crown chakra sits above the crown of the head and extends upward. It connects us to wisdom and a higher source. This chakra also is beyond the elements, and the colors are violet and white. It is associated with the head and nervous system, and imbalances can manifest as skin rashes and headaches. The bija is said to be SO-HAM. Some sources also say the bija is a “silent OM”. Affirmation: “I am spiritually connected to all that is.”

I encourage you to play with the sounds, the visuals, the feelings, and the affirmations and start to notice what your relationship is with these areas of your body and your energy system.

Lisa West
About the Author

Lisa West

Lisa West is a physical therapist, bodyworker, writer, and yoga teacher living in Ventura, CA. She specializes in helping people get into and fall in love with their bodies, and has an especially keen interest in finding ways to soothe the nervous system so we can find more peace and welcome ourselves home. Lisa is the author of "Follow the Feeling: A Roadmap to Emotional Freedom", available on Amazon or through her website.


Kate M
A helpful roadmap for navigating the mystery we inhabit! : )

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