First, let's talk concept: the seven chakra system is a design that names and connects seven energy centers through the body. The word chakra means "wheel" or "disc," in Sanskrit, and these seven energy centers are aligned vertically up the physical spine. Speaking generally, each chakra has a unique location on the spine, a frequency at which its energy travels, an associated color, a name that acknowledges its purpose, and it can be visualized as a spinning disc of energy or light.
Chakra systems came about from 1500 BC to 500 BC in India. There are ancient Indian texts, known as the Vedas, that explain the chakras, the subtle body, and more about energy flow. The subtle body, which is a nonphysical and energetic concept, is directed by prana. Prana means "vital life force" and is responsible for the flow of energy and information in the body, specifically through the chakras. Personal investment in one's own chakra system usually begins with the goal of an improved flow of energy or to heal a current ailment. When the chakras are out of alignment, or there is a blockage in a specific chakra, the path of prana is less efficient, which can lead to illness, injury, and unhappiness. Thus, some are prompted to realign and clear their chakras so that energy can flow freely and economically.
The use of chakra systems is common practice in both Hinduism and Buddhism. While there are 88,000 known chakras in the human body, there are seven that are seen as hubs of information. These seven chakras are widely known in the Western world, while Eastern cultures are more familiar with other chakra systems of practice – such as the five chakra system and the twenty-one chakra system. As Westernized yoga can be practiced openly and in almost any form, the original practice of yoga in the East ran parallel with the chakras. Such that, yoga was working as a practice to engage and re-energize one's chakras. There are many ways to include any chakra system in ones' practice. While some people prefer to use the chakras to guide their yoga practice, people commonly use the chakras for meditation, as well.
Exploring chakras and energy work is a very individually unique experience but knowledge of the seven chakras, that are typically referred to in the Western culture, is a good place to start. The first chakra, located at the base of the spine, is known as the root chakra. Its' Sanskrit name is Muladhara. It comes as no surprise that the root chakra is connected to the element, Earth. It is mentally related to security and survival, while it is physically related to the bones and skeletal structure. The associated color with the root chakra is red because of the frequency of the color red lines up with the energy frequency in that location of the body. The message that the root chakra tells us is: "I exist."
The next chakra is the sacral chakra. It is located in the lower abdomen and is related to sexuality and pleasure. In Sanskrit, it is known as Svadhistana. This chakra radiates an orange glow and is connected to the element water. The message that the sacral chakra tells us is: "I desire".
Continuing up the spine, the solar plexus chakra lies in the abdomen. Its' natural element is fire, which explains the term 'fire in your belly'. This chakra is related to the digestive system and muscles. The Sanskrit name for the solar plexus chakra is Manipura. The solar plexus chakra is paired with the color yellow and it tells us: "I control."
The next chakra is the heart chakra. It is known to have a green glow and is related to love and compassion. The Sanskrit name is Anahata, which means "unstruck." This chakra lies in the chest, or the center of the body, and its' element is air. It is related to the heart, lungs, and circulation in the body. The heart chakra tells us, "I love."
Travel up a bit more and you will arrive at the throat chakra. This chakra is blue in color, located at the base of the neck, and is known for communication and expression. The throat chakra's element is space and its' Sanskrit name is Vishudha. This chakra, when physicalized, is connected to the mouth, throat, and ears. The message that the throat chakra shares with us is: "I express".
The next chakra is the third eye chakra. It is purple, or indigo, in color and it is located between the eyes. The third eye chakra is mentally related to intuition and wisdom, as well as the eyes and neck, physically. It is also known to be connected to the light, because it's related element is light. In Sanskrit, this chakra is known as Ajna. The third eye chakra tells us, "I am the witness".
The final chakra is the crown chakra. In Sanskrit, it is known as the Sahasrara and it radiates a clear, white, or gold color. This chakra is known for higher connection and spiritually. It is related to divinity and purity. When physicalized, it is related to the skin and cerebral cortex. The message that the crown chakra tells us is: "I am that I am."
Chakra healing is widely known and regarded in the holistic community. Chakra healing is addressed often in Reiki, massage therapy, meditation, yoga, and other forms of natural healing. Personally, I base most of my meditation and yoga practice around my chakras. I find that meditating on these energy sources throughout my practice brings peace and understanding.