While you may have heard a yoga teacher cue you to "open up your chakras" in a yoga class before, you may not fully understand how to do so—or even know why you should. Sanskrit for disk or wheel, chakra’s meaning dates back to ancient times and opening up these energy centers can really change your mind, body and spirit for the better.
There are seven main chakras that correspond to major areas of the body. They can help you restore energy and vitality. When your chakras get blocked, you might feel physical or mental effects, like a sore throat or brain fog. Opening them up allows for the natural flow of energy, making you feel, well, pretty darn awesome. Read our guide to learn the basics of chakras for beginners.
The Root Chakra
Located at the base of the spine, this chakra is associated with feeling grounded. The root chakra determines your stability and safety. If you’re feeling anxious, for instance, your root chakra may be a bit out of whack. In this way, chakras’ meaning goes deeper than just a physical place in the body—like all chakras, your root chakra can become agitated and needs to be attended to. When insecurities and stress arise, reground yourself by giving this chakra your attention.
The Sacral Chakra
The second chakra is situated between the navel and the pubic bone and it’s responsible for sexuality and creativity. It’s safe to say that if your creative or sex drives feel stagnant, your sacral chakra needs some love. How? Honor your body by giving in to pleasure, from massage to forest bathing to treating yourself to a nice dinner — or any form of self-care that speaks to you. If you’re inspired artistically, encourage yourself to take a class to ignite some creative passion or simply get out in nature.
The Solar Plexus Chakra
A little ways up from the sacral chakra is this energy center, positioned just below your rib cage. Naturally, it governs your stomach and digestive system, but it can also affect your self-esteem, willpower and decision-making abilities. This is a good chakra for beginners to focus on since you may already be familiar with the idea of trusting your gut—that ability is what this chakra is all about.
The Heart Chakra
Not surprisingly, the heart chakra determines our ability to feel and give love. Located in, you guessed it, the heart, it also connects the other chakras together because of its central position in the body. Opening your heart to others and nurturing yourself is an ideal way to open up this chakra and allow energy to flow within your whole body.
The Throat Chakra
Your ability to speak your truth with clarity often depends on your throat chakra. Governing the thyroid and your voice, this energy center affects communication and can even play an important role in lucid dreaming. If you’re having trouble expressing yourself in conversation, find yourself not being honest or can’t seem to listen well to others, your throat chakra needs attention.
The Third Eye Chakra
The space between your eyes houses this chakra, which is likely the most recognizable one among chakra novices. Associated with clarity and even enlightenment, the third eye centers on our ability to focus, listen to our intuition and see the bigger picture of our lives. When you’re feeling scatterbrained or unmoored, placing your hands in prayer at your third eye for a few minutes of meditation can bring you back to yourself.
The Crown Chakra
Finally, at the top of your head sits the seventh chakra. This energy center is concerned with wisdom and higher consciousness. You might even think of this energy center as the one most associated with enlightenment. When you meditate, lucid dream or engage in any activity that might take you to a higher plane, you stimulate this chakra and allow it to open.