“Chakra” is a Sanskrit term meaning “wheel of light,” and the seven major chakras in the human body are energy centers from which subtle energy flows to, from and through the body. They take the shape of spinning cones of light and energy. The seven major energy centers, along with other minor chakras and auric layers, regulate the subtle energy of the human body. They are both influenced by the experiences and environment of the person and, in turn, influence the health of the person.
Blocked Chakras Affect Our Well-Being
The state of the chakras can affect one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. When the chakras, or energy centers, become damaged or blocked the energy system of the body begins to show subtle signs that usually manifest first as fluctuations in the energy field and then in the emotional body. Eventually, the energy blockages begin to impact the physical body and “disease” begins on the physical level.
As bodyworkers, we can do more than clear the energy field using Reiki or Therapeutic Touch; we can also release physical restrictions in the soft tissue, restoring the free flow of energy. By releasing physical restrictions, we allow movement of blood and lymph fluid through the area. Traditional Chinese Medicine tells us that chi follows the blood, so by removing physical restrictions and restoring blood flow, we restore the flow of chi, or energy throughout the body. Regardless of which system of energy work a therapist is using, there is general acknowledgement that the physical body impacts the energetic system and in turn the energetic system impacts the physical body.
The first chakra, or Root Chakra, is located in the hip/genital area. The name of this chakra is Muladhara, meaning “root.” This chakra is related to our survival and is linked with our fight and flight response. The element for this chakra is earth, the sound is Lam, the color is red and it is associated with our sense of smell. This chakra governs our spine, adrenal glands, kidneys and lower digestive tract.
Difficulties around issues of security are symptomatic of dysfunction or unbalance in this chakra. Issues such as difficulty adjusting to a new school, town or job, losing a job, struggling to re-establish a sense of safety after a traumatic event or just feeling overwhelmed are all signs that there may be an unbalance in the root chakra. Physically, problems in the spine, legs or feet, large intestine, prostate, bladder or tailbone are all physical signs of problems in the Root Chakra. Essential oils work physically on the body, but also work very well with the subtle energy field. Loughran (1999) suggests using Cedarwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Patchouli and Sandalwood as they may stimulate better function in the Root Chakra.
The second chakra, or Svadhisthana (“sweetness” or “self’s dwelling place”) is the home of our emotional selves. This chakra is located at the tan tien found two cun, or finger widths, below the bellybutton. The element associated with this chakra is water, the sound is Vam, and the color is orange. The sense associated with the second chakra is taste and this chakra governs reproductive organs, creative forces and the masculine and feminine energies. Loughran (1999) suggests Geranium, Jasmine, Neroli, Orange and Rose when working with the second chakra energies.
Any emotional upset may signal dysfunction in the second chakra, as this is the seat of the emotional body. Impotence, candida, eating disorders, depression, alcoholism, allergies and gout are all symptoms of unbalance in the second chakra. Physical signs also include problems in the kidneys, urinary tract, skin, spleen, gallbladder, ovaries, testes, prostate in men, and low back.
The Sacral Chakra is also home to the energetic basis of “-itis” types of conditions: diverticulitis, colitis, appendicitis. Women’s issues such as PMS, menstrual problems, menopausal problems or infertility may also originate here. Creativity difficulties such as writer’s block may also stem from blockages in the second chakra.
Bodywork Techniques for Root and Sacral Chakras
Working with the intent of restoring energy flow in and through the Root and Sacral Chakras, we can release the hip area in much the same way we would address sciatica: release the hamstrings and quadratus lumborum, then use compression and/or friction to release gluteus maximus, medius and minimus, and finally the deep rotators, especially the piriformis. Since the chakras are on both the front and back of the body, it is important to also stretch and release the iliopsoas, easing restrictions to the front of the body.
How to Gently Open and Release the Hip and Sacral Area
In addition to compression and deep tissue techniques that release the muscle tissue, cranial sacral techniques offer us some great tools for working with chakras as these techniques offer a gentle way to “open” the hip area without deep, invasive work. One technique that works well for the first and second chakras is the sacral traction technique.
With the client dressed in loose clothing, have them lie supine on the table. Standing beside the table at their hip level, lift the knee on their other side, and with your arm under that knee, roll them toward you. Slide your hand flat under their buttocks until it is cupping their sacrum, then roll them onto their back so that your hand is cradling their sacrum with your arm flat under (and between) their legs. Allow their leg to relax back flat onto the table.
Gently traction their sacrum by leaning your body weight toward the foot of the table while applying a slight pressure up, into the sacrum. You will feel the subtle shifting of the sacrum as it “unwinds” and releases. This is a fantastic release technique for both the Root and Sacral Chakras as it opens and releases the entire hip and sacral area. To end this hold, simply slide your hand down toward their feet while keeping it flat on the table.
The Root and Sacral Chakras are very closely related, both being located so closely together in the lower torso and so can certainly be worked together. By opening the hips and releasing restrictions in the muscles that constrict movement in the low back, sacrum, abdomen, hips and legs, we release constrictions to the energy centers here as well.
Movement in the body leads to movement in the energy system of the body, just as movement in the energy system leads to movement in the body. By working the physical body, it is possible to stimulate the energetic body into returning to balance.