Chakras are energy centers, where wheels of light spin within each human being. Indian yogic traditions perceive chakras as locations where personalities interface and energetic exchanges are continually processed. Individuals spiritually, emotionally and physically aware of their own energy, are more likely to be attuned to chakra functioning. An example of this energetic exchange can be experienced when one feels threatened. This feeling of helplessness typically manifests as physical discomfort in the solar plexus, where the chakra related to power is located. Another physical manifestation of a chakra’s energetics occurs when feelings of love materialize as warmth in the chest, at the level of the heart chakra.
The seven major chakras in the body are located in the trunk and head, while several minor chakras are located in the hands, feet and joints. Chakras metabolize energy from the environment at different frequencies. The lower chakras absorb denser energies and the upper chakras digest higher/faster vibrations. Color is representative of this scale, as the lower chakras attract reds and oranges, while the upper chakras retain blues and violets. The lower a chakra is located, the more tangible its vibration, as evidenced by a dense and intense feeling, such as sexuality. A more ethereal quality is characteristic of the upper chakras, which focus on such traits as wisdom and thought.
Disease typically results from a blockage or suppression of energy in any given chakra. A blocked energy center reduces the circulation in that physical location, causing slight localized vaso-constriction. This decrease in blood flow weakens tissue, priming the affected area for injury or disease. This mechanism translates emotions, thoughts and beliefs into physical manifestations. Systemic opening and clearing of chakras maintains circulation and renews the blood supply, encouraging a return to health.
The centers of our palms contain minor chakras, capable of sensing and transmitting energy. Practice enhances chakras’ sensitivity and effectiveness. Although it is possible to sense energy early in your practice, the more these vortexes are utilized, the sharper your energy manipulative skills become. Additionally, the hand vortex’s connection to the heart chakra explains the hand’s capability of expressing heartfelt compassion.
According to Ralph Napolitano, author of the Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies’ Healing Energy and Touch continuing education course for massage therapists, working from the heart chakra during a healing session allows both therapist and client to be more effective. This enhancement is due to the heart chakra’s role as a point of balance for the entire body.
The seven major chakras each correspond to different levels of existence. The first three chakras are the most basic, primarily corresponding with the gross, physical world. It is within chakras associated with the physical plane, where the majority of society operates. Accessed in the astral plane, the fourth chakra (heart chakra) maintains symmetry and balance. The last three chakras bring us to higher, more spiritual realms of consciousness. A hierarchical progression ascends to the crown chakra, considered the height of spiritual enlightenment and attainment. Many aspire to move up this ladder of consciousness to guide their personal development.
When energy flows freely through balanced and open chakras, health and well-being flourish. A blocked or inhibited chakra impacts all levels of existence, affecting the individual’s body, mind and spirit.
First Chakra (Root Chakra)
Muladhara, the first chakra, is the root of our being, and is responsible for our physical existence.
- Color = fiery red
- Element = earth
- Sense = smell
- Body Parts = spinal column, bone, teeth and nails
- Glands = adrenal glands
- Location = base of the coccyx
The root chakra provides life force to the adrenal glands, which controls our fight or flight response. Energy from this chakra is also responsible for maintaining the nervous and circulatory systems. Physical symptoms that can emerge when this chakra is blocked include; constipation, hemorrhoids, obesity, sciatica, arthritis, knee trouble, anorexia and suicidal tendencies.
The first chakra is concerned with survival, keeping us rooted in the present moment, and heightening our awareness of possible threats to our existence. The primary role of the root chakra centers on the protective nature of our sense of smell, as it alerts us to anything noxious or toxic.
The first chakra is a slow vibrating chakra. The sound it resonates with is similar to the hum of a motor or the deep buzzing of a bumblebee. The root chakra’s will to live embodies the spirit of vitality, enthusiasm and joy.
Second Chakra (Sacral Center)
Svadhisthana, the second chakra, is referred to as the seat of sex, passion and the water world.
- Color = orange
- Element = water
- Sense = taste
- Body Parts = pelvic girdle, reproductive organs, kidneys, bladder, blood, lymph, digestive fluid and semen
- Glands = ovaries, prostate and testicles
- Location = located about 2 inches below the navel
The second chakra represents the life force of reproductive organs and their related hormones. During gestation, the second chakra helps feed the developing fetus its own life energy. The sacral center also fosters emotional expression. An opening of this chakra is joined by an increased receptivity to the emotional and sensual aspects of life.
The sacral center is related to deep breathing, and according to Chinese medicine, is governed by the kidneys. Blockage or dysfunction of this chakra can result in illnesses related to the kidneys, bladder, sex organs and the lower back.
Third Chakra (Solar Plexus)
Manipura, the third chakra, is tied to power, mastery and the ego. Often referred to as the navel center, the terms spleen, stomach and liver chakra are also occasionally referenced.
- Color = yellow to gold
- Element = fire
- Sense = smell
- Body Parts = lower back, abdomen, digestive system, stomach, liver, spleen and gallbladder
- Glands = pancreas and liver (because of their gland-like properties and functions)
- Location = 8th thoracic vertebrae, about 2 inches above the navel
The third chakra relates to the digestive organs. Dysfunction of this chakra can lead to digestive imbalances, ulcers, diabetes, hypoglycemia, liver problems and cholesterol disorders.
Anger and violence are also attributed to this chakra. The inability to express passion creates pent up frustration, which evolves into anger. This power center houses assertion and strength, propelling us to accomplish what we set forth to do.
Fourth Chakra (Heart Center)
Anahata, the fourth chakra, is based on devotion, selflessness and awakening to unity.
- Color = green, pink and gold
- Element = air
- Sense = touch
- Body Part = heart, lungs, arms and hands
- Glands = thymus gland
- Location = 1st thoracic vertebrae
The central theme of the heart chakra is love, particularly compassion and unconditional devotion. Congestion within this chakra can be indicative of heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma and lung disease.
Healing work originates from the fourth chakra. This chakra opens us to the concept of unity of all things and all people. As the center point of seven chakras, the fourth represents balance between physical and non-physical existence. Development of consciousness by progressing from the third to fourth chakra often accompanies a crisis. This major transformation from lower, self-oriented chakras, to higher, unity-based chakras, underlies the escalation from a selfish ego to spiritual guidance. The fourth chakra’s deeper, higher meaning and connectedness of all things creates the basis for a balanced and healthful existence.
Fifth Chakra (Throat Center)
Vishuddha, the fifth chakra, is rooted in communication and the expression of oneself in the world.
- Color = pale blue, greenish blue and silver
- Element = ether
- Sense = hearing
- Body Parts = larynx, neck, shoulders, arms and ears
- Glands = thyroid and parathyroid
- Location = 3rd cervical vertebrae
The fifth chakra is closely associated with speech, sound and hearing. Problems related to the throat chakra include disorders of the thyroid and parathyroid, stiff neck, hearing impairments, tinnitus, colds, tonsillitis, laryngitis and tumors/cancer of the larynx. Blockages in this chakra may occur in conjunction with difficulty in self-expression and communicating one’s true inner feelings.
Sixth Chakra (Third Eye)
Ajna, the sixth chakra, rests on the principles of knowledge and wisdom.
- Color = indigo, yellow and violet
- Element = light
- Sense = governs all senses, including extra sensory perception
- Body Parts = eyes, central nervous system and mid-brain
- Glands = pituitary gland
- Location = between the eyebrows
This chakra controls concentration, consciousness, intuition, extra-sensory perception and paranormal experiences. The third eye houses our ability to visualize and comprehend concepts. Energy blockages of this chakra physically manifest in the form of such divergent illnesses as sinus problems, cataracts and major endocrine imbalances.
Seventh Chakra (Crown Chakra)
Sahasrara, the seventh chakra, is considered to be the gateway to everything beyond the material world.
- Color = violet, white and gold
- Element = thought
- Body Part = cerebral cortex and the entire nervous system
- Gland = pineal gland
- Location = top of the head
The crown chakra is a wheel propelling the search for deep inner truth. The opening of this chakra allows one to enter into the highest state of consciousness. Activation of this center influences the balance between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, facilitating the integration of our physical self with our eternal self. Inhibition of energy flow at the seventh chakra may manifest as a cerebral dysfunction.
Clearing the Chakras
Regular clearing and harmonizing of the chakras cumulatively resolves old issues and memories, resulting in feeling more centered, grounded and energized.
Clearing chakras can be done alone or with a partner. In her book Energy Medicine, Donna Eden recommends spending about three to nine minutes per chakra when performing the following chakra clearing techniques:
- Lie on your back.
- Shake the hands to clear any excess energy from them.
- Beginning with the root chakra, place one or both hands about four inches above the chakra. Make slow counterclockwise circles, slightly less or equal to the width of the body.
- After completing this counterclockwise motion, shake off the hands and reverse the circling direction.
- When complete, shake the hands of excess energy.
- Move up to the next chakra and begin with a counterclockwise direction, as in step 3.
- Repeat this procedure for each chakra, ending at the crown.
- Note: At the crown there is a difference in this procedure between men and women.
- Men: Begin clearing with a clockwise motion; end with a counterclockwise motion.
- Women: Begin with a counterclockwise motion; end with a clockwise motion.
As the chakras horizontally traverse the body, energy enters the anterior plane and exits out the posterior. The counterclockwise motion stirs up toxic energies and drives any toxicity out, while the clockwise motion feeds and re-harmonizes to energize that chakra. While performing these circles, add chakra-related colors and visualize chakra clearing/balancing to enhance your work.
In the Integrative Massage: Spirit video offered as a course component by the Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies, Jenny Wilmer demonstrates balancing and harmonizing neighboring chakras by using guided imagery and chakra colors. This process provides a sense of the chakras feeding one another, evoking gratitude from recipients. Opening, clearing, connecting and increasing the communication among the chakras can be a profound healing experience.
The more theories a practitioner integrates into their perception of healing, the greater the opportunity for generating advanced therapeutic prospects. An understanding of the chakra system adds yet another layer of comprehending a client’s complexities. Advanced medical knowledge is not required to apply this simple chakra clearing technique, which can have potentially life changing benefits.
Angelo, Jack. Hands-on Healing: A Practical Guide to Channeling Your Healing Energies, Healing Arts Press, 1997.
Eden, Donna. Energy Medicine, Tarcher/Putnam Publishers, 1998.
Gerber, Richard. Vibrational Medicine, Third Edition, Bear and Company, 2001.
Krieger, Dolores. Therapeutic Touch Inner Workbook, Bear and Company, 1997.
Napolitano, Ralph. Healing Energy and Touch, Natural Wellness, 2000.
Integrative Massage: Spirit. Writ. Sean Riehl and Jenny Wilmer. Real Bodywork. 2004.