A full yoga practice combines physical, mental and spiritual health but to combine these there needs to be a connection. Mind and body makes sense: take care of your body and you will notice that you feel more mentally alert and are able to focus better. The connection between the spiritual and the physical is a little less obvious. This is where the seven chakras come in.

The seven chakras are the main energy centres of the body. You may have heard about people talking about “unblocking” their chakras. This refers to the idea that when all of our chakras are open energy can run through them freely and harmony exists between the physical body, mind, and spirit. Chakra translates to “wheel” in Sanskrit and you can imagine them like wheels of free-flowing positive energy.

The first of the seven main chakras originates at the base of the spine and the last reaches up to the crown of the head. Each of the chakras has its own associations with a specific colour, physical impacts on the body and mantra.

Once you learn the element that each chakra is associated with, you can start to suss out how that element feels in your body and thinking about your body in these symbolic terms can help you access new stores of energy. For example, the root chakra is associated with earth. When it’s in balance, we feel strong and grounded; when it’s out of balance, we may feel unrooted and insecure. Then there’s the sacral chakra that is associated with water. When it’s in balance, we feel fluid and our creative juices are flowing. When it’s not, we might feel rigid, dry or emotionally brittle, like a plant that hasn’t been watered enough.

In order to restore balance in your chakras, you must first tune in to how you’re feeling, then figure out which chakra to stimulate to counteract the imbalance. For example, if you’re feeling low in energy, you can do poses that target the navel chakra to rekindle your inner fire. If you’re feeling anxious and long to feel more grounded, choose poses for the earthy root chakra. If you seek more courage to speak your truth, the right poses can open and stimulate the throat chakra.

Deepening and growing your yoga practice or meditation practice can start with something as easy as focusing on a specific chakra or just a mantra with which you identify.

The chakras might seem trendy or New Age, but they can deepen your yoga practice as well as play a crucial part of your overall health, wellbeing and sense of balance.

We’ll explore each chakra over the next few weeks.  I’ll explain how you can identify when any of your seven main chakras are out of balance as well as summarize the defining characteristics, elements and colours of each chakra, from root to crown.

So keep reading if you want to take charge of your life and get familiar with your seven chakras!