The word “chakra”—and its sometimes hard-to-grasp meaning—may feel foreign or unapproachable to many of us. Though the history of chakras spans centuries, the idea of balancing our seven main energy centers has gained popularity in the hyper-connected smartphone era where work-life balance and taking time to focus on the self are often rarities. Here you will find a breakdown of each chakra, its corresponding colors, sounds, and emotions, and ways to tap into the key functions.
Beyond a corresponding color and sound (one-syllable vibrations, called Bija mantras, said to resonate with the energy of each location), the chakras have key associations to certain emotions, instincts, and principles. Even-numbered chakras are linked with stereotypically feminine qualities, including openness and compassion. The odd-numbered chakras are associated with masculine characteristics such as willpower and asserting oneself.
It’s believed chakras are influenced by our thoughts and the environment, but also by the state of other individuals’ chakras. Each chakra then affects different parts of the body. Just like our internal organs have specific functions—such as the heart pumping blood through the body—the chakras are thought to have physical functions. The lower six chakras help enable cognition, respiration, circulation, digestion, reproduction, and excretion. Channels, called meridians or nadis, connect the chakras to one another and help the prana (or chi or ki) travel through the chakras.
Energy imbalances in a person’s chakras can relate to specific emotions, disease symptoms, or other ailments.