The Sanskrit word Chakra literally translates to "wheel" and in Hinduism the entire body is considered to be made up of seven wheels or spirals of energy beginning from the base of the spine and moving upwards to the crown of the head. This is where the basic concept of the seven Chakras of yoga lies. Each of these vortexes of energy represents a specific part of the body and emits a different light. In order to attain mastery in yoga, it is important to gain balance of these seven chakras. When all these chakras are in balance, they bring peace and harmony to the mind and body of the yogi. This balance allows the yogi to excel in all fields of life and live a happy and content life. The chakras are as follows:
1st Chakra – Muladhara or Root Chakra : This chakra is at the base of the spine and is associated with the red color. Its main purpose is to maintain a grounded and centered life and causes fear in the person. Standing postures in yoga help to achieve balance in Muladhara. Protein enrich foods are beneficial for attaining this equilibrium. It is associated with the adrenal glands and organs of elimination like the kidneys, hair, nails and bones.
2nd Chakra – Svadhistana or Sacral Chakra : Located in the lower abdomen about an inch below the navel, this chakra is connected with the creative and reproductive aspects of the person. That is why the emotion associated wit Svadhistana is passion along with the reproductive organs and lower back and sacrum. The element is water, which is why it is in control of all the liquids of the body including tears, blood, and urine. It is enhanced by the color orange and sense linked to the second chakra is the sense of taste and in particular sweet taste. Forward and backwards bends along with squats enhance and develop this chakra.
3rd Chakra – Manipura or Power Chakra : Located in the belly, it houses the personal power and when in balance makes people feel in control of their destiny. Associated with the element fire and colors yellow or gold, a well balanced Manipura controls the emotion of anger. It regulates the digestive organs and yoga poses including Surya namaskara, half boat pose, warrior and twists help to heighten the 3rd Chakra.
4th Chakra – Anahata or Love Chakra : This chakra is found in the center of the heart and regulates the feelings of love and intuition. The heart, lungs, chest and arms are all controlled by it and it represents the color green. As the element is air so pranayama is essential in achieving balance of Anahata. Backward bends and other chest opening postures are very essential in attaining this stability.
5th Chakra – Vishuddha or Communication Chakra : This Chakra is positioned in the throat and is the center of communication and relies on the sense of hearing. Food representing Vishuddha are fruits and air along with the color blue. Neck and shoulder stretches, plow pose, bridge pose and camel pose advances the 5th Chakra.
6th Chakra – Ajna or Intuition Chakra : Also known as the third eye, it is located in between the eyes. It relies on purple color and acts as an inner intuition for the yogi.
7th Chakra – Sahasrara or Divine Chakra : The Sahasrara acts as a liaison with divinity and is located at the crown of the head. Represented by the white color, it provides a connection with the soul. Meditation enhances and strengthens the Divine chakra.