Your Essential Guide: Chakras, what they mean & how to heal them

We reveal what the body's subtle energy centres can tell us, and how we can use the chakras to heal and develop on our spiritual path.

By: The College of Psychic Studies.   Posted

Getting to know the chakras is your first step on the spiritual path. For this reason, they are on the syllabus of many of our psychic development classes. These energy centres are a useful tool because they provide us with a roadmap for our spiritual development. They also offer insights for energy healing. Additionally, for our personal growth, they help us identify our own strengths and challenges. But before we get into that, let's look at the basics – starting with a fundamental question…

What is a chakra?

'Chakra' is a Sanskrit word (cakra) meaning 'wheel'. However, this simple translation does little justice to the complexity of the chakra system. In this system, the chakras form an integrated network of seven energy centres in the body. They roughly correlate with the endocrine system and internal organs, and impact our wellbeing on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. Furthermore, each chakra has its unique subtle qualities. When these unique qualities are out of balance, the chakras' shadow aspects emerge. So, when we work with chakras for healing, we are working with the full spectrum of the human condition. And that's why it's essential to get acquainted with them.

What is the origin of the chakras?

Thanks to eminent Indologists such as Oxford University's Professor Alexis Sanderson and SOAS' Dr James Mallinson, we know a little about the history of the chakras. For example, we know that the chakras originated in medieval India, in the ancient, esoteric texts known as the tantras. These secret texts delved into subjects such as magic, ritual, alchemy, mantra, the subtle body and yogic practices. Additionally, many of them included teachings on the chakras. While there was a variety of different tantras, they all shared a common goal: moksha, or the liberation from the veil of ignorance, or maya.

Now, let's look at how these so-called tantras represented the chakras. In 13th-century India, there was a proliferation of esoteric tantric schools. Among these, each school interpreted the chakras in its own way. For example, in some systems, such as the Tibetan Tantric Buddhist school, there were only five chakras. Others had nine. In some systems of tantra, the chakras were associated with different colours, while in others, they corresponded to different internal organs or nerve plexuses.

Why are there seven chakras?

Today, we commonly work with the seven chakra system. We can find the roots of this system in a 16th-century text on hatha yoga, the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana (Description of the Six Wheels). Written by a celebrated enlightened sage, Purnananda, this text reveals encoded details of an ancient form of hatha yoga. Fast-forward a few centuries to the start of the 20th, and the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana was translated by Arthur Avalon (also known as the eminent Orientalist and tantric scholar, Sir John Woodroffe). Avalon published this translation in his seminal book, The Serpent Power. Notoriously tricky to decode, The Serpent Power was to become one of the most influential books about the chakras in the 20th century.

Arthur Avalon's The Serpent Power, together with interpretations from members of the Theosophical Society such as CW Leadbeater and Alice Bailey, formed the roots of the seven-chakra system most of us are familiar with today. It is a system that has been widely adopted by the international yoga movement, as well as various chakra healing and energy work modalities. 

Where are the chakras?

If you dissected a body in order to find a chakra, you would be disappointed. This is because the chakras are invisible; they exist on the energy level. However, the physical body provides a map to the subtle body, and we can use it to estimate the location of the chakras. These locations are described in more detail in the individual chakra sections below.

What are the chakra colours?

While not visible to the seeing eye, it is helpful to visualise the chakras as wheels or circles of energy located along the front of the spine. Some prefer to see the chakras as lotus flowers that open as we heal and align them. Whichever way you visualise them, every chakra has an associated colour. These colours are, of course, invisible. Despite their invisibility, when working with the chakras for healing, it helps to visualise those colours. This is because the vibration of each colour resonates with the chakra's subtle qualities. Each chakra's colour is detailed in the individual chakra sections below.

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What do the chakras mean?

As well as a colour, each chakra has a meaning, with strengths and shadows. In our guide below, we'll examine each of the chakras in turn, and how to use each chakra for healing.

Red banner for the root chakra with muladhara symbol.

The first chakra | Root chakra

  • Position: At the coccyx
  • Chakra colour: A deep, earthy red
  • Number: Four
  • Mantra: LAM
  • Sanskrit name: Muladhara
  • Affirmation: I AM! I am safe, I am nourished, I am supported
  • Root chakra crystals: Garnet, obsidian, hematite, red jasper, bloodstone
  • Essential oils: Patchouli, sandalwood, cedarwood
  • Element: Earth

What does the root chakra mean?

Muladhara chakra is the first of our chakras to develop after our birth. It is formed within the first six weeks of our life on this Earth. In order to develop a strong and healthy root chakra in these crucial weeks, we need plenty of love, security and validation from our primary caregivers.

Our root chakra represents our identity, our stability and our sense of belonging. This chakra also influences our ability to ground ourselves in this three-dimensional reality, meaning that our muladhara influences issues to do with home, finances and identity. Financial security, a safe, comfortable home, and a feeling of self-ease and assuredness are sure signs that our root chakra is strong, healthy and aligned.

What are the signs of a blocked root chakra?

When there is an imbalance in the root chakra, it can show up physically as constipation, piles or colon issues. We might experience difficulty in digesting and eliminating our food. Delving deeper into the emotional issues, we find insecurity, money problems and homelessness. Ultimately, when our root chakra is out of balance, we feel ungrounded or uprooted, as if we don't belong.

How to heal the root chakra

  • Ensure your diet is rich in nutritious earthy, root vegetables like beetroot, carrots and potatoes, as well as plenty of food grown in the earth (ie. vegetables!). 
  • Be sure to avoid processed food in order to support your digestion.
  • Take time to ground yourself. Simple ways to do this are walking barefoot on the earth, sitting in nature, and holding grounding crystals such as obsidian and black tourmaline.
  • Practise being practical, because the muladhara chakra is all about living comfortably in the three-dimensional reality!
  • Cultivate a comfortable, loving home. We need to address the fundamentals of shelter, food and security at the level of the root chakra, so ensure you have this first tier of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs ticked off.

Sacral chakra symbol on orange banner

The second chakra | Sacral chakra

  • Position: On the front of the spine, directly behind the pubic bone
  • Chakra colour: A vibrant, marigold orange
  • Number: Six
  • Mantra: VAM
  • Sanskrit name: Swadisthana
  • Affirmation: I am in the flow of life, I allow my creative expression
  • Sacral chakra crystals: orange calcite, amber, carnelian
  • Essential oils: Ylang ylang, jasmine, orange blossom
  • Element: Water

What does the sacral chakra mean?

Swadisthana is about creativity, pleasure, joy, sensuality and sexuality. Our ability to live our life to the full and enjoy the ride is rooted in a healthy sacral chakra. It follows, then, that this chakra represents the seat of our emotions and creativity. When we are able to healthily express our sensuality, sexuality (whether or not we choose to be celibate) and our creativity, and enjoy life's pleasures, it is a sign of a happy, healthy, balanced sacral chakra.

What are the signs of a blocked sacral chakra?

Physically, blocks in the sacral chakra show up as challenges to our sexual expression, such as impotency and frigidity. We may also suffer with bladder or urinary tract infections, and lower back pain. Meanwhile, on an emotional level, an imbalanced swadisthana restricts our creativity. It dampens our lust for life, making us feel restricted and impotent. Whether you're struggling to write that novel, summon your joie de vivre, or maintain healthy sexual relationships, these are signs your sacral chakra needs healing.

How to heal the sacral chakra

  • Get your crayons out and start drawing! The most powerful way to heal and align the sacral chakra is through play and creativity. Other ideas are singing, sewing, writing a poem – whatever tickles your fancy!
  • Dance! Go to a 5Rhythms class to get those sensual juices flowing.
  • Have fun!
  • Indulge in treats that bring you pleasure, such as good quality 70% chocolate! Strict diets and fasting is a no to bring vitality back to the sacral chakra.
  • Drink warm water infused with fresh parsley to assist bladder or urinary tract infections.
  • Run a hot bath with sacral chakra essential oils such as ylang ylang and jasmine. Remember to take your sacral chakra crystals into the bath with you to soak up their healing energies.

Navel chakra symbol on yellow banner

The third chakra | Solar plexus chakra or navel chakra

  • Position: Some position it at the solar plexus just below the diaphragm, others place the navel chakra just below the belly button
  • Chakra colour: A sunny yellow
  • Number: 10
  • Mantra: RAM
  • Sanskrit name: Manipura
  • Affirmation: I am confident, I make my own decisions, I drive my own life forward
  • Crystals: citrine, tiger's eye, golden topaz, sunstone
  • Essential oils: Ginger, mandarin, black pepper, lemongrass
  • Element: Fire

What does the solar plexus chakra mean?

The solar plexus, or navel chakra, is the seat of our self-esteem. It's our personal powerhouse, the centre of our confidence and self-belief. Manipura is also our ability to drive forward and manifest the creative ideas that germinate in our sacral chakra. A healthy, balanced solar plexus chakra is associated with good digestion – not only in the physical food we eat, but also in the way in which we digest life's experiences. The stronger the fire in our belly, the better able we are to manifest our dreams!

What are the signs of a blocked solar plexus chakra?

An imbalance in the solar plexus chakra manifests physically as eating disorders, stomach issues and indigestion. We might find it difficult to digest certain foods. Taking it into an emotional level, a disturbed navel chakra means we struggle with self-esteem issues. This means that our confidence and self-assuredness are sorely lacking. Furthermore, we may struggle to follow through on our projects because we are often overwhelmed by life's challenges. Another manifestation of a blocked solar plexus chakra is unresolved anger, showing up as irritability, and bearing a grudge. 

How to heal the solar plexus chakra

  • Create positive affirmations to boost and support your confidence and self-belief.
  • A balanced and open navel chakra is warm and optimistic, so surround yourself with sunny yellow and let this be a reminder to shine your brightest!
  • Eat a wholesome, cooked diet because cooked food is easier to digest.
  • Drink fresh ginger infused in hot water in order to ignite your inner fires. 
  • Add fresh ginger to your food, too, because it warms you up from the inside out!
  • Create goals – even small ones – and establish a practical plan to support you in achieving those goals.
  • Build your core strength! Good core-building exercises are leg lifts, sit-ups, stomach crunches. Or, for a more simple but highly effective core-strength building exercise, keep your stomach muscles active, even when sitting at your desk.

Heart chakra symbol on green banner

The fourth chakra | Heart chakra

  • Position: At the centre of the chest, in the heart centre
  • Chakra colour: A bright, spring green
  • Number: 12
  • Mantra: YAM
  • Sanskrit: Anahata
  • Affirmation: I am unconditional love, I forgive myself
  • Heart chakra crystals: rose quarts, green jade, green aventurine, amazonite, rhodonite
  • Essential oils: Rose Damascena, Pine, Neroli, Melissa
  • Element: Air

What does the heart chakra mean?

Anahata is all about love, compassion, forgiveness and connection. When our heart chakra is open, we experience these feelings not only for others, but for ourselves, too. This means we show up for ourselves with self-love and self-care. It also results in us feeling more connected to our needs and desires. When we are in this place, we are able to forgive ourselves for our so-called past 'mistakes' and move on without regret.

What are the signs of a blocked heart chakra?

When the heart chakra is closed or blocked, it can manifest as literal heart problems. However, more commonly, it reveals itself in our actions. It means we neglect our own needs for the needs of others; feel resentful or disconnected from our tribe; and find it challenging to express our emotions. As a rule of thumb, when self-care is missing, our heart chakra may need some work.

How to heal the heart chakra

  • To heal your heart chakra at a very basic level, nourish your physical body with quality food, anoint yourself with beautifully scented organic oils, and do the things you enjoy!
  • Choose your people wisely. Surround yourself with high-vibrational, positive people because those are the people who make you feel good about yourself.
  • Keep a gratitude journal in order to remind yourself daily of your blessings. This is because gratitude is a sure way to open the heart chakra.
  • Practice metta – the loving kindness meditation. It's an invitation to beam blessings of loving kindness to the world as part of your morning routine.
  • Carry a piece of rose quartz, or wear a mala made from a heart chakra crystal because these will support your heart's healing.

blue banner with throat chakra

The fifth chakra | Throat chakra

  • Position: At the throat
  • Chakra colour: Sky blue
  • Number: 16
  • Mantra: HAM
  • Sanskrit: Vishuddha
  • Affirmation: I speak my truth freely and openly
  • Throat chakra crystals: sodalite, chalcedony, blue apatite, aquamarine, kyanite
  • Essential oils: blue chamomile, peppermint, basil, spearmint

What does the throat chakra mean?

The vishuddha chakra is all about self-expression – not only verbal, but also our body language, the clothes we wear and how we show up in the world. When our throat chakra is healthy and balanced, we voice our needs without fear of judgement. This means we show the world who we really are, without worrying about how we might come across, or who might judge us. A strong vishuddha results in speaking and listening with care and compassion, from a place of deep authenticity and confidence.

What are the signs of a blocked throat chakra?

Physically, blocks in the throat chakra might reveal themselves as a sore throat, or issues with the mouth or teeth. Verbal diarrhea, a tendency to gossip, or dominate the conversation, are all signs of an imbalanced vishuddha. At the other end of the spectrum, we might be so shy we can barely speak to others, or we tend to be a people pleaser and say what we think others want to hear, rather than what we really feel. We may also find that people ignore what we say, or talk over us - a sign that their own throat chakra could also do with some healing!

How to heal the throat chakra

  • Chanting and singing are effective ways of working with throat chakra imbalances. If you're not sure where to start, try repeating the throat chakra mantra, HAM, or join our meditations & mantras classes (you can find them in our livestream Talks section).
  • The practice of listening is also great for balancing and healing the throat chakra. We invite you to take a vow of silence for the day, and spend that time really listening, both outside and in.
  • Practice being true to yourself. This means only saying and doing what feels authentic, and honouring the immense creative power of your word.
  • Wear a necklace with a throat chakra crystal such as aquamarine because this will support your vishuddha's healing.

Third eye chakra symbol on indigo banner

The fifth chakra | Third eye chakra

  • Position: In the centre of the forehead
  • Chakra colour: An inky, indigo blue
  • Number: two
  • Mantra: AUM
  • Sanskrit: Ajna
  • Affirmation: I trust my intuition, I see
  • Third eye chakra crystals: labradorite, amethyst
  • Essential oils: Sage, Frankincense, Sandalwood

What does the third eye chakra mean?

The third eye is a firm favourite at The College of Psychic Studies! This is because the Ajna is the key to our inner wisdom, our intuition. When our third eye chakra is functioning well, we are open to receiving subtle information from the world around us. As well as this sensitive receptivity, we also have reliable discernment, and can spot from a mile off when information comes from an inauthentic place. In short, with a strong, healthy and open third eye, we can see through to the truth and heart of any situation.

What are the signs of a blocked third eye chakra?

Headaches, difficulty concentrating, and eyesight issues may indicate an imbalance in the third eye chakra. If you experience blocks in your intuition, or struggle to access your innate psychic ability, then you need to work on opening up your third eye. We are all born with this inner knowing – it's our sixth sense - but most of us lose touch with it through the rough and tumble of life. Therefore, if you have found yourself at The College of Psychic Studies, you can take it as a sign that it is your practice in this lifetime to activate and develop your sixth sense!

How to heal the third eye chakra

  • This is easy – develop your intuition!
  • Learn to trust what your inner guidance is telling you. This means listening to your gut and going with it!
  • Take a psychic development class at the College.
  • Develop a daily meditation practice because it will support your spiritual journey.

Crown chakra symbol on silver banner

The seventh chakra | Crown chakra

  • Position: At the top of the head
  • Chakra colour: Violet
  • Number: 1000
  • Mantra: AH
  • Sanskrit: Sahasrara
  • Affirmation: I am divine
  • Crown chakra crystals: clear quartz, moonstone, selenite
  • Essential oils: Myrhh, Frankincense, lotus

What does the crown chakra mean?

Sahasrara is our connection to the universe, to all that is; past, present and future. It is the gateway to our higher intelligence, our elevated consciousness. The crown chakra offers us the full perspective of any situation. Through it, we can access our life's purpose, because this chakra is the key to self-realisation.

What are the signs of a blocked crown chakra?

An imbalance in the crown chakra tends to manifest in depression, or the dark night of the soul. One consequence is that we feel alone in the world, cut off from our purpose. Another is that our own divine magnificence is eclipsed, and we cannot recognise our own divinity or potential. When the crown chakra is blocked, our life feels meaningless. Additionally, doubt and scepticism creep in regarding synchronicities and signs from the universe. In this place, we may struggle to acknowledge a world beyond that which we can physically see and touch. Put another way, we are blind to the true magic of life.

How to heal the crown chakra

Namaste prayer symbol with the aura on pink banner

The eighth chakra |  Aura

  • Position: Surrounding the physical body
  • Aura colour: Depends on the individual
  • Affirmation: I am expansive, I am protected
  • Aura crystals: Angel aura quartz, amethyst, moonstone
  • Essential oils: Bergamot for grounding, Sage for clearing

What does the aura mean?

We're presenting something of a wild card here, as the aura is technically not a chakra. However, some yoga traditions consider the aura to be the eighth chakra. This makes sense because the aura, being an aspect of the subtle body, is influenced by the chakras. The aura is the body's electromagnetic field; the subtle field of energy that surrounds and protects the body. On a good day, it can extend up to nine feet around us. These are the days when we're shining bright, full of confidence and charisma. On the flip side of the coin, when we're not feeling our best, the aura shrinks down to around three feet. Those are our duvet days.

What are the signs of an imbalanced aura?

Our aura is our protective shield, and a strong and sealed aura keeps out pollution, germs / viruses, and unhelpful, or negative entities. However, when the aura is not as strong as it could be, we can feel fearful and timid. This is something of a catch-22, because fear has the effect of shrinking the aura. With a weak aura, for instance, we can easily pick up on negative thoughts. Rather than brushing off anything negative or unhelpful, we allow it into our field of perception. 

How to heal the aura

  • Develop a steady spiritual practice. 
  • Learn about grounding and protection. This is because by knowing what you're dealing with on an energetic level, you are much better equipped to protect your energy. We teach grounding and protection in most of our Psychic Training courses.
  • Stay grounded, which means walking barefoot on the earth, meditating in nature, and doing some gardening.
  • Take a shower because water cleanses and resets our electromagnetic field.
  • Wear white clothing as it helps to project the aura.

There's no better place to learn about the chakras than in our livestream courses at the College. In these courses, you'll embark upon a journey of spiritual and self-development that will open up wonderful new adventures and avenues of interest. Click here to browse our beginner courses

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