Whether you’re looking to feel centered and grounded or rejuvenated and energized, yoga delivers benefits across the board.
But no matter what your class of choice, the chakras play an integral role in every sequence. And just because your teacher doesn’t cue them, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
Here’s a brief look at the seven different chakras and ways to activate them. Each one is attainable, and by acknowledging your flow with intention, your mind and body will get the most out of your time on the mat.
Root Chakra: Muladhara
Best For: Grounding
When the Muladhara chakra is open, we are grounded, secure, and stable. The Root chakra helps us find the sweet spot between the rigidity of feeling stuck and the lack of balance when we are unsteady. The root chakra finds the balance between the two and allows us to move freely and with grace. When poses focus on the pelvis, feet, or legs, our grounding brings us to that sweet spot.
Key Poses: Child’s pose, Lotus, Tree, Half moon, and Tadasana.
Sacral Chakra: Svadhisthana
Best For: Creativity
The sacral chakra is all about finding your flow. And just like the water element associated with it, an increase in flow soothes the mood and boosts flexibility, creativity, and sexuality. Release energies by meditating or practicing affirmations. Moving mediations or circulation-inducing sequences help to break blockages and release dormant spaces. Find ways to connect with the sacral chakra with poses that focus on the lower back, hips, and pelvis.
Key poses: Sun Salutations and Dancing Warriors.
Navel Chakra: Manipura
Connection: Solar Plexus
Best For: Digestion
The abdominal core is where we find our inner fire, whether we need to be stimulated or dampened. The purpose of this chakra is to find an inner glow by igniting heat within the body. When we fire up Manipura, we discover a powerful place of clarity, wisdom, and a sense of purpose. Balancing our fire ensures that digestion is regular and that the body can absorb vital nutrients.
Key poses: Plank, Forearm Plank, Dolphin, Boat, and Crow.
Heart Chakra: Anahata
Color: Emerald Green
Best For: Compassion
Heart openers are wonderful ways to open Anahata. When the heart chakra is closed, we are sad, depressed, and angry. Poses that offer ways to open the chest area work as natural mood-boosters, releasing pain both physically and emotionally. By connecting to our heart chakra, it is easier to let go of grief and find forgiveness and acceptance in ourselves and others.
Key poses: Backbends, Locust, Sphinx, Frog, Twists
Throat Chakra: Vishuddha
Best For: Communication
Vishuddha is associated with areas around the throat and neck. It helps to bring awareness to our interactions. When our throat chakra is clear, we can express our truth with clarity. We take time with our words, ensuring everything we say is truthful, necessary, and kind. And when we listen to others, we give them our full attention. Through our authenticity, we find our highest truth.
Key poses: Lion’s Breath, Fish, Plow, Shoulder Stand, Camel
Third-Eye Chakra: Ajna
Best For: Intuition
While the first five chakras connect to earthly elements, the sixth and seventh chakras relate to light and cosmic energy. Light symbolizes the Third-Eye Chakra. When we combine the first four elements: earth, water, fire, and air, we get light. And with that light, Ajna becomes more attainable. A window opens to our sixth sense, and we become seers, aware of what is around us both visually and spiritually. Meditation is the best way to tap into Ajna, and through that connection, we find a sense of peace, possibility, and insight.
Key poses: Meditation, Pranayama Breathing, Child’s Pose, and Dolphin.
Crown Chakra: Sahasrara
Body Connection: Crown
Best For: Enlightenment
When we connect with all of our chakras, then we find enlightenment with Sahasrara. The Crown chakra relates to the cosmos, the opposite of chaos, and brings us bliss. After an inspiring yoga class, the term “yoga high” is a fair way to interpret this elevated perspective. We let go of hurt and disappointments and instead discover a gateway to the super-consciousness. With that realization, we sense our own divinity as part of the universe.
Key poses: Silence, Headstands, Down Dog, Savasana