What Are The Seven Chakras and Their Meanings

By on September 25, 2011
Graphic showing the positions of the seven chakras.

There are seven major chakra points and twenty-one minor chakra points. The minor points are distributed throughout the body, and the seven majors are located along the spine, from the base to the crown of the head. The major chakras work with the endocrine glands in the physical body. Prana flows through the chakras. When a chakra is blocked, the corresponding endocrine gland performs poorly.

The Seven Major Chakras

Both yogic thought and Ayurvedic medicine recognize and accept the fact that the chakras rest within the astral body or emotional body. Chakras cannot be described in general psychological or physiological science as the empirical mind prefers. One cannot touch chakras or see them.

The chakras act as an interchange or liaison between our physical and psychological energy. This energy or prana, the life force, travels up the body. Through meditation, visualization, asana, and mantra techniques, the yogi strives to clear blocked energy in the chakra regions.

The seven major chakras have specific locations in the body, and each chakra corresponds to physical functions in the body. In esoteric Eastern thought, the chakras are symbolized by a color and an element. Each chakra is depicted by lotus petals corresponding with the number of nadis, or nerve channels, emanating from each chakra. The chakras are referred to in ascending order beginning with the lowest or base chakra. This is where the kundalini is located. The kundalini, or dormant energy, is always represented by a coiled snake. In order for the energy to rise up through the chakras, the kundalini must uncoil.

Muladhara: The 1st Chakra

The first chakra is Muladhara. It translates as “root” and is symbolized as a deep red lotus flower with four petals. It is located at the base of the coccyx in the lower spine near the three lower vertebrae. This is our center of physical vitality and energy, and this chakra regulates our sense of smell. The endocrine glands associated with it are the gonads, the testes in the male and the ovaries in the female. Maladhara’s element is earth, and it is concerned with our roots and source of security. This is called the foundation chakra and contains the primal energy or the kundalini.

Svadhisthana: The 2nd Chakra

The second chakra is Svadhisthana. It translates as “one’s own abode or place of dwelling” and is depicted with six petals that radiate the color orange. The second chakra sits below the navel near the pubis area. It is associated with the skin, the reproductive organs, the kidneys, the bladder, and the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Water is the element of the second chakra, and water is the essence of life. This chakra is linked with our emotions, fears, anxieties, and our sexuality.

Manipura: The 3rd Chakra

The third chakra is Manipura, and it means “city of jewels.” It is represented by ten bright yellow lotus petals. Manipura is located in the solar-plexus area of the body, below the heart. The element of the third chakra is fire, the provider of vital energy. This is the meeting point in which prana, the upward moving vital energy, and apana, a downward moving vital energy, link. Heat in the body is generated from this point. This is also the center of desire and emotion, ego and personal power. In the physical body, this is the spot where digestion and food absorption occur, which affect the stomach, duodenum, gall bladder, and liver. The endocrine gland associated with this chakra is the pancreas.

Anahata: The 4th Chakra

The fourth chakra is Anahata and it means “unstuck.” It is depicted as a green lotus with twelve petals. It is physically associated with the heart and the circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, and immune systems. The endocrine association is the thymus. This is the heart chakra, and it rests in the cardiac region or chest. The Anahata chakra is the center of compassion. It is the balancing chakra between the lower and upper chakras. Here is where one experiences love or hate, compassion or emotional restriction. Love has many different natures. It can be restricted or demanding, or it can be passionate or unconditional. When one’s heart is not open or is in pain, the body, mind, and spirit cannot attain balance. The element for Anahata is air.

Vishuddha: The 5th Chakra

The fifth chakra is Vishuddha and it means to “purify.” Vishuddha is symbolized by a sixteen-petal smoky-violet blue lotus. This chakra is located in the throat and is associated with the sense of hearing. This is the chakra of knowledge, communication, and creativity. It is concerned with how one expresses oneself or how one communicates before the world. It governs our nervous system, vocal cords, and ears. The element of the fifth chakra is ether. The endocrine glands associated with it are the thyroid and parathyroid.

Ajna: The 6th Chakra

The sixth chakra is Ajna and it is depicted with two lotus petals in the center of the brow. It translates as “command.” The petals represent reasoning and intuition, or the duality of our ego and our spiritual halves. It sits between the eyebrows and is sometimes called the “third eye,” or the intuitive powers. Ajna is associated with the color indigo. This is the center of concentration for meditation. It correlates with increased memory, willpower, and visualization; and physically with the eyes, ears, nose, and brain. This is the sun chakra, the brilliance of a pure consciousness. When out of balance, confusion and irritability may dominate. The endocrine gland associated with Ajna is the pituitary. Before one can tap into intuitive powers, excess mental activity in this chakra must be cleared.

Sahasrara: The 7th Chakra

The seventh chakra is Sahasrara, or the chakra of supreme existence. It is located at the crown of the head and represents infinity. This is the center of consciousness, called the “thousand-petaled” chakra. All feelings, activities, and emotions are calm and silent in this chakra. When the seventh chakra is unblocked, it represents the guru within each of us who is self-luminescent.