Understanding Chakras for Beginners, by Aliyah Christi

Chakras are fundamental to yoga, and gaining an understanding of what they are can deepen one’s appreciation for the practice. The term yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuji, which literally means “to yoke” or union. The connection it’s referring to is that of the mind and body, or surrendering one’s physical self and the present environment. In line with this, chakra also comes from Sanskrit roots, literally translating to “wheel.” You can think of chakra as “wheels” of energy that run throughout your body.

There are seven main chakras that run in our bodies. They act as pathways that promote harmony between our body, mind, and spirit. This is why it’s important to understand what each one represents, and the asanas (yoga poses) we can do to keep them open.

Muladhara, the Root

The Root Chakra is located at the base of our spine, and it represents the “foundation” of our entire being – similar to knowing our true identities. Balancing poses, such the tree pose, helps us focus on all areas of your life, particularly the ones where we feel “off-balanced”. Balancing is a gentle reminder that we can bring calm focus and clarity to every situation.

Svadhisthana, the Sacral

The Sacral Chakra has great influence on our emotions, and is responsible for our ability to accept others and welcome new experiences. It’s located in our lower abdomen, about two inches below the navel. The best yoga poses to cultivate the Svadhisthana are ones that are more fluid, or “go with the flow”. Some examples include low lunges, the Warrior pose, Reverse Warrior, and many more. Freestyling can also help get us in touch with our emotions and desires – sifting through troubling feelings and understanding what they truly mean.

Manipura, the Pilot

Have you ever experienced your stomach “dropping” when you remember something unpleasant from the past? According to Chakra Lessons, that’s Manipura at work. This chakra, located in our upper abdomen, speaks about our ability to be in control of our life. Core work, such as the boat pose or anything that creates heat and fire in your abdomen, will boost our feelings of “power” – allowing us to feel more confident about our decisions.

Anahata, the Heart

Anahata is associated with love, compassion, and forgiveness on all levels. “Heart openers” such as the dancer’s pose and crescent lunge can influence our ability to give and receive love – both from others and ourselves. You can see it in the way it puts emphasis on open-facing poses, which may signify your openness to love.

Vishuddha, the Voice

This chakra is located at the center of the neck, and represents our ability to communicate and say what’s on our mind. Regular poses that open the throat, like upward-facing dog and neck circles, may help you express yourself more openly. You can also add chants to your routine to symbolize the release of feelings.

Ajna, the Third-Eye

The Third-Eye, located at the center of our forehead, speaks of our ability to see the big picture. It is often connected with things like intuition, conscience, and inner awareness. Using yoga as a time of reflection and mindful thinking helps cultivate the Ajna, so it has more to do with intention than it is with physical poses.

Sahasrara, the Crown

Sahasrara, the highest chakra, located at the crown of our head, is the source of enlightenment and connection to our higher selves. This stage is less physical and more spiritual. This is why meditation, rather than asana, is considered the best way to stimulate this chakra. Focus on breathing and how the body moves with each breath. According to a study conducted by the University of Waterloo, just 10 minutes of serious, mindful meditation a day can prevent our minds from wandering, which can help us reach a higher plane of consciousness.

Balancing and aligning your chakras may be what you need to overcome life’s struggles. Once you are able to determine which parts of yourself need balancing, you can use your chakra knowledge to do so, and bring some harmony back into your life.

Written by Aliyah Christi
Exclusive for thestudio108.com

Theresa Conlon

Theresa is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor (200-hour RYT) who has been teaching since 2013. She is skilled in various yoga styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, and Meditation. Theresa also brings an extensive dance background to her yoga practice, which includes teaching both modern dance and ballet. She has over 40 years of dance/theater performing experience and currently showcases her choreography as part of Bergen Dance Makers, a dance collective in northern New Jersey. Theresa’s yoga classes offer a calming mix of traditional asana postures and creative movement flows, supported by energy-moving breath. Students of all skill levels are invited to find ease and peace in their bodies/minds/spirits through the joyful bliss of yoga movement.

Carrie Parker Gastelu

Carrie Parker Gastelu, E-500 RYT, has been teaching yoga since 1993. Carrie began her journey when Yogi Raj Mani Finger initiated Carrie into the ISHTA Yoga lineage after training with Mani’s son, Yogi Raj Alan Finger. In addition, she has studied many other yoga traditions as well as anatomy, physiology, movement, and awareness practices to create an eclectic style all her own. She is known for her honest, non-dogmatic yet passionate approach.

Carrie is a regular speaker and contributor at conferences, websites, and print publications and has been featured in Fit Magazine, the Yoga Zone Book, and in the Yoga Zone Video, “Flexibility and Stress Release.”

Lisa Podesta-Coombs

When Lisa found yoga in 2008, she started to find herself again and it set her on a path of health and healing. She received her 200HR RYT certification from Raji Thron of Yoga Synthesis, and her 30HR Chakra Yoga Teacher Training certificate with Anodea Judith and holds a Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) certification. She is also a Holistic Health Coach (certified through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Lisa believes we’re all on a journey of learning how to trust ourselves; she helps her clients build that trust by supporting them in creating better habits for a better life through various functional movement modalities like yoga, barre, Pilates & strength training, mindset, and whole food nutrition.

Forever a student with a passion for people, holistic health, and self-actualization, Lisa is always embracing opportunities to advance her education to better serve; Ayurveda workshops & immersions have been of particular interest as she continues to deepen her knowledge of and experience with food as medicine and she recently completed Unleash Her Power Within, a transformational program of rediscovering our truest selves, powered by Tony Robbins.  

As she continues to give herself space and grace to nourish her natural self and actualize her potential, Lisa continues to share the gift of movement as medicine to inspire authenticity & health in body, mind, and spirit. You can expect mindful, accessible, dynamic, playful, and uplifting classes from Lisa.

Tanisha Sutton

Tanisha’s yoga journey began when she was an undergraduate student studying at university. Changes in her health coupled with anxiety over grades, relationships, and life in general, forced her to search for healthy lifestyle choices she could implement to help manage the stress that she was experiencing as a new adult. A friend of hers suggested that she attend some community yoga classes to help with the anxiety and increase her daily physical activity. Initially, she was reluctant and filled with all these false ideas about yoga and the people who practiced yoga. Like many others, she was concerned that her body type and lack of flexibility automatically excluded her from being a student. Curiously yet hesitantly, she journeyed on to her first class and began laying the foundation for a home and public practice that has supported her over the years.

On this journey, she has discovered that yoga has nothing to do with appearances nor is there anything, but an open mind needed to begin. She intends to provide you with a gentle yoga session that is safe, inclusive, and accessible. Her classes are an expression of self-love and are a deliberate choice to tend to ALL the parts of our being that are neglected, ignored, or disregarded during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Through meditation, deep breathing, and gentle movement we will collectively share space to observe, rest and re-set. Tanisha is honored to share her practice with you and looks forward to seeing you on the mat!