Many Eastern traditions, such as acupuncture, shiatsu, tai chi and yoga, work with the theory of chakras, or energy centers. In an article published in "Yoga Journal," author Barbara Kaplan Herring explains that each of the seven chakras are associated with certain functions of the body, and when a chakra becomes excessive or deficient, an imbalance in the body occurs. Understanding the chakra system and the effect it can have on your body will allow you to focus your practice on poses that balance certain chakras.
The first chakra is at the base of your spine. It's associated with feelings of being grounded and secure. Herring says that big changes in your life, such as relocating or traveling, can cause a root chakra deficiency, resulting in anxiety, fear and insecurity. Yoga asanas that stimulate or open the root chakra include grounding poses, such as Mountain pose, or any balancing pose. Restorative poses, such as Reclining Bound Angle, Supported Corpse pose and Supported Child's pose, encourage the feeling of relaxing as you surrender to gravity.
Chakra two, the sacral chakra, is located below your navel, affecting your hips, sacrum, lower back and genitals. This chakra is connected to your sexuality, emotions and sense of intimacy. A deficiency can manifest through fear of pleasure, resistance to change and discomfort in the lower back and hips. Yoga poses that open the hips and groin area, such as Bound Angle, King Pigeon and Squatting pose, will stimulate the sacral chakra.
Solar Plexus Chakra
The third chakra is located below the breastbone and behind the stomach. It involves self-esteem, ego and power, as well as digestion and metabolism. Energizing or empowering yoga poses will help to stimulate the third chakra if there’s a deficiency resulting in eating disorders, low self-esteem or digestive problems. Practice Sun Salutations and abdominal strengtheners, such as Boat pose, Warrior poses and twists. To cool an excessive third chakra, which can result in anger, perfectionism and hatred, try passive Backbends to calm the abdominal area.
The fourth chakra is behind the breastbone and is the center of the chakra system. The heart chakra is associated with love, compassion and spirituality. When this chakra is deficient, you'll have feelings of shyness and loneliness; co-dependency, jealousy and possessiveness are signs of an overactive heart chakra. To simulate a deficient heart chakra, do yoga poses that involve stretching out the chest and shoulders, such as Cobra, Upward-Facing Dog and other Backbends.
Chakra five is in the V of your collarbone and is associated with the neck, throat, jaw and mouth. A deficient throat chakra will manifest through neck stiffness, shoulder tension, under-active thyroid and a resistance to communication, whereas inability to listen, excessive talking and an overactive thyroid are related to an excessive third chakra. Yoga poses that work to balance the throat chakra include Camel pose, Bridge pose, Shoulder stand and Plow pose.
The sixth chakra is above your eyes in the center of your forehead. It is associated with intuition, self-awareness and selflessness. An overactive sixth chakra can cause headaches, hallucinations, nightmares and difficulty concentrating -- poor memory and difficulties visualizing can indicated a deficiency. Yoga poses that put pressure on the third eye, such as Supported Forward Bends or Child's pose, can stimulate this chakra. Poses that direct your focus to the third eye, such as Eagle pose, will also help to balance the sixth chakra.
Chakra seven is at the top of your skull and is associated with self-knowledge and connection with a higher being. An overactive crown chakra can manifest as feelings of spiritual superiority or being overly intellectual, whereas skepticism, materialism and apathy might indicate a deficiency. Mediation is well-suited to bring the crown chakra into balance. Two poses used in meditation include Corpse pose and Lotus.