Contributed by Rosemarie Layne
Both Eastern and Western cultures have recognized the importance of energy for centuries. Without it, we couldn’t dance or do anything else that we enjoy. Whether you call it chi, prana, the life force, or whatever, it’s what gives you the spark of life. It flows all through the energy centers in your body, which in Indian teachings are called chakras.
Everyone has the same seven chakras, but how they work together and express your unique genetic heritage is totally yours. They’re the links between your physical and emotional energetic selves, and they have a powerful influence on your nerves and the hormones that affect your feelings and actions.
Chakra means ‘wheel’ or ‘disk’; in Indian dance, chakra means ‘spins’ or ‘turns’. The image of the power or energy is that of a coiled snake at the base of your spine. Chakra energy spins and spirals around, creating youth and vitality, like the whirling dervish dancers from the Middle East. Chakras are both programs and memories – think of them as files that store information about your life.
The three lowest ones – those located around the belly area – are those most intensely related to your feminine physical self, so they’re the ones we’ll be concentrating on. These centers govern deep, fundamental issues. Here’s a breakdown of each one:
- The root or first chakra is located at the base of your spine and hips. It’s affected by how safe, secure, and content you feel in the world and is associated with passion, love, sexuality, creativity, appetite and inspiration. The body parts and systems that are associated with this chakra are your adrenal glands, lymph system, and elimination. Its element is earth.
- The sacral or second chakra is located in the belly, sexual organs, and lower back and represents emotions and memories with respect to how you relate to other people, as well as your relationship to food and sex. It governs your will, concentration, self-responsibility, and level of self-control. Its element is water.
- The solar plexus or third chakra is located just above the navel and has to do with your self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect. It’s related to your sense of freedom and power and being comfortable with who you are. Its element is fire.
- The fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh chakras relate to your other systems (such as your heart and circulation and your immune system) and correspond to other emotions, senses and areas of consciousness (such as perceptions of love; and receiving acceptance, direction, and intuition).
Thinking about the chakras helps you get to know the relationship between your body, emotions, and consciousness. The centers and your physical being become a kind of map of your emotional self, giving you clues as to what’s right for you. Your personality traits and even a weight problem could be related to your chakras. For example, when your first chakra isn’t balanced, you may feel restless and irritable; and when your second chakra is unbalanced, you may feel burned-out, dominating, and have poor digestion.