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What are the Chakras? (And how can we use them in our yoga teaching?)

Jenn, one of our yoga teachers, in her HEAL heart chakra merchandise!
Jenn, one of our yoga teachers, in her HEAL heart chakra merchandise!

What are the Chakras?

  • Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means “wheel,” “circle,” “turning” or “disk.” The traditional Sanskrit pronunciation is “CHUK-ra.”

  • Life force energy (referred to as prana or kundalini) is said to gather in centers of the subtle body.

  • Chakras refer to spinning centers of life force energy found in a person’s subtle body.

  • While some sources may connect chakras with nerve plexuses and physical organs of the body, they are not considered physical organs.

  • The theories related to chakras vary. Different models describe different numbers of chakras, different locations, different colors, symbols, etc. Some traditional writings refer to as many as 88,000 chakras.

  • The most widely accepted model is of seven spinning energy centers within the spinal column.

When I was first exposed to the chakras on my yoga teacher training in 2014, I had trouble accepting this model of the energetic anatomy of the human body. I was raised in very logical family, where my parents had backgrounds in science. We believed in science, and if a doctor hadn't seen chakras in the body whilst doing physical examinations, then we thought surely, they couldn't be real, right?

I held tightly to this belief for the next five or so years of teaching yoga. It wasn't until 2019, when I got sober, that my mind shifted.

I met a psychic named Dan who recommended I study to become a reiki practitioner. He was so spot on with all of his other predictions, that I decided I'll do it. (Sidenote about Dan: so many people have asked me for sessions with him, that we offer them now via the Mindful Life Practice. You can book your session with him here.)

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a form of alternative therapy often referred to as energy healing. It originated in Japan in the late 19th century and is based on the idea that a "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. Reiki practitioners believe that life force energy flows through the body. If this energy is low or blocked, it can lead to illness or stress. Conversely, if it is high and flowing freely, it contributes to health and happiness. Reiki aims to balance the energy fields around the body. Practitioners use their hands to channel energy into the patient, either by placing their hands lightly on or just above the body.

While doing my reiki training, something within me shifted. I started to feel powerful connections to the chakras, or energy centres in my body. To briefly summarize, this is what I learned:

The concept of chakras originates from ancient Indian spiritual traditions and is integral to practices like yoga and Ayurveda. Chakras are considered to be the main energy centers in the body, and each is associated with specific physical, emotional, and spiritual functions.

Here is a brief introduction to the seven main chakras:

1. Root Chakra (Muladhara)

- Location: Base of the spine

- Color: Red

- Element: Earth

- Function: Foundation, grounding, survival instincts, security

- Associated Glands/Organs: Adrenal glands, spine, blood, colon, legs, and feet

Fun fact: we have chakra merchandise at the Mindful Life Practice! Check out our "GROUNDED" root chakra long sleeve here!

2. Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana):

- Location: Lower abdomen, about two inches below the navel

- Color: Orange

- Element: Water

- Function: Creativity, sexuality, pleasure, emotional balance

- Associated Glands/Organs: Reproductive organs, kidneys, bladder, circulatory system

3. Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura):

- Location: Upper abdomen, around the stomach area

- Color: Yellow

- Element: Fire

- Function: Personal power, will, confidence, self-discipline

- Associated Glands/Organs: Pancreas, liver, digestive system, muscles

Fun fact...we have yoga series based on every chakra available in our membership that was created by Alex! Check out our "EMPOWERED" Solar Plexus Chakra series here...

4. Heart Chakra (Anahata):

- Location: Center of the chest

- Color: Green

- Element: Air

- Function: Love, compassion, forgiveness, emotional healing

- Associated Glands/Organs: Heart, thymus, lungs, circulatory system

Our "HEAL" heart chakra merchandise is by far the most popular. Check out the HEAL merchandise here!

5. Throat Chakra (Vishuddha):

- Location: Throat

- Color: Blue

- Element: Ether (space)

- Function: Communication, expression, truth, listening

- Associated Glands/Organs: Thyroid, throat, mouth, teeth, gums

Check out our Throat Chakra merchandise here!

6. Third Eye Chakra (Ajna):

- Location: Forehead, between the eyes

- Color: Indigo

- Element: Light

- Function: Intuition, insight, perception, imagination

- Associated Glands/Organs: Pituitary gland, eyes, head, lower part of the brain

We have an extensive selection of third eye chakra merchandise, which you can find here:

7. Crown Chakra (Sahasrara):

- Location: Top of the head

- Color: Violet or white

- Element: Cosmic energy (thought)

- Function: Spiritual connection, enlightenment, universal consciousness

- Associated Glands/Organs: Pineal gland, brain, nervous system

Balancing these chakras is believed to contribute to overall well-being, as each chakra influences different aspects of physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Practices such as meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and energy healing techniques like Reiki are often used to align and balance the chakras.

Then, shortly after my reiki training, I did an advanced yoga teacher training with Rolf Gates, where he taught us to structure our asana classes as yoga teachers using the chakra model of teaching, which is something he developed. If you're interested in this model, I teach a modified version of it on my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings, so you can learn to teach it in my YTTS! He has published a yoga journal article about it here. I found this model highly effective.

At this point I was convinced! And one of my favourite quotes about the chakras that I love to share with my students is...


Doctors and scientists used to ask me, “Why, when we have witnessed many operations have we never seen the chakras?” The only reply I could give them was, “Can you show me the sound waves in a transistor radio? I have opened up radios, but I have never found the BBC there.” – Swami Satyananada Saraswati

A fun fact about my 200 hour yoga teacher training course, is that it is designed based on the chakras! There are seven modules of course materials, which follow this model. Here's what you'll learn when you sign up...

Module 1.A: Getting Started..

During this module, you'll get an introduction to the chakras.You'll learn about yoga, addiction and mental health. You'll be introduced to trauma and yoga, and several foundational coaching skills including:

- how to facilitate circles

- silent skills

- active listening

- powerful questions

- acknowledgement/honoring

- blocks and obstacles

Module 1.B

Root Chakra "I am Grounded" 25 Hours

The root chakra is the color red and is at the base of the spine is the support system for all the other chakras. When it’s in balance, we feel grounded and stable.

In the first 25 hour module of this 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, we will study the history of yoga (the origins of Sanskrit, the origins of yoga and the branches of yoga). We will be introduced to energy and subtle bodies through the koshas, pranayama, the chakras, and the philosophy of the 8 limbs of yoga. We will workshop the main standing poses of yoga (tadasana, down dog, the warrior series, etc.)

Module 2

Sacral Chakra "I go with the Flow"  25 Hours

The sacral chakra is the home of creativity, sensuality, and emotions. When it is in balance, we feel excited about being alive and able to go with the flow. 

In this module each participant will learn about the philosophy of yoga in depth and posture workshop surya namaskar, or vinyasa flow. The students will complete eight hours of asana, meditation and pranayama practice, and practice teach one sequence.

Module 3

Solar Plexus  "I am Empowered" 25 Hours

The third chakra is all about stepping into our personal power. When this chakra is in balance, we feel confident, have high self esteem, and believe in our own potential. 

This module will include an in depth study into the ethics of yoga, devote time to mudras, bandhas and meditation, and posture workshop core strengthening poses. Each participant will complete ten hours of practice and have one practicum teaching experience.

Module 4

Heart Chakra "I love Unconditionally" 25 Hours

The heart chakra is the bridge between the inner world and the outer world. When it is in balance, we can accept, love and forgive both ourselves and others.

In this module we will be introduced to pranayama techniques and examine in detail backbending and heart opening poses. We will look at anatomy and how yoga supports health, sensation and pain, and trauma and PTSD. We will learn how to adapt our offerings to meet many students needs, from prenatal yoga to trauma informed yoga.

Module 5

Third Eye Chakra "I am Intuitive" 25 Hours

The throat chakra is all about communication and represents integrity of speech. When it’s in balance, our thoughts, words and actions are all in line. We live with authenticity and integrity.

In this module, we will explore teaching and assisting forward fold poses in yoga. We will learn in depth about the musculoskeletal system, including the fascia, tissue and muscles. We will learn about the joints, the spine and the anatomy of the core. We will learn how to teach Mindful Let Go classes - yin/restorative inspired classes.

Module 6

Third Eye Chakra "Everything I Need is Within Me" 25 Hours

The third eye chakra is about intuition. When this chakra is