Chakra Yoga: 8 Powerful Ancient Yoga Poses to Activate and Balance Your Chakras
BY DHARM KHALSA & KARENA VIRGINIA
these simple kundalini yoga poses are powerful tools for opening, activating and balancing your chakras when practiced regularly.
All light is vibration. Visible light can be separated into distinct colors by generating a rainbow. The light appears to be separate colors as its frequency changes, but blended together the frequencies form one white light. Similarly, our chakras—each a different frequency and color—express the entire spectrum of
A chakra is pure and continuous energy. It is our prana in motion, a wavelength of vibration in our electromagnetic field that contains our values, feelings, thoughts, and childhood imprints. As each of the eight chakras become energized through chakra yoga and other means, the physical and emotional attributes corresponding to that frequency are also energized, as is our consciousness.
Much like a tuning fork that will not sound if it is held tightly, tightness in parts of our physical body can prevent our chakras from resonating. For a tuning fork to resonate, we have to release our grip, hold it delicately, and allow the vibration to flow. This is very similar to how we work with the physical body in kundalini yoga: the “tuning fork” of each chakra is anchored to the physical body, and by releasing physical tension we also release the movement of energy.
The body holds our emotions. When we have a blocked emotion, the chakra that corresponds to the part of the body holding that emotion is also blocked. When the energy starts flowing through the practice of chakra yoga and other means, the blocks dissolve and the emotions open. It takes deep trust to release these blockages, but it can be done by getting the prana moving through kundalini yoga and other spiritual practices.
In the following section, we describe the character of each chakra and provide yogic exercises that will enable you to connect with its essence.
First Chakra: Existence
The first chakra vibrates with the most fundamental aspect of our human incarnation: the energy of existence. This is the energy center connected to the material world and primal survival. Our physical body, our health, and our habits correspond to this area.
Its anatomical equivalent is at the perineum and the base of the spine. The legs and feet are also extensions of the first chakra. The color associated with the first chakra is red.
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Yoga for the First Chakra: Crow Pose
When we cleanse and balance the root chakra with yoga, we boost our health, strengthen our sense of security, and increase our trust in the flow of prosperity. Crow Pose is a yogic pose that brings our pranic energy to the base of the spine, the home of the first chakra and a place where we often conceal ourselves.
Chakra Yoga Instructions: Crow Pose
1. Stand with your legs three feet apart. Feel your spine rising tall from your pelvis and your weight distributed equally between both feet on the earth below you.
2. Maintaining the position of your feet, squat down with your feet flat on the ground. We invite you to press your palms together in front of your heart as if you are praying during this chakra yoga pose, with your elbows inside your knees and your spine as straight as possible.
3. Inhale slowly and deeply into your abdomen, hold it for a moment, and fully empty your lungs on each exhalation. Continue holding the yoga pose and breathing this way for thirty seconds to three minutes.
4. To finish, release the hands and bring yourself onto your back. Rest for a few minutes. Allow your breath to flow naturally again, notice the movement of prana through the physical area of the perineum and in the space surrounding your body, especially around the hips and coccyx.
Second Chakra: Feeling
The second chakra opens our incarnation into the world of trusting our sensation. We become drawn to what feels good—drawn to warmth, to touch—and in doing so become vessels of universal creativity. When we trust that what we feel is a gift from our highest consciousness, we can surrender and allow the creative force of nature to work through us. We instinctively know what to do. We trust our instincts. We go with it. We open. Conception is the first, most beautiful creativity that we are all born of. Thus, the frequency of the second chakra is represented in the physical body through the sexual and reproductive organs, the hips, and the receptive lower spine. The color associated with it is orange.
chakra vibrates at a very deep emotional, not mental, level.
Modifications: If you have difficulty holding this chakra yoga position, two wonderful modifications can make it easier. First, keeping the balls of your feet on the ground, you can place a rolled-up yoga mat or blanket beneath your heels. Or, if putting your palms together causes you to fall backward, try holding on to the leg of a heavy table with both hands instead.
Yoga for the Second Chakra: Pelvic Lifts
Yoga movements that open the hips and relax the pelvis encourage the flow of positive energy while releasing negative energy in the tender area of the second chakra. In this chakra yoga exercise we balance the energy in the lower belly by using the breath, visualization, and movement.
Chakra Yoga Instructions: Pelvic Lifts
1. Lie down on your back with your spine flat against the ground. Feel your breath entering through your nostrils and filling your lungs; notice the rise and fall of your rib cage with each breath. Tune in to the steady, nurturing earth below you and the vastness of the sky above as you breathe.
2. Bend your knees so your soles are flat on the ground, close to your buttocks, with your knees pointing toward the sky. Place your arms alongside your torso, with the palms pressing down against the earth. Alternatively, hold onto your ankles.
3. For the first phase of this chakra yoga pose, inhale as you slowly raise your pelvis as high as possible, lifting your spine up off the floor one vertebra at a time, starting with the lowermost vertebrae and gradually moving up the spinal column.
4. Exhale as you slowly lower the spine back down to the starting position, feeling it reconnect, vertebra by vertebra, back down onto the ground.
5. Continue lifting up and lowering your pelvis down throughout the chakra yoga pose with a slow, steady, smooth, meditative movement. Allow your breath to lead the movement, fully filling your lungs as you inhale and stretch your spine up, fully exhaling as you lower back down. As your breath leads your spine, allow your spine to move the rest of your body. Visualize your breath erasing tension as you inhale and visualize your breath releasing any imbalance as you exhale. Continue for three to twenty-six lifts.
6. For the second phase, stay in the upward position while you take long, slow, and deep breaths. Completely fill the lungs and allow your rib cage to expand on each inhale. Hold your breath in for a moment after each inhalation and hold out after each exhalation. As you exhale, empty the lungs fully and allow your rib cage to compress. Continue for three breath cycles or longer.
8. Now fully exhale while bringing your hips up a little higher. At the end of the exhale, hold the breath out for as long as you comfortably can.
9. Inhale again and slowly exhale as you lower your spine down to the floor, vertebra by vertebra, until the last parts of your body to come down are your buttocks.
10. With your back flat on the floor, turn your palms up and stretch your legs out. Stay still, taking long, slow, deep breaths, feeling the shift in your energy body, particularly around your hips, groin, and lower spine. Trust that everything you are feeling is moving through you to bring harmony in a newfound way.
Third Chakra: Power, Stability, Perseverance
The navel was where we were all once connected to our mother in her womb. We completely trusted this lifeline, and every day as we grew we would draw on that connection with our mother. That sense of trust continues in our lives via the navel point. The navel point is located between the navel inward toward the base of the spine.
While the navel is a physical part of our bodies, the navel point is an etheric ball of energy which holds our consciousness and power as spiritual beings having a human experience. The navel point acts like a pranic reservoir, and it reverberates like sunshine radiating through our entire being. If prana is flowing easily through our third chakra, which starts just below the belly button and projects upward into the solar plexus, we have an inherent sense of being sustained energetically, giving us the power and confidence to manifest on earth. The third chakra is known in kundalini yoga as the place where true awakening happens. It is where the fire is ignited and sent to the other chakras. The color associated with this chakra is yellow.
Yoga for the Third Chakra: Front Platform
Many people sense a pang in their stomachs when something is simply not right. We often experience our inner instinctual guidance system through feelings that seem to arise from our third chakra.
There’s a reason we call this a “gut reaction,” and by all means it is a very important message to listen to. We can develop the sensitivity to truly listen to what the gut is expressing.
When the third chakra needs balancing, you may feel unstable in your day-to-day decisions and uncertain about your choices. The following chakra yoga exercise opens the flow of prana through the third chakra, balancing and sensitizing us to hear the messages we get from the solar plexus area.
Chakra Yoga Instructions: Front Platform
1. Lie on your stomach with your toes pointed away from your head. Bend your elbows and press your palms against the floor on either side of your body alongside your rib cage.
2. Inhale and push your body up off the floor so you are supported by your palms and the tops of your feet. Keep your heels together and the toes pointed throughout this chakra yoga asana. Look down at the floor between your hands while drawing your neck back, creating one straight line from the top of your head to your toes. Engage your abdominal muscles.
3. Hold the position and begin taking long, deep inhales and exhales, drawing your breath deeply into your abdomen and pushing it completely out. Imagine your breath as light. Continue for thirty seconds to three minutes, focusing on the flow of prana spiraling through your navel center.
4. To finish this kundalini yoga pose, bring your knees to the ground and press your glutes back toward your heels while drawing your hands alongside your hips with your palms facing upward. Rest in this Baby Pose for the same amount of time as you practiced Front Platform Pose.
Modification: If the full chakra yoga position is too much of a strain, keep your knees on the floor and push only your upper body up.
Fourth Chakra: Love
“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.”
– Helen Keller
The fourth chakra is the chakra of love and compassion. It corresponds to the heart, and its color is green. The heart chakra is the most powerful center in the human body. The release of kundalini energy along the short distance from the navel to the fourth chakra, or heart center, is a miracle. A huge cascade of physiological, emotional, and spiritual changes takes place when our heart is allowed to resonate with its true feelings. The heart has the capacity to transcend everything. When we pray, we pray from our heart. When memories of times with those we love make us feel sentimental, we are feeling from the heart. Our heart is our vulnerability, and we must keep it healthy with love. When we speak from our heart, we inspire others.
In fact, we do not even need words to communicate from the heart. We can simply smile, and our smile expresses unity and connection.
The state of love from an activated and balanced heart center does not depend on external conditions. It becomes a self-sustaining, deep, completely natural empathy for and energetic connection with one another and with ourselves. However, when the heart chakra is imbalanced, we forget to take care of our own needs, and we may cling to others for the support we are not giving ourselves.
Yoga for the Fourth Chakra: Heart-Centering Meditation
This yogic chakra meditation uses a special mantra to vibrate the energy frequency of the heart center. Mantras are usually spoken or chanted out loud so that the vibration can permeate our bodies, but in this exercise you will be chanting the mantra silently, in your mind. The mantra for the Heart-Centering Meditation is an affirmation of our connectivity with all there is. The humming sound of each syllable comforts our hearts. It is pronounced “Humee Humm Brahmm Humm,” and it means, “I am I, and I am divine.” This mantra reminds our souls that we are part of a much greater whole and that we are loved in more ways than the mind can comprehend.
Yogic Chakra Meditation Instructions: Heart-Centering Meditation
1. Sit on your heels in a kneeling position for this chakra yoga meditation, keeping your spine straight. Spend a few moments feeling the flow of breath entering deeply into your lungs.
2. With your elbows extended to the sides, like wings, and forearms parallel to the ground, turn your palms toward the ground and touch your middle fingers together in front of your heart. Keep your fingers straight.
3. Lower your eyelids until they are almost closed and focus your gaze on the tip of your nose. This eye position is often used in kundalini yoga to focus and quiet the mind as well as activate the pituitary and pineal glands.
4. Like when you have a song in your head, listen to your inner voice silently vibrating with the mantra “Humee Hum Brahm Hum” (pronounced “hummee humm brumm humm”). Listen to yourself chanting as though you were moving your mouth, but without speaking or even moving your lips. Alternatively, you may wish to listen to recorded music of this mantra.
5. With each repetition of the chakra yoga mantra, slowly extend your hands out from your heart center straight to the sides, keeping your hands and forearms parallel to the ground and your palms facing down. As your hands move to the sides, powerfully pull in your abdomen at the navel, lifting the solar plexus and diaphragm slightly.
6. Move the hands and arms back into the original position with fingertips together in front of you, as described in step 2. Release and relax the navel as you bring the hands into center.
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6, continuing the arm movement while keeping your eyes focused at the tip of your nose and listening to the resonance of the mantra in your mind. Move the arms at a comfortable and consistent pace. Continue for three to eleven minutes.
8. To finish the chakra yoga meditation, close your eyes completely as you inhale with fingertips in the center position. Hold your breath for five to fifteen seconds. Then exhale and relax your hands down to rest on your thighs. Sit for some time with eyes closed. We invite you to connect with the prana flowing through your heart center and radiating into your entire body and the electromagnetic field that surrounds you.
Fifth Chakra: Truth
The fifth chakra corresponds to the throat, and holds the frequency from which we speak in our authentic voice. It is where impulse turns into choices and action in the world. In the physical body, this frequency is represented by the neck, the vocal chords, and the crossroads between the torso, head, and arms. The fifth chakra allows us to weigh our actions and make conscious choices about how we wish to communicate our authentic expressions that originate from our true self into the world. The color associated with this chakra is blue.
From the frequency of the fifth chakra, we verbalize, make sound, and do work with our hands and head. If this chakra is blocked, we may have difficulty expressing what is coming from our heart. When we put more effort into being polite to others than we put into being truthful to ourselves and the world, we create a very unbalanced fifth chakra. In essence, denying our truth will cause blockages in the fifth chakra.
Yoga for the Fifth Chakra: Camel
Camel Pose balances the energy of the neck and throat and releases tightness there. This chakra yoga pose opens the entire throat and heart area, which enables us to love, give, and express without fear.
note: a simpler variation of this chakra yoga pose is presented below if it is too intense for you.
Chakra Yoga Instructions: Camel Pose
1. Kneel on the floor with your legs hip width apart and the thighs perpendicular to the floor. Relax your shins and the tops of your feet deeply into the floor. Place your palms on the back of your hips.
2. Inhale and lift your heart up while you allow your hips and thighs to press forward.
3. With your heart lifted, exhale and draw your shoulder blades toward each other to open the heart more deeply into this chakra yoga pose.
4. Breathing deeply in and out of your belly, continue moving your hips forward while gradually opening your sternum up toward the heavens. Pay close attention to the throat as you slowly lift your chin and tilt your head back.
5. Gently drop the head back as far as feels comfortable and lower your hands to your ankles. Continue breathing deeply.
6. Focus on relaxing your throat. Allow the healing energy in your throat to begin vibrating the sound “hummmmmmmmm.” on each exhalation. Release the sound out loud and continue for one to three minutes while holding Camel Pose.
7. To finish this chakra yoga pose, inhale deeply, fully filling your lungs and gently holding your breath. As you exhale, slowly lift your head and gradually lower your hips back down until you are sitting on your heels. Give yourself the gift of time to sit, lie down, or come into baby pose, assimilating the effects of the posture and feeling the flow of breath.
Sixth Chakra: Intuition
The sixth chakra is a frequency of energy at the third eye, the seat of our intuition (or sixth sense). It physically corresponds to the point between the eyebrows, and its color is indigo. At its most basic level, the sixth chakra is sensitive to light and dark, day and night; from here the hormones for sleep and wakefulness are released. As we develop the sensitivity of the third eye, we become aware of very subtle shifts of prana, such as those caused by the feelings of others.
This sensitive awareness is our natural state of being. In the activated whole person, kundalini can flow freely to open or shut the third eye as needed in any given situation. When the third eye is balanced, we do not have to search outside ourselves for the answers. We simply know, intuitively, and we trust what we know as truth. We also realize that our wisdom is coming from our connection to the divine. When the fifth chakra is not balanced, however, we feel confused and have a difficult time making clear decisions.
Yoga for the Sixth Chakra: Guru Pranam
Guru Pranam is a powerful chakra balancing exercise for our energy field.
It is a simple but incredibly transformative chakra yoga pose. The position is the body language of surrender, making the statement, both inwardly and outwardly, that “I bow and allow the flow of the divine.” By holding the head below the heart, we create an energetic message saying that we are allowing the heart to lead the way. We sweep the pathway clear for divinity to enter and create an invitation within ourselves to receive. We remind the mind to release its grip and let the deeper, quieter wisdom of the heart to shine.
Placing your forehead upon the floor activates your intuition by bringing energy to your third eye point. The tipping of the head forward shifts cerebral blood flow, enhances the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, and activates the glow between the pituitary and pineal glands, releasing a nectar that helps prevent aging. When practicing the version described below, spread your knees and relax your shoulders so that your heart can melt downward.
Chakra Yoga Instructions: Guru Pranam
1. Sit up on your heels in a kneeling position to start this chakra yoga pose. Deepen your breathing and recognize the flow of your prana arriving with every inhale. Feel your spine elongate as you hold it up tall. Modification If you have difficulty sitting on your heels, place folded blankets or firm pillows beneath your buttocks and straddle them with your legs.
2. Spread your knees comfortably, hinge forward from your lower spine, and slowly move your navel toward the floor while extending your arms out toward the floor in front of you as well. Keep your spine elongated and move from the lower back until you can place your forehead on the ground in front of you.
3. Focus on releasing your lower spine toward the floor; then relax your entire back down toward the floor. Pay close attention to the vertebrae between your shoulder blades, melting that area so that your heart chakra can open.
4. Stretch your arms out on the floor in front of you and bring your palms together. Begin taking long, slow breaths, inhaling and exhaling fully while visualizing light all around you. Keep your palms together, pinkies lightly touching the floor, arms outstretched, and your whole body relaxed. Surrender to the pull of gravity. Settle into this position and continue to take long, deep breaths for three to eleven minutes.
5. We invite you to sweetly and gently press your forehead to the floor throughout this chakra yoga exercise, supporting you and toward the earth below you. This position activates meridian points that send messages to the pituitary gland, resulting in the release of hormones and neuropeptides that allow the mind to become peaceful and the intuition to speak.
6. To finish this chakra pose, place your palms on the floor to support your weight with your arms and then lift your torso, beginning with your lower spine. Slowly rise up, vertebra by vertebra, until your head comes up last. Take a moment before standing up or rest on your back for a few minutes before returning to your daily routine.
Modification: If your forehead will not go all the way to the ground, place folded blankets or firm pillows underneath your head as a support.
Seventh Chakra: Grace
The seventh chakra is the energy pathway through which the pure prana of infinite wisdom merges with the individual nature of the soul. When we allow the flow of spirit to touch us at the seventh chakra, a new blossoming occurs in our consciousness. The seventh chakra, vibrating at the top of the head where the fontanel is, corresponds to the pineal gland. It is the gateway to angelic, love-infused prana. This is where we connect to spirit. Its color is violet.
Opening to the divine is a core part of the experience of being human. Everyone has this capability, but often, because of the way that religion has been misinterpreted, our experience of divinity comes weighed down with baggage, such as feelings of shame. Our innocent perception of God’s ever-flowing presence becomes undermined by our thinking, rationalizing, and second-guessing. We start to feel small and separate, and we stop trusting our own experience.
We forget that everything we encounter is part of a wondrous, loving consciousness that is coursing through us and breathing with us at this very moment.
Awareness that every sensation is a gift of the divine is called Guru Prasad. Guru Prasad is the reminder that we all are sparked by the same light and that we are part of the process of giving and receiving.
Yoga for the Seventh Chakra: Meditation for Guru Prasad
This fundamental and simple chakra yoga meditation opens us to the experience of our own connection with all there is. It bypasses all the trappings, the rules, and the limiting beliefs we might carry. All humans have the ability to simply experience their angelic nature, and Guru Prasad allows us to do that.
Chakra Yoga Instructions: Guru Prasad
1. Sit on your heels in a kneeling position throughout this chakra yoga meditation and feel your spinal column rising tall and filling up with the light of your soul. Give yourself time to breathe and to be present with the energy flowing through your breath.
2. Cup your hands together in a bowl shape, palms facing up toward the sky, in front of your heart. This creates a special kind of living bowl that receives light.
3. Relax your shoulders so your upper arms touch down snuggly but gently against the rib cage. Feel that you are in the presence of the divine and ready to receive a gift. Feel that the infinite universe is right with you, wanting to give gift after gift and blessing after blessing from its infinite abundance. Feel the universe pouring all these gifts into your hands for you to absorb into your being and into your life.
4. Lower your eyelids until your eyes are just barely open. Focus your vision on the tip of your nose. This focus opens the third eye and stimulates the optic nerve as it connects with the pineal gland. As this meditation progresses, however, feel free to close your eyes and focus internally on the third eye.
5. Begin long, deep breathing cycles, inhaling deeply through the nose and exhaling completely through the nose.
6. Open yourself to receive. Feel yourself being infused with the blessings of being part of a conscious, infinite universe. Allow the love of the universe to penetrate into your heart.
7. Continue for at least three minutes to complete this chakra yoga meditation, but you are invited to keep going for as long as you like. So much joy and so much love are just waiting to enter you. Allow this vibration to resonate into every molecule of your body and into your aura. Open up, allow, and smile.
8. To finish the chakra meditation, bring your arms down, place your hands in your lap, sit quietly, and resume normal breathing. Slowly open your eyes and see the world as a gift. As you rise and begin to move, feel yourself stepping into an energy field of delight, peace, and fulfillment.
Eighth Chakra: Radiance
“Power is your presence.”
– Yogi Bhajan
The electromagnetic field surrounding the physical body is our eighth chakra, which encompasses the totality of the resonance from all the other chakras. It is known as the aura. Just as white light combines all the colors of the rainbow into one, our eighth chakra combines all the frequencies of our being into one field. It extends as far as nine feet around our bodies and is extremely sensitive to the movement of energy, both from within us and from external sources. The color of this chakra is white.
We consider this the chakra of radiance because it radiates with a frequency that originates from the soul. Our inner glow becomes our outer glow by the projection of positive energy. When we say that someone has a healthy glow about them, we are intuitively referring to their radiance. Is our radiance a jumbled-up cacophony of disharmonious energy, or are we centered and clear? We can learn how to shift our radiance to one of health, vitality, and joy by aligning our vibration with the vibration of the infinite flowing through us. This is the key to manifesting a miraculous life.
When our radiance is aligned with our soul, our presence becomes our power. The love in our heart can ripple out through our body and flow into the world around us. We express confidence and attractive humility. We hold a magnetic grace around us. Our presence becomes our field of optimal possibilities, a magnet that draws bountiful, beautiful, and miraculous gifts. Our presence can even heal others.
Visualization for the Eighth Chakra: Expand Your Electromagnetic Frequency
Everybody is a candle, but not everybody is lit. In this meditation you will be igniting the spark that the divine gave you. This meditation will give your skin a glow from the inside out. In this meditation we silently focus on the mantra “Sat Nam,” imagining the sound rather than saying it out loud. (For more about this and other mantras, please see chapter 5 of our book Essential Kundalini Yoga)
1. Sit with your spine straight, eyes closed, and hands resting in your lap for this chakra yoga meditation. Gently roll your eyes upward and inward and focus your attention on the top of your head. Feel the flow of your breath.
2. Imagine that you are a candle with a flame of light at the top of your head and a glow of white light that extends nine feet around you on all sides. Visualize it as a huge circle of illumination that radiates outward from your heart. Keep your eyes closed and looking upward upward and inward.
3. Inhale and slowly sweep your arms out and up, with your elbows straight, fingers extended, and your palms facing the sky. As you do, silently think of the mantra “Sat.” In the long form, often used for meditation, the word Sat has a long, extended vowel sound that rhymes with the word thought.
4. At the end of the inhalation, keeping your elbows straight, touch your palms together overhead.
5. Once your palms touch above your head, turn the palms away from each other and slowly sweep the arms down as you fully exhale. Silently think of the mantra “Nam” as your arms sweep down. The word Nam is pronounced “naam” and rhymes with the word calm. Just think of that sound, without saying it.
6. As you sweep your arms down, visualize your hands clearing anything that is dense or heavy from your electromagnetic field. Think of light coming out from your fingertips as you sweep through this field.
7. Continue the chakra yoga meditation arm movements and silently hearing the mantra for three to seven minutes. Feel that your inhale and exhale are leading the movement of the arms. You can choose any pace that feels comfortable.
8. To finish, inhale, lift the arms up, and hold the breath in. Exhale slowly, lower your arms one last time, and relax. Visualize the glowing energy of illumination within you and expanding into the space around you. Tune in to the extraordinary vibration that you have just created in your aura.
About The Author
Dharm Khalsa is on the board of trustees of the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation—the non-profit organization that oversees kundalini yoga in the United States after the passing of Yogi Bhajan in 2004— as well as 3HO Foundation and Unto Infinity. He has been teaching kundalini yoga since 1980 and was a close student and staff member of Yogi Bhajan. Visit his website at dharmji.com.
Karena Virginia is a deeply spiritual life coach, inspirational speaker, healer, yoga teacher, and TV personality. She is known for her transformational and accessible messages which bring powerful and mystical practices to the mainstream. Raised by European parents, she resides in the suburbs of New York City with her husband and two children. Visit her website karenavirginia.com.