Chakras are energy centers in our body. Think of them as a long hose where our energy flows through. If there is a block in one of our chakras, our energy is stuck and unable to pass through leaving our remaining chakras empty of energy and overflowing our previous chakras creating an imbalance in our bodies. Energy needs to continuously flow through our chakras to center ourselves allowing peace and harmony to balance from the inside out.
Katie Silcox from Yoga Journal has a great explanation of chakras. She says,
Chakra literally means "spinning wheel"... chakras are a convergency of energy, thoughts/feelings, and the physical body. Our consciousness (mind) gets projected through these wheels, and this largely determines how we experience reality from our emotional reactions, our desires or aversions, our level of confidence or fear, even the manifestation of physical symptoms.
There are Seven Chakras:
The Root Chakra (Muladhara) is our base chakra connecting us to the ground. It holds our energy of strength, power, support, stability, family, safety and is the foundation of ourselves. It keeps us grounded in reality and physically strong and secure. Asanas such as warrior stances, hip-openers, chair pose, deep lunges and squats help bring awareness to this center.
The Pelvic Chakra (Svadishthana) is our sacrum chakra. It holds our energy of fertility, creation, new beginnings, change, and new direction. Energy flowing through the Pelvic Chakra helps us to know our potential to self-heal. Asanas such as forward bends, hip-openers, deep lunches, and squats help us bring awareness to this center.
The Navel Chakra (Manipura) holds our energy of confidence, power, abundance and positivity. It is associated with our digestive system and core and holds a large portion of our physical strength and activity. Asanas such as the sun salutation, boat pose, warrior stances, and twists are important to keep a healthy Manipura.
The Heart Chakra (Anahata) holds our energy of love, romance, compassion, forgiveness, connection, healing, and recovery. Not only is it associated with our heart, but it also is associated with our lungs and air. When our Heart Chakra is blocked we feel insecure, disappointed and lonely. Opening the Heart Chakra allows us to feel compassion and love deeply and with meaning. Barbara Kaplan Herring writes,
The Throat Chakra (Vishuddi) is the energy home of speech and hearing and helps us carry our inner truths through our voice to the outside world. Letting go of self sabotaging acts, self doubt, and self judgements allow us to express our needs openly with our voice. Neck and shoulder stretches as well as chanting help us to open the Vishuddi. Camel pose, bridge pose, shoulder stand and plow pose can also help open the Vishuddi.
The Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) is our energy home of intuition, dreams, instincts, and psychic energies. The Ajna is where the mind and the body converge.
When the third eye is excessively abuzz with energy, we experience headaches, hallucinations, nightmares, and difficulty concentrating. When this chakra is deficient, we have a poor memory, experience eye problems, have difficulty recognizing patterns, and can't visualize well.
The Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) is our spiritual connector to enlightenment, peace, the cosmos, and everything beyond our individual ego. Meditation is the best practice to bring this chakra into balance.
Another great read about the Chakras can be found here from Mind, Body, Green: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-91/The-7-Chakras-for-Beginners.html