Characteristics and Colors
Beginning at the base of the spine, the three lower chakras control instinctive reactions. The Muladhara or Root chakra at the base of the spine is red, and deals with issues of support, prosperity and survival. The Svadhisthana or Sacral chakra, about 2 inches below the navel, is orange and controls sexuality and a sense of well-being. The Manipura or Solar Plexus chakra at the navel is yellow and is about self-confidence. The upper four chakras control mental and spiritual activity.
The Anahata or Heart chakra is green and allows love, joy and inner peace. The Visuddhi or Throat chakra is blue and governs communication, truth and self-expression. The violet Ajna, or Third Eye chakra between the eyebrows, manages intuition, imagination and wisdom. The Sahasrara or Crown chakra, just above the head, is clear, crystalline amethyst. It links you to inner and outer beauty and spiritual bliss.
Meditation and Mantra
Time-honored methods to release kundalini energy by unblocking stuck chakras include meditation, mudra and mantra practice. A mudra is a symbolic, sacred hand gesture -- resting your right hand in your left, palms up, thumb tips touching as you sit in meditation picturing the Sacral chakra, enhances your visualization. A specific mantra or Sanskrit chanted phrase for each chakra resonates even more strongly to open blocked energy. Lam is a simple mantra for the Root chakra; Ram helps to open the Navel chakra. Om is used to help open the Third Eye.
Sit easily in meditation. Starting at the Root chakra, visualize a blooming flower or whirling vortex of energy in the color of each chakra in turn, while chanting its mantra. The visual meditation alone is a powerful practice, even without specific mudras and mantras to amplify the energy directed to each center.
Chakras on the Mat
Balance your chakras with yoga poses that open each chakra, allowing your energy to flow more evenly from the seat of your spine to the top of your head. Sample poses to target each chakra include Tree pose for the Root chakra, followed by Goddess pose, Boat, Camel, Supported Shoulder Stand, Easy pose and Corpse. Together, they ground the lower body, lengthen the spine, expand the chest, stimulate the throat and unclench the shoulders, freeing your attention to engage with your intuition and understand your true nature. Take some time in each pose to connect with the color energy for the chakra and imagine it whirling and unrestricted. A yoga sequence balances the energy centers to increase well-being, both emotional and physical.
Make Your Move
Anodea Judith, a well-known author and expert in chakra balancing, lists simple exercises you can do while concentrating on each chakra to restore the free flow of kundalini energy up your spine. Pressing into the floor or ground while standing with feet hip-width apart as you regulate the in and out breath activates the Root chakra. A subtle pelvic release during seated meditation engages the Sacral chakra. Abs crunches open your Navel chakra. Coordinating your breathing with focus on the heart stimulates the Heart chakra. Chanting all the chakra mantras repeatedly -- Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Aum, silence -- resonates in the Throat chakra. Capture a point of light in your awareness and visualize it with your eyes closed to open your Third Eye. Practice Mindfulness meditation -- complete focus in the moment with an empty mind -- to activate the Crown, or consciousness, chakra.