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Chakra Definitions: Keys to Health, Happiness & Spirituality

Chakra definitions come from ancient Eastern traditions. According to these manuscripts and teachings, chakras are spiritual centers that direct the flow of energy in the human body. They are also associated with emotional and psychological patterns.

The unseen world of energy flow becomes more tangible through understanding how the chakras work. Knowing where the chakras are placed also shows how the spiritual body connects to the physical body. Finally, the chakras give context for many practices that have become mainstream in the West such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation.

Chakra Definitions Article Content

This article provides key information including chakra definitions for the seven main chakras (root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown), how to  transform chakra energy, pronunciation of the Sanskrit chakra names, intro to the colors of the chakras, methods of working with the chakras, chakras and the kundalini energy, a downloadable Chakra Chart PDF and the author’s experience with chakra energy.

Chakra Definitions Seated Yogi

Table of Contents

Chakra Definitions & Symbolism

Although most sources describe seven major chakras, there may be many more energy centers in the body. For example, some systems include eight chakras. These systems add a sub-chakra for the heart. This is called the secret chamber of the heart or the cave of the heart.

Other systems include twelve chakras. This includes the seven major chakras plus chakras in the hands, feet and side. Detailed systems that relate the chakras to acupuncture meridians may include one hundred forty-four chakras or more. For the purpose of this article, we’ll cover chakra definitions for the seven main energy centers.

Chakra Definitions & Kundalini

Download a free Chakra Chart PDF

All life experiences are stored in one or more chakra. Clearing the chakras of negativity is a process that can be accomplished in many ways. Tools include meditation, affirmations, mantras, yoga, dietary practices and self-examination. Chakra definitions for each chakra are outlined below. There are also links to extensive articles for each chakra and related topics.

Chakras can be defined in several ways:

  • The position of the chakras
  • The role of the chakras in the physical body
  • The impact of the chakras on the psychological level
  • The impact of the chakras on emotional levels

Root Chakra Definitions

The root chakra is at the base of the spine. The name for in Sanskrit is Muladhara. This is the chakra of safety and security. “Mula” means “root” and “adhara” means “base or support.”  In the Hindu tradition, the base chakra is depicted as a lotus flower with four petals. The four petals of the base chakra are generally viewed as mind, intellect, consciousness and ego. 

Root Chakra Symbol
Root Chakra Symbol

The root or base chakra provides the foundation upon which the other chakras rest. The root chakra can also be seen as connected with your personal and ancestral history. These are the roots that can either bind you to the earth in a negative sense or give you a strong base and presence in the world. 

This chakra is associated with establishing connection and survival:

  • Connection to your physical body
  • Connection to the earth
  • Connection to the environment
  • Survival instincts for food and shelter
  • Safety, comfort and belonging

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Root Chakra Definitions

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Chakra Symbols.

Sacral Chakra Definitions

The second or sacral chakra is known as Svadhishthana. (Chakra name pronunciation video below.) This chakra is defined as the seat of the self and the relationship of the self with others. The organs associated with the sacral chakra are the reproductive organs, the kidneys and the bladder. The sacral chakra is said to house the unconscious. This is sometimes symbolized as the ocean. The sacral chakra is also the seat of creation, called the seat of the soul.

Sacral Chakra Definitions and Symbol
Sacral Chakra Symbol

Two of the deities associated with the sacral chakra are the goddess Parvati and the god Vishnu (an incarnation of Krishna). Parvati is the Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion as well as divine strength and power. She is the gentle and nurturing aspect of the goddess energy and the consort of Shiva. Learn more about Chakras and Deities.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Sacral Chakra Definitions

Chakra Meaning
Chakra Symbols

Goddess Parvati
Chakras and Deities

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Chakra Symbols.

Solar Plexus Chakra Definitions

The third chakra or solar plexus chakra is known as Manipura. (Chakra name pronunciation video below.) The name translates as the “city of jewels.” “Mani” means “gem” while “pura” means “city.” When purified, this is the chakra of inner peace. The solar plexus chakra is located at the naval, center of intuition (a gut feeling).

Solar Plexus Chakra Meaning and Symbol
Solar Plexus Chakra Symbol

The solar plexus chakra is connected to both service and desires. This is the chakra where we get a gut feeling about people, places and events. The solar plexus is symbolized as a ten-petaled lotus that resembles a sun. The fire of the sun is similar to the physical energy needed to digest and transform food. Each petal corresponds to a specific Sanskrit letter and the overcoming of a negative tendency. Learn more at Chakra Symbols

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Solar Plexus Chakra Definitions 

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Heart Chakra Definitions

The fourth chakra is the heart chakra or the Anahata chakra. (Chakra name pronunciation video below.) In Sanskrit, “Anahata” means “unhurt, unstruck, unbeaten.” At the same time, Anahata means “pure” or “clean.”

Heart Chakra Definitions and Symbol
Heart Chakra Symbol

The physical organs associated with the heart chakra are the heart itself, the circulatory system and the lungs. As the seat of love and devotion, the heart expresses charity, compassion, and kindness. The heart is also a focus for beauty and culture. The heart chakra is symbolized by a twelve-petaled lotus with interlocking triangles in the center.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Heart Chakra Definitions 

Heart, Lungs & More
Chakras and Organs

Pink Quartz 
Chakras Stones

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Chakra Symbols.

Throat Chakra Definitions

The fifth chakra is the throat chakra or the Vishuddha chakra. (Chakra name pronunciation video below.) In Sanskrit, Vishuddha means “especially pure.” The throat chakra is depicted as having sixteen petals. In the center is a triangle pointing downward and a white circle representing akashi or ether.

Throat Chakra Definitions and Symbol
Throat Chakra Symbol

Throat chakra definitions include creativity and self-expression as well as the actions of speaking and chanting. This chakra is associated with the neck, the esophagus, the teeth, the mouth and the ears.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Throat Chakra Definitions 

Throat Chakra: Horns
Chakras and Instruments

Aquamarine Healing Stone for the Throat Chakra

Aquamarine
Chakras Stones

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Third Eye Chakra Definitions

The sixth chakra is the third eye, the seat of spiritual vision. (Chakra name pronunciation video below.) The Sanskrit term for this chakra is Ajna, which means “command” or “perceive.”

The pineal gland or third eye is associated with this chakra. The third eye, usually associated with clairvoyant abilities, can be developed with yoga, meditation and the practice of chanting.

Third Eye Chakra Definitions and Symbol
Third Eye Symbol

The vibrations of chanting and singing are felt in the skull and can be consciously directed to the third eye. Other physical organs associated with the third eye are the eyes, the ears and the pituitary gland.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Third Eye Chakra Definitions 

Third Eye: Piano
Chakra Sounds

Amethyst Third Eye Chakra Healing Stone

Amethyst
Chakras Stones

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Chakra Symbols.

Crown Chakra Definitions

The seventh chakra is the crown chakra, the seat of enlightenment, known in Sanskrit as the Sahasrara chakra. (Chakra name pronunciation video below.) Sahasrara means “thousand-petaled.” According to Eastern traditions, the crown chakra is related to god-consciousness (samadhi) and the transforming powers of the divine.

Crown Chakra Definitions and Symbol
Crown Chakra Symbol

On the physical level, the crown is related to the nervous system and the brain. There is also a connection to the pineal and pituitary glands (similar to the third eye) and to the hypothalamus.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Crown Chakra Definitions 

Diamond Third Eye Chakra Stone

Diamond for the Crown Chakra
Chakras Stones

Crown Chakra: Note TI
Chakras and Notes

Nataraja Lord of the Dance
Nataraja, Deity of the Crown Chakra

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Understanding the Chakras

Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of the seven major chakras. Chakra meaning does vary to some degree from source to source. This is a vast field of study. If you are seeking to work with the chakras, research and your own experience will help you to determine which approach is most helpful for you.

A note of warning: some practitioners believe that all of our experiences and memories are encoded in the energy of the chakras. This is powerful stuff. In the process of healing, clearing and balancing the chakras, memories and emotions can be released.

As a result, while you are working with the chakras you may suddenly feel grief or anger on the one hand or experience sudden laughter or elation on the other hand. This could occur while focusing on a particular chakra or at any point afterwards.

If this happens and the experience is disconcerting, please take care of yourself and find the assistance you need from family, friends and professionals. In my experience, the key is to transform the energy rather than to deny or suppress emerging feelings.

Chakra Definitions and Meditation
Statues from the Garden of a Thousand Buddhas

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Chakra Symbols.

Transforming Chakra Energy

It may be helpful to recognize that chakras are all based on energy: in my experience the key is to transform the energy rather than to deny or suppress your feelings. Energy can be transformed in a number of ways. For example, mantras are a tool that can transform chakra energy. Research and personal experience will help you to determine which tools are most helpful for you.

My own favorite practice for balancing and healing the chakras and transforming energy is mantra yoga. Other practices that may be helpful in working with the energy of the chakras include exercise, yoga, meditation, journaling and so forth. There are differences in the recommendations from source to source for these approaches. You may want to find more than one approach that works for your temperament and personality.

Seven Chakra Definitions with Chakra Sounds

In the practice of mantra yoga, there are seed syllables associated with each chakra. These are concentrated sounds in Sanskrit that strengthen the energy of each chakra. In order from the base to the crown, these are LAM, VAM, RAM, YAM, HAM, OM and AUM (also ANG or AH). I have also included examples of mantras for the chakras in subsequent articles dedicated to each chakra: Root, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye and Crown.

I like to practice the seed syllables for each chakra in song form. I also think about the various deities in Hinduism associated with the chakras. Learn more at Hindu Deities & Mantras. The deities and their stories are illustrations of symbolic chakra meaning. Learn more about Chakra Sounds.

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Sanskrit Chakra Name Pronunciations

This video is a quick pronunciation guide to the Sanskrit chakra names. Translations of the names give clue to the roles of the chakras in the body and on psychological and emotional levels.

Muladhara:  “Mula” means “root” and “adhara” means “base or support.”
Svadhishthana: Svadhishthana means “one’s own abode.”
Manipura: Manipura translates as the “city of jewels.” 
Anahata: Anahata means “unhurt, unstruck, unbeaten, pure or clean.”
Vishuddha: Vishuddha means “especially pure.”
Sahasrara: Sahasrara means “thousand-petaled.”

Thanks to Jake Fleming for the pronunciations and to Rose Karlsen for the chakra illustration. 

Chakra Definitions and Colors

The colors associated with the chakras also differ in various traditions. Many systems use the colors of the rainbow, beginning with red at the base and moving through violet for the crown.

Some esoteric groups use a sequence of white (root chakra), violet (sacral chakra), purple/gold (solar plexus chakra), pink (heart chakra), blue (throat chakra), green (third eye chakra), and yellow (crown chakra).

This second set of colors are purported to be the purified colors of the chakras or the chakras in their etheric state. In addition, there are essential oils, healing stones and other tools associated with each chakra. See the articles linked above.

Chakra Definitions and Color

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Chakra Symbols.

Working with the Chakras

Illustrations of the chakras include extensive symbolism, Sanskrit letters, and hieroglyphs. They are a study in ancient wisdom and spirituality, recording various aspects of consciousness associated with each chakra.

There are a number of ways to work with the chakras:

  • toning the seed syllables or primordial sounds for each of the seven chakras (Chakra Sounds)
  • chanting mantras dedicated to the deities associated with each chakra 
  • visualizing light and healing for the physical organs associated with each chakra
  • working with the psychological and emotional aspects of each chakra
  • using visualizations, yantras (Yantra Meaning) and color therapy for the chakras 
  • using Essential Oils and Chakras Stones for the chakras 
Garden Buddha Meditating

Learn more about the benefits of essential oils on the Essential Drops of Joy website.

An Unexpected Chakra Experience

I had an unexpected experience of the power of the chakras several years ago. I was taking a swing dance class with my husband. He was enthusiastic about having me there as he was an avid ballroom dancer at the time. I was less keen on attending. However, I had agreed to go in the spirit of a shared activity.

There were twenty or thirty people in the class and the men were lined up in a circle around the edge of the room. The women would dance with one man for a moment or two, practicing a variety of spinning moves, and then move on to the next man and repeat the same steps and spins.

We were nearing the end of the hour. Since we were repeating the same spins over and over, we were actually whirling around much more than one normally would in an actual dance. Suddenly I felt a rushing sense like a campfire ignited at the base of my spine, instantaneously filling my pelvis and beginning to move upwards.

Sanskrit and Chakra Meaning
Sanskrit Prayer Wheel

I had never experienced that kind of thing before but had read and studied enough to recognize what was happening. I knew it had something to do with the kundalini energy at the base of the spine beginning to rise. However, I had no clue what would happen next.

I was panicked about being in a public place during this unusual experience. Was I going to have a seizure? Would I fall to the floor twitching and writhing and humiliate myself? Would I lose consciousness? Would they have to call an ambulance for me?

“No!” I commanded instantly, “Not here! Not now!” The experience ended as quickly as it had begun. I walked to the foyer, changed my shoes and headed for the car. To my husband’s great disappointment, I refused to take any more dance classes. Going forward, I preferred to work with the chakras in a more conscious and controlled manner.

Afterward, I did some research into the whirling dervish dances of the Sufis, which seemed to be the closest thing to what I had experienced. The whirling dervishes and even Tibetan prayer wheels are based on the principle that rotational force can result in energy rising upward. Interestingly, children often play a game of spinning around until they are too dizzy to stand up. As adults, we are generally moving only forwards or backwards!

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Chakras & the Kundalini

What I experienced seems to have been a form of spontaneous kundalini movement. The Sanskrit word “kundalini” means “coiled like a snake.” The snake is a common symbol of the kundalini, an energy curled at the base of the spine. As the kundalini moves upward, the energy flows through the seven major energy centers called chakras.

Many mystics and yogis have written and taught about the rising of the kundalini. In some meditation practices, bringing the energy to the crown of the head is considered to be the physical counterpart to achieving enlightenment. Of course, there are mystics who have achieved elevated states without any knowledge of such things. You do not necessarily have to know chakra definitions or the details of the kundalini to meditate, practice yoga or sing mantras.

All the same, if you want to cultivate this process consciously or you are seeking to understand spontaneous experiences, familiarity with these things could be helpful. There are many approaches to awakening and raising the kundalini. A wide variety of yogic techniques can guide you in that direction. In fact, even rather mechanical practices can be effective. For example, Dr. Francis Lefebure, a French physician and scientist (1916-1988), designed  a device called a Gyrascope that would awaken the kundalini when used for about an hour a day. 

Prayer Flags Buddha Garden

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Guide to Chakra Definitions

Below is a guide to many aspects of the seven major chakras. The guide includes chakra names, chakra qualities, the purpose of each chakra, the physical organs associated with each chakra, healing stones for the chakras, essential oils for the chakras, all of the types of sounds associated with the chakras.

Download a free Chakra Chart PDF

Seven Chakra Definitions and Guide Part 1
Seven Chakras Definitions and Guide Part 2
Kathleen Karlsen Video Resources Thumbnail

Meet the Author

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.

Kathleen Karlsen’s Books

Vocal Medicine reveals Kathleen Karlsen’s personal journey and years of research into mantras, chanting and kirtan. Learn more about using mantras and singing to invigorate your life! Explore the chakras and the impact of sound in every area of your life. 

Flower Symbols by Kathleen Karlsen features fascinating information about the folklore of the world’s most beloved flowers. Flowers accompany us in nearly every major event in life. This book is a perfect gift for every flower lover in your life! 

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CHAKRA DEFINITIONS ARTICLE SUMMARY

Chakra definitions come from ancient Eastern traditions. Chakras are spiritual centers that direct the flow of energy in the human body. They are also associated with emotional and psychological patterns. Chakra definitions help to make the unseen world of energy flow more tangible. Finally, chakra definitions give context for many practices that have become mainstream in the West such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation. This article provides chakra definitions for the seven main chakras (root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown).

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