The throat chakra is the fifth of the seven chakras, located at the center of the neck above the shoulders, right where the throat begins. This chakra is responsible for the flow of energy between the head and the lower half of the body.
The throat chakra symbolizes personal expression and communication. Since the throat is responsible for our voice, this chakra is related to sound -- our voice transfers sound into the air through vibrations in our vocal cords which we absorb through the ears and the whole body itself. With our voice comes expressing and accepting our individuality and uniqueness, speaking truth, gaining knowledge, and generating authenticity.
This chakra is associated with the color blue -- blue is the color of the spirit and is connected to self-expression through knowledge, truth, communication, and speech. The effects of blue are soothing and create a calming and relaxing effect on the mind -- darker blues stimulate clear thought while lighter blues aid in mental clarity and concentration. It can also have a pacifying effect on the entire nervous system.
Even though this chakra is connected to self-expression, vocalization, creativity, originality, and truth -- it can be affected by doubt and negativity. When this chakra is out of balance, we ignore others as well as our own voice, have trouble listening, and struggle or feel reluctant to express ourselves.
A throat chakra that is balanced feels natural -- we will speak, listen, and express ourselves easily, truthfully, and openly. Practicing yoga can help activate and balance this chakra. Yoga serves as the connection to the spiritual and physical parts of the body. When doing yoga specifically for the throat chakra -- connect to the breath through asanas that release tension and return the flow of energy to the throat area. Previously, an asana referred to a sitting meditative pose, but today it refers to any type of pose or position that involves reclining, inverting, standing, twisting, or balancing. These types of poses reactivate the passage of energy from the head, through the throat and down throughout the rest of the body.
A few yoga poses to consider when attempting to activate or balance the throat chakra include:
Camel pose or ustrasana is a kneeling backbend asana pose. This pose is great because it incorporates the full body and almost all of the major muscles. It also comes with a number of benefits -- opens and deeply stretches the hip flexors, stretches and strengthens the shoulders and back, expands the abdomen while improving digestion and elimination, opens the chest to improve respiration, and stretches areas you may not think of such as the ankles, thighs, groin, and throat.
This pose can also tone many areas of the body when performed properly. Beginners may find this pose difficult to achieve, and should only hold it for about 20 seconds.
To begin, start by kneeling on your yoga mat, those with sensitive knees may benefit from extra padding. The knees should be spread hip width apart with the thighs perpendicular to the mat. The tops of the feet should be flat on the mat -- toenails touching the yoga mat, with the soles pointed upward towards the sky. Use the hands to lengthen the back pelvis as you lift the tailbone towards the sky, lift the heart as you begin to draw the shoulders downward. Begin to arc the back and bring each arm to the ankles and grab both ankles with your palms. Pressing the palms into the heels helps to maintain balance. Try to arc the back until your arms become straight. The neck should be kept in a neutral position to ensure adequate breathing and airflow, the head can be tilted backward.
Even though this pose looks daunting and difficult, it has great benefits for the body. It is considered to be a calming and relaxing pose that reduces stress and fatigue while stretching and strengthening muscles that aren’t often targeted in other exercises. It stretches parts of the lower back, shoulders, neck, hamstrings, and calves.
Begin in a supported shoulderstand (more on that towards the end) with the feet, legs, pelvis, and tailbone off the floor and pointed towards the sky. Use your palms to provide support to your back. Slowly start to exhale while bending from the hips to bring your toes to the floor stretching beyond the head. Lift the thighs and tailbone towards the sky while drawing in at the pelvis. The hands can be used as support for the back or they can be lowered and extended away from the body flat on the floor, or clasped together.
Try not to overstrain the neck by keeping the shoulders lifted towards the ears instead of away. To exit the pose, use your hands as support for the back as you rise back into shoulderstand, then roll down onto the back and slowly lower legs and feet to the floor.
This pose strengthens and invigorates the upper back, chest, neck, and quadriceps, while opening and extending the shoulders. It directly correlates to the throat chakra, because in this position the throat is entirely open and we are allowed to breathe deeply.
To begin, start by lying on your back, then come onto your elbows with your forearms pressed directly into the mat, upper arms should be perpendicular to the floor. Begin to shift the body towards the back of the mat while keeping forearms firmly planted, puff up the chest by rolling shoulders back and tucking them against the upper back. Bring the crown of the head back until it touches the floor. Palms can either be pressed into the mat on both sides of the body or tucked under the butt for extra support and stability.
Come out of the position by pressing into the forearms and bringing the head up from the floor, then release the upper body down towards the mat.
This is an easy stretch for beginners and is a very relaxing stretch to do at any point during the day or as a warmup to a deeper and longer yoga practice. It is beneficial in activating and warming up the spine while also relieving tension from the back and the neck.
To begin, rise up onto all fours with the palms and tops of the feet pressing into the floor. The palms should be directly under the shoulders and the knees directly under the hips. Try not to slouch or slump in the pose as this pose is supposed to awaken and activate the body. With a neutral spine to start, press away from your yoga mat with your palms and feet. Inhale then exhale -- on the exhale, arc the spine as your round the back towards the sky like a frightened cat. Draw in with the belly and tuck the chin into the chest. On the next inhale, loosen and bring the belly towards the floor as you lift the head and tailbone towards the sky like a cow. Flow back and forth between the two, about ten times each. Breathing slowly and transitioning slowly to activate the spine.
Shoulderstand is an inverted asana position that brings the blood flow toward the brain -- creating a calming feeling that counteracts fatigue. This position also strengthens the back and shoulders while extending and flexing the neck.
To begin, start by lying on the yoga mat, then bring both legs into a vertical lift while drawing them in towards the chest. The knees should be bent over the face with the feet extending out past the body. By bringing the legs in, the back has come up off the floor -- here use your palms as support for your back. Draw the shoulder blades together, connect to the core and lift one leg straight up into the air. Follow by bringing the other leg into the air and extend the body fully towards the sky. Pressure should be on the shoulders and upper arms while the palms support the back. Be careful not to take the feet past the head and try to stay in alignment.
To exit the pose, slowly roll out by bringing the back down to the floor followed by the legs and the feet.
These poses should help activate your throat chakra because they each bring emphasis into stretching, extending, and flexing the neck. They should help unblock this chakra and return the flow of energy naturally throughout the entire body -- from the head to the throat passage and down to the lower body. Regain the connection to yourself by activating this chakra and easily be able to express yourself, thoughts, and speak with truth and confidence.