The Basics of Chakras: What They Are and How They Work

There are said to be seven main chakras that control our energy flow and expression. With these chakras in proper alignment, kundalini is free to flow throughout our bodies and our ideal self is emanated.

a person meditating with their chakras highlighted

“Something that's bigger is talking to you
Something that's bigger through me it gets glue
To stick to your trigger my aura is blue
Throat chakra is pulsing I know what to do”

-Kellee Maize Big Plans

Chakras are various points within the body through which energy flows. When the subtle body is in perfect alignment, it is said that kundalini (a kind of latent female energy coiled within the spine) is free to flow and a state of Nirvikalpa Samādhi is reached. Various mental blocks can be attributed to an imbalance in these points, but by understanding and meditating on these chakras the subtle body can be realigned and the ideal self achieved. Here are the chakras listed from top to bottom:

Sahasrara Chakra
The Great Bliss


The Crown Chakra

Located just above the head, its name can be translated to “thousand petals” and its color is violet or white. It represents our existence as a whole, the connection between our consciousness and a higher plane of understanding, a universality. It’s purpose is to connect us with what is beyond our understanding. It is known as the “Great Bliss”, it is the most subtle chakra and also the chakra from which all the others emanate. Because of this, keeping this chakra in check is of the utmost importance, here is a good guide for how to accomplish this. Meditating on this chakra is meditating on consciousness.

Anja Chakra


The Third Eye Chakra

Located in between the eyebrows, its name translates to “command”. In Buddhism this chakra usually depicted as an indigo two-petaled lotus represents the subconscious which is the direct link to Brahman. The meaning of this chakra is our existence as a witness, an observer to the world at large and ourselves. Meditating on this chakra is said to help with intuition and awareness. Feeling like you have trouble seeing the path you should be taking or understanding why events have transpired could mean Anja is potentially blocked, meditate on the subject you need to understand. Walk through the possible paths and find the one that will lead you to your goals.

Vishuddha Chakra


The Throat Chakra

A deep blue, this chakra is located within the throat and translates to “purest”. In esoteric Buddhism this chakra is enjoyment and represents the third of the four noble truths. This chakra is our existence as an expression and meditating on this chakra is believed to help us communicate with those around us and find our personal way of expressing. It is depicted as a lotus with 16 petals and upon these 16 petals is the Sanskrit vowels. This chakra is a purification center. Guilt is the most common factor in blocking this chakra and stopping the flow of kundalini upwards. By unblocking guilt, either through communication or acceptance, we can allow the energy to flow through this chakra and return to a state of easy expression.

Anahata Chakra


The Heart Chakra

This chakra is located in the chest and is represented by the color green. Its name translates to unstruck and it is depicted as a lotus with 12 petals. This chakra represents our expression of love and compassion. Having healthy relationships and an appreciation for the natural wonder of the world is said to allow for this chakra to flow to its fullest potential. Meditating on this chakra helps with balance and calmness. It is associated with actions of the hand and the element of air, perhaps for its free-flowing nature. To feel in tune with this chakra is to feel comfortable and complete in yourself. Having difficult relations with others will block off this chakra.

Manipura Chakra
Jewel City


The Solar Plexus Chakra

Translating to “jewel city”, this chakra is a ten petaled yellow lotus held within the gut. This represents our expression as control and action, a healthy Manipura chakra means we have control over our actions and a drive to go forward with our ambitions. Stagnating and resting on goals leads to the blockage of this chakra. There is a fine balance though! Over-stoking this fire can lead to obsessive behavior and ultimately lead to crashing and burning. Take care when nurturing this flame, and don’t let it burn too hot.

Svadhishthana Chakra


The Sacral Chakra

This chakra represents our expression as a desire and is depicted as an orange six-petaled lotus. This chakra is sexuality, pleasure, and sensuality. Getting in tune with your body using yoga is a great way to meditate on this chakra. It is located within the pelvis and associated with the element of water. Feeling in “flow” and in tune with your body is how you know this chakra is healthy. If you feel a disconnection with your movements or have a sexual dysfunction, your sacral chakra might be out of balance.  



The Root Chakra

This chakra represents our existence itself. This chakra is red and is depicted as a four petaled lotus. This chakra is survival and connection to materiality. It is closest to earth and lies within our feet. Feeling secure and safe is how you can tell that this chakra is balanced, but when we feel unsafe or insecure in ourselves, the energy through this chakra may be blocked. Dancing or jogging are two methods of meditating on this chakra.

Abby Marsh

Abby is a Student at Pitt majoring in Communications.
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