What Are the 7 Chakras and What Do They Mean?

Woman sitting on bed in lotus pose with burning candle and tea cup

Alexandr Kolesnikov/Moment/Getty

Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means disk or wheel, referring to energy centers in the body. The chakra system originated in India between 1500 and 500 BC and can be thought of as our body’s subtle energy system. There are seven chakras, each with a unique meaning about our body, life, breath, mind, intellect, and overall sense of well-being. The seven chakras are:

  • Root
  • Sacral
  • Solar plexus
  • Heart
  • Throat
  • Third-Eye
  • Crown

Alternative medicine, holistic healing methods, and Eastern healing practices are becoming more and more popular in the West, with many opting to explore approaches to wellness beyond a framework of modern Western medicine. Ayurveda is one such framework.

What Is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medical system utilizing a holistic approach to wellness that prioritizes plant medicine, diet, exercise, and lifestyle practices for wellness.

What Does a Chakra Do?

A chakra is an energetic vortex that resides in our body that is responsible for a particular theme in our life. For example, the crown chakra represents spiritual wisdom and empathy, while the root chakra represents family and abundance.

The chakra system has been around for centuries, with estimates of its origin in the ancient and sacred texts called the Vedas between 1500 to 500 BC. However, other Indian scholars believe the system originated much earlier through an oral tradition exclusive to Indian culture. However, due to the nature of oral traditions, it is difficult to nail down exactly when knowledge of the chakra system began.

The chakras are used as a framework in yoga as well as a diagnostic tool in ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Other health practitioners, including psychotherapists, have also begun to reference the chakra system as part of their healing modalities in recent years. 

What Do the 7 Chakras Mean?

The seven chakras all have their own unique meaning. The goal is to balance each of them through the chosen healing modality, leading to overall enhanced health and alignment. Each chakra corresponds to a particular organ and has a specific meaning.

Below is an explanation of each chakra, including its location in the body, its themes, and any ailments associated with it. Please note that each of the chakra-related ailments explained below is dictated by the 5-phase theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a part of medical acupuncture treatment. When exploring each chakra, consider the potential impacts on the body and emotions as a theoretical possibility, rather than a definitive medical diagnosis. 

Root Chakra 

The root chakra, which is the first chakra, is located at the base of our body—think pelvic area, sit bones, and bottom of our spine. It rules family, abundance, and security. We can think of the root chakra as all that keeps us grounded, from our survival instincts to our basic needs.

It is associated with the spine, kidneys, bladder, and large intestine. When out of balance, it isn’t uncommon to experience bowel disorders, depression, immune system challenges, addictions, and allergies, amongst other things. Emotionally, one may feel insecurity, scarcity, anxiety, and fear of change when this chakra is out of balance.

Sacral Chakra 

The sacral chakra is our second chakra and is associated with sexual fulfillment, social integration, and emotional intelligence. Our sex drive, boundaries, creativity, and sense of connection are all intimately linked to the sacral chakra.

It is associated with our sexual organs and is located between our belly button and pubic bone. When out of balance, someone may experience menstrual issues, testicular and uterine diseases, impotence, and lumbar pain. As for the emotional experience of this chakra when unbalanced? You may experience jealousy, heightened sensitivity, and poor communication.

Solar Plexus Chakra 

The solar plexus chakra is our third chakra, located in our solar plexus, which is between our upper abdomen and chest bone. It is linked to our liver, gallbladder, stomach, spleen, and pancreas. It governs how we show up in the world, through our career and general capabilities, plus our overall self-esteem.

When out of balance, there may be dysfunction with each of its associated organs, including liver cancer, digestive disorders, and even diabetes. Depression, low energy, dismal self-esteem, stubbornness, and arrogance can all come into play when the solar plexus isn’t balanced.

Heart Chakra 

The heart chakra, our fourth chakra, is located in our chest. It rules love and empathy, impacting our romance and a general sense of love for others. This chakra is directly linked to our heart, circulation, and vagus nerve function.

When unbalanced, there is an increased risk of nervous breakdowns, heart and circulatory issues, breast cancer, and scoliosis. Tearfulness, anxiety, depression, and issues with giving and receiving love abound when this chakra is impacted.

Throat Chakra 

The throat chakra is our fifth chakra, ruling our ability to remain self-aware and speak our truth. It is associated with the lungs, larynx, pharynx, and vagus nerve.

When out of balance, there may be a risk for asthma, sore throat, and respiratory issues. It isn’t uncommon to experience paranoia, shyness, extreme introversion, or suppressed emotions if you have a blocked throat chakra. 

Third-Eye Chakra

The third eye chakra, which is our sixth chakra, is associated with our insights and ability to engage in rational thought, regardless of a situation’s complexity. It governs our left and lower brain, ears, nose, and left eye.

Headaches, dizziness, and cataracts can arise when this chakra is unbalanced. On the emotional front, you may experience anger, rage, chronic stress, anxiety, or indifference if your third-eye chakra is out of alignment.

Crown Chakra

The crown is located at the top of the head and is believed to be where our intuition rests. It connects us to one another, inviting us to remember how we are linked to all living beings on earth. It is associated with our right and upper brain and right eye.

When unbalanced, one might suffer from headaches, depression, or insomnia. Emotional imbalance related to the crown chakra might include arrogance, pride, hallucinations, or melancholy.

Chakras and Mental Health

Having knowledge of the chakras system can be helpful for one’s mental health. Rather than using each chakra as a basis for literal diagnosis, you can explore the meaning of each chakra and the ailments that present when it is unbalanced. This may support you in finding language for what you’re experiencing.

Seeking out a holistic therapist or depth psychotherapist may support you in finding someone who can integrate the knowledge of the chakras system into your mental health care. Additionally, yoga is intrinsically linked to the chakra system. Consider joining a yoga studio that honors the traditions of yoga as a way to deepen your mind-body connection.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is another route of healing that may be helpful. Often using acupuncture and herbs in conjunction to treat both physical and emotional issues, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners are versed in viewing the body as an interconnected system.

If you’re interested in furthering your knowledge on how each specific chakra correlates to your overall sense of mental health, consider reading "Eastern Body, Western Mind" by Anodea Judith. Judith is a psychotherapist who wrote this seminal work combining each of the chakras with Erickson’s stages of development. Functioning as a workbook, it is full of exercises you can use to find a deeper sense of alignment.

Above all, remember knowledge is power. When we learn more about what is possible, we can access additional ways to heal and grow.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Chase CR. The geometry of emotions: using chakra acupuncture and 5-phase theory to describe personality archetypes for clinical use. Med Acupunct. 2018;30(4):167-178. doi:10.1089/acu.2018.1288

  2. National Center for Complementary Medicine and Integrative Health. Ayurvedic Medicine: In Depth.

  3. Cooper NJ. A Brief History of the Chakras in Human Body. Psychology Review. 2019;15(16):21-27. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.17372.00646

By Julia Childs Heyl
Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.