Before looking at the specific techniques that make up a Chakra Balancing Massage, it is important to first explore (or review) the chakras, an essential part of the 5,000-year-old system of ayurveda that originated in ancient India.
The chakra system is an energy system we can use for personal growth. Ayurvedic tradition recognizes seven main chakras, which are junctions between consciousness (mind) and matter (body) and which link the various aspects of what makes us human: our physical, energetic, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual selves. When we focus on the chakras, we can connect to these aspects and move toward balance, health, and well-being.
Even though some people have a hard time with the concept of chakras, it is a commonly used system. Have you ever been heartbroken? What does that mean? Is your heart actually broken? Of course not. But when you experience an emotional hardship in connection to a relationship or friendship, you feel a pain in the heart area. Instead of feeling a broken heart, you are actually experiencing the energy of the heart chakra.
The chakra system is located in the core of our being, in a channel that encompasses the spine and includes the tailbone to the crown of the head, as well as the nerve bundles associated with each individual chakra. This channel is called the sushumna nadi and the energy that flows through the chakras is called kundalini.
Energy flows up the sushumna nadi from the first chakra at the sacrum up the spine and out the seventh chakra at the crown of the head. This ascending current is the flow of energy that takes us from the physical level of being, through our mind and emotions, and connects us to the larger universe. The ascending flow is about finding a deeper meaning and purpose to your life.
Kundalini energy also flows into the seventh chakra at the crown of the head and moves down the sushumna nadi to the first chakra. This descending or manifesting current of energy moves us from the world of mind and spirit and helps us manifest ideas into the physical world. Anytime you help manifest something in your life, you are using the manifesting flow. For example, at some point in time you thought, “I want to be a massage therapist.” You took that idea, researched and chose a school, rearranged your schedule, found financing, and then studied and participated in the program to make that initial thought a reality. This is using the manifesting descending flow of energy in the chakras.
When working with chakras, think of health as being on a continuum. Depending on your diet, exercise, stress levels, emotional states, and many other factors, you are either moving toward greater health or away from it. It is similar with chakras. “Closed” or “imbalanced” qualities of the chakras are on one end of a health continuum and “open” or “balanced” qualities are on the other end. Depending on your lifestyle, you are either moving toward greater awareness and balance within the chakras or away from it.
Each chakra relates to a different aspect of life and by focusing on that chakra you can become more aware of those issues in yourself and then work with them to achieve greater health and happiness.
The traditional name for the first chakra is muladhara, which means the “root.” This chakra, at the base of the spine at the sacrum, is the foundation of the entire system. It relates to our basic needs and our sense of security and survival. When a baby is born, the first few weeks relate to the first chakra as the child adjusts to its environment. When you travel to an unknown place, you might have first chakra issues as you no longer have the same sense of security as when you are in your own environment. Focus on the first chakra whenever you are stressed, traveling, juggling too many things, feeling overwhelmed, or just need a sense of security or groundedness.
The pleasure chakra is called svadhisthana, which means “sweetness.” It is located a few fingers’ width inferior to the navel. After your basic needs are met, you can move out into the world to explore with the five senses. Through these senses, we bring nourishment and vitality to ourselves. Once a baby has settled after the first few weeks and months, he moves into second chakra mode, exploring the world around him. His eyes begin to focus, he starts to touch and pick up objects, and he responds to sounds from his parents.
The power center is called manipura, which means “lustrous gem.” Located in the solar plexus superior to the navel, this is where we establish our identity and what we want to do with our life. If your actions in life do not match your intentions for your life, you feel it in your gut. However, if you can align your intentions with your actions, you establish a strong sense of identity. You will be confident and will interact with others in a different way. College students are dealing often with third chakra issues. With babies, the “terrible twos” relates to this chakra. In their second year, babies learn the word “no” and begin to recognize and act on their own desires. They are establishing their unique identity separate from their parents.
The heart center is called anahata and is in the center of the chest. When translated, anahata means “the sound which issues without the striking of any two things together.” The heart chakra relates to everything one stereotypically associates with the heart: love, compassion, sympathy, empathy, and relationships. For a 2-year-old, it is hard to see outside their own point of view as they have not learned the concept of other. At around 3-4 years old, a child moves into the heart chakra and begins to grasp the concept of other. At that point, he begins to feel compassion and sympathy.
The throat center is traditionally called visuddha, which means “free from impurities.” Located at the throat, this is our center of expression and communication. If you are not saying the things you need to say, you might feel “choked up.” As you learn to communicate effectively, this allows creativity to thrive. This is a useful center on which massage therapists should focus. One of the most difficult aspects of being a therapist has little to do with actually giving a massage; it’s learning to effectively and efficiently communicate with clients.
The third eye chakra is called ajna, which means “communication from above.” Found between the eyebrows, this chakra is the center of imagination, intuition, and perception. When you let go of thoughts that are holding you back and instead let your imagination roam free, you are connecting to your sixth chakra. Any intuitive feelings you have, as well as your ability to read between the lines and understand nonverbal communication, arise from the sixth chakra.
The crown center is called sahasrara, which means “thousand petaled.” Located at the crown of the head, the seventh chakra relates to wisdom and enlightenment. The seventh chakra, sometimes called the “master chakra,” brings purpose and meaning to you and the other chakras. If the third chakra is about what you want to do with life, the seventh chakra is why you want to do it. The crown center helps you connect to a higher purpose and something greater than yourself. When you connect to this center, you connect to a sense of joy or bliss that is not related to a specific person or event but is rather connecting to the joy of the universe.