You’ve probably come across chakras in your weekly yoga class or favorite meditation app, but you’re not actually sure what they are (or why they matter). Enter our handy guide to these energy centers, including what to do if you suspect that yours are blocked (you know, if you decide you’re kind of into this sort of thing).

So, what are chakras? The word “chakra” comes from Sanskrit and translates to “wheel” or “disk,” referring to the shape of these whirling energy centers that unite mind, body and spirit. “Everyone has seven main centers of energy, also known as chakras, throughout the body, beginning at the top of the head and going straight down to the bottom of your spine,” spa director Sharla Martin tells us. And each one of these energy centers has a specific function. The third eye chakra (or “Ajna” in Sanskrit), for example, is located in the middle of your forehead and is responsible for intuition and trust. The crown chakra (aka “Sahasrara”) sits at the top of your head and focuses on your spiritual connectivity.

And why are chakras important? “Chakras process and distribute energy that is needed for our health, well-being and vitality,” healing practitioner Jissel Ravelo of Vibra Wellness explains. And according to yoga tradition, when your chakras are open, energy flows effortlessly throughout your body. But when your chakras are blocked, internal energy builds up, which throws the mind, body and spirit connection into disharmony.

How can you tell if a chakra is blocked? “Good indications that one or more of your chakras are blocked are if you are struggling with a pattern that you can’t seem to change, you feel heaviness or depletion for no obvious reason, or if there is physical discomfort or stiffness,” says Ravelo.

And how can you unblock a blocked chakra? First, identify the issue and match it up with one (or more) of the chakras, Ravelo tells us. Find out more about each chakra here or enlist the help of a reiki or healing practitioner to figure out which one is troubling you. Then, depending on where the blockage is, there are different courses of action that practitioners will recommend including crystals, essential oils, yoga, meditation and writing. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have some vinyasa to get to.

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