Times of change can be totally exhilarating—and utterly terrifying. After all, along with the promise of something new and different comes the reality that the outcome is unknown. Stepping into this tenuous space takes courage, willpower, and a little faith in your chosen path. Luckily, turning to your yoga practice—and working with the chakras—can help you sail through any type of transition or transformation.
The chakras consist of seven key points in the body—vortexes of energy that run through the spine. When the energy in these centers is balanced and flowing freely, you feel ease, peace, and joy—all emotions that can help you glide through times of change. But when energy in a chakra becomes blocked, it can trigger fear, anxiety, exhaustion, regret, and other emotions that can make transitions trickier.
The key to harnessing the powers of your chakras is to be honest with yourself and admit when you’re feeling off balance or out of sync—and to do so without judgment (because it happens to the best of us). Then, try to identify how, and where in your body, you’re feeling unbalanced, both physically and emotionally. Once you’ve located the site of instability, you’ll have the power and ability to consciously tune and heal the corresponding chakra(s) by stimulating the energy center through yoga practice and mental attention.
Be proactive, and you’ll pave the way for an internal shift that will not only help you handle change but also set you up to have a little fun throughout the process.
The root chakra is your energetic connection to your home: the earth. It’s what connects your spirit to the planet and what grounds you in the present moment. When muladhara is functioning properly, you feel centered, connected, and rooted to the earth—which can result in limitless energy. If change has you feeling uprooted—perhaps you’re moving to a new home, starting a new job, or traveling—it’s time to re-ground your energy and connect to earth’s calming magnetic force.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Practice this pose with conscious awareness, sending your energy down through your feet—all the way into the earth’s core. Once you’re concentrating on the connection between your foundation and the earth below, take a moment to breathe deeply. Imagine every breath you take is rooting your energy further and further into the earth. Stay here, continuing this visual meditative breathing practice until you feel calm and fully grounded.
How to Stand with your feet together or hip-width apart. Connect all four corners of your feet to the ground. Allow your palms to face forward and your shoulders and forehead to soften as you find a tall, elongated spine.
See also 3 Ways to Modify Tadasana + Stay Present
The sacral chakra enhances your ability to feel in this world; it’s also what houses your innate sexual energy. When it’s functioning optimally, you’ll experience intense creative energy and feel connected to yourself and your partner on an intimate level. If you’re dealing with emotional or sexual trauma—say, a breakup or some form of abuse—it’s possible you may lose touch with, or partially shut down, this energy center. The result: feelings of guilt, shame, distrust, or unworthiness around sharing or honoring your sexual energy.
Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose)
This posture can stimulate the sacral chakra by activating strength in your lower abdomen, hips, groin, and legs; the longer you hold this pose, the more intense the heat in these areas will grow. (In fact, this pose is sometimes called Fiery Angle Pose.) Practice Goddess Pose to invoke and reinvigorate the fiery energy that’s within all of us.
How to Step your legs a few feet apart, turning your feet out about 45 degrees. Bend your knees so they fall directly above your ankles, making sure they point in the same direction as your toes. As you hold this pose and it intensifies, feel your feet isometrically drawing in toward one another. Draw in and up through your pelvic floor, softly engaging your lower abdomen. Stay here for at least 5–10 slow, deep breaths.
See also A Creative Sequence to Help You Navigate Tough Emotions
The solar plexus, located below your sternum but above your navel, is your power center: The manipura chakra fuels your will to act. When manipura is balanced, you’ll act confidently and courageously in your decisions and feel joyful and empowered. Sometimes in times of transition or change, we are taken off course or forced to slow down (think injury, sickness, or job loss). When this happens, manipura can get out of whack, taking a toll on confidence and energy levels.
Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)
This pose brings energy and circulation to your navel and solar plexus, working to boost circulation and help you recharge, and reconnect with, this energy center.
How to Start in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your knees bent, feet on the ground. Engage your abdomen inward toward your spine. Lean back so your shin bones lift upward, parallel to the floor. If this feels simple, straighten your legs. Keep drawing your abdomen in, lifting your chest, and drawing your shoulder blades together. Stay here for 5–8 slow, deep breaths, envisioning each exhale providing strength and connection to your core.
See also Live Big, Get Bold: Boat Pose
Anahata fuels your ability to give and receive love. It serves as your main emotional center, which magnetically feels, and responds accordingly to, your every thought. When your heart chakra is open and balanced, you feel a deep sense of love, gratitude, and connection to all beings, including yourself—and you are able to see each situation with love and compassion. When you are out of touch or closed off to the energy in your heart center, you might feel sad, resentful, unloved, or unable to give and receive love. This can happen after heartbreak, or when changes occur within friends and family circles.
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
If you’re suffering through grief or heartbreak, your inclination may be to protect yourself and shield your heart from the world. This posture—and backbends in general—can help you expand your chest area, gently re-opening your heart center so that you’re able to express and feel love again.
How to Stand on your knees, keeping them hip-width apart with your shins parallel to one another. Press the tops of your feet down into the earth, and place your hands on the backs of your hips with your fingers pointing down. Expand your chest by lightly drawing your lower abdomen in and up and your shoulder blades toward one another. Lift upward to lengthen your spine as you start to bend backward. You may even grasp your heels with your hands, using the fixed grip to lift and open your chest even more. Stay here for 5–8 slow, deep breaths.
See also Nix Neck Pain in Camel Pose
Visuddha is the energy center of communication and expression. It allows you to connect with your life’s purpose and express it to the world. It is how you share your thoughts and feelings with others, and how you speak your truth. When this center is in balance, you speak effortlessly with wisdom and honesty. When it is blocked—which can happen when something shifts in your life, when you’re feeling unsure, or when you don’t voice how you truly feel—your throat and neck might feel tight or strained, and you may (literally) have a hard time speaking up for yourself and expressing your beliefs.
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
This pose stretches and stimulates your neck and throat muscles—and the glands that regulate metabolism and hormonal levels. Physically stretching and lengthening the front of your neck brings fresh circulation to throat tissues and allows energy to flow more freely within your throat chakra.
How to Lie on your back with your legs together, forearms close to your body. Begin lifting your rib cage and chest toward the sky while allowing your head to relax backward. Gently lift and place the crown of your head on your mat, drawing your shoulder blades together to expand and broaden your chest and throat. Stay here for 5–8 slow, deep breaths.
See also Root Down, Lift Up: Fish Pose
The space between your eyebrows—a.k.a. the third eye—is your center of intuition and insight. During times of change, you may experience a lack of clarity or trust in yourself, resulting in disconnection from your third eye center. Excessive mind chatter is a signal this center is out of balance.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
The practice of folding forward can help still your mind, as folding into yourself is naturally introspective. In Paschimottanasana, you can stimulate the third eye by placing your forehead against your legs. If this is challenging, bend your knees or rest your forehead on a block.
How to Sit tall in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your legs drawn together, feet flexed. Shift your weight to the front of your sitting bones so your pelvis tilts forward. Lengthen your spine and gently fold forward over your legs, letting your head and neck relax. Hold onto your feet to create length in your spine, bending your knees as much as needed to get there. As you begin to relax, bring your inner gaze to your third eye. Become completely aware of each sensation that comes to the surface as a result of the light pressure you’ve placed on your third eye. Stay here for at least 10 slow, deep breaths.
See also Intro To The Chakras
This energy center helps you connect with the divine, enabling you to feel higher states of consciousness. When sahasrara is balanced, you may experience a state of blissful union with the universe; when imbalanced, you may feel closed off or cynical. In the face of tough transitions and challenges—like going through a divorce or losing a loved one—you may become energetically closed off from your crown chakra as you shield yourself from the pain of the experience. When you’re able to remember that all things are happening for you, not to you, you can remove some of your cynical armor and allow yourself to energetically reconnect with the divine.
Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand)
Your crown chakra is located above your head but originates from the crown. It can be stimulated through meditation and certain postures that create a light sense of pressure in that region. Headstand nourishes your head with fresh oxygen and blood to help stimulate, balance, and soothe this energy center.
How to Bring your forearms to the ground with your elbows no wider than shoulder width. Gently interlace your fingers and place the crown of your head on the ground with your hands cradling the back of your head. Draw your shoulder blades up your back to create a strong foundation and a long neck. Then, straighten your legs and slowly begin to walk your feet in as close to your body as possible. Stay here, or lift your legs one at a time to stack them above your torso. Breathe here for at least 5 breaths. When you’re finished, rest in Balasana (Child’s Pose).
See also Inversion Yoga Poses