Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
I’m not what you might consider woo-woo. As a longtime journalist and editor, I’ve spent my entire adult life grounded in facts and logic, trying to make sense of the events of this world so I can better explain them to others.
While I’ve been beholden to reality in my work, I know that some things can’t be readily explained by logic. The metaphysical world—what is beyond what we know and remains a mystery—has always intrigued me. It’s what attracted me to yoga almost 20 years ago and likely why I found myself lying on a table in a basement in Denver last summer preparing to have my chakras balanced.
Why I turned to chakra balancing
A confession: Before joining the Yoga Journal staff in March 2021, my knowledge of the chakras was limited at best. In fact, I was skeptical that our body’s so-called “energy centers” actually existed—let alone that they needed some sort of a tune-up every once in a while.
I know enough about physics to believe that energy is real. But the idea that our bodies consist of “spinning wheels” of energy that, when blocked, cause disruptions in our physical and mental wellness? Well, even typing that seems a little far-fetched for my journalistic brain.
As I learned more about the chakras, I started to recognize signs of blocked energy in my body—fatigue, pelvic and low-back pain, anxiety, a heavy feeling in my heart. Like many people, I was working in a high-stress career with a toddler at home when the pandemic hit. A a bonus, I was eight months into a high-risk pregnancy with hyperemesis gravidarum—relentless nausea and vomiting that persisted until weeks before I gave birth.
After bringing my daughter into the world and soaking up my parental leave, I returned to work from my home office, but I felt disconnected from my colleagues, friends, and family. My body felt wrecked, my once-consistent brain seemed to be full of static, and emotionally, well, I’d never felt so low. All my go-to self-care practices—therapy, meditation, exercise, alone time—helped to an extent, but after many months, a job change, and my baby growing into a toddler, I still wasn’t feeling fully like myself.
Editing articles about chakras at work was the first time I had actually learned about what they were. Curious to know more, I Googled “chakra balancing in Denver” and found the Healing Chakra, a holistic healing center that offers chakra balancing and vibrational sound healing. After an email exchange with owner Olivia Kenyon—whose approach includes Reiki and intuitive energy healing—I booked a 60-minute chakra-balancing session.
I arrived at my appointment feeling both apprehension and excitement, almost like I was going on a first date. I explained my symptoms to Kenyon and she took notes, graciously nodding as I stumbled over my words. I mentioned that while I meditate, practice yoga, and have received acupuncture, I’d never done anything like this before, and I was unsure what to expect.
Kenyon compared chakra balancing to massage. “A massage therapist works out these knots in your muscles, and I’m essentially kind of working out these knots in your energy field,” she explained. “We all have an energy field. And we all have things that we hold on to.”
She also encouraged me to keep an open mind. “The biggest thing with energy work is, if you are skeptical, you’re going to kind of block it.”
After her initial intake, I hopped up on the table and lay down. She checked to see if I was comfortable then held a pendulum over the muladhara (root chakra) at my sacrum before moving it over the other six chakras, briefly pausing and explaining the characteristics of each. If the pendulum moves, she said, that means the chakra is open. But if it’s still, the chakra needs work.
I watched intently as Kenyon hovered the pendulum over each chakra. The bottom four—root, svadhisthana (sacral), manipura (solar plexus), anahata (heart)—were blocked. She assured me that blockages are normal and mentioned that the lower three chakras in particular are challenging to keep open. My vishuddha (throat) and ajna (third eye) chakras were both open, which didn’t surprise me. (Communication and intuition tend to be my strengths.). The sahasrara (crown) chakra, which connects us to the spiritual realm, was also blocked.
I closed my eyes and breathed as Kenyon burned sage in the space, clearing the energy for the work ahead. She made her way to the top of the table and barely touched her hands to the top of my head. Almost instantly, I felt a warmth radiating between her hands and my scalp. Interesting, I thought. I rested and focused on my crown chakra. Time passed, although I’m not sure how much. And then I saw—vividly, undeniably—an explosion of color behind my eyelids. Purple, which happens to be my favorite color and, not coincidentally, the color associated with the crown chakra.
As she moved through the upper chakras, the colors continued—blue for the third eye, light blue for the throat, green for the heart. At this point, I was almost incredulous. Was this really happening? I wondered if all the reading on the chakras had seeped into my subconscious, making me see colors that weren’t there.
There were other moments during the session that I find difficult to explain or even articulate—insights about myself and my son that I immediately accepted as truths. I had visions of people in my life that elicited waves of intense emotion. At one point, I felt like I was going to cry—and I’m not a crier. I also experienced a rush of anxiety. Then, just as suddenly, I felt at peace.
When the session ended, Kenyon used the pendulum to ensure all my chakras were open, but all I could think was: I’m going to throw up. Barely speaking, I paid and rushed outside. I remember taking a deep breath and asking myself, “What just happened?”
So, my chakras do need upkeep
It wasn’t until days later that I disclosed to a friend what I’d done. She didn’t question my sanity, although I certainly did. As much as my logical brain wanted to explain what I saw and felt that day, it couldn’t.
When I told Kenyon about this experience months later, she said seeing colors is actually common during these sessions—at least for her clients. “If I’m working on that area, and that chakra was already open or not super blocked, it’s easier to tap into that color,” she says. With the lower chakras, which tend to hold onto heavier stuff, she says you’re less likely to see colors. I did, though not as vividly as with the upper chakras.
Kenyon also explains that the nausea I experienced that day is likely a result of clearing out nervousness and anxiety in the solar plexus. And yes, it’s common. “When you haven’t experienced a chakra clearing before, it can be a little bit overwhelming.”
Kenyon maintains that the best results from these energy-clearing sessions come with repeated work. I’ve been to her twice more since my first visit. The second time, I fell asleep almost immediately. I had carried a lot of work stress into the session, although Kenyon assures me that the energy healing still works.
At my most recent session, more of my chakras were open when I arrived. (It’s working!) The colors were back, although not as shockingly vivid as previously. Afterward, I nearly leapt off the table, energized and focused. I left with an inner clarity on a decision that had been weighing on me for months. For days after, I felt a positive mental shift.
Kenyon says that shift is to be expected from energy work. “My goal for clients is a better quality of life, a better mindset, and to help them work through and release heavy emotions,” she says. “When you’re holding on to all of the heavy stuff life has thrown at you, it’s difficult to feel good and be open to receiving the good things coming your way.”
Since my first visit, I’ve reflected a lot on the experience. Those insights and visions are written in my mind as if they happened (didn’t they?), and they’ve shifted my perspective in interesting ways. While I went with an open mind, I never expected to have such an affirming experience. As for this skeptic, I’d say that my chakras are definitely open. And so am I—to receiving, to believing, and to being OK with the unknowing.
About our contributor
Erin Skarda is a writer and editor based in Golden, Colorado.
From Summer 2022