What are Chakras? A Beginner’s Guide to Chakras and How They Can Help You Live an Embodied Life with Cristi Christensen

What are chakras? How do I balance my chakras? What does balancing chakras even mean?! 

As the knowledge and teachings of chakras become more and more widespread, so do the questions – which is amazing!! Learning about Chakras with the intention of becoming more deeply connected to your innermost self is incredible, and this episode of the Whimsy + Wellness Podcast is a perfect starting point.

Today’s guest has an interesting and inspiring story of resiliency, determination, and truly turning lemons into lemonade!

Cristi Christensen was training to be on the US Olympic Diving team when a back injury ended her diving career. She is now a Global Embodiment Coach and author of her new book: Chakra Rituals: Awakening The Wild Woman Within.

Cristi is going to be teaching us all about chakras today: what they are, how they can be beneficial, how to get them in alignment, and more!

If you have ever wondered what chakras are, how to get in deeper touch with your body and spirit, and how to embrace and step into vulnerability, this episode is for you!!

You can listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app OR you can keep reading for our written summary!

From aspiring olympic diver to yoga teacher and embodiment coach – Cristi’s story

At 24 years old Cristi Christensen was told that because of the damage done to her back from gymnastics and diving that her aspiring diving career was over and even if she stopped right away, she’d need a cane to walk by age 30. 

Determined to defy those odds, Cristi set out on a healing journey. Both physically for her body but also her mental and emotional healing, as being an olympian had been her dream since she was a little girl.

On this healing journey, someone brought Cristi to her first yoga class. Now this was back in 2002/2003 when yoga was not as common and accepted as it is now, it was still viewed as pretty weird and woowoo, but desperate for peace and healing, Cristi agreed to go.

Her first class she went to, “it wasn’t the actual movements of yoga that got me, it was the curiosity that got me.” 

The class was very much focused on the breath which she had never experienced before. (PS check out our episode on breathwork to learn more about the healing power of our breath!!

She could quickly feel how calm and confident yoga made her and she fell in love.

She never expected this but yoga turned out to be Cristi’s spiritual awakening. She became a yoga teacher and started teaching about chakras because in her words, “it got to the point where, yoga and specifically the chakra system was transforming my life so much that I couldn’t not share it. This work has helped me so much, how could I not share it with everyone?”

And, Cristi is now well beyond the age of 30 and walks perfectly *without* a cane, she can still do a handstand and backhandspring and “I can say that I don’t see myself as a failure any longer. I recognise that dream or the pinnacle of that dream wasn’t the real dream for me in this life. Everything that I’ve done from age 4 when I started gymnastics up until now has really informed who I am now; who I am as a human, a teacher, it really filters into the work that I do. So I view all of it as important steps on my path that brought me here to this moment.”

Redefining identity: our soul’s imprint

I hope that Cristi’s story encourages you in your own life because sometimes we have such a specific outcome or dream we’re reaching and working for that when something happens or stops that dream it can feel like we’ve failed, like we’ve lost our way. 

We tie our identities so tightly to what we do but the truth is what we do will be ever changing throughout our lives but who we are at our core truest self will remain. 

Cristi explained it beautifully, “I identify identity as “our soul’s imprint”. Job titles, interests, roles, hobbies, activities etc. will come and go but there is this soul’s imprint that yes can hold it all but cannot be erased away.”

(For more on this, I encourage you to listen to episode 31: Navigating Change and Transformation with Resilience and Self-Compassion with Dr. Maya Shankar and episode 32: 7 Essential Oils for Healing, Transitions, and Beautiful New Beginnings.) 

So, what are Chakras? What is their purpose?

Now let’s get to what we’re all probably wondering which is; what are chakras? 

It’s first important to note if you’re brand new to chakras that Cristi did not make them up. They originated in ancient India and while there is some discrepancy of how old the system is we know it’s around 4,000 years ago!

The most simple way to describe chakras are: energy centers.

The one thing we can all agree on is that the whole world has and is made up of energy. Now there are two types of energy: physical energy which can be best described by our physical bodies, what we can touch! And then there is subtle energy which can be best described by our breath! We know it’s there but we can’t physically hold on to it and touch it.

The chakras exist on the level of the subtle energy but they impact the physical!

“You can imagine them as wheels of dynamic color, consciousness, power, energy spinning. There are 7 main wheels or energy centers or chakras in the body. And they start at the base of the pelvis and they move up to the low belly, chest, solar plexus, throat, third eye, all the way up the crown of the head.” 

While they are stacked in a vertical way, there is no hierarchy amongst them.

Each has its own intelligence; if you imagine each chakra as a mini brain, each is responsible for a different aspect of consciousness, different part of the body, different hormonal gland, even different parts of our psychology. 

So each chakra really has its own duty, role, or as Cristi likes to say, it’s own super power, “and together as a system they really govern every aspect of life.”

The chakra system is also the only system to Cristi’s knowledge that really integrates and takes into consideration that health is not measured just by physical health but by the unification of the physical body, the emotional body, mental body, and spiritual body.

“It gives us this map to wholeness, to wellness, and to know ourselves intimately.” 

When we fully know ourselves on a conscious level rather than unconscious, we can recognize what needs healing or adjusting, we can recognize patterns that need undoing and we can begin to awaken the power of choice to do something different!

What are Chakras? A Beginner's Guide to Chakras and How They Can Help You Live an Embodied Life with Cristi Christensen

The 7 Chakras

We’re now going to walk through the 7 main chakras. 

First I’ll explain where it is located, what it impacts, and its overall role. 

Cristi shared with us what it looks like when each chakra is energy deficient and what it looks like when that same chakra has too much energy, so I’ll write about that as well. 

While lot’s of energy may sound like a good thing we actually don’t want an overactive chakra! If one has too much energy it means it’s compensating for something. So we want to make sure all chakras are balanced and in flow! Cristi gave the example of, “What we say in yoga is, Suka vs Duka. We want Suka! Suka is ease and Duka is suffering” 

Remember, while we’re looking at each chakra through an individual lens they are all connected and work extremely well together when we can balance and have them all in alignment!

Root Chakra

The first chakra, our Root chakra is located at the base of our pelvis and is our Earth chakra. This is the chakra of our foundation (think roots of a tree!). The root chakra represents the strength of our physical body & physical health as well as our relationship with our physical body; how we feed it, rest it, take care of it. All of that impacts the root chakra.

The root chakra impacts so much for our tribe, our identity and how we fit in in the world, including our relationships with our family of origin as well as family and loved ones we choose. 

When our root chakra is in alignment we feel we have a strong, stable, and reliable foundation. We trust ourselves and those we’re in relationship with and set needed boundaries. We feel confident and able to withstand life’s storms or challenges just like a strong rooted tree.

When we’re energy deficient in our root chakra: we’re not in the present moment, we are not grounded, we’re caught up in our mind or emotions and are out of touch with the body. We feel threatened and unsteady (just like a tree without roots) 

If we have too much root chakra energy or earth energy: our boundaries get over rigid. We’re pushing and keeping people out because we’re too deeply rooted and guarded. We get stuck, depressed, we can’t get into our mind or emotions at all and are completely in the body alone. 

Sacral Chakra

Our sacral chakra is located at the center of our lower abdomen and is our water chakra!

Our sacral chakra represents our emotional body and emotional balance; how we navigate and respond to our emotions as well as the emotions of others. Our sacral chakra also represents our ability to feel and be in the flow of feelings such as: joy, desire, pleasure, sensuality, sexuality, and creativity!

When our sacral chakra is in alignment we are emotionally balanced, we have empathy for the emotions and experiences of others, are in touch with our desires, our sexuality, and are able to express creativity.

When we’re energy deficient in our sacral chakra: we’re disconnected from how we feel. We’ve become emotionally numb or when we do face our emotions it’s extremely uncomfortable. We become disconnected from what brings us pleasure and joy and we might not even know what brings about happy emotions for us. We lack creativity and the ability to express ourselves. Our libido may be very low or even non-existent and we may not want to be touched when we’re energy deficient in our sacral chakra.

A helpful trick is that if you can remember that the sacral chakra is our water chakra, a deficiency in our sacral chakra could look like everything is frozen and not flowing.

If we have too much sacral chakra energy or earth energy: we’re overly emotional; our emotions rule us vs. being able to ride the wave of our emotions. This could also look like using sexuality to get ahead or to get what we want or to numb our emotions that are ruling over us. 

To go along with the water analogy I mentioned above, this looks like waves crashing over and over. It’s too much water, too much energy, therefore no flow.

Solar Plexus Chakra

Next we move up to the solar plexus chakra; this is located in the upper abdomen right at our sternum and is our fire chakra!

Our solar plexus is our power center! This is the chakra of our confidence, our self esteem, our self worth, our drive and our willingness to show up day after day! If you’ve ever felt butterflies in your stomach when you’re excited or nervous or maybe a pit in your stomach when you’re scared or angry, that is your solar plexus at work!

When our solar plexus chakra is in alignment and balanced we are saying yes to fully living! We feel confident and we know and honor our self-worth.

When we’re energy deficient in our solar plexus:

We really struggle with our self esteem and self worth and often have overwhelming amounts of shame and doubt about ourselves and our value / enoughness. We make ourselves small, we become the wallflower, are very self conscious, insecure and even paranoid when our solar plexus is energy deficient.

If we have too much solar plexus or fire energy:

This looks like the opposite of the above, we’re overly power hungry, extremely self-centered and even apathetic, arrogant, critical of others, and very tempermental.

Heart Chakra

Our heart chakra is located right in the very center of our chest right above our physical heart. The heart chakra is our air chakra.

Our heart chakra is the chakra of love, vulnerability, acceptance, compassion (for others and self), and inner peace.

When our heart chakra is balanced and in alignment we love, value and honor ourselves and in turn are able to freely give and receive love with others. A balanced heart chakra is one where we’re able to have a good balance and flow of giving and receiving love. 

When we’re energy deficient in our heart chakra:

We push love, closeness, and intimacy of all kinds away. We have difficulty fully opening up to people and end up building invisible walls to keep others and the vulnerability needed to form a relationship of any kind away. This can sometimes feel like we are protecting ourselves from getting hurt by shutting out love and intimacy but we’re really causing ourselves more harm and pain. 

If we have too much heart chakra energy:

Now, for this one people often ask, “how can I have too much love?” but Cristi explained that it’s not too much love, it’s the imbalance of the love, too much energy!

When we serve and give love to others so much that we’re abandoning loving and caring for ourselves we actually start to lose self respect, hold resentment towards ourselves and others, This also often leads to being taken advantage of and feeling like a doormat. Jealousy, neediness, possessiveness can all come along with too much heart chakra energy as well.

Throat Chakra

Our throat chakra is located in, you guessed it – the throat! It’s our sound/music element chakra and is the chakra of communication, expression, truth and refinement of creativity (remember the solar plexus is the chakra of creativity but the throat chakra is where that creativity can be refined and brought out).

When our throat chakra is balanced we’re able to communicate our needs and our truth freely with love and kindness for both ourselves and others, we’re able to express ourselves.

When we’re energy deficient in our heart chakra:

We have trouble speaking up, stating our needs, standing up for ourselves and / or others. We don’t think our words, voice or opinions matter. If we do speak up, it’s mumbled or self-conscious. This can also look like having a very difficult time saying no and not being able to express yourself creatively.

If we have too much heart chakra energy:

We can’t stop talking and we don’t listen. Cristi explained that people who have excess energy in their throat chakra can be very manipulative, convincing, and seductive with their words.

She also noted here that these chakras are also associated with glands and organs, there are so many pieces and parts of to chakras. As someone who has hypothyroidism I was so shocked and amazed to hear that the thyroid gland is directly linked to the throat chakra, so a thyroid condition could be a sign of some kind of imbalance in the thyroid gland!

Third-Eye Chakra

The third eye chakra is located right between the eyebrows in the center of your forehead and is the chakra of the light element.

This is the center of our imagination, dreams and visions for life! It also represents our insight and inner wisdom, insight, and intuition. A trick to remembering what this chakra is for is, the third eye is able to see on the inside while your two physical eyes see the outside!

When our third eye chakra is balanced we have big huge dreams, we can envision things for our life and those around us. We have great insight and inner wisdom of who we are at our core and are in touch with our intuition.

When we’re energy deficient in our third-eye chakra:

It’s difficult to dream (not sleep dreaming but dreaming for our life!), we have a hard time connecting to our imagination and we’ve lost touch with the magic and mystery of life. We could also have a hard time trusting what we know, trusting our intuition.

If we have too much third-eye chakra energy:

We can get caught up in our dreams and in the realms of our imagination to an extreme where we maybe can’t decipher between what is real and what is not. We are not grounded in reality. 

We are not grounded in reality.

Another way having too much third-eye chakra energy shows up is we have a bunch of ideas but because we aren’t grounded, we can’t bring the ideas out and put them to action or fruition.

Crown Chakra

The Crown Chakra is located at the very top center of our heads and is our divine consciousness chakra and is often nicknamed “the crown jewel”.

Our crown chakra is our connection to all things and is what allows us to be connected spiritually; no matter what our beliefs! It is our only chakra that is found outside of our physical body and is located in what is considered as our “spiritual body”. The crown chakra is a bit of a mystery to many because it’s connected with our higher consciousness and this is what helps us connect and feel the knowingness that there is something larger than ourselves and that we are not separate from it.

Cristi explained that connecting to and practicing gratitude is an extremely important piece of being fully in touch with and balancing our crown chakra as well as knowing that there is a higher power and that we are not alone.

Have you ever been encouraged or read somewhere to put a drop of essential oil on the crown of your head? If so, the crown chakra and that connection to higher consciousness and our spiritual body is why! My personal favorite oil to put on the crown of my head is Frankincense; it makes me feel so grounded, safe, and held. Each of our chakras are often represented as a lotus flower, so when you put a drop of oil on your crown imagine that crown chakra lotus opening up and soaking in all the goodness from the oil and allowing YOU to open up like the lotus as well, bringing it all the way down to the root chakra and helping you feel rooted!

When we’re energy deficient in our crown chakra: we feel unfulfilled and are often focused on external indicators of success and happiness, instead of spiritually at peace and connected.

Working with, honoring, and balancing your 7 Chakras

Now that you know a bit about each chakra and what it looks like to have them both balanced and out of balance with either too much or too little energy here are a few ways to work with, honor and balance your 7 chakras so that you can feel whole and in alignment in all areas?

  1. Self-awareness and doing the work

When you read about each chakra and what having them balanced and aligned looks like, what ideas come up for you? Are there actions you know you need to take? Changes you need to make? Sometimes simply having the awareness is the key to getting back on track!

  1. Use essential oils and crystals to help

You knew we had to mention oils and crystals! We designed our new chakra roller set especially for you working on honoring and balancing your 7 chakras. The set comes with 7 rollers (one for each chakra) and we’ve carefully matched gemstones and essential oils to help you unblock your chakras and experience greater energy flow in all parts of your life. Each set of seven roller bottles comes with instructions and recipes for each chakra, so you’ll be ready to roll right away, and how BEAUTIFUL are they?!

  1. Read / journey through Cristi’s new book, Chakra Rituals: Awakening the Wild Woman Within

Cristi wrote her book specifically for making this ancient science and wisdom applicable to the modern day person (us!) so she says to her the way we do that is through the practice of embodiment. Because of this she wrote her book in a way that it’s not just a book you’ll read cover to cover, it’s a book you’ll take your time with and do exercises along the way to practice that embodiment!

The book is a 7 week journey, each week dedicated to one of the chakra energies so that you have a full week to learn about and get in touch with as well as embody each of the chakras through reading as well as different practices! “The chakras can’t live in the mind, they have to be experienced.” Cristi encourages. Each day you’ll have a micro-assignment (these won’t take hours, Cristi made sure that these would fit into our busy lives!) You can grab yours on Amazon or if you’d be willing to shop small, you can grab Cristi’s book at Bookshop, Bookdepository, and Indybound!

Rapid fire closing questions with Cristi

At the end of each episode I ask all our guests the same set of rapid fire questions! Here are Cristi’s responses:

  1. What would you say is just one way your topic of understanding chakras can make the world a happier and healthier place?

“It allows you to honor the whole of who you are, you’re taking responsibility for who you are and you’re stepping into your power! When we’re in our power and we’re integrated, we’re going to be better people! And as we show up and shine we’re going to inspire everybody around us to show up and shine, too, and that’s going to make the world a much better place.”

  1. What is something you do for yourself each day for the simple fact that it makes you happy?

“Dance! To me, it’s the quickest way to shift our energy!”

  1. What late night snack makes you happiest?

“Right now I’m obsessed with these chocolate chip brown butter cookies – they’re dangerous!!” (You can apparently find these at Wholefoods if you’re interested in tasting the hype!)

  1. Where can listeners find you and stay connected with you?

@cristi_christensen on Instagram

Website: cristichristensen.com

Okay friend, I hope this was a fun episode where you learned something new and feel empowered to live your life as your best self!!

Want to pair some Whimsy with your Chakras? Here’s what we recommend:

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Thank you so much for reading this post from the Whimsy & Wellness Podcast brought to you by Whimsy & Wellness and hosted by Meg Ryan! If you enjoyed it and learned something please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and subscribe so you never miss an episode. Your single review makes a bigger impact than you know, so thank you!  We also do a weekly giveaway where we pick 1 person who has left a review and send them some thank you happy mail – simply leave your instagram handle with your review and you’ll be entered!

I'm Haylee!

Haylee is the CEO of Whimsy + Wellness and the brains behind the business. She has her hand in every area of the company…from product creation to supply chain solution to online marketing. When she’s not looking at spreadsheets she’s mom to Mason, Posey, and Golden. Her kids inspire her to run a company that values community over competition and people before profit.

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