What are chakras?
Contained within our physical body lies a more subtle energetic body, which includes a complex network of channels that allow for the energy flow that keeps us alive and functioning. In yogic philosophy, energetic channels are called nadis, and they function like micro-highways for the flow of prana, or life force energy. Chakras are thought of as a system of localized coils of prana found throughout the body and connected by nadis—the seven major ones are loosely mapped along the spine, from tailbone to the crown of the head.
If we think about nadis like highways carrying energy throughout our body, chakras are like the pit stops along the interstate. Each of the seven chakra pit stops has a unique function and a particular energetic vibration, and the work that happens at each affects a specific area of our being.
Sometimes, we are overstimulated and have too much energy flowing through a certain point, which can leave us feeling chaotic and unsettled. At other times, we can be lacking in proper energy flow, which results in deficiencies and blockages in certain areas of life. The goal is to seek a state of balance at each of the seven chakra points by moderating our diets, activities, interactions, thoughts, spiritual habits, and self-care rituals as a way to feel happier and healthier.
Restoring Chakra Balance
There are many ways to optimize energy balance at the chakra level. We can create shifts in the physical world by changing how we communicate, act, eat, and move. This can be done more subtly through what we learn, the thoughts we create, meditation and prayer, and the vibrations we choose to have around us.
For example, placing key crystals near you can uplift, stimulate, or balance your chakras. Particular colors, sounds, images, and scents also affect our energies. Using the right essential oils (especially therapeutically in tandem with color, sound, and crystals) can be a great way to attune any particular chakras that need some extra attention.
This guide will help you pick the right essential oil for the chakra you’re working with and how to use them.
The Best Essential Oils for Each Chakra
The root chakra, located around the base of the spine, affects our feelings of belonging, safety, stability, attachment, and self-worth. Imbalances at this level can take the form of anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear, and dependency. It is associated with the color red, the musical key of C, and the element of earth.
Located at the sacrum or the low back/pelvic area, this chakra affects our creativity, reproduction, sexual expression, sensuality, emotions, passion, and inspiration. When imbalanced at this level, one might experience sexual shame or anxiety, low (or extremely high) libido, creative blocks, unbalanced emotions, resistance to or obsession with pleasure, or reproductive complications. It is associated with the color orange, the key of D, and the element of water.
When the sacral chakra is in balance, there is a feeling of ease around sex and passion, and inspiration and creativity flow without resistance. Include carnelian or orange calcite crystals in your meditations, and try these oils to get the sensual vibes flowing:
Ylang ylang— this oil is said to be an aphrodisiac, and its warm, sensual aroma is perfect when looking to create a certain atmosphere. Add a few drops to your favorite carrier oil and use it for massage…self or another!
Clary sage—when looking to bring relief to period-related mood swings and discomfort, clary sage is a definite go-to oil. Add a few drops to a carrier oil and massage gently into the low belly/pelvic region.
Just above the naval lies the solar plexus chakra, which affects our confidence, courage, boundaries, purpose, motivation, and willpower. Imbalanced, one might become domineering or aggressive, power-hungry, or on the other hand, they might be low in confidence with poor boundaries or a lack of drive. This chakra is affiliated with the color yellow, the key of E, and the element of fire.
When the solar plexus is balanced, we know our worth, stand our ground, and meet challenges with confidence. Meditations could include work with tiger’s eye or red jasper crystals. Try these oils to boost circulation and stoke your fire:
Cinnamon— one of the fieriest oils there is, cinnamon lights it up. Add a drop or two to a carrier oil and massage on your skin to increase circulation, relax tight muscles, or ease achy joints, or add it to a diffuser to bring warmth to the space around you.
Ginger—another great oil to stoke the fire, use ginger oil as you do cinnamon (see above), or even pair it with cinnamon, and add a few drops of clove and cardamom oils to create a diffuser blend reminiscent of a belly-warming chai spice.
The heart center holds the chakra that governs our ability to love, trust, feel compassion and empathy, create meaningful bonds with others, and feel connected. When we are imbalanced here, we may feel jaded or untrusting, isolate or block ourselves off behind emotional walls, feel jealousy, defensiveness, or resentment, and have difficulty forgiving. We may also struggle to love ourselves. The heart chakra is associated with the color green, the key of F, and the element of air (this area also governs the lungs).
When balanced, we feel worthy of giving and receiving love, experience harmonious relationships, and are open, trusting, and ready to lean in to the connections that life offers us. Include crystals such as rhodochrosite, malachite, or rose quartz in your meditations, and try working with the following oils:
Rose oil—the obvious choice for heart-based work, rose oil is a balm for the soul. Dilute a few drops of this oil in a carrier oil for a loving self-care massage, or wear it on your pulse points to keep this vibration with you throughout the day.
Neroli oil—at once both floral and citrus, this orange blossom scent is heaven sent. Luxe, relaxing, enveloping…all the good things. Try a few drops in a carrier oil on your pulse points (or even under your nose to keep it close), or pair it with jasmine in a diffuser for a full blooming bouquet.
At the throat (but also including mouth, ears, and cervical spine), we find the chakra associated with communication, self-expression, and integrity. Out of balance, we may gossip, ramble, lie, or lack clarity in our speech. On the other hand, we could also clam up and struggle to speak our truth, express ourselves, or say what needs to be said. This chakra is associated with the color blue, the key of G, and the element of ether (space).
When balanced at the throat, we communicate clearly and concisely, listen with equal measure, speak the truth, express our opinions without pushiness, and know when it’s best to hold our tongues. Crystals such as amazonite and turquoise are great to use in meditation, as are the following oils that keep the air around you clean and clear:
Eucalyptus oil—this oil is a top choice for purifying the air and keeping your sinuses, nasal passageways, and throat clear. Try adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil into a diffuser (or to your bath water), or combine it with thyme oil for a soothing double hitter.
Rosemary oil—another useful oil for cleaning the air—and your own airways—rosemary oil does well in a diffuser or diluted in a carrier oil and dabbed under your nose for clear breathing.
This chakra is located on the forehead between the eyebrows, is affiliated with the pineal gland, and is the energetic center of your intuition and perception. When there is an imbalance at this level, you may experience confusion, headaches, paranoia, excessive daydreaming, muddled thought, lack of clarity, and be unable to trust your own inner knowing. It is associated with the color indigo, the key of A, and the element of light.
Balanced energy here looks like clear thinking, intuitive knowing, a healthy imagination, the ability to accurately perceive the energy of others, and wisdom. Crystals such as lapis lazuli, celestite, and amethyst work with this vibration, as do the essential oils that promote clarity of thought:
Peppermint oil—this is a fabulous oil to use whenever you need your tired or muddled mind to snap into focus. Try adding a drop (diluted into a carrier oil) onto your pulse points, or use it in a diffuser blended with lemon, another oil that’s great for clearing the mind.
Clary sage oil—use this oil whenever you need a calm and focused mind, emotional stability, and grounding. It’s perfect for times of heightened anxiety, scattered thinking, or worry, and when you need to relax enough to see things rightly before you act. Blend with lavender and chamomile oils before bed to aid in achieving the relaxation necessary for deep, illuminating sleep.
Located at the crown of the head, this chakra is the seat of elevated consciousness and perspective. It’s associated with the color white (clear), the key of B, and the element of thought. When our crown chakra is balanced, we feel spiritually connected, have a sense of oneness and bliss, and understand and appreciate our role in the flow of life.
Imbalances here result in skewed spirituality (hyper, delusional, or deficiency), feelings of disconnection and a lack of purpose, or narrow, negative, and defeatist thinking. Clear supercharger crystals such as selenite and clear quartz are perfect partners for crown work, and oils that enhance meditation are helpful here:
Frankincense—an oil that’s been used for thousands of years in spiritual rituals and meditation, resinous frankincense is both grounding and enlightening. Try using a few drops in a carrier oil and massaging onto your skin prior to meditation or restorative yoga.
Sandalwood—another traditionally spiritual oil, sandalwood is powdery and light and promotes both relaxation and mental clarity, making it a perfect choice in meditative aromatherapy. Diffuse it alone, or pair it with a few drops of the luxuriously settling oils of lavender or rose.7