As an Integrative Counsellor I have been trained in various theories ranging from Psychoanalysis to Transpersonal Psychotherapy. I see myself as possessing a mental tool box of theories that I work with and which allows a space for an intuitive way of counselling that can be moulded specifically for each person that I work with. Alongside this, I am a developing yoga practitioner have a curiosity around eastern philosophies, and have found that as my knowledge and understanding around them develop, so does the potential for its application to counselling work.

Chakra Theory is one particular branch that I would like to draw on for the purpose of this article. The first time that I was introduced to the subject I found certain claims around it hard to accept, though I decided to continue learning about it without placing too much importance on the specifics. I was drawn to the way that Chakra Theory divided aspects of Self and have since immensely benefited from working with them. I invite readers to try to use this unique way of working, and not be put off by some unscientific claims surrounding it.

A Brief Explanation Of Chakras

There are thought to be seven main chakras, or vortexes of energies that exist up along the spine. Details about them can easily be found on the internet, and I have specifically chosen not to expand other than when it complements the purpose of this article.  I view Chakra Theory as offering a foundation for understanding the mind which it does by dividing aspects of Self into 7 key areas. Each Chakra is associated with certain characteristics, some chakras are more active than others, and this differs from person to person.

The mind creates a complex concoction of interrelated thoughts related to past, present, future, and a combination of reality and fantasy. Using specific chakras to divide our relation to a particular issue helps us to unravel it and to shed light on the matter. Additionally, in the same way that focusing on the breath offers a useful anchor to check if we are in the present moment, focusing on various locations within the body offers useful anchors to enable us to manage our experience and any thoughts surrounding it.

The physical existence of chakras is less important in my opinion than the idea that they allow us to view ourselves from an interesting perspective. Chakra Theory together with meditation offers a sophisticated way for us to unravel the complicated workings of the mind. The potential of working with blocks and assets within ourselves using Chakra Theory is immense, and I attempt here to introduce how. A brief explanation of each chakra and some of the characteristics that are thought to be associated with them follow.

Mooladhara Chakra – Physical Self

At the root of the spine, there is thought to be the energy vortex of Mooladhara Chakra. This chakra is associated with the reptilian brain and can be likened to what Freud described as the unconscious, representing self-preservation or our more animalistic needs and desires. Words such as physical identity, survival, stability, instinct, self-sufficiency are associated with this chakra. The element thought to be associated with Mooladhara is Earth, representing focus on the physical self. Bodywork, some forms of dance, or body scans meditations allow for increased awareness of sensations within and around. This chakra forms an important and necessary foundation for further work.

Swadhisthana Chakra – Emotional Self

This chakra is thought to be located at the sacrum. It represents our emotional desires and our relation to others. In Freudian terms this is our subconscious, or our self-identity, in fact the word Swadhisthana literally means ones abode. It is associated with the mammalian brain and emotions such as anger, hatred, jealousy, cruelty, desire, and pride are given potential here. The focus at Swadhisthana is to observe thoughts. The movement and changing patterns of our thoughts is represented by it associated element water.

Through regular and careful observation of thoughts comes an opening that offers the potential for choosing reactions rather than being ruled by our emotions. This chakra needs to be approached with delicacy and ought to be handled at an appropriate pace – this will vary between individuals depending on individual nature and experience.

Manipura Chakra – Ego Self

This chakra is thought to be located at the region of the navel and is associated with self-definition, personal power and ambition. It is thought to be the place where motivation and will power reside and it is here where we hold ideas of self-worth, fear, power, status, and needs for recognition. The associated element is fire, representing the potential for transformation. Thoughts and feelings that support us to live true to ourselves are given fuel here to try and manifest. It is associated with the new brain and is where knowledge of our potential exists. Focus here is on developing an awareness of one’s potential and a connection with the person you know you have the capacity to become. Discouraging thoughts are likely to arise, and rather than reacting to them, simple observation of thoughts is encouraged – automatic swadhisthana work! Give space to the energy/drive/motivation that naturally arises when connecting with your potential.

Anahata Chakra – Social Self

The Heart Chakra is thought to reside at the heart centre level. Any persistent issues from the previous three chakras are treated with an openness, patience, love, and most importantly, compassion. Restricting thoughts may have ripened a result of Manipura work. These may be related to past or current experience, or to fears or reservations about the future. Whatever they are, they are simply observed and then treated with the nourishment that comes from true forgiveness, kindness, and compassion for self and others.

Vishuddhi Chakra – Creative Self

Vishuddhi Chakra or the Throat Chakra represents self-expression. It is here that the positive effects of working with the previous chakras have an opportunity to express themselves – this can take place in an obvious or a more subtle form. The experience of the physical body at Mooladhara, the observations of emotions at Swadhisthana, the will power at Manipura, and the compassion at Anahata have an output here. Vishuddhi Chakra represents the actual deeds required in order to live one’s path. It is the living your own path and may be expressed as a letting go ritual that only you know about; in the form of communication e.g. speaking with someone; as writing e.g. a letter, in a diary, a poem; or in another form. The focus here is to take a positive step in the right direction, however big or small.

Ajna Chakra – Knowing Self

This is otherwise known as the third eye. It is thought to be located at the brow centre and is associated with self-reflection or your Inner Guide. It’s the encouraging voice that usually guides you in the right direction. Connection with this Inner Guide is developed here, and with it one becomes more and more able to have trust and confidence that they are walking a path that is true to them. Simply focusing on this intention develops this connection.

Sahasrara Chakra – Universal Self

Sahasrara Chakra is thought to be located at the crown of the head and is connected to Ajna Chakra and the realisations that naturally develop from working on each of the previous Chakras. This chakra is about simply being. It develops with deep meditation and represents pure Truth in its widest sense – it exists and will continue to exist. This can be drawn from in order to support you to co-exist as nature has intended for you.

If you would like some specific suggestions on how you might be able use Chakra Theory for self-development please get in touch or leave a comment. On a connected note, an article on a dance form that I am in the process of creating, which incorporates my interpretation of Chakra ideology will be online soon.  If you would like to be kept up to date with future articles, please connect with The River Tree on one of the social media platforms below, or sign up to our newsletter for occasional emails. Peace.


Chakra – Location Blocks for Self Development Associated Asanas To Aid Awareness
Mooladhara – lack of body awareness, self-centeredness Baddha Konasana, Tadasana, Paschimotanasana and Upavistha Konasana. Any grounding posture.
Swadhisthana emptiness,
fantasy, envy, jealousy
Any Forward Bend and Back Bend Poses.
Manipura sorrow, fear,
shame, sadness, delusion, powerlessness
Surya Namaskar, Navasana, Virabhdrasana 1,2, &3, Twisting Poses, and Kapalabhati.
Anahata indecision, false beliefs,
possessiveness, ego,
Backbends Poses
Vishudhi doubt, incompetence,
negative intellect
Sarvangasana, Matsyasana
Ajna Dependence on the guidance from others Savasana or Seated Meditation
Sahasrara Busy Mind Savasana or Seated Meditation