As yoga teachers, we understand that there are many energetic levels beyond our physical, mental and emotional planes of existence.
Consider the Chakras. Chakras or “wheels” are spinning vortexes of healing energy within us that contain our prana or life force and influence our mental, emotional and spiritual states of being. The seven basic or foundational chakras are aligned along the spine, which itself serves as an energy channel up from the “earth” at the root chakra, to “heaven,” the crown of the head.
Plants have energies, too. As a clinical herbalist, I’m believe each plant’s “energy” influences us just as their biochemical medicinal properties do. So, what if we apply plant energies to enhance the chakra energy? Raising our vibrations could be as simple as brewing a cup of tea. Here, I offer some suggestions for herbs that can help you enhance the energy of each chakra.
The Muladhara Chakra is located around the coccyx of the spine. Known as the root chakra, it represents our foundation of life—family, community and our sense of security. For our root chakra, Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) offers a subtle grounding energy. Calming yet not sedating, lavender tea can be sipped throughout the day without making you too sleepy. And the aroma of lavender flowers is heavenly.
Swadhisthana or Sacral Chakra is located around the lower lumbar spine and represents creative expression and sexuality. American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is an adaptogen—a substance that supports the endocrine, nervous and immune systems, especially the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis that negotiates our fight or flight response. To tap into our creative expression, anxiety and grief must go. Ginseng tea can help you find a balance between calm and creative energy.
The Solar Plexus or Manipura Chakra is associated with the thoracic area—the middle of the torso including the breastbone—and represents our sense of personal power. If you are struggling to come into your own, you may feel unsettled in this part of the body. And if your life is particularly stressful or you find yourself struggling to make yourself heard and understood, you may experience gastric reflux and other digestive upsets that you can feel in the area right below your breastbone. Welcome Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Chamomile’s gentle aroma is sedating and soothing to the soul; its medicinal properties are soothing to the gut. Brew a mild cup of chamomile tea to calm yourself (and your tummy). A very strong brew can help you relax into sleep.
Anahata or Heart Chakra is located in the heart region. It is known as the “horizontal line of the cross” that divides our divine self above from the physical self below. Our diaphragm serves as this dividing line nestling the digestive organs below and support the heart and lungs above it. Here is the center that helps discern the experience of conditional and unconditional love. Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha), used by Western herbalists as “food for the heart” is a wonderful complement to the heart chakra. The crimson berries and flowering yellow petals make a stunning red brew. A heartfelt bonus: hawthorn tea contains bioflavonoids that support the immune system.
Vishuddha or Throat Chakra is located in the neck and throat, and its energy supports us in speaking our truth. When you need to speak up, there’s nothing like the burst of ginger to wake up the fifth chakra. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is one of the world’s oldest and best medicines. It supports the immune, digestive and circulatory systems, and if you’re looking to open up the palate and the gateway to your voice, brew ginger tea to sip or gargle.
Ajna Chakra, located between the eyebrows and near that frontal cortex of our brain, represents the center of emotional intelligence. Also known as the Third Eye, it’s associated with the energy of intuition or the sixth sense. Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) is an ideal tonic for the ajna chakra. Rosemary “goes to your head” in more ways than one. It can be used medicinally to soothe migraines, but it can also help focus your attention by clearing out ruminating thoughts. You may be familiar with rosemary as a culinary seasoning, but it’s delicious aromatic energy also makes a fantastic tasting tea.
Known as the thousand-petal lotus, the Sahasrana or Crown Chakra is located at the crown of our head and serves as our portal to the Divine. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) volatile oil works wonders for stimulating this area. Brew mint leaves as tea and sip it—hot or cold—to calm your heart, mind and soul. A calm spirit will open you up for divine inspiration.
Brewing a cup of herbal tea is one of the most delightful forms of self-care. I invite you to select your favorite tea mug and enjoy the sensual experience—and the invaluable blessings—of herbal tea.
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Charlene Marie Muhammad CNS, LD, E-RYT500, C-IAYT, is the founder The Urbanherbalist, a wellness practice based in the Washington D.C. metro area.
Her expertise in herbal medicine, nutrition and yoga comes from through Master’s level training as well a deep personal practice.