Chakra Meditations for Sleep
If you’re looking for ways to improve wholistic wellbeing, sleep is the No. 1 place to start. Sleep affects just about every system in the body, restoring both the physique and mind throughout different stages (each playing a vital role in getting high-quality rest).
Healthy sleep cycles allow your body to restore itself physically: tissues are repaired, immune function is strengthened, toxic accumulations are washed out of the brain, and growth hormones are released. The deepest stage of sleep, known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, restores the alertness of mind, and helps regulate your mood the next day.
To improve sleep, it is important to use a consistent, calming wind-down routine. Much like you might carefully prepare a young child to fall asleep, consider your bedtime routine a sacred space to prepare your body and mind for rest.
Learning about the chakras (and how to balance them) offers a helpful framework for calming certain aspects of your being, helping to tap the restorative benefits of sleep.
The chakra system dates back thousands of years. It originated in ancient Indian Vedic texts, and is referenced in both Hinduism and Buddhism.
Chakras — “wheels” in Sanskrit — are generally visualized as seven major vortexes of energy aligned from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Each chakra, or energy center, is said to govern different aspects of being that can be overlaid upon the physiological systems of the body.
Yoga and Meditation Teacher Mansi Mahajan offers a deep dive into the transformative power of the chakra system, using ancient yoga practices to revitalize these energy vortexes in her course Yoga to Balance Your Chakras.
7 Major Chakras
- The first chakra is called the root chakra (muladhara chakra) and is located at the base of the spine and runs down into the feet. This is the foundational chakra that “helps you tap into the energy of earth and allows for grounding, solidity, and stillness,” says Mahajan.
- The second chakra is the sacral chakra (swadhisthana chakra), found above the pubic bone and below the navel. It is the holding place of our emotions.
- The third chakra is the solar plexus chakra (manipura chakra), and is located between the rib cage and the navel. It houses energy for transformation and controls willpower.
- The fourth chakra is the heart chakra (anahata chakra). It’s located at the center of the chest, and is the source of love, joy, and compassion.
- The fifth chakra, the throat chakra (vishuddha chakra), is the center for communication.
- The sixth chakra is the third-eye chakra (ajna chakra), governing intuition. It’s located between the eyebrows, and is the center of our wisdom and consciousness.
- The seventh chakra sits at the crown of the head, extending up, and is called the crown chakra (sahasrara chakra). It governs awareness, divine will, and spiritual growth.
According to ancient wisdom, these energy centers affect how we feel and experience the world. A chakra is said to be "blocked" when something feels off within a certain aspect of one’s being. This blockage can be visualized as a chakra not spinning properly — or energy flow being impaired.
A chakra meditation can help clear such blockages, restoring energetic flow so the chakras and underlying systems feel a greater sense harmony. For anyone having trouble sleeping, there are a few chakras that may be helpful to focus on. Here, we focus on three chakras that, when open and clear, can help lull you into sleep.
Which Chakra Influences Dreams?
The root chakra helps keep us feel safe and grounded. When the root chakra is imbalanced or blocked, you may feel anxious or fearful. This ungrounded feeling can make it difficult to fall asleep, and it can also show up in our dreams.
"To cultivate peaceful dreams and a feeling of security before bedtime, consider a root chakra visualization," says Mahajan. Sit quietly and imagine roots growing out the soles of your feet and into the earth. Imagine yourself embodied as a tree, and visualize sending roots deep into the earth, feeling a sense of firmness and security.
When a strong wind blows, your branches may sway in the breeze, but your roots hold you securely in place. Breathe into this feeling of safety, as you savor the feeling of being supported by and connected to the earth.
Which Chakra Relaxes the Body?
The third chakra, located at the solar plexus, is known as your power center. It is important to balance this energy center because it often gets stuck "on," keeping the sympathetic nervous system engaged (e.g., fight/flight/freeze) beyond what is necessary.
Cortisol, for example, is a stress hormone that naturally spikes when you wake up in the morning, and it should lower throughout the day. However, chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels that can be worsened by impaired sleep and contribute to sleep difficulties, causing a vicious cycle.
When you relax back into the parasympathetic state (e.g., rest and digest), your muscles soften and tension is released, and you can sleep easier and more soundly.
To calm your nervous system and the solar plexus chakra, you could imagine cradling yourself like a baby. Wrap your arms around your middle, and gently rock back and forth. This soothing motion can help quell nerves that might still be on edge. As you rock, you can softly whisper, “shhhhhhh.”
Like a mantra, this sound is soothing and helps settle the nervous system, inviting in a sense of calm and relaxation before sleep.
Which Chakra Relaxes the Mind?
The sixth chakra, also known as the third-eye chakra, is associated with insight and intuition. It is located in the center of the forehead. Behind this spot, deep in the brain, is the pineal gland, which produces melatonin to help you fall asleep at night.
When we balance our third-eye chakra, we tend to feel more aligned and at ease mentally. To soothe the third-eye chakra, practice alternate nostril breathing. This pranayama (breathwork) practice helps release tension and anxiety, and restores a natural sense of calm.
This practice is done by closing one nostril, while breathing through the other. As you breathe in, imagine energy moving up one nostril into the center of your forehead, to your third eye. As you breathe out, Feel energy descend from your third eye, out the other nostril, back into the earth.
Try alternate breathing in this Yoga to Balance Your Chakras course from Mansi Mahajan.
This simple breathing exercise will help prepare your mind for sleep.
For some physical yoga postures that also help balance the chakras and support a good night’s sleep, try Mahajan’s class Yoga for Better Sleep.
Check out this course to restore balance to all the chakras.