Your self-esteem is on the line.

Have you ever felt like you just can’t express yourself clearly? Like everything you say sounds cringeworthy when you replay the moment, if you can even work up the nerve to say anything at all?

If you’re feeling stuck or misunderstood in the communication department, you may want to focus on aligning your throat chakra to see if you have an energy flow issue that’s keeping you from full self expression. Your throat chakra—and the other six chakras in the body—each corresponds to specific areas of your body and are thought to be energy centers. (The word chakra means “spinning wheel.”) 

When one of these energy centers is blocked, and stops energetically spinning, it may be responsible for negative emotions or physical symptoms. These areas might express an inner truth about what’s going on in your body. Once you balance them, you can feel re-energized when blockages turn into flow. A balanced throat chakra helps avoid conversational missteps and anxiety, turning you into a more clear communicator. 

If you’re curious to know if you might have a blocked throat chakra, or just need some energetic assistance, read on to learn about what symptoms you might have and what you can do to remedy the situation. 

What is the fifth chakra, the throat chakra? 

First, it’s important to really understand what the vishuddha or throat chakra—is all about. 

Vishuddha means, “purifying the body from harmful substances,” in Sanskrit. This chakra is unique because it lies between the corporal and spiritual realms of the body. The first four chakras—root, pelvic, navel (aka solar plexus chakra) and heart chakra—are considered physical chakras while the last two, the third eye chakra and crown chakra, are each considered to be an intuitive energy center in their own right. 

The throat chakra, the fifth chakra, is physically and metaphorically in between these two groups. The throat area connects your body and your mind, your physical needs with your inner knowing. It’s kind of a big deal. 

As the name implies, this chakra is located at the base of the throat, right at the center of the larynx but it also includes the cheeks, ears, jaw, tongue, lips, the base of the skull, lower part of the neck, the shoulders and the back.  

The vishuddha chakra is concerned with communication, expression and inner truth, as well as body language, or the physical manifestations of your feelings. You can bring energy to this chakra through vocal vibration, soothing food and drink and fresh air, as well as by doing certain yoga poses and stretches (which we’ll detail further, below). 

Why should you align your throat chakra?

It’s important to bring energy back to the throat chakra. A blocked throat chakra can develop into feelings of low self-worth, anxiety or depression if you’re unable to express yourself with authenticity. 

When your speaking skills aren’t working properly, you might not communicate thoughts clearly, leaving others confused or unsure of where you stand. A balanced throat chakra, by contrast, allows you to speak your truth respectfully but with healthy boundaries. You have full control over your self expression, you’ll be understood by those around you and you can enjoy more authentic relationships.

Being able to have clear communication is a basic human need. In order for your relationships to flourish, you need to be able to speak to those in your life honestly and openly by sharing your thoughts, feelings and needs coherently. You’ll also need to be an active listener, which is difficult to accomplish when you’re worried about how you’re coming off or unsure about what you should or shouldn’t say. 

As with all energy centers, clearing your throat chakra will bring peace and clarity, as well as release tension you might be holding in this area of your body.   

Signs of a blocked throat chakra

There are a number of clear signals that your vishuddha or throat chakra is blocked, both emotionally and physically. However, it’s important to note that if you’re feeling especially challenged emotionally or physically you should talk to your doctor instead of trying to solve the problem on your own.

The following emotional and communicative signs may indicate that your vishuddha chakra needs clearing: 

  • You’re having a hard time with general communication, talking through your emotions or with self expression. 
  • You feel hesitant when you try to speak. 
  • You feel especially anxious or scared when speaking.
  • You tend to use more negative words than usual. 
  • Your once calm thoughts are more aggressive or your inner critic is constantly putting you down. 
  • You feel a general sense of being understood by those in your life. 
  • You try to find the right words but feel challenged when you want to communicate something clearly. 

Here are the most common physical symptoms of a blocked throat chakra:

  • A raspy voice or throat
  • A chronic sore throat
  • A stiff neck
  • Mouth sores or ulcers
  • Gum disease 
  • Thyroid issues
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Laryngitis

Ways to clear a blocked throat chakra

If you’re ready to clear your vishuddha chakra, there are a number of ways to go about it. The following techniques will have you feeling aligned and more able to fully express yourself. 

Tend to a sore throat

If you have chronic sore throats (and your doctor has ruled out serious medical issues), try taking care of your throat with homeopathic remedies, like elderberry, marshmallow or slippery elm, as these herbs are known for their healing properties. 

You can sip tea with honey in the mornings to soothe your throat and calm your nervous system through self care. Try to avoid acidic drinks and anything too hot so that you can help your throat heal. 

Stretch your neck

Stretching is a great practice for your body and, when combined with mindful breathing, it can become a form of chakra yoga by helping your energy centers open up.

healing throat chakra
(PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty)

Stretching around your neck and back can break down any built up stress in these areas. 

Say the “ham” mantra

Every chakra has its own mantra that can be used as a form of meditation. The throat chakra’s mantra is “ham.” (Pronounced with a broad “a” sound, not like the deli meat.) This sound is supposed to stimulate and align the energy in the throat, causing gentle vibration to the area. Try saying the manta out loud slowly, repeating it a few times. Inhale air, then exhale “ham” as a daily meditation.  

Eat nourishing food

Unhealthy food can cause balance issues and irritation to the throat chakra. To get back to alignment, feed yourself whole foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, humanely-raised meat and other nourishing foods. 

Avoid processed food, anything too salty or sour or any food that irritates your throat or stomach. Be mindful when you eat by trying to focus on the food itself, not your phone or the TV. 

Try lion’s breath breathing

You might have heard of this breathing technique before in a yoga class. Lion’s breath is balancing for the throat chakra as it’s thought to stimulate both the throat and chest area, as well as eliminate toxins. To do it, first inhale through your nose, then open your mouth wide. Then exhale by sticking out your tongue and breathing out forcefully–this is your lion’s roar. Repeat a few times as part of a meditation or yoga asana practice.

Get some fresh air

Air pollution is thought to influence the throat chakra, causing irritation and blockage. Taking a walk in nature can help clear the area, infusing your body with clean air. If you’re really needing centering and alignment, check to see if there are any energy vortices—or locations that are known for their earthly and spiritual energy—near you where you can breathe, hike or do an outdoor meditation. 

Do throat opening yoga poses

Certain yoga poses can release your neck muscles and bring energy flow back into the throat chakra. While yoga in general can be healing, bringing balance to all parts of the body, three poses in particular—Plow, Shoulder Stand, and Fish—are recommended for opening the throat chakra.

Repeat affirmations

When you’re struggling to communicate, you might need to experience some mindfulness meditation, connecting your mind with your voice. Repeating mantras as a form of meditation can help you release anxiety, negativity and stress, as well as bring about renewed confidence

Try saying affirmations like “I can communicate with ease,” or “I am comfortable speaking my truth,” when you feel stuck to release blocked energy. 

Use throat chakra stones 

Each chakra is connected with a color and the throat chakra is associated with the color blue, which is thought to bring calming energy to the throat and the surrounding areas. You can use throat chakra stones in blue colors—like aquamarine, lapis lazuli, turquoise and celestite—to help you find balance and peace.

People use stones and crystals in different ways. You can place a throat chakra stone on the base of your throat while you meditate or lay in savasana at the end of a yoga practice. You can use throat chakra stones as decor around your home. Or, you can wear throat chakra stones as jewelry or place one in your pocket. 

However you choose to use chakra stones, it’s important to pick only the ones that truly speak to you in order to reap their healing properties. 

Keeping your throat chakra balanced

It’s safe to say that all of us have issues with communication now and then. Expressing yourself authentically can be difficult for a number of reasons and the stress of life can keep you from feeling your best self. 

Incorporating some of the healing practices above into your daily life can help you maintain a healthy throat chakra and allow you to continue to speak your truth.

throat chakra meaning
(Oscar Wong / Getty)

Whether you sip tea in the mornings or meditate before you go to bed, tending to this all-too-important chakra will allow you to speak clearly and kindly to yourself and to others.