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Energy Healing 101: The Expert Breakdown of Chakras, Reiki, Energy Healing, and More


Energy healing practices like acupuncture and reiki are surging in popularity. While it’s obvious that having clear energy and balanced chakras is the “psycho-spiritual” end-goal, what exactly this means is less obvious. Whether you’ve tried energy healing before — perhaps you even own a crystal or two — or you’re brand new to new age practices, energy healing modalities have gone on under the radar for hundreds of years.

Below, two experts — Hellen Yuan, reiki practitioner and founder of HELLEN , and Caroline Rasmussen, meditation and reiki practitioner, and founder of Antara — explain everything you need to know about energy healing, starting with the chakras.

What is a chakra?

In sanskrit, the word chakra means “wheel” or “circle” and dates all the way back to ancient Eastern traditions. They are essentially “energy processing center” for the body, which interpret sensory information from the world around us. “Quantum physics has proven that we are all made up of a harmonious movement of internal energy known as chi, prana, or life force energy,” Yuan explains. “Chakras work as filters that provide the human body with the energy it needs from the chaos of the outside world.”

Rasmussen recounts seven primary chakras which correlate to major nerve clusters and endocrine glands at points along the spine. Both share that there are corresponding states of consciousness, colors, frequencies, and body parts associated with the proper functioning of each of the major chakras.

However, our ethereal bodies are not limited to the most-commonly cited regions. “The subtle body permeates our entire physical body and can be measured as an electromagnetic field within and around all living organisms,” Rasmussen reveals. We have many more [chakras] than just seven.”

What does it mean when a chakra is blocked versus clear?

Yuan explains blocked energy prevents a chakra from opening and closing as needed. This can be the result of a physical, mental, or emotional upset that has not been properly integrated on the cognitive, emotional, and physical levels.

“Blocks in the chakras are the result of coping strategies we use, consciously or unconsciously, to deal with stress, trauma, or unpleasant circumstances,” Rasmussen elaborates. Inconsistencies in the free flow of the energy body — whether due to restrictions via blocked-closed chakras, or an over-emphasis of energy via blocked-open chakras — result in problematic behaviors and dysfunctional, self-defeating patterns that hold us back in life.

“If a chakra is blocked in a closed state, then we will tend to avoid those energies, like not receiving love,” she shares. “If a chakra is blocked in an open or excessive state, it tends to channel all energies through that center, such as using all situations to further one’s power,” she warns, referencing the fourth and third chakras respectively. In other words, stagnant domains of our lives can have energetic roots in our chakras.

Furthermore, the vitality of our energy centers closely impacts the functioning of our physical bodies. Western medicine balks at energy medicine for being “non-scientific,” but Rasmussen reminds us that the use of energy scanning devices (such as CAT scans, MRIs, and PET scans) to diagnose illnesses is itself reliant upon the fact that bio-energetic emissions exist. She points out, “The readings are only possible because diseased tissue emits a different energy signature than healthy cells.”

What are some practices or treatments to clear blocked energy?

“Reiki, acupuncture, and yogic practices can help move stagnant energy and infuse new information into the system,” Rasmussen continues. “As many people who have engaged in these practices know, they can help uncover and release emotional issues.”

This is because each stage of our development leaves behind cognitive conditioning that forms our unique world-views and ranges of experience. But sometimes these learned perceptions, behaviors, and patterns do not serve our overall wellness within the context of our present realities. When this happens, the emotional “programming” associated with each chakra — with roots going all the way back to our childhoods — must be consciously recalled and reprocessed in order to experience personal growth.

If you’ve ever received body work or energy healing, only to experience “emotional clearing” afterwards, this is the mental experience of the newly flowing, formerly stagnant, life force energy. People typically experience a temporary intensification of the disturbance before the cathartic, permanent relief from it. Rasmussen reminds us that this inner-evolution is one aspect of energy work, stating, “It’s a continuous process because life never stops presenting us with challenges.”

Yuan emphasizes the importance of consciously connecting to your bodies, which also helps to awaken and clear blocked energy. Accordingly, body work can also a vital role in clearing blocked energy via practices like Kundalini yoga, acupuncture, or reiki. If you do choose to visit a certified reiki practitioner, she recommends receiving treatments one to two weeks apart to begin with. “Once you start to notice an improvement, you can space out your treatments,” she explains.

What lifestyle and wellness practices promote “ethereal” health?

Yuan cites several aspects of holistic wellness to choose from when tending to your energetic wellness. Examples of body work include massage, yoga, and cupping, while energy work refers to practices like acupuncture, reiki, or feng shui.

You can also try spiritual work (such as prayer, chanting, singing), mental work (such as affirmation, sound therapy), or even plant and mineral work via practices like aromatherapy, herbalism, flower essences. Nutrition and homeopathic medicine, including ayurveda, are two final holistic practices Yuan encourages us to consider. For instance, you can eat foods whose colors correspond to the chakras to help balance and align your energy being, or even dress in hues to stimulate a chakra.

Rasmussen corroborates that your holistic wellness — including the physical — is critical to the process because the energy and physical bodies impact each other in a two-way process. “The ethereal, or energy body, is a manifestation of our consciousness, and our consciousness operates better out of a healthier physical infrastructure,” she reasons.

In other words, a holistically balanced lifestyle is one of the best ways to tend to your chakras and to your multi-dimensional wellness.

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