An introduction to the Chakras.
Chakra is the Sanskrit work for wheel.
The Chakras are 7 spinning discs of energy most of which sit in front of our spine, in our subtle, etheric anatomy. They receive, assimilate and distribute energy throughout our bodies.
In our 7 week course starting this month we will be learning about how to stimulate and calm each Chakra and to balance them in relation to each other. We will be doing this through Asana practice (poses), meditation, pranayama as well as learning about lifestyle choices and possible changes.
I don’t believe in the claim that balancing the Chakras is a cure for all ills (and mistrust those who do) but do believe that being aware of how we can stimulate or calm them (especially in relation with each other) in our Yoga practice can be physically as well as psychologically therapeutic.
Hundreds of books have been written about the Chakras. If you’re interested in delving deeper after our course I recommend Anodea Judith’s book “Chakra Yoga“. It’s a very practical and well written guide with clear photos of poses pertinent to each Chakra.
If you like that book, do go on to her “Wheels of Life” which offers greater depth (no pictures this time!) and equally well written.
For now, read on here for a brief summary of each Chakra. Incidentally the Ch in Chakra is pronounced like the Ch in chocolate, not the Sh in shouldn’t. Below is a chart from the ChakraVibe site which summarises major landmarks well.
The Muladhara – the Root Chakra– sits at the very root of the base of the spine and it of crucial importance. The other chakras sit on this building block which relates to the earth, solidity, our basic health and survival. This chakra relates to stability, has the slowest vibration and is linked to the colour red, the colour with the longest wavelength. Animal and vegetable proteins are the foods related to this chakra.
The Svadisthana – The Sacral Chakra sits in the pelvis and is the centre for creativity and pleasure. It also governs our feelings of lack and abundance and our ability to be intimate and feel sensuality.
The Manipura – The Solar Plexus Chakra is just above the navel, is associated with fire and is about our sense of power, self esteem and confidence.
The Anahata – The Heart Chakra is not surprisingly in the centre of the chest. It is associated with compassion and love, for oneself, those in our lives and all of life.
The Vishuddha – The Throat Chakra is in centre of the neck and is the centre of communication– not just how we express ourselves but also how we listen and receive and process all information. A person with a healthy throat chakra is able to express their thoughts and feelings truthfull and clearly and able to listen with compassion as well as objectivity.
The Ajna – The third Eye is in between the eyebrows and back in the skull. It is the centre of wisdom, wit, memory and imagination.
The Sahasrara – The Crown Chakra is at the very centre and top of the head, the crown. It’s lotus has 1000 petals and this is the centre of our spirituality, awarenesss of the world, a sense of completeness and security. An unbalanced crown chakra can lead to in ability to think and focus well, cynicism and blind obedience.
“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more in our lives, regardless of the exterior circumstances. -Cybéle Tomlinson