Attention all Ashtanga yogis! It’s time to dive into the world of chakras. Don’t know what they are? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we’re going to introduce you to the spinning wheels of life force energy that are believed to be found in the subtle body. Get ready to become familiar with the philosophy, function, and symbolism of the chakras. Let’s begin!
What are Chakras?
Chakras, derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “wheel,” are spinning centers of life force energy found in the subtle body. They are believed to be a “spinning sphere of bioenergetic activity emanating from the major nerve ganglia branching from the spinal column,” according to Anodea Judith in her book, Eastern Body, Western Mind. While some sources may connect chakras with nerve plexuses and physical organs of the body, they are not considered physical organs.
Different models describe different numbers of chakras, but the most widely accepted model is of seven spinning energy centers within the spinal column. Each chakra is associated with specific physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our being. Here’s a quick breakdown of the seven chakras:
The Seven Chakras
- Root Chakra (Muladhara): Located at the base of the spine, this chakra represents our foundation and connection to the earth.
- Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana): Located in the lower abdomen, this chakra is associated with our creativity and sexuality.
- Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura): Located in the upper abdomen, this chakra represents our personal power and self-confidence.
- Heart Chakra (Anahata): Located in the center of the chest, this chakra is associated with love, compassion, and forgiveness.
- Throat Chakra (Vishuddha): Located in the throat, this chakra represents our ability to communicate and express ourselves.
- Third Eye Chakra (Ajna): Located in the center of the forehead, this chakra is associated with our intuition and psychic abilities.
- Crown Chakra (Sahasrara): Located at the top of the head, this chakra represents our connection to the divine.
The Symbolism of Chakras
Traditionally, the chakras are depicted as symbols with a specific number of petals on each. The number of petals varies depending on the chakra and is said to represent different aspects of our being. For example, the root chakra has four petals, which symbolize the four elements (earth, water, fire, and air) and the four directions (north, south, east, and west). The crown chakra has 1,000 petals, which symbolize the infinite nature of the universe and our connection to it.
Function of Chakras
Chakras collect and transmit energy for use physically, mentally, and spiritually. They act as nodes “uniting the psycho-energetic and physical aspects of our being” and can be an “effective map for helping bridge realities of the inner and outer worlds,” according to Rick Jarow in his book, Creating the Work You Love. Chakras serve as a kind of way station in which energy is collected, transmitted, and made available for the ongoing processes of an individual’s physical, mental, and spiritual life. They also promote harmony between one’s inner and outer world.
Imbalances & Healing Practices
Individual chakras may be described as having particular issues, indicating a need for healing to bring wholeness. Imbalances in the chakras can manifest in physical, emotional, and spiritual discomfort. Many practices are associated with healing weakened or blocked chakras, resulting in such effects as increased energy level, diminished anxiety and depression, relaxation, inner peace, improved sleep, addictions more easily resolved, better concentration and memory, clarity of mind, recognition of one’s dharma, and strengthened intuition.
Ashtanga yogis, we hope this introduction to chakras has sparked your curiosity and encouraged you to explore this fascinating aspect of yoga philosophy and practice. Remember, the chakras are not physical organs, but rather spinning centers of life force energy found in a person’s subtle body. They collect and transmit energy for use physically, mentally, and spiritually and promote harmony between one’s inner and outer world. Keep practicing and exploring, and may your chakras be ever-spinning in perfect harmony. Namaste.