I had often heard about chakras and how important it is to awaken, clear or balance them, so one can live a happy life. But I never really understood what the excitement was all about, until I embarked on the journey of becoming a Yoga instructor a few years back. Just like with everything else in yoga, when done correctly it has the potential to open you up like a tin can 🙂 and be immensely beneficial to your well being.
So let’s dive in and educate ourselves.
Chakras – Spinning Wheels
Let’s start off with a little background information.
You might have heard of Kundalini Yoga, Hatha Yoga’s cousin.
Less asanas, more focus on breath, chanting and meditation. Yes, mostly that. But no worries, there is more.
Influenced by Tantra, Kundalini techniques were historically kept a secret as they were deemed powerful and dangerous. Brought to the West in the late 1960 these teachings finally spread worldwide.
Kundalini practice is about the movement of energy through the nadis and the chakras. From the very bottom to the very top of your body. It is said that prana, life-force energy, flows through a subtle network of channels called nadis, through our entire body. Nadis by the way means channel or vein. This network is made up of around 72.000 of nadis, but the three major channels are: shushumna – at the center of the spine, ida – at left side and pingala – at right side of the spine. The seven chakras, located alongside the spine, are part of that complex energy channel network.
In my Yoga Teacher Training course with ULU Yoga, I also learned that according to yoga philosophy the human body actually consists of three parts or three bodies: the physical, the subtle and the causal body. Your chakras are part of the subtle body. They are said to be psycho-spiritual-energetic centers of the subtle body and they are not material. Just like the nadis they can not be seen, nor touched, x-rayed or detected. Even Carl Jung took notice of them, stating they can symbolize psychic facts we often can’t express in words.
Reasons to take a closer look at your chakras
It’s said in order to awaken our chakras, a higher source of energy than present in our physical bodies is needed, and that it takes high levels of awareness to do so. But because we are not conscious enough, kundalini energy lies dormant at the base of our spine. Once awakened feminine and masculine elements of a person’s nature are gradually beginning to unite, leading to an improved wellbeing. This energy then rises through the shushumna channel in our spine, creating bliss.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Just what the world needs. Balance between the feminine and the masculine energy. Maybe after my 500hrs of online yoga teacher training I can tell you more about what this bliss feels like.
For now let us look at what these seven wheels of energy are called, what they look like, what color and which sound they are correlated with.
The Seven Chakras in detail
The Root Chakra – Muladhara chakra:
- Depiction: Lotus with 4 petals
- Color: Red 🔴
- Sound/Mantra: Lam
- Meaning: «our main food is breath»
Located at the base of the spine between the genitals and the anus, it is associated with the spinal column, kidneys, legs and the colon. It symbolizes our present psychic condition, affects stability and security in life, our stamina and endurance.
By activating this chakra one rises above fear.
The Sacral Chakra – Svadhistana chakra:
- Depiction: Lotus with 6 petals
- Color: Orange 🟠
- Sound/Mantra: Vam
- Meaning: «abode of life itself»
Located at the base of the genitals, the clitoris or the base of the penis, it is associated with the reproductive organs, the prostate and the bladder. It is related to our emotional balance, sexuality and creativity, opening us to sensations of physical control, pleasure and expression.
By activating this chakra one can overcome the ego.
The Navel Chakra – Manipura chakra:
- Depiction: Lotus with 10 petals
- Color: Yellow 🟡
- Sound/Mantra: Ram
- Meaning: «our mind is a jewel and a house of jewels»
Located in the lumbar region at the level of the navel it is associated with the stomach, the intensities, gallbladder, liver, pancreas and spleen. It is related to transitioning from simple to complex emotions, willpower and assertion.
By activating this chakra one will find relief from mental blockages and find to be able to articulate oneself clearly.
The Heart Chakra – Anahata chakra:
- Depiction: Lotus with 12 petals
- Color: Green 🟢
- Sound/Mantra: Yam
- Meaning: «continuous breath»
Located centrally near the heart it is associated with the heart and the circulatory system, the arms, hands, the sternum and bone marrow. It is said to be the seat of prana and is related to emotions, compassion, love, equilibrium, well-being and intuitiveness.
By activating this chakra we learn to love ourselves. Therefore relationships improve, just like all our connections with others.
The Throat Chakra – Vishuda chakra:
- Depiction: Lotus with 16 petals
- Color: Blue 🔵
- Sound/Mantra: Ham
- Meaning: «our speech is purified before we speak»
Located at the throat it is associated with the thyroid gland, hypothalamus, throat and the mouth. It is related to our communication, creativity, growth, our voice, truth and reliability.
By activating this chakra we can learn to speak in a gentle and calm manner.
The Third Eye Chakra – Ajna chakra:
- Depiction: Lotus with 2 petals
- Color: Indigo 🔵
- Sound/Mantra: Ohm
- Meaning: «ready to carry out orders from the soul»
Located at the center of the brain, at a cross section between the eyes and just above the ears. It is associated with the pituitary and the pineal gland, the nose and ears. It is related to wisdom, imagination, the ability to analyze and perceive the truth in the world.
By activating this chakra we can come to the realisation of who we are.
The Crown Chakra – Sahasrara chakra:
- Depiction: Lotus with 1000 petals
- Color: Violet 🟣
- Sound/Mantra: Aum
- Meaning: «one thousand»
Located at the top of your head and associated with the upper brain. It is related to higher consciousness, pure unconditional love and a state of pure being.
The way to open and activate this chakra depends on the state of the underlying other six. As it represents becoming one with the infinite, we can assume that this can take a while. 😉
Now that we know where these wheels of energy actually are and what they look like the next question seems to be «What now?»
Chakras – How to work with them
A few months into my Yoga Teacher Training I started to connect the dots. I learned that meditation follows asana practice, there is breath work, chanting, singing, writing, observing and loving oneself. All of these practices play an important role in how energy flows through the channels of the nadis – our very own energy channel network. Alongside our spine, from the root of it, to the top of the head. I understood that the physical, mental and spiritual parts of me are interconnected and interrelated – and they influence each other. Hence my daily yoga practice is the starting point and also preparation for more work that needs to be done. The work of energy cleansing.
Now we all sort of know that energy travels and wants to flow freely like water. If there are obstacles or blockages in the way it will find a way around it. In kundalini yoga the journey of energy through the body represents the entire journey of manifestation and transformation of the universe. Following the path of space, air, fire, water and earth and back to space. And since chakras are seen as swirls of energy around blockages, obstacles and unlocked qualities, it makes sense to also study the aspects of human life and recognize patterns or categories. As each challenge has something to offer. When we dissolve our blockages, chakras disappear, which then leads to the highest form of energy flow.
Chakras are an exciting topic worth diving into. Researching about it definitely inspired me to learn more about how to include these practices in my daily routine and explore the flow of energy. Or … the lack thereof. In any case, I’m curious to learn more about this during my yoga alliance teacher training and am happy to report back what I have learned. For now I recommend reading up on the topic and educating yourself, because after all everything is energy in essence and being able to influence the flow and awakening the kundalini sounds like something incredibly beneficial to this experience called life.
By Tania Saedi ©