Popularization of chakra theory has both spread awareness of their existence and also created confusion as to their nature.
Chakra literally means “wheel”. They are meeting points of energy pathways in the subtle energy anatomy of all living organisms. Human beings are said to have up to 144 chakras (numbers vary across traditions), of which 7 are the primary hubs located along the spinal axis and activated through the cerebrospinal system.
These chakras are evident through their effects, you cannot open the body and see them. As primary organizers and generators of energy in the human system, they correspond to important nerve plexii in the body and are associated with respective organs, sense perceptions, mental qualities, emotional tendencies and cosmic laws.
When we do yoga practice that is based on chakra theory, it means we are drawing upon the spiritual science of tantric yogis and applying their insights to balance and/or amplify the flow of energy through our system.
Ultimately, this is both a scientific and creative process. Once we know the possibilities that are available to consciousness, we must creatively engage our energy and attention in the direction of our intent.
Keep an open mind. Explore the laboratory of your own body and psyche. Implement what works for you and discard what doesn’t.
Grounded, stable, earthy and secure.
Muladhara chakra is connected to our feet, sense of smell, muscles, bones and sense of psychological gravity.
Balanced - This chakra provides the feeling to being rooted - our muscles, bones and blood are strong and structured.
Imbalanced - We are ungrounded, anxious about survival, unable to provide for ourselves or overly centered food and sleep - our muscles become stiff or weak depending on the nature of the imbalance.
Flowing, pleasurable and connected to sensations.
Swadhistana chakra governs the energetic force of cohesion and the universal force of covalence.
Balanced, this chakra supports nurturing, sensitive, and open-minded qualities, enabling us to go with the flow. Our sexual energy is alive and can be used for creative expression.
Imbalanced, we will find ourselves over-indulgent, forgetful of personal needs or vain and too emotionally dependent on others. Our adrenal glands can be under or over-stimulated, our muscles tense and our body lacking warmth and softness.
Willpower, motivation and action in service.
Manipura chakra literally means the ‘city of jewels’. It generates the fire necessary to transform what appears as solid reality.
Balanced - One can lead without controlling and be confident without arrogance. Digestion is sound and one has the energy needed to accomplish ones aims.
Imbalanced - Motivated by power and prone to recklessness, ones is more easily provoked. If deficient, one easily gives their power to others while resenting authority. Our digestive system suffers and we can experience problems in the pancreas.
Loving, creative, compassionate and empathic.
Anahata chakra governs the force of expansion. Central to the bodies immune response through the hypothalamus, it is also the seat of intuition.
Balanced - ones heart is abundant - reflecting gratitude, generosity and creative expression.
Imbalanced - one may become self-sacrificing and easily lost in feelings of self or others. Conversely, one may lack empathy, spiritual connection and inspiration. Makes one prone to auto-immune conditions.
Visuddha chakra is not as easily defined as the lower chakras, it manifests is differently according the individual and is awakened through true spiritual knowledge.
It’s problems arise through doubt or negative intellect, which is overcome when we validate our knowledge through inner experience. Whether through written or spoken form, the presence of someone with an awakened visuddha chakra opens channels of knowledge in his/her listeners.
It is associated with communication and the thyroid and parathyroid glands. Imbalances in excessive thinking & inability to express truth to power can lead to dysfunction in these glands - leading to horomonal imbalance and improper calcium regulation associated with osteoporosis.
The Ajna Chakra is the seat of consciousness. Known as the third-eye, it is the place where duality becomes equalized - the integration of solar and lunar energies, self and other, seer and seen. Samadhi can be experienced here.
It is associated with the pineal gland, which is sensitive to light and thus a subtle instrument of perception. It is developed and awakened through meditation.
Truly abiding in the ajna chakra is a state of non-dual consciousness. Deeper samskaras - latent karmic impressions - rise up to be cleared and the source of mental, emotional and physical suffering is relieved through pure non-dual insight.
Truth. Consciousness. Bliss
Sahasrara means “thousand-petalled lotus”. When a child is born the topmost pat of the head - called the fontanelle - is very soft and open. Children are prone to cosmic absorption, non-local states of consciousness and spontaneous bliss. Yet, while this chakra is open in children, their primary development is happening in the muladhara as they become familiar with the body and its survival needs.
Some great yogis have described the yogic journey as integrating the consciousness and energy available through the different chakras. From this perspective, the crown chakra is the ultimate home-coming of consciousness.
There are many stories and teachings of those who have attained to the consciousness of the sahasrara. These souls are called self-realized. Their presence is a benediction, awakening deep spiritual urges among those they encounter.