Most yogis hit a point in their practice when the physical poses have been mastered enough that deeper questions start to arise. Questions like why am I actually performing these poses or what does this all mean? This may drive us to explore the deeper teachings of yoga, which includes the studying of ancient scriptures. Many writings documented in ancient Hindu literature such as the Vedas and the Upanishads teach about the chakras and their importance in maintaining spiritual and physical health and spiritual ascension.
Chakras, which mean ‘wheels of light’ in Sanskrit, are described as spinning wheels of energy or subtle energy centers located at the seven main branches of the nervous system. They collect and transmit energy and direct life energy (prana) for physical and spiritual wellbeing. Many cultures from the Tsalagi to the Incas have a version of the chakra system, and these all share a connective thread of thought. It is believed that by opening these energy centers one by one, through various techniques like meditation, sound therapy, chanting of the bija mantras and color therapy, we balance out misalignments in our energy and create a stepping stone path to enlightenment by increasing the vibrations of the subtle body. Here is an introduction to the chakras are based on the Hindu system.
1st, Muladhara chakra (Root chakra): Means base or support
In the body it is located at the base of the spine between the genitals. Its main tasks are attaining security and grounding, and helping you to stay connected to the physical world by taking care of basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. The goal of mastering the first chakra is ultimately to heal and understand the physical body and form.
2nd, Svadhisthana chakra (Sacral chakra): Means dwelling place, or dwelling place of the self
In the body it is located in the lower abdomen. Its main aspect is to experience pleasure. This chakra’s main tasks are to tap into creativity in all aspects, finding passion and helping you to connect to your feelings.
3rd, Manipura chakra (Naval chakra): Translated to mean jewel in the dwelling place
Located at the solar plexus, this third chakra is the centre of self-esteem. Its main tasks are to overcome inertia, learn self-acceptance, find self-love, confidence and to be proactive and reliable in life. It is the energy centre that makes things happen.
4th, Anahata chakra (Heart chakra): Means heart lotus, also translated to mean ‘sound that is made without any two things striking’
Located at the centre of the chest, this chakra is the heart energy of the body, moving feelings of love through all aspects of your life. Living life from the heart is all about loving yourself and others, and finding kindness in all its forms. A heart-centered person values connection with their true essence, spirit and soul.
5th, Vishuddha chakra (Throat chakra): Means purification
Color: Bright Blue
This chakra is located in the throat. Considered to be the link between the more physical oriented chakras and the upper and more spiritual focused ones, this helps you to speak your truth, allowing creativity to flow freely, as well as open paths to expression and communication.
6th, Ajna chakra (Third-eye chakra): Means two-petalled lotus, sometimes called the third eye
Located at the third eye, this chakra accesses our inner guidance that comes from the depths of our being. When energy is flowing freely, we are able to cut through illusions to access deeper truths and to see beyond the mind and words.
7th, Sahasrara chakra (Crown chakra): Means void or thousand fold
Color: Violet or White
Located at the top or just above the head, the last point of the ascension process, this chakra connects us to divine intelligence and the source of all manifestations. Through this chakra we can experience the oneness of all things, and almost a confirmation that there is more to this life that we can see with the untrained eye. Cultivation of gratitude and trust can help to balance this chakra.
The chakras are a gateway to self-healing and self-discovery, giving deeper meaning to the yogic path and helping us to see ourselves as more the just our physical beings. They help us to understand ourselves as energy and connect to the beautiful vibrant wondrous world around us.