Chakras are non physical and exist as part of the subtle energy body. However they are located through the body at specific points in the spine. The word chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘wheel’, and they are traditionally pictured in paintings as 7 different coloured lotus flowers embedded into a subtle central channel running through the spinal column. Each chakra wheel (vortex of energy) spins at a different speed and is represented by its own unique colour vibration that becomes more and more subtle working upwards through the spine. Chakras also have a particular instinct or function that emanates through every layer of our being, with both a physical, emotional and psychological component which binds them.
Mooladhara chakra, the first chakra at the very base of the spine for example, is related to the Earth element and therefore provides those qualities of solidity, support and structure for us at every level. The energy of mooladhara provides solidity through the physical body, structure through the skeleton and stability through the legs and feet. The qualities of security, stability and structure are inherent qualities of the earth element. If mooladhara was out of harmony we would experience the feeling of being ungrounded, unbalanced and physically weak. Our thoughts would become confused, our mind unstable and our feelings may fluctuate easily, because the grounding nature and solidity of the earth for some reason had become unbalanced. The legs, feet, spine, bones, adrenals and large intestine, which are the body parts related to mooladhara may develop symptomatic problems and we would probably find it hard to stand still, or walk with natural co-ordination and stability.
Chakras are the vital energy centres of the body and minds energy. They govern various parts of the body, functions of the body, aspects of the brain, emotional states and psychic patterns and perceptions. So chakras literally have their own unique personalities and functions.
We can stimulate the chakras through the physical body, by stretching the body parts and energy pathways connected to that particular chakra. We help by focussing our attention and our breath into the area being worked, so that body stretch, attention and breathe are unified. Then we use our imagination to work on the elemental nature of that particular chakra and enhance that aspect of our energy and personality..
For example, when practicing the Tree posture on working Mooladhara chakra, we focus on the feet in contact with the earth, the strength of our legs, straight spine, hands touching and stability of the posture. Our attention is fixed onto maintaining balance, symmetry and good connection to the earth. The energy of Mooladhara chakra flows downward, so we can help this with circular arm movements when breathing in, raising them upwards so the finger tips touch above our head and then bringing the hands down together in front of us on the exhale, feeling and imagining that we are pushing the energy down into the earth and grounding energy and consciousness. On the inhale we can absorb vital energy into that specific part of the body and as we exhale we can imagine relaxing and releasing waste, which is a major function of Mooladhara. So knowledge of chakras can really improve our yoga practice and the development of our personality and well-being.
Apart from Ajna and Sahasrara which are the two spiritual chakras, the other five chakras are related to a particular element. This difference provides an interconnected order between them, with the higher chakras at the upper end of the spinal column enabling more refined and enlightened states of consciousness than ones below them. The evolutionary process of this life is seen through yoga as a journey of self discovery through awakening the chakras, the dormant parts of the brain they relate to and the vital energies of consciousness involved with higher intelligence. With each awakening comes a more refined state of consciousness, which is more intelligent, peaceful, balanced and blissful.
There is a natural hierarchy within the chakra system, with the sixth chakra Ajna situated in the brain for example being a more refined complex chakra than the first chakra (mooladhara) at the base of the spine. Ajna provides the capacity for intuitive perceptions and the higher mental faculties related to the most evolved circuits of the brain. It controls the left and right hemispheres of the brain and the pineal gland. Mooladhara on the other hand provides the powerful and unconscious drives related to the earliest and most primitive aspects of the brain involved with survival and self preservation. Chakras not only control various parts of the body but also our instinctual drives, psychic characteristics and levels of awareness to. They each govern a neurological nerve plexus and endocrine gland and they each control the vital systems and organs of the body.
The wisdom of yoga allows us to manipulate prana and the quality and function of chakras through focussing our attention into the various postures and practices that are linked to them. Working with chakras not only increases our mental and physical energy, our physical health and the positive aspects of our personality but also has deep significance in terms of providing greater understanding of mind body connections and the more subtle relationships between energy and consciousness. We come to experience our mental patterns as physical symptoms and we can use the breathe and concentrated will to bring about change.
Chakras are basically the matrix of human experience, form and function. In this realm of existence the seven chakras comprise the totality of being, where any kind of manifestation can be related to its governing chakra. If we wish to reduce a physical symptom such as chronic neck tension, or develop a specific aspect of our personality such as confidence or greater kindness, then we can practice our yoga sequence with asanas and exercises that stimulate the governing chakras involved with controlling those body parts and providing those psychic capacities. We can train our attention and our imagination to create a new reality.
We are beings of energy, constantly moving and changing with the environment, both changing and being changed by it. Our outward actions in the world and towards others have an internal consequence upon our own energy field, as do our attitudes and emotional states. The recurring physical problems we experience and the various negative attitudes and habits that we carry are the ‘issues in our tissues’ so to speak. The part of the body affected, or aspect of our personality that is blocked or underdeveloped is related to one of the chakras. Through knowledge of the chakra system, which instinctual behaviours they provide and what physical part and functions they govern, we are given highly effective tools for healing and personal development
So awakening the chakras is important because our consciousness will change and this will have a significant impact upon our day to life experiences. How we think and feel is based on our present state of mind which is controlled by our point of evolution through the chakra system. All our love, hatred, fears and sufferings are based on our state of mind in the way we innately think and perceive everything to be. Human experience may be conditioned by outer circumstances but is actually created by the responses of our mind. Therefore the awakening of the chakras is totally practical and relevant to all our relationships and ability to be happy because chakras contain the full potential of human perception and scope of human experience.