Chakra as we all know is the wheel – in Indian religious and philosophical thought, the chakra refers to the centre of the subtle body (as opposed to the physical body). It is the psychic energy center or the focal point of the body’s energy. Different faiths such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism embrace the concept of chakras and yoga though the context and the number of chakras tend to differ with each.
The seven chakras, their location and significance
The Sahasrara Chakra or crown chakra is symbolized by the lotus with a thousand petals of various colors. This chakra is located at the crown on the head and is thought to be the center of the spiritual self and the state of pure consciousness.
The Ajna Chakra corresponds to the mythical third eye. Located on the forehead between the eyebrows, it is also called the guru chakra because this is the place that the guru would touch the student during an initiation ceremony. This chakra is thought to be associated with our intuitive sense and is thought to guide the other chakras.
The Vishuddhi Chakra or throat chakra is located at the base of the throat or the pharynx and is thought to be connected to self expression, communication and so on.
The Anahata Chakra is located close to the heart, behind the sternum and is thought to be the psychic energy center. This is the chakra connected to love, devotion and inner peace.
The Manipura Chakra refers to the navel or the solar plexus and is described as the intermediate stage of self discovery. Aspects such as power, self esteem and fear are thought to be governed by this chakra.
The Swadhishthana Chakra is located in the genital area and is thought to govern sexual activity, creativity, fertility and pleasure. This is also known as the sacral or pelvic chakra.
The Muladhara Chakra is also known as the root chakra and is thought to govern our survival instincts. Many experts feel that this is the most important of chakras to concentrate on since it helps to stabilize and balance our body and our emotions.
Chakras and Yoga
As the ancient texts explain the concept of chakras – we all have certain cosmic energies flowing through us; energies that we are not conscious of. Since we are unaware of this energy, we neither utilize it, nor do we harness it. In the Kundalini School of yoga some of the breathing exercises and aasans are focused on the channeling and control of energy via the body’s chakras. In the yogic sense, the chakras refer to the body’s energy centers; the aim being to activate the body’s chakras and to cleanse and free up the passages for proper, unimpeded flow of energy through the body.
Specific yoga aasans such as the mountain pose or tadasana, the warrior pose or veerbhadrasana and the bridge pose or the setubandhasana help to open up and balance the chakras. The right yoga poses help the body as well as the emotions function in a balanced, stable manner and help us connect to our inner spiritual selves.