Whether you do yoga or not you most likely have heard of the chakras, subtle energy centers located along the spine.
The word chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning “wheel.” The chakras in the body are wheels of energy (centers) used in a variety of ancient meditation practices and they play a part in our overall health and balance.
There are seven major chakras, or energy centers of the body, and they vary in activity levels depending on what we are doing and experiencing in our lives.
Origin of Chakras
The mainstream chakra system is based on a Hindu chakra system that recognizes seven distinct centers of energy that are always in motion and are considered spiritual. It originated in India about 2500 BC in the oldest text called the Vedas.
They are responsible for taking in, incorporating and spreading energy in order to keep us functioning at optimal levels. We describe their function in various terms including the psychological, physical, energetic and spiritual.
7 Major Chakras Overview
The seven main chakras travel along the spine from the base to the top of the head. They have names in English but often the chakras are referred to by their Sanskrit name:
- Root chakra (Muladhara)
- Sacral chakra (Svadhishthana)
- Solar Plexus chakra (Manipura)
- Heart chakra (Anahata)
- Throat chakra (Vishuddha)
- Third Eye chakra (Ajna)
- Crown chakra (Sahasrara)
Location of the Chakras
The seven chakras are commonly associated with the following parts of the body:
- The Root chakra: Base of spine in tailbone area (perineum, coccyx area)
- The Sacral chakra: Lower abdomen or belly, about two inches below the navel
- The Solar Plexus chakra: Upper abdomen in the stomach area.
- The Heart chakra: The center of the chest, just above the heart.
- The Throat chakra: The throat
- The Third Eye chakra: Forehead between the eyebrows or “third eye”
- The Crown chakra: The top of the cranium (top of the head)
Though the chakras seem to correspond to physical locations in the body they are actually part of the subtle (energy) body. They are connected with and link the biological and the spiritual, and they pertain to the body, mind, and spirit all together.
Chakras add a lot of color to our lives so each chakra is associated with a color found in the rainbow.
- Root Chakra (Red color)
- Sacral Chakra (Orange color)
- Solar Plexus Chakra (Yellow color)
- Heart Chakra (Green color)
- Throat Chakra (Blue color)
- Third Eye Chakra (Indigo color)
- The Crown Chakra (Violet color)
The chakras keep us active, lively and vibrant every day. They are associated with body parts so they play a part in our health and healing.
These wheels are the catalysts of consciousness and human function. They can influence various emotional issues like self-esteem and our ability to communicate and experience love.
The Purpose of the Chakras
Each chakra has specific characteristics that can influence all areas of your life so they play a big part in regulating our energy and in our overall balance.
The study of the seven chakras and chakra alignment can be done through yoga, meditation or reiki and follows the belief that: when chakras are open and aligned, our energy is constantly free-flowing which allows prana to flow freely through them.
When a chakra is not functioning properly or if it is blocked, illness is more prone to occur. We see difficulties sometimes like depression or poor diet which can bring about sluggishness or lack of well-being. This can cause the energy to wain and chakras can get blocked or out of balance.
The practice of yoga or meditation improves our prana and adds a big boost to the overall condition of the chakras. Hatha yoga, kundalini yoga and pranayama breathing exercises are major helpers for building strong prana energy and keeping our chakras clean and balanced.
Functions of the Chakras
Chakras play a part in the circulation and distribution of prana throughout the entire body. They are supplied prana by the three main nadis (channels) called ida, pingala and sushumna.
The prana is concentrated in the torso in the three main nadis. Yogis do this by employing the three bandhas (locks.)
The three nadis travel up the spine past the seven chakras. The sushumna nadi is central and the ida and pingala nadis are the right and left channels travelling alongside the central sushumna nadi.
The ida and pingala nadis rise and cross each other at strategic places along the path up the spine. Where they intersect, near the sushumna nadi, are the locations of the seven chakras.
The chakras connect with the thousands of minor nadis and so are responsible for distributing and circulating the prana throughout the whole body.
When the meditator allows Holy light to enter the prana flow it can help to illumine and open the seven chakras and spread light throughout the entire body.
They are virtually in the form of a fluid, and if they block and stop moving, energy cannot flow in our bodies. It is because there is an intimate connection between the body, mind and spirit in our energy flow.
Opening the Chakras
To keep the chakras aligned and in balance there are several methods available but the well known one is kundalini yoga. In this form of yoga the meditator focuses on each chakra and brings balance to it sequentially for the benefit of the overall chakra system together.
This is a popular method but has drawbacks, namely that if you don’t know what you are doing then you could damage the chakras and even the body.
As an alternative many spiritual Masters say that it is better to open the heart center (chakra) first and then try to open the other centers afterwards. If you open the heart center first, it is better and there is much less risk. If you start with the individual chakras first (Muladhara, Svadhisthana or Ajna chakra) it can be very dangerous.
Avoid Occult Powers
Sometimes seekers or yogis wish to obtain subtle yogic powers (occult) and go to great lengths in trying this. Even if you gain powers and psychic abilities it proves foolish in the end because to maintain such powers is arduous. They are better avoided.
Opening Chakras with God
It is best to open and care for chakras with wholesome focus. There are those who do not care for occult powers but care rather for God’s Love.
You can learn how to meditate most soulfully with the help of His Grace, Light and Truth. This way it taps into the Divine and partakes of the Holy energy which is good for the chakras.
Doing this, and making considerable progress in the meditation, the chakra centers open almost automatically. Then, through the Grace of the Absolute Supreme, these centers fill with light and love, and function in top shape.
How to Balance the Chakras
The best way to balance the chakras is through meditation or kundalini yoga, they have a dynamic connection with each other. The effect of well balanced chakras often translates into a feeling of well-being, relaxation and increased vitality.
With good alignment the energy of the chakras is brought to a well functioning and harmonious state. Since they function as a whole we find the benefit of feeling centered and even.
Common practices to balance the chakras:
- pranayama breathing
- yoga (hatha or kundalini)
- Holistic or alternative medicine
We are constantly re-balancing the chakras through meditation, asana, mantra, aromatherapy and all these methods are listed.
Knowing the chakras, their function and place in our energy system puts us higher in health and more in-the-know for how things go and work.
Everybody knows that, in order to boost our feelings and performance, balancing the chakras is beneficial in many ways.
As they say,
When you know it you like it!
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Feature image credit: By mpan