Monday, September 2, 2013

The Chakras

The practices of yoga are designed to deal with our bodies on more than just a physical level. To the yogi the physical body is a manifestation, a reflection, of the astral or energy body. This body of energy has its own anatomy, based on seven major energy vortices called chakras.

The word chakra means wheel or disk. The chakras line up along the central energy channel, or nadi, which runs from the base of the spine through the top of the head. It is called the sushumna. The sushumna is the energy body’s primary pathway for the life force – kundalini. The chakras are nodes of connection along this pathway where other energy channels intersect.

The goal of classical yoga is to awaken the kundalini energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine and make it rise to the highest energy vortex at the crown of the head. The Tantric approach is to stir one’s awareness of that divine energy which is already awake. The yogi who can achieve and maintain this state is consider enlightened.

There are approximately 72,000 nadis in the energy body that channel energy. Three are primary, including the central sushumna and two others on either side. The left –side channel is called the ida. Its qualities are cool, soft, reflective, and sensitive, like the moon. The right – side channel is called the pingala and is associated with heat, activity, and strength, like the sun.

The balance of energy flow on these two sides affects the sensations of heat and cold in the physical body. These two channels originate in the sushumna, near the base of the spine and they correspond to the first chakra, muladhara. They spiral up the sushumna, crossing at each of the six higher chakras.

The chakras can be visualized from the front of the body as a lotus flower with the roots in the back. As the life force, prana, moves through the system, it makes the spin. The health of this system of energy flow depends on the chakras spinning at a proper speed. If the chakras spin too slowly, too weakly, or too fast, this creates a damming effect for the energy flow, and the system becomes imbalanced, which can manifest as emotional and physical illness.

Each chakra has a physical location in the body and is associated with physical, emotional, and energetic characteristics. Additionally, each chakra is associated with basic human rights and how we feel physically and energetically.

For instance, if a child knows that he is loved, honored, and respected by his parents, he can develop a healthy sense of security. As a result the functioning of his muladhara chakra, which is associated with security, is enhanced.

The chakras can serve a type of energetic health monitor for the student of yoga. As we perform the physical practice of yoga we increase the health, awareness, and energy flow to each section of our bodies. If a particular section of our body is functioning at optimal levels energetically, the chakra associated with that section will also functioning optimally.

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