What are Chakras in Yoga?

What are Chakras in Yoga?

 

People often ask me, “what are chakras?”. In this modern age, more information about yoga is spreading quickly, including yoga’s explanation of the body’s chakra system. In one of the most important yoga texts in the 21st Century, The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Yogi Swatmarama states:

“When all the nadis and chakras which are full of impurities are purified, then the yogi is able to retain prana” –Hatha Yoga Pradipika

This quote points to understanding and working with chakras as an integral part of transformation. There are seven main chakra locations in the body, each with a corresponding energy frequency. Chakra means “a circling motion or wheel”.

Chakras are also described as lotus flowers with a certain number of petals, especially in regards to the lotus meditation technique. They are located along the spinal column, but more specifically along the sushmna nadi (the main energy channel in the center of the spinal cord which conducts kundalini shakti).

Energy (prana) accumulates in each chakra, creating seven separate energy centers. These chakras are located in the subtle body and match to the nerve centers in the physical body. They are a conjunction point for many nadis. Even through there are more than seven chakras, the seven major ones are specifically concerned with human evolution. The chakras in the subtle body affect the physical realm, impacting us in every moment of our lives.

Each chakra vibrates at a particular rate and velocity. For example, the chakras at the bottom of the energy circuit have a high frequency and are responsible for states of higher awareness.

The chakras are linked to colored wheels of energy and colored lotuses with different yoga tradition interpreting them in slightly different ways. Here are some common chakra colors with their English and Sanskrit names, according to the Hatha Yoga tradition:

Mooladhara

  • perrenial floor (in men), the cervix(in women)
  • four-petals
  • excretory
  • reproductive organs
  • hormonal secretions
  • nose/smell
  • animal instincts
  • Where human evolution starts
  • Kundalini emerges

Swadhisthana

  • two fingers above the mooladhara
  • six petals
  • sacral plexus
  • urinary area
  • reproductive organs and glands
  • toungue/taste
  • Ego

Manipura

  • behind the navel
  • ten petals
  • solar plexus
  • digestive process
  • food and prana absorbtion
  • eyes/ sight
  • existence, sensualities, ambition and greed

Anahata

  • Heart Center
  • twelve petals
  • connected to the cardiac plexus
  • heart
  • respiration
  • thymus gland
  • love, hate, compassion and cruelty, emotions
  • touch/ hands

Vishuddhi

  • middle of the throat
  • sixteen petals
  • cervical plexus
  • thyroid gland
  • purity of mind and body
  • ears/hearing and throat/speech
  • Acceptance, mental balance, understanding of others needs

Ajna

  • top of the spinal column (medulla oblongata), above the eyes in the center
  • two petals
  • command center
  • reticular activating system
  • medulla oblongata
  • pineal gland
  • the third eye/ access to subtle world
  • The gateway to liberation

Sahasrara

  • the thousand-petal lotus
  • the crown of the and the pituitary gland
  • Activated by Kundalini, the highest human experience

Through yoga all these chakras are influenced and stimulated, and blockages removed. Yoga provides a way to purify your chakras, to allow physical and mental health and the awakening of Kundalini. When strengthened, the chakras are capable of conducting the kundalini shakti, leading to higher understanding, awareness and transformation.

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