As human beings existing in this physical body we're made up of 5 different layers of 'being', moving from the densest to the most subtle. We have the physical (or gross) body, the energy body, the mental body, the intellectual or higher thinking body, the spiritual body and the bliss body. In yoga we call these the Koshas. These five koshas, are referred to as 'sheaths' in Sanskrit, because each fits in the next like a sword into a scabbard. They can also be looked at like the layers of an onion. The deeper we go, the closer we get to the essence of who we really are. Only the densest layer, the physical body, is made up of matter as we know it; the other four are energy states invisible to the physical eye, though we can easily sense their presence inside us when we pay close attention. The first five of these layers of our being can and are affected by the food we eat, our health, our lifestyle, our experiences and our thought processes. The highest, most subtle layer or 'bliss body' remains unchanged and is eternal, detached, and always peaceful and blissful.
The concept of the chakras comes to us from ancient yogic literature and tradition, discovered thousands of years ago. The chakras are centers of energy found in everyone, and these centers receive, transform and distribute the universal life force throughout the body in an organized way. Although Western medicine has largely ignored the importance of the pranic system or energy system of the body, Eastern thought and philosophy has studied and used this information for thousands of years. The Eastern world view is based on the fact that energy exists everywhere and we can harness, control and increase this energy in very specific ways. We can also have blockages in our energy that can cause mental and physical disease, illness and death. As such, chakras play an important part in our physical, emotional and spiritual health.
By following the 5 principles of yoga: proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper nourishment, positive thinking and meditation we can keep our energy system balanced, open and as operational as possible. There is a wellspring of energy available to us if we know how to tap into it!
The traditional chakra system is made up of seven major chakras and several hundred minor chakras. All of the chakras are a part of the second layer or sheath called our energy body. The seven major chakras run up the area of the spine from the base of the tailbone up to the crown of the head. They vibrate at gradually higher and higher frequencies as you move up the body.
The word chakra translates into 'wheel' or vortex of moving energy. The lower five of them are considered to be direct reflections of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Like a ladder moving from the physical, heavier, more gross energy realm at the base of the spine through the realm of divine connection and consciousness at the crown of the head, the chakras give us a deeper understanding of our own being and also how we are so intimately connected with all life, the elements, the stars and the universe itself.
In this first blog on the 7 chakras, I'll give you a brief explanation of the location, characteristics and the specific parts of our being that are represented and affected by each chakra.
The 7 Chakras are:
Muladhara Chakra: or Root Chakra
Swadhisthana Chakra: or Sacral Chakra
Manipura Chakra: or Solar Plexis Chakra
Anahata Chakra: or Heart Chakra
Vishuddha Chakra: or Throat Chakra
Ajna Chakra: or Third Eye Chakra
Sahasrara Chakra: or Crown Chakra
Each chakra corresponds with a particular element, certain qualities, specific sounds, substances, levels of awareness, and energetic charges. The bottom three are related to female energy and the top four are related to male energy which, by the way, we all contain both, whether we're a man or a woman. In the next 7 blog posts I'll be teaching the basics about the chakras and giving asanas, breathing practices, and meditations to connect and unblock each particular chakra. We'll be learning about how this natural way of viewing ourselves in connection with all energy, vibration and life will enable us to clear, balance, harness and boost our own energy. We'll also understand and feel a deeper connection to our spiritual body or 'bliss body' that exists deep within all of us although it often has been covered up by layers of misunderstanding, mental or physical illness, and the illusion of how we see the world in such a limited way through our 5 senses.
“Where the mind goes, energy flows”, so by learning and knowing about how our energy system works, we can have an enormous affect on understanding, harnessing, balancing, clearing and increasing our energy. This is crucial for those of us that suffer from chronic low energy, feel blocked in some way, have been traumatized, or are having trouble living at our highest potential. We can improve our lives on every level by understanding the chakra system within us and working with it to 'tune up' our lives!
Wishing you boundless energy,