You’ve probably heard the word chakra used in a yoga class, but you don’t believe in all that new-agey spiritual crap right? Or maybe you do and you want to know more? Chakras aren’t just hippie ‘woo woo’, they’re as real as your thoughts and are a fundamental aspect of yoga; and whether you believe in them or not, they’re operating behind the scenes in your life.
What is energy?
In order to understand chakras, we must understand energy.
Who we are at our very core is energy. Everything in the universe is an energetic vibration including ourselves. Yogis have always known that there is a subtle vibratory energy at the substratum of everything. Physicists view this vibration as electric fields (generated by electrons within the empty space of an atom), yogis experience this energy or prana.
The mind and the body are like poles on the same continuum. The body is the most physical manifestation of who we are, it has mass, occupies a physical space and is comprised of matter and energy. On the opposite pole is the mind which is not physical, has no specific location (it’s not the brain) and is comprised of consciousness.
Matter itself is not solid and is comprised of a number of atoms and the space between each atom. Atoms are tiny particles of energy and that energy is not physical or solid, it is more of a vibration. Each cell in our body has atoms (energy) and empty space between the atoms. This empty space has an energetic field, a vibration. Quantum physicists and yogis know this energetic vibration as consciousness. Consciousness is the awareness or presence of being that gives rise to thought and is a form of subtle, vibratory energy.
How do chakras and energy work?
The chakra system is an Eastern representation of the body’s energetic system and provides a framework for how we can organise our life force energy as well as outlining a map for personal transformation. The chakra system, synonymous with yoga, has been around for thousands of years and serves as our connection between the physical plane of the Earth and the higher planes. The word yoga means union with mind, body and spirit and the ultimate union takes place when we merge our physical existence with our spiritual existence. Our chakras facilitate the process of yoga.
Before we existed physically, we were energy. Our very first cell was infused with the energy of our mother and father and this energy contained the blueprint for life. Yogis call this energy, Kundalini Shakti – a latent sexual/spiritual energy that represents the life force within each person (modern science knows this as DNA). Kundalini energy underlies matter and consciousness and is the bridge between mind and body. Kundalini energy runs up our central axis – the spinal column, also known as the shushumna or main energy channel. It is symbolised by the serpent, snaking up the spine to the crown of the head and bears many similarities to the symbol of medicine, the caduceus.
Chakras are spinning vortices of energy, located along various points of the spine. These spinning wheels radiate and receive energy emanating from major nerve centres branching from the spine. Our seven chakras are stacked along our vertical column of energy (spine) and act as a gateway between our inner and outer world.
Chakras don’t exist physically, in the same way thoughts and feelings don’t exist physically, yet they have a location in that they correspond to the various glands in the body and influence the functioning of various body parts and organs.
Since we are taller than we are wide, our energy current (along the spine) is vertical resulting in two poles – the body and the mind. This current is like electricity that runs up and down, connecting the Earth to ground our current which is experienced in our bodies and connecting to consciousness which is the polar opposite and occurs largely in the mind. This is the flow of energy between consciousness and matter.
The seven chakras
Our seven chakras start from the ground (Earth, physical, dense energy) and work their way up to our mind (subtle, vibration, consciousness).
Located at the base of the spine and corresponds to the adrenal glands. This chakra governs our feet, legs and hips and relates to our basic needs for survival, stability, physical health and grounding. This chakra is the foundation for the entire system.
Located in the pelvic region, below the navel and corresponds to our ovaries/testes. This chakra governs our hips, genitals and lower back and relates to our sexuality, emotions, pleasure, creativity and joy.
Solar plexus chakra
Located between the navel and the heart and corresponds to our pancreas. This chakra governs our digestion, metabolism and middle back and relates to our self esteem, personal power, will and confidence.
Located at the centre of the chest and corresponds to our thymus gland. This chakra governs our heart, lungs, shoulders, arms and upper back and relates to love, relationships. compassion and self-acceptance.
Located at the base of the throat and corresponds to our thyroid gland. This chakra governs our neck, throat, jaw, teeth and mouth and relates to communication, expression, creativity and truth.
Third eye chakra
Located between the eyebrows and corresponds to our pituitary gland. This chakra governs our eyes, ears, brain and relates to wisdom, insight, intuition and self-reflection.
Located at the top of the head and corresponds to our pineal gland. This chakra governs our central nervous system and relates to knowledge, wisdom, consciousness and spiritual connection.
Healthy chakras channel energy up our spinal column, bringing vitality to our physical body and elevating our consciousness. Energy in the chakras can also stagnate and become blocked, affecting our physical and mental health and generally making life difficult for us. Poor diet, stress, excess caffeine/alcohol/drugs, trauma, health problems and spending too much time in our head can disrupt the free flow of energy and optimal function of our chakras.
Working with our chakras
Chakras can be like magnets drawing in positive energy, experiences, opportunities and people or they can repel these things if they’re not functioning well. Yogis believe that our external life is a reflection of our inner energy and that we can tell the health of our chakras through the problem areas we experience in life (eg money and the root chakra, lack of joy and the sacral chakra, self esteem and the solar plexus, relationships and the heart chakra, communication and the throat chakra etc). On that basis, instead of trying to fix our external life circumstances, we can focus on balancing and clearing our inner energy and getting ourselves right from the inside out. Fortunately, this is something that’s within our control and once we are aware of our energy, we can do something about it. Yogis have been studying the mind and body for thousands of years and the system of yoga has evolved to effectively manage and channel our energy through yoga poses, breathing, awareness and meditation.
Want to learn more and experience the energy of the chakras in your body? Want to learn about the emotional aspect of the chakras? Want to learn techniques to balance your energy and chakras? Check out our upcoming Energy Anatomy Course.