The chakras are energy centers in the human body. In the energy context the 7 chakras were represented by whirling vortexes of energy in specific sites in the body, of specific color. These were linked not only to physical body parts but also feelings, thoughts and even the person’s karmic situation. (Remember the Koshas – different layers or bodies within a person).
Chakras are the connections between the different layers of consciousness and energy blockages or tension in any one of these layers would result in tension in the body around a particular chakra.
In a more modern context, each of the seven chakras is associated with one of the seven endocrine glands, and also with a particular group of nerves called a plexus. Thus, each chakra can be associated with particular parts of the body and particular functions within the body controlled by that plexus or that endocrine gland associated with that chakra.
When there is tension in a particular part of your consciousness, and therefore in the chakra associated with that part of your consciousness, the tension is detected by the nerves of the plexus associated with that chakra, and communicated to the parts of the body controlled by that plexus. When the tension continues over a period of time, or reaches a particular degree of intensity, the person creates a symptom on the physical level. Again, the symptom served to communicate to the person through their body what they had been doing to themselves in their consciousness. When the person changes something about their way of being, they are able to release the stress that had been creating the symptom, and they are then able to return to their natural state of balance and health.
Asanas and Pranayamas are said to manipulate the energies in your chakras. On a physical level these exercises stimulate circulation in certain parts of your body, associated with certain chakras, releasing tension or blocked energy in those areas.
There are 7 chakras, each given a different color and in charge of certain areas of consciousness:
1. Muladhara Chakra
This is the root chakra situated within the pelvic region. When we do Mulla Bandha (root lock) we are causing a flow of energy from this chakra. It is responsible for the following things:
- Organs and functions within the lower region (excretory system)
- Everything we need to survive (health, finances, family unit or home) and survival instincts
- Grounding, Generosity and Abundance
- Immune System
Blockages in this chakra are associated with problems in excretion, lower extremities and sacrum; maybe even feelings of selfishness. Weakness in giving in to animal instincts and the baser emotions of anger, hatred and aggression is also associated with energy imbalances in this Chakra. Also associated is lack of vitality and financial problems.
2. Swadhisthana Chakra
The literal meaning of the word swadhisthana is ‘one’s own abode’. The Sanskrit word swa means self and sthana means dwelling place. Swadhisthiana chakra is the chakra of creativity, pure attention and pure knowledge. It’s the chakra, which connects us to the inner source of inspiration, and enables us to experience the beauty around us. By purifying this centre the animal nature is transcended. The second chakra is responsible physically for the aortic plexus.
It is responsible for the following things:
- Organs of reproduction
- Sexual & creative energy
- Sexual identity
- The hips
Blockages are associated with problems in the reproductive system, lack of sexual awareness or creativity and inability to adjust to new and unexpected situations.
3. Manipura Chakra
Mani means jewel, Puri means city. Manipura means the city of jewels. It is so-called because, being the fire centre, it is lustrous like a jewel and radiant with vitality and energy. Manipura is the centre of self-assertion, dynamism and dominance. This chakra is the one that gives us the sense of generosity, complete satisfaction and contentment.
It is responsible for the following things:
- Functions of organs in and around solar plexus: liver, kidneys, diaphragm
- Emotional Stability and Contentment Level
- Self Empowerment and Courage
- Digestion/ assimilation of food energy
Blockages in this chakra are associated with feelings of jealousy and covetousness. Comparing oneself to others and constantly unhappy with one’s state of being are consequences of energy imbalance in this chakra. So is irritability, fear and unrest.
4. Anahata Chakra
Anahata means unstruck. Anahata chakra is the centre of unconditional love, compassion, selflessness and devotion. It is from our heart that the compassion and love manifest and the feelings of universal brotherhood and tolerance begin to develop and all beings are accepted and loved for what they are.
It is responsible for the following:
- Respiratory and Circulatory Systems (Heart and Lungs)
- Compassion, love, feelings of worthiness and self love
- Blockages in this chakra result in respiratory ailments (ie. Coughs, asthma) and heart disease. Also lack of self worth and coldness towards others.
5. Vishuddi Chakra
The word shuddhi means ‘purification’ and the prefix vi enhances this quality. It is the centre of the Truth about you and your place in the world. Right understanding and discrimination develop at vishuddhi chakra. This chakra is located in the neck and takes care of the cervical plexus.
In other traditions it is located in the throat. It is responsible for:
- Physical health of the ears, nose and throat systems of the body
- Thyroid gland
- Speech and Communication Skills, hearing
- Interpersonal relationships
Blockages in this chakra include stuttering and failures to communicate, throat problems, ear problems, thyroid problems and inability to have lasting relationships.
6. Agnya Chakra
The sixth chakra is called the Agnya Chakra. The gnya word means “to know.” Gnya is to know and it means the whole. The English translation is “Third Eye”.
This chakra is within the brain where the optic nerves cross each in the midbrain which is the upper part of the spinal cord and is associated with the ego and the following:
- Pride in one’s self and achievements
- Sight and visual processes
- Mental faculties linked with the thinking mind
Blockages can result in eye problems like Glaucoma, Loneliness, Super-Ego Issues and feelings of superiority over others. Other issues are nightmares, Delusion, Mental Illness.
No postures will help if someone has problems with the ego or their perception of the world is not in line with reality. The only final remedy is meditation.
7. Sahasrara Chakra
Sahasrara Chakra is not really a chakra but our connection to our higher selves and to the divine. The word Sahasrara means one thousand petalled lotus. This chakra is visualized as a shining lotus of a thousand petals.
Traditionally located in the top of the head, this is the last chakra. It is represented by the top of the head over the cerebellum. Traditionally it governs connection with the absolute or the divine. It is a region beyond all mental ability to comprehend (thus its location on top of the brain).
Blockages in this chakra result in lack of belief or poor spiritual health. Regardless of what you believe in you must have something to surrender to when your world turns upside down, as in sirsasana. Headstands and Ishvara Pranidhana are ways to cure blockages in this area.