Originally published at www.bodylocal.com
Yoga teachers will often reference the chakras in class, but for those students unfamiliar with the word, chakras can sound like something esoteric and far removed from everyday yoga practice. The practice of asana, or the physical postures of yoga, is designed to promote balance in the body’s energy, and this is often achieved through a focus on the chakras.
Chakras are energy centers that lie along the central line of the body. In Sanskrit, the word chakra translates to “wheel,” and refers to a spinning sphere or vortex of bioenergetic activity, which emanates from the major nerve ganglia that emerge from the spinal column. There are seven primary wheels stacked in a column of energy that rises from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. There are secondary chakras in all the joints of the body (a reason why it’s important not to lock in the joints during asana practice), but the seven major chakras correlate with what is often referred to as the “energetic super highway” of the body that runs through the center of the body. The chakra system is a dynamic and intricate network that provides a way of understanding the multiple facets of life.
Chakras are not physical parts of the body but rather, are mapped within the subtle energy body and encompass physical, emotional, and energetic aspects. Like emotions, they cannot be seen or touched, yet they exert influence on the physical body. The chakras affect and are affected by our physical posture, emotions, and life situations. They influence our glandular processes, body shape, chronic physical ailments, thoughts, and behavior. Because the chakras play a major role in the connection between mind, body and energy, they can be considered a portal through which a practitioner can gain self-knowledge and inner balance. When the chakras are out of balance, we experience disease in a myriad of mind-body functions. Through the practice of yoga, pranayama, meditation, and visualization, we can influence our chakras, and thereby transform our daily living.
In order to balance each chakra energetically, it is essential to first create alignment in the physical body. Although the chakras are not physical entities, they are often said to have physical locations within the body. Looking at imbalances in these parts of the body can hint at imbalances in the corresponding chakras; it follows, then, that tailoring a yoga practice to focus on the parts of the body that correlate to a given chakra can help to balance that energetic center.
The lower three chakras (Muladhara, Svadhisthana, and Manipura), which are located in the lower half of the body, correspond to our relationship with the material world, our sexuality, and our sense of self. These chakras influence our ideas about who we are, how we see ourselves, and our self-esteem. The ways in which these three chakras affect our life energy manifest as feelings in the fourth chakra, or the heart chakra (Anahata). The heart chakra is the center of the chakra system and bridges the world of matter (represented by the lower three chakras) and the world of the spirit (the upper three chakras). The higher chakras (Vishuddha, Ajna, and Sahasrara), located from the chest to the top of the head, influence how we communicate and relate to others, our emotional wisdom, and our feelings of connection to a greater force. Although each of the seven chakras reflects specific life issues and levels of consciousness, they are all interrelated and interdependent. An imbalance in one chakra will likely affect other areas of the system as well.
CLICK HERE for a chart that illustrates the physical location of each chakra, what energetic aspects each influence, and how you can physically align yourself to promote energetic balance.
Using this knowledge, you can scan your body to notice any physical imbalances that might hint at energetic imbalances. For instance, are your shoulders rounded forward and your chest concave? Do you experience difficulty in connecting and communicating with others? It might be that your heart and throat chakras are out of balance (remember, an imbalance in one chakra will affect another). The best way to start an in-depth focus on alignment is to start in Mountain Pose. Stand in Mountain Pose and go through each tip for physically balancing the chakras. Afterward, notice how you’ve physically changed from your normal stance, and notice if you feel any different emotionally and energetically.
You can use the wisdom of the chakra system to focus your physical asana practice in a way that will help you to achieve balance in your mind and body. In this way, you can personalize your practice to address your own personality and needs. By using your asana practice to connect to the physical, emotional, and energetic aspects of your being, you will undoubtedly gain new insights and understand yourself better so that you can achieve more balance, peace, and joy in your life.
Check out my Instagram
for more inspiration!
© Copyright 2012-2017
All Rights Reserved
Love Joy Wellness