dictionary describes 'Chakra' as 'wheel' or 'circle'. However,
in our particular context, Chakras can be described as
spinning vortexes of spiritual or psychic energy within
the human body.
are not physical. They do interact, however, with the physical
body by ‘mirroring’ two major body systems: the endocrine system,
and the nervous system.
locations of the chakras coincide with major nerve or endocrine
centers in the body. And, they represent not only parts of the
body, but also parts of our consciousness. They function to integrate
the different facets, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual
into a coherent whole.
understand the concept of Chakras, one must first be aware
of the concept of the 'astral body'. Yogic physiology ascribes
to the human being not
one, but three bodies, the physical, the astral and the causal,
each more subtle than the last.
The physical body is the dense form that we are familiar with,
while the astral body is the etheric double of the physical body.
both the astral and the causal body are said to separate from
the physical body, though not from each other.
The astral body houses the network of 72,000 energy channels through
which flows the vital life sustaining energies (the Prana) that power the workings of both mind and body.
channels (termed nadi or meridiens) are vein-like passages which branch off
from 3 main channels running from crown to groin (they are said
to be joined at the groin).
channel is called the Sushumna,
and only during meditation does the life force flow through it.
The two side channels, the Ida
and the Pingala,
running on either side of the main channel, are the ones carrying
the vital energy during times of normal activity.
points within this network the 2 side channels loop around the
central channel , forming knots which obstruct the passage of
the subtle energy through the central channel.
In the region
of these knots, lie the Chakras, with the channels branching
off like spokes of a wheel.
as they are, at the meeting points of the energy channels, the
Chakras form powerful energy fields which control and influence
the health and well-being of the body and mind.
map of each chakra is represented by particular colors,
and a designated number of lotus petals, each of which bears a
letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. Each
chakra has its assigned sound and mantra .
7 such centers are associated with individual organs and glands
within the human body, each
of which plays a vital role in our physical body. They connect
also with the different senses, sensibilities, emotions
and physical responses, which together make up a person and lead
to the Greater Consciousness.
three lower chakras relate to primal needs such as survival
and procreation. The four higher chakras connect to our
psychological and mental makeup relating to love, communication,
knowledge, and spirituality.
Chakra, located at the crown, is associated with
the pituitary gland. The 7th and highest chakra, it is
represented by a 100 petalled lotus and the color white-gold.
Agnya Chakra, 'the third eye', is located
in the middle of the forehead. It is associated with the pineal
gland and has the mantra 'Om'.
Visuddhi Chakra, at the base of the throat
is connected to the thyroid gland, the para-thyroid, the larynx
Anahata Chakra, or the Heart Centre, connects
with the cardiac plexus and the thymus in the physical body. This
chakra is a favored focal point for meditation.
Manipura / Nabhi Chakra, located in the
region of the solar plexus is associated with the adrenal glands,
the spleen, and liver.
Swadhishtana Chakra, situated along the
Sushumna in the lower abdominal area is associated with
the pancreas, also with the reproductory system.
Muladhara Chakra, located at the perineum,
between the genitals and anus, is the resting place of the dormant
‘ Kundalini ‘. It is connected to the reproductory
Purification of the nadis
is of the utmost importance in ensuring healthy flow of the prana (life force) along the channels. Since an energy blockage would
result in physical and mental diseases, the aim of yogic practice
is to keep the nadis
clear of blockages, and the chakras balanced and in harmony
with each other.
Breath is considered to be the external manifestation of prana. And so yogic practice aims to develop control over breathing
in order to gain control over the subtle energies, and thereby
of the mind. The prana,
when consciously controlled , is a powerful revitalizing force
that can be used to heal oneself as well as others.
Interestingly, Taoist medicine, too, is based on the existence
of a subtle life energy 'ch'i'
which circulates through the astral bodies of all living creatures.
through which this energy flows, are called meridiens and these
meridiens too are linked to various organs and body segments (
two of which are unknown to Western Medicine).
treatments, widely used all over the world as alternative therapy,
are also based on the stimulation of these nodal points along the meridiens.