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Exploring the Chakras

WHAT ARE THE CHAKRAS?

Patricia Mercier, yoga teacher, qualified holistic healer, and author of The Chakra Bible, The Chakra Experience, The Little Book of Chakras, describes the Chakras as - “vortices of subtle energy within the human aura - an electromagnetic field of varying vibrational frequencies often called Luminous Body.”

The word “Chakra” (pronounced "Chuk-rah"), is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning wheel and, in Hindi, it means ‘wheel of spinning energy’. Within our bodies, there are seven principal chakras with a number of minor chakras also being mentioned in sacred texts originating from India. These are:

Muladhara • Root
Swadhisthana • Sacral
Manipura • Solar Plexus
Anahata • Heart
Vishuddha • Throat
Ajna • Third Eye
Sahasrara - Crown 


WHAT ARE THE NADIS?

The Nadis are energy channels through which Prana (our life force) streams. Within the human body, there is a subtle network of 72,000 Nadis that distribute this life force throughout the whole body.

On the physical level, the Nadis correspond to the nervous system, but their influence extends beyond this. If our Nadis are functioning correctly then we are happy and healthy, but nearly every one of us has some physical, psychic, and emotional problems, which mean that some of our Nadis need to be balanced.

There are three Nadis of special importance:

IDA - arises in the left side of the body and represents the Moon energy.
PINGALA - flows through the right side of the body and symbolises the Sun energy.
SUSHUMNA - runs through the central channel of the spinal cord and represents the consciousness.

Like Sushumna, the Ida and Pingala Nadis travel upward along the spinal column, but they criss-cross each other and the Sushumna before terminating in the left and right nostrils. The junctions where the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna Nadis meet along the spinal column are called Chakras.

The energy flow in the Nadis is associated with the sleep cycle, circadian rhythm, and ultradian rhythm of the body. The ultradian rhythm of the body is associated with our fundamental bodily functions such as brain wave frequency, hormone secretion, sleep, and blood flow. The 72,000 Nadis are closely connected with the heart area, brain area, and navel area of the body.

WHAT IS KUNDALINI?

In ancient yoga traditions, it is believed that Kundalini is a form of stored energy that rests at the base of our spine in the Muladhara Charka. It is often symbolised as a coiled serpent in the Root area. Generally, we tap into a tiny fraction of the potential energy that resides in our bodies. The remaining energy, Kundalini, remains in a state of potentiality or a seed state.

Kundalini yoga practices and meditations are geared towards awakening the Kundalini, to increase the flow of Pranic energy around the Nadis, which is often achieved through a range of deep breathing and physical movements.

In other yoga traditions, it is thought that there is a Void or Bhavsagar (translated as the Ocean of Illusion) which sits above the Kundalini and encompasses the second (Sacral) and third (Solar Plexus) Chakra.

chakra practice updated

The Root Chakra - Muladhara
Survival, vitality, stability, security, grounding, and connection to the earth.

Location: Base of the spine - between the perineum and the coccyx.
Symbol: The four-petaled lotus with a yellow square at its centre.
Colour: Red.
Element: Earth.
Mantra: LAM.
Mudra: The Muladhara mudra.
Physical action: Sexuality.
Mental action: Brings stability.
Asanas: Virabhadrasana 1 (warrior), Trikonasana (triangle).
If balanced: Security, stable, grounded, energetic, optimal weight and digestion.
Unbalanced: Anxiety, fear, unstable, low self-esteem, under/overweight, constipation.

Affirmation: I seek balance and harmony in my life.
I am at home in my body.

“The root chakra is where everything begins,” says Cristi Christensen, author of “Chakras Rituals: Awakening the Wild Woman Within”. “It’s the root from which true health, well-being, and empowerment grows. It’s the foundation on which our physical and energetic body and every chakra is built upon”.

The Sacral Chakra - Svadhisthana
Pleasure, sensuality, creativity, relationships, emotions.

Location: Between the genitals and navel.
Symbol: Six lotus petals representing the cycles of birthday, death, and rebirth. A crescent moon (regeneration through female energy).
Colour: Orange.
Element: Water.
Mantra: VAM.
Mudra: The Shakti mudra.
Physical action: Balances sexuality.
Mental action: Harmonises emotions, relationships, and joy.
Asanas: Parivrtta Trikonasana (twisting triangle).
If balanced: Creativity, prosperity, joy, patience, sexuality, healthy sex life, pleasure, fertility.
Unbalanced: Guilty, shyness, allergies, eating disorders, irresponsible, sexual issues, infertility.

Affirmation: I enjoy pleasure in all areas of my life.
My emotions are free-flowing and balanced.

“When we repress our emotions or suppress our emotional content, whatever we are denying accumulates weight, or what I call vibrational density. This heaviness can take on many forms. But in all cases, it impedes your spirit’s natural ability to shine.” - Panache Desai (author, speaker)

The Solar Plexus Chakra - Manipura
Digestive fire, power of transformation, ego, zest for life, courage, confidence, wisdom.

Location: Between navel and base of the sternum (two fingers above belly button).
Symbol: Ten lotus petals representing the ten Pranas, the vital forces, that nourish all functions of the body, and the triangle with the tip pointing down (indicates spreading of energy, growth, and development).
Colour: Yellow.
Element: Fire.
Mantra: RAM.
Mudra: The Rudra mudra.
Physical action: Major nerve plexus for the whole body.
Mental action: Empowerment or weakness of the ego; holds onto anxiety or fear.
Asanas: Ustrasana (camel), Uttana mayurasana (bridge).
If balanced: Confidence, strong will, strength, courage, mental balance, energy.
Unbalanced: Lack of energy, weakness, fatigue, worthlessness, low self-esteem, guilt, liver and digestion problems.

Affirmation: I am worthy and capable of achieving my dreams.
I honour the Sun as the source of life on Earth.

“In the chakra system, the solar plexus is the seat of personal power. Power is not about exerting our will over others; it is about being in complete truth with yourself.” - Madison Tyler, co-founder of DailyOM

The Heart Chakra - Anahata
Love, well-being, acceptance, compassion, harmony


Location:
The heart space.
Symbol: 12 lotus petals representing divine qualities: joy, peace, love, compassion, kindness, understanding, forgiveness, patience, connection, harmony, clarity, purity, and bliss.
Colour: Green.
Element: Air.
Mantra: YAM.
Mudra: The Padma mudra.
Physical action: Integrates complementary and healing forces.
Mental action: Integrates the higher and lower nature.
Asanas: Bhujangasana (cobra), Janusirsasana (forward bend).
If balanced: loving, open-hearted, patient, compassionate, empathetic, emotionally open, trustful, tolerant.
Unbalanced: Cold-hearted, lonely, jealous, impatient, demanding, critical, narcissistic, heart and lung problems,

Affirmation: It is safe for me to love and be loved.
Within my open heart lie the answers to all my questions.

“A healthy heart chakra makes you feel peaceful, connected, and loved.” - Della Reside, Chakra Educator and author.

The Throat Chakra - Vishuddi
Harmony, breath, purification, communication, self-expression.

Location: The throat region.
Symbol: It is depicted as a lotus with 16 petals, a silver crescent (purity and sacred sound), a downward-pointing yellow triangle (energy of ether), and a white circle (moon, physic powers).
Colour: Blue.
Element: Ether.
Mantra: HAM.
Mudra: The Vishuddi mudra.
Physical action: Purifies the body.
Mental action: Purifies the mind.
Asanas: Paschimottanasana (forward fold), Matsyasana (fish).
If balanced: Truthful, listening, peaceful, good communication, strong, self-expression, sound.
Unbalanced: Shy, fear of speaking, weak voice, unable to listen, arrogant, lying, hearing, and throat problems.

Affirmation: It is safe for me to express myself and speak my truth.
My words are powerful.

“Our authentic power is found in our truth. This is the place that shows us how to give what is so very good about ourselves.” - Jeanne McElvaney, author, energy healer, psychic reader.

The Third Eye Chakra - Ajna
Intuition, perception, vision, inner sight, harmony with nature.

Location: Centre of the forehead between the brows.
Symbol: An inverted triangle representing reality, consciousness, and joy.
Colour: Purple.
Element: Ether.
Mantra: AUM.
Mudra: Mudra of the great hand.
Physical action: Brings equilibrium to the brain.
Mental action: Balances ego and higher consciousness.
Asanas: Natarajasana (dancer), Garudasana (eagle).
If balanced: Perceptive, intuitive, guided, bright dreams, spiritual, mental strength, good vision.
Unbalanced: Lack of imagination and intuition, panic, fear, manipulative, nightmares, vision/eye problems, migraines.

Affirmation: I embrace wisdom as a bridge to my higher self.
I feel, I act, I sense, I see.

“Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness.” - Shakti Gawain, best-selling author and internationally renowned teacher of consciousness.

The Crown Chakra - Sahasrara
Enlightenment, self-realisation, connection to spirit and universe, knowing.

Location: Top of the head.
Symbol: Thousand-petalled lotus (divine knowledge).
Colour: Violet, white.
Element: Spirit.
Mantra: AUM.
Mudra: Mudra of a thousand petals.
Physical action: Refines the brain and nervous system.
Mental action: Inner understanding and enlightenment.
Asanas: Sirasana (headstand), Padmasana (lotus pose), Savasana (corpse).
If balanced: Wisdom, blessed, unity, peaceful, open-minded, connected to the universe, strong nervous system.
Unbalanced: Fear, materialistic, memory and learning problems, mental disorders, broken, spiritual crisis.

Affirmation: I am my highest, most authentic self.
I AM LOVE.

“When you go beyond the localization of yourself in space and time, you realise that Truth resides in the highest crown chakra. The feeling is akin to oneness and intimacy with all that exists.” - Raju Ramanathan, a scientist in both the inner and outer worlds.

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Balancing, clearing, and unblocking your Chakras is important to keep harmony and synergy in your mind, body, and soul. It can be achieved through various outlets and it’s exciting to explore different methods that work for you. This can be done through having a consistent yoga practice, or working through a chakra-specific yoga series (check out our two Chakra series on the Soul Sanctuary), through chakra meditation, reiki, and sound healing.

Having clear and balanced chakras brings spiritual, emotional, and physical balance into your life, and your mind and body. It helps us to journey more calmly through our life with a wonderful sense of peace.

“Each of the seven chakras is governed by spiritual laws, principles of consciousness that we can use to cultivate greater harmony, happiness, and well-being in our lives and in the world” - Deepak Chopra
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