Chakra means wheel in Sanskrit. Chakras are vortices or whirlpools of pranic energy, within the pranic layer of the body. They store the cosmic prana and steps down the level of energy so it can be used in the body. They also symbolize the different levels of awareness in man. The chakras represent the powers of consciousness that lie within the reach of every human being. The higher chakras show that man can transcend his limitations and go beyond himself.
Chakras are storehouses of pranic energy. They in turn distribute this the subtle pranic energy to the body systems in the area.
swadhisthana chakra energizes – urinary system
manipura energizes – digestive system
anahata energizes – respiratory and cardiovascular systems
vishuddhi – the ears, eyes, nose, throat
ajna chakra energizes – the brain.
Each chakra is associated with a specific pranic energy frequency. The chakras in the lower end vibrate at lower frequency. Thus they are responsible for lower levels of awareness. Chakras higher up vibrate at higher frequency; as a result they are responsible for subtler states of consciousness and higher intelligence.
If the prana in a particular center is manipulated, the state of awareness at that level will be affected. Likewise, a specific level of consciousness will affect the pranic energy of the specific chakra. The awakening of the chakras is related to both consciousness and prana. Physical or mental stimulation of these centers will also cause a change in the level of consciousness.
Chakras are not physical entities in our body. They are metaphysical representations because they belong to the auric body and not the physical body. They are situated in the spinal cord. Kirlian photography has enabled us to capture these chakras and prove their existence on the metaphysical plane. Chakras correspond to the nerve plexuses in the physical body.
In yoga, chakras are symbolized by lotus of different colors and number of petals. The lotus exists in three levels – mud, water and air. It grows in the mud, grows up through the water to reach the air and the sun. This is symbolic of man’s growth from low states of awareness through the chakras to higher states of awareness. This corresponds to the three stages in spiritual life – ignorance, sadhana or spiritual practice and enlightenment.
There are six major chakras in the subtle body corresponding to the spinal column. The seventh, and sahasrara is beyond the six.
All of man’s chakras represent points of intersection of mind (ida) and body (pingala) except the sahasrara chakra. The Ida and pingala nadis crisscross at the chakras as they spiral up the spinal column to end at ajna chakra.
Chakras are associated with a major endocrine gland near it. The chakra supplies energy to the gland and strongly influence the functioning and health of that gland and the region around it.
Each chakra has a particular focus point located on the front of the body. These points are easier to focus on than in the spinal cord. Awareness on these points during meditation helps in awakening the chakra. An element is associated with each chakra. The element at the base of spine is the most dense and becomes progressively more subtle towards the direction of the brain.
It is only when our chakras are affected that disease happens in us. If our body and mind are at ease with each other, we feel this ease as a sense of wellbeing. If our body and mind are not at ease with each other, we feel the dis-ease, otherwise called disease. The state of the chakras reveal this level of ease or disease in us.
Muladhara chakra – root center
In Sanskrit, muladhara means “the root and basis of Existence”. It is the seat of“primal energy.
Focus location : In the male, it is behind the scrotum, in front of the anus in the perineum region. In the female, it is at the posterior rim of the cervix, where the vagina joins the uterus.
Emotion: Lust, desire, greed
Blocked/Locked by: fantasy and imagination. It flowers when you drop your fantasies and welcome reality
Associated gland: Adrenals
Associated with: Annamaya kosha and unconscious mind
Element : Earth
Deity : Ganesha
Bija mantra : Lam
Swadhisthana chakra – spleen center
In Sanskrit, swadhisthana means ‘where your being is established’
Focus location : At the level of pubic bone on the front of the body
Blocked/Locked by : Fear, especially fear of death and can be made to flower by facing fear; by facing death itself.
Associated Gland : Testes in men, Ovaries in women
Associated with: pranamaya kosha,subconscious mind which is responsible for drowsiness/sleep
Element : Water
Deity : Subramanya
Bija mantra (seed sound) : Vam
Manipura chakra – Navel /digestive center, storehouse of prana
In Sanskrit, manipura means ‘The City of Jewels’.
Focus location : Navel
Emotion : Worry
Blocked/locked by : Constant worrying and negative thoughts.
Associated Gland – Pancreas, adrenal gland
Associated with : pranamaya kosha, heat, vitality, dynamism
Element : Fire
Deity : Surya
Bija mantra : Ram
Anahata chakra -Heart center, seat of divine love
In Sanskrit, anahata means ‘unstruck’. It is the seat of anahad nada, the cosmic sound experienced only in the highest state of meditation.
Focus location : Level of the heart behind breastbone
Blocked / locked by : Attention need. When you seek attention and love from outside
Associated gland : Thymus
Associated with : Manomaya kosha -the mind and emotions
Element : Air
Deity : Venkateshwar
Bija mantra : Yam
Vishuddhi chakra – Throat center
the center for receiving sound vibrations, allowing one to tune into thoughts of others. Hearing becomes very sharp not only through the ears but the mind.
Focus Location: Base of the throat where there is a small depression
In Sanskrit, vishuddhi means ‘beyond purity and impurity’.
Emotion: Comparison and jealousy
Blocked/Locked by : comparison and jealousy. Flowers when we exhibit our individuality and express our capability fully, uniqueness and creativity without worrying about others.
Associated Gland : Thyroid and parathyroid
Associated with : Vijnanamaya kosha
Element: Ether or space
Deity : Devi Anandeshwari
Bija mantra : Ham
Ajna Chakra: third eye, center of intuition, cosmic browsing center,
In Sanskrit, ajna means ‘will’ or ‘order’. Also called guru or command chakra. One enters into shoonya or void in deep meditation. Aspirant receives revelation and insight into nature of existence. Acquires psychic powers. Vision of light is usually first seen at ajna
Focus Location: Eyebrow center or bhrumadhya. The ida, pingala and sushumna merge here and become one to rise up to sahasrara .
Blocked/Locked by :This chakra is locked by seriousness and ego. Flowers by innocence, simplicity, and by shedding all forms of ego.
Associated Gland – Pineal gland
Associated with : Vijnanamaya kosha
Element : Mind
Bija mantra : Om
Sahasrara chakra – seat of supreme consciousness
In Sanskrit, sahasrara means ‘thousand petalled’ – from the mystical experience of a thousand-petalled lotus blooming on the crown, when this chakra is activated. It is the seat of pure awareness, the highest point in human evolution. Not a psychic center as beyond it. Controls the awakening of all the chakras.
Focus Location: Crown of the head.
Blocked/Locked by : Discontentment and the attitude of taking life for granted
Can be made to flower by overflowing gratitude and contentment!
Associated Gland : – Pituitary
Element : no element, no thought
Associated with : Anandamaya kosha.
Bija mantra : none
Nadi means “flow”. Nadis are subtle flows of energy. They are a dense network of of entirely subtle energy channels which provide energy to every cell throughout the entire body. Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Goraksha Samhita quote 72,000 nadis in the body whereas Shiva Samhita states 350,000 nadis arise from the navel center. These nadis are depicted like tiny threads hanging off the spinal cord very much like in the nervous system where nerves coming off the spinal cord transmit nerve impulses thrughout the body. Because they are subtle energy flow channels, you will not be able to see the nadis like you see the nerves when you dissect the tissues.
There are ten major nadis, out of which three are the most significant. The three are – Pingala, Ida and Sushumna. They are the three main channels for the distribution of energy throughout the entire pranic network. They are like high voltage wires.
According to yogic physiology and philosophy, they exist within the spinal column. Ida and Pingala are responsible for the two sides of human nature which exist in each human being. ida is the mental, introverted, receptive, feminine side, chandra -the lunar side, Pingala is the vital, extroverted, expressive, masculine side, surya -the solar side. Ida and pingala correspond to the parasympathetic, sympathetic and cerebrospinal nervous systems of medical science.
Pingala nadi originates in the muladhara chakra and emerges from the right side of the chakra. From here, it goes in a semicircle, going back to the center to cross ida at swadhisthana, goes to the left then curves back to center to cross ida again at manipura. It intertwines in this way, crossing ida at each of the six chakras, the last one being ajna chakra. At Ajna, it goes straight up the sushumna to sahasrara at the crown of the head. Pingala governs the right side of the body .
Pingala is known as the surya or solar nadi as the pranic energy flow has attributes associated with heat, masculine qualities, physical and mental exertion, physical vitality, tension. The effects of pingala coincide with the functions of the sympathetic nervous system. Pingala predominates during the day hours although ida also flows then.
The processes of the left t hemisphere of the brain is related to pingala; the left cerebrum controls the processing of information in a logical, linear manner. It is also responsible for rational, analytical, mathematical thinking. Thus pingala and the left cerebrum enable daytime work and thinking.
Pingala controls the annamaya and anandamaya koshas. The awareness in the deepest state of meditation and in samadhi is pingala energy. Physical vitality is pingala energy.
Ida also originates at the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine. It exits from the left side from muladhara, curves in a semicircle to swadhisthana where it crosses pingala there. It’s path is similar to pingala’s path except on opposite sides. It ends at Ajna chakra on the left side and goes straight up the sushumna to sahasrara.
Ida is representative of mental energy flow (manas). Ida nadi is also known as chandra (moon) nadi due to its association with feminine attributes, introversion, coolness, quietness, receptivity. To counterbalance pingala’s predominance in the day, ida predominates at night, is active while relaxing, reading, thinking, sleeping.
A predominance of Ida energy gives a calming effect on the body and mind. This is similar to the effects of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Ida is connected to the right side of the cerebrum of brain. The right side of the cerebrum is used more for visual and intuitive processing. Hence, ida will stimulate creative, artistic, musical abilities, mental, psychic and extrasensory perception. Ida controls the manomaya and vijnanamaya koshas. Desires, thoughts, emotions and, feelings are in the mental dimension until they become physical. Psychic and intuitive knowledge, extrasensory powers are in the ida range or energy
Sushumna nadi also originates from the base of the spine at muladhara chakra but follows a straight path up the spinal column. Sushumna represents spiritual awareness. It is the pathway which the kundalini rises. In most people, this nadi is mostly dormant with no flow or minimal flow. Prana is induced to flow in sushumna nadi only when ida and pingala, the mental and vital sides of the personality, are in perfect balance, when there is balanced flow of breath in the nostrils. The sushumna flow is dormant till a higher state of evolution or consciousness is reached. -Pingala is likened to positive change, ida, negative charge and sushumna, neutral charge.
Link between flow of breath at the major nadis
Ida and pingala dominance is directly related to the flow of breath at the nostrils. When the flow of breath is stronger in the left nostril, it means that ida is dominant and when the flow is stronger in the right nostril, pingala is predominating. When one is active, the left nostril flow will be stronger. When sushumna is active, breath flows through both nostrils simultaneously and the entire brain is active. Sushumna flows after the practice of pranayama, prayer and meditation. Only half of the brain is active in ida or pingala follow. Yogis have come up with breathing techniques to regulate the flow of ida and pingala in order to intensify the experience of the pranic body.
Sushumna represents the balance of the opposites at all levels. When energy flows in the sushumna, feelings of steadiness and, meditative states arise. New states of consciousness are experienced.
Blocks in the nadis
Blockages in the subtle nadis may be caused by the energy waves of disease, tension, mental patterns, unconscious and subconscious, negative thoughts, tamas and rajas. These blockages are subtle just like the nadis. Blockages in the nadis often manifest as disease in the annamaya kosha. The affected areas become weak due to depletion of prana in the area due to the blockage.
All yogic practices purify the nadis, through pranayama is the main technique. Pranayama purifies at the pranic level but its effects will be reflected also in the physical and mental levels. Even if one is unaware of the blocks, regular practice of pranayama clears it up and keeps the pranic circuit flowing freely