Chakras are energy points located throughout the body. Out of the 114 chakras found in the body, there are 7 along the spine that are considered to be the most significant. A block chakra causes both bodily and mental illness. Thus, it is critical to ensure that prana, or energy, in the body is flowing freely. Indeed, in its purest form chakras are discs, or wheels. These wheels begin to spin when vital energy travels through the Sushumna nadi, thereby activating the chakras.
The Sushumna nadi is found along the spine and is the ‘astral tube’ for prana to travel, similar to a highway for cars or veins for blood. Fundamentally, any spiritual travel can be described as a journey from the base chakra, called the “Muladhara” to the “Sahasrara,” which located at the crown of the head. This journey, from the Mooladhara to Sahasrara, may happen in many different ways, and various yogic practices can contribute to the movement.
The seven chakras are summarized as,
1. Muladhara, or the root foundation located at the base of the spine. This represents the Earth principal and is associated with smell and is mapped to the physical body. Asanas that are essential to this chakra are linked to grounding and legs, such as Uttanasana and Janu Sirsasana.
2. Swadhishthana is located in the genital area. Its element is Water and it is associated with taste. Hip opening poses and forward bends increases prana in the Swadhisthana.
3. Manipura is found at the naval and correspondences to Fire and sight. The key asanas for this chakra involves twisting and ab work.
4. Anahata is found in the heart region. Air and touch are its element and association, respectively. Yogis can practice backbends to increase prana to this chakra.
5. Vishuddha is located at the base of the throat with Ether as the element and hearing as the sense. Shoulder stand and fish pose help activate this chakra.
6. Ajna is found in between the eyebrows and represents Avyakta. Meditation on Anjna destroys the karma of past lives and gives liberation and institutional knowledge. To activate this pose, the yogi must practice headstands.
7. Sahasrara is found on the top of the head, symbolizing the highest state of enlightenment. The 7th chakra can be considered as a halo on the top of heads. Thus, it’s no surprise that sahasrara relates to the pineal gland, which has been compared to the ‘third eye’ or ‘soul.’ If the prana reaches this point, the yogi is blessed with extreme bliss and attain a superconscious state as a fully developed jnani. The best way to activate this chakra is through meditation.
Do chakras and nadis exist? Can be they held or touched? No. The concept of chakras and nadis are similar to love, happiness, and peace–all are essential, all can be felt, though naked to the human eye.
Debbie Trinh (200hr YTT weekend class)
Tirisula Yoga Training Manual, 200 hour