I was introduced to the chakras many years ago in a yoga class. I was intrigued by the idea that your energy, vibration or frequency is just as important as what you experience physically or emotionally. But I have to admit, it took time and a leap of faith to wrap my rational mind around this seemingly intangible concept.
As my interest in, and lived experience of, the chakras deepens, it has become clear that there is always something new to learn about this multi-layered model, providing new perspectives and tools to advance my spiritual and personal development.
What is a chakra?
Often described as spinning wheels of light, chakras are points of energy located along the body’s central axis, at the intersection of three main energy channels or nadis. In yoga, these channels are ida, pingala and sushumna.
There are seven energy centres in the physical body, starting with chakra one at the base of the spine. Chakra 7 is located at the crown of the head.
When your chakras are balanced, energy (also known as prana or chi) flows freely and you experience a thriving, joyful life.
What do the chakras do?
Ancient yet modern, spiritual yet practical, the chakric model provides a valuable tool to evaluate and transform different aspects of your life. As Belinda Davidson, renowned author and spiritual teacher, says “change your energy. Change your life”.
Change your energy. Change your life – Belinda Davidson
Each chakra is responsible for particular aspects of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. All of the chakras are important and interconnected; working on one chakra inevitably has a broader impact.
The chakras represent a progressive journey, with the lower chakras governing your most basic physical and emotional needs and automatic reactions.
Chakra one, for example, governs the health of your legs, feet, joints and muscles. It is responsible for your survival, security and sense of belonging and, when this chakra functions effectively, your basic needs are taken care of.
If this sounds too ‘woo woo’, close your eyes and imagine yourself standing barefoot on a patch of lush, green grass; observe the texture and the temperature of the grass beneath your feet. Spread your toes, ground down through all four corners of your feet, distribute your weight evenly between left and right sides. With your feet planted firmly on the earth, you instinctively feel grounded, steady, strong. This is one of the easiest ways to access and activate the base chakra. Next time you’re in a park or on the beach, take off your shoes and try it out for real.
The higher chakras govern awareness, intelligence, wisdom, insight and intuition. It can be tempting to jump straight into exploring the higher chakras but they are best approached from a strong, stable foundation. After all, when building a home you don’t start with the roof!
External and internal experiences affect your energetic body. Positive and negative experiences; physical, mental and emotional tensions; habitual thoughts patterns and behaviours can cause the energy in one or more of your chakras to become blocked, deficient, or excessive.
Think of the chakras as eager, diligent workers. If they are tired, unwell, and underfed, they can’t work productively – Belinda Davidson
Knowing where these imbalances or obstacles lie is the first step in releasing the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours which no longer serve you.
Enhancing the flow of energy in your body will transform your mind, body and soul, increasing your vitality and sense of purpose.
What have chakras got to do with yoga?
Reading about the chakras is a good place to start but real understanding and insight come from lived experience. Asana (physical postures), pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation work directly on the chakras by purifying and directing energy, helping the bodily systems function more effectively.
Starting next month, this practical series will support you to explore your energetic body and deepen your understanding of the chakras. Tools and techniques include:
- short yoga sequences
- mudra (hand gestures)
- essential oils.
Learning about the chakras will change the way you think about and practise yoga but it won’t always be easy an ride.
Energy signals from the chakras range from obvious to extremely subtle so I encourage you to approach this journey with an open heart and a child-like sense of curiosity: enquiring, experimenting, discovering. Above all, be patient with yourself as you become more familiar with your inner landscape.
Trace the river of life that flows through you,
The luxuriously rising energies,
Gradually touching each of the centres
Along the spine.
Savour every shimmer of colour along the way.
Enter each area tenderly,
Loving as you go,
Dissolving in the crown of your head.
In the space above the head,
The great dawn.
The Radiance Sutras #6
From crystals and essential oil to food and clothing, there are many other things you can do to stimulate the chakras. For example, you can:
- place your hands on the location of the chakra and breathe deeply into the hands.
- visualise the colour associated with the chakra as an orb of light, radiating out from the chakra point. Imagine the light slowly expanding throughout your body.
- wear the colour associated with each chakra.
- use the colour and characteristics of each chakra to guide your food and drink choices. For example, red fruit and vegetables stimulate the first chakra, as do earthy foods such as root vegetables, beans and nuts.
There’s no right or wrong way to experience your energetic body so, let yourself be guided by your intuition. If it feels right, it probably is!