While practicing yoga, one must remain aware both physically and spiritually to reap utmost benefits. Now, physical awareness you may understand quite easily. But what is this spiritual awareness? Your curiosity directs you towards the spiritual purpose of yoga. The awakening of 7 chakras (psychic centres). The human body consists 114 chakras out of which 7 are the most supreme. They function as the vortices of pranic energy at various centres in the body. Image Source
Chakras regulate our emotional and behavioral reactions. These chakras in general lies in passive form. Though one can awaken them through yoga. If awakened, one can experience such level of consciousness which are usually not accessible. Three chakras reside at different points in the spine. Let’s know the name of 7 chakras and their location in the body from bottom to top.
Muladhara Chakra: Location of this chakra is lowest among the rest. In males, it is situated at the perineum and in the female at the cervix.
Swadhisthana Chakra: Resides at the lowest part of the spine (approximately 2 inches) right above the Mooladhara chakra.
Manipura Chakra: Moving higher, this chakra too lies in the spine right behind the navel.
Anahata Chakra: In the spine behind the sternum, at the level of the heart is where Anahata chakra resides.
Vishuddhi Chakra: Known as the centre of purification, Vishuddhi chakra abode behind the throat pit.
Ajna Chakra: This is where Hindu women adorn their foreheads with ‘Bindi’. The centre between the eyebrows. The position of Ajna chakra is at the midbrain, right behind the centre of eyebrows.
Sahasrara Chakra: Located at the highest position among all chakras is Sahasrara. It resides at the crown at the head. Image Source
The chakras are represented as the symbols of lotus flowers. They consist a various number of petals attributing different colors. To a yoga practitioner, these lotus exemplify the spiritual changes he/she goes through in spiritual life. In many yoga postures (especially balancing ones), the practitioner ought to focus at a specific point (at wall or floor). Though in many, you need to concentrate both physically (at a specific body part) and spiritually (at a particular chakra). For example, in Bhujangasana, physically you must be aware of the arching movement of the back and stretching of the abdomen. You also need to focus on harmonizing the breath with the movement. Spiritually the practitioner must concentrate on Swadhisthana chakra.
Since your brain handles multiple tasks at the same time, achieving such practice take lots of time and constant efforts. In modern yoga, most people prefer to only synchronize the breath with movements. Their fast pace life only allows them an hour or so for the practice. That’s sufficient if the aim is to remain physically and mentally healthy. But concentrating on chakras during the practice, will enhance the benefits. Let’s move to a short description of 7 chakras.
7. Muladhara Chakra
Mula = Origin, root or essence
Adhara = Foundation or basis
The meaning of these two Sanskrit words, names this chakra as ‘root centre’. It is connected with the sense of smell and anus. The Kundalini Shakti resides in Muladhara chakra. Kundalini is the origin of energy in humankind. It is the key to all kind of energy such as emotional, sexual, mental or spiritual. The only way to awaken dormant Kundalini lies within Muladhara Chakra. Yoga is the only to awaken Kundalini. Through concentration and self purification one may travel this energy up to the Sahasrara Chakra. This act will unite the practitioner with pure consciousness and creator of yoga, Shiva.
6. Swadhisthana Chakra
Sanskrit word Swadhisthana is derived from two words. First ‘Swa’ means ‘self’ and second ‘Adhishthana’ means ‘dwelling place’. These words together stands for ‘one’s own place’, a place where the self resides. This chakra is portrayed as a crimson lotus having six petals. Swadhisthana chakra influences genital organs and tongue. It governs the pleasure and joy that a human experience through sexual interaction. Through the purification of this chakra one can rise above physical desires. One can surpass the animal nature which is the most primeval and profound in humans.
5. Manipura Chakra
Mani = gem or jewel
Pura = city
Manipura chakra has jewel like radiance, vitality, energy and thus it stands for ‘city of jewel’. This chakra symbolizes bright yellow lotus having ten petals. Manipura is the heart of self affirmation, spirit and supremacy. It is linked with feet, vision, desire and potential to rule. Manipura Chakra influences the functioning of pancreas, gall bladder, gastric glands and adrenal gland. It plays a vital role in digestion process, absorption of nutrients and food metabolism. Adrenal gland speeds up the physiological process resulting into increased heartbeat, breathing rate, alert and sharp mind. Those people who experience sluggishness or indigestion must concentrate on Manipura Chakra.
4. Anahata Chakra
The meaning of Sanskrit word Anahata is ‘unstruck’, ‘unhurt’ or ‘unbeaten’. This chakra is depicted as the blue lotus having twelve petals. Anahata governs the sense of touch and emotions. Whether it be a feeling of jealousy risen by attachment or unconditional love. The purification of this chakra leads to feeling of companionship. Forbearance develops to such a level that one begins to accept and love everyone the way they are. Physically this chakra connects to heart, lungs, respiratory and circulatory systems. This chakra enables one to become conscious of the unstruck sound created in the universe. It is an internal and infinite vibration, the pulse of universe.
3. Vishuddhi Chakra
‘Shuddhi’ stands for ‘purification’ and the prefix ‘vi’ intensifies its quality. Vishuddhi Chakra is the centre of purification. It is portrayed as a violet lotus having sixteen petals. White elephant is associated to Vishuddhi Chakra. Understanding and differentiation evolve at this chakra. Through this chakra one learns to accept the uncertainties of life. It allows you to go with the flow of life and act acceptable to let things occur as they will. Vishuddhi chakra governs the functioning of vocal cord, ears, larynx region, thyroid and parathyroid glands. It also governs the communication skills of a person.
2. Ajna Chakra
The Sanskrit word Ajna stands for command and authority. Ajna Chakra is illustrated as a silver lotus having two petals, which symbolizes moon and sun. It is the centre for the development of wisdom and instinct. Ajna governs the functioning of pineal gland which has nearly deteriorated in the humans. It acts as the passage between spiritual and mental dimension. This chakra is accountable for supramental capability such as clairaudience, clairvoyance and telepathy. Awakening of Ajna Chakra can enable one to make the transmission of thoughts. Therefore, it opens the highest and deepest domain of awareness. Through Ajna chakra one can access the highest state of concentration, memory and intelligence.
1. Sahasrara Chakra
Sahasrara means ‘a thousand’. This chakra is the residence of the most superior consciousness. It is depicted as the shining lotus having a thousand petals. It is the symbol of pure consciousness. The fusion of Shiva and Shakti takes place in Sahasrara. The consciousness merge with energy and matter here. The awakening of Kundalini in Muladhara chakra rises up to all the chakras to merge into Sahasrara. Attaining such state fills the yogi with the most superior knowledge. He/she passes beyond death and birth after receiving supreme knowledge.
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