CHAKRA literally mean a ‘wheel’. Chakras are vortices or wheels of Energy that are part of our ‘Prana’ or Energy body. Of the thousands of Chakras we have, 7 are of great significance (acc to the Tantra/Yoga system). Depending on which Chakra is pre-dominant in a Human Being, his/her perceptions and quality of life are moulded. Let’s understand this further.
In Tantra/ Yoga study, we treat a Human Being as being composite of 5 different ‘Koshas’ (Sheaths) or Bodies – each one being more subtle than the other. From the (1) Physical body to the (2) Prana or Energy body to the (3) Thought body to (4) Psychic experiences body and finally to the (5) Bliss body. The Art of Yoga is to seek this refinement from our gross to our subtle – to transcend our physical to the metaphysical.
First though, the Chakras do not belong to the physical body per se – they are part of our Prana body. 6 of the 7 Chakras are loosely located along the region of our spinal column – with the 7th being beyond. We have a dormant energy called ‘Kundalini’ residing in the base or 1st Chakra. And within an energy pathway called ‘Sushumna Nadi’ lie these Chakras. Everything practised in Yoga aids in the flow of this Kundalini Energy upwards. Hence the focus in Yogis is to train their Body to sit straight in Meditation.
Getting back to the significance of the Chakras on our Life. Each of the Chakras has a particular quality and when that Chakra is functioning fine; we are balanced in that aspect of our life.
Let’s put this into context. When the first, that’s Mooladhar (Root) Chakra is balanced, we feel a sense of security and stability in life. It is only when this is balanced that we can progress to the next Chakra – Swadhisthan, which is associated with Pleasure. In other words, based on an Individual’s Life, Learnings & Meditations; evolution happens. An Individual evolves and further higher Chakras are activated in a sequential manner -this has the effect of transforming/refining the person’s entire experience of Living.
For example, a person based in Mooladhar chakra will be in a relationship with another person solely for Security; whereas someone at Swadhistan will be in it for Pleasure, and someone in Manipura will be in it for Power over the other (how often we try to change our Partners’ behaviours). Note, the Person that began the relationship whilst being focused on Mooladhar can evolve as an Individual, or a Couple evolving together as well. Only when the Individuak is based in Anahata chakra, will He/She actually be in the relationship because they love the other wholeheartedly! Likewise, every relationship and perception of Life comes from our own Driving factors, and these are moulded by the level of Existence that we are living.
The Chakra system and understanding of a human being is more complex yet strikingly similar to the model of Abraham Maslow’s Heirarch of Needs that ultimately leads an Individual to Self-Actualization.
When your Mooladhar Chakra is balanced, you feel stable and secure as an Individual. This plays out like this; if you were to tell me that you met a fantastic Yoga Teacher and if I’m not balanced in Mooladhar – then I will find some way to malign the person as it will make me insecure – it will threaten my survivial. But if my Mooladhar is balanced, and I’m completely secure – than it won’t have that effect on me. If you know someone who tells you that going to watch Theatre is a waste to time and money, it’s usually cause they are Survival-oriented. It’s important as Individuals to become Secure first in ourselves – so that we can evolve as Humans.
Through the work that we do on ourselves – Life learnings, Meditations and more; Energy (Kundalini) begins to move upwards from Mooladhar to Swadhisthan Chakra; which is the pleasure centre. Only a person who is secure in life, can seek the Pleasures of the world – from Art to Sex, and everything else that is beyond just Survival instinct. Only once Pleasure has been experienced that we are ready to further evolve. This is the beauty of the Tantra/ Yoga system; that the Understanding of a Human Being is so profound. You cannot bypass any aspect of living. As a system, Tantra (Yoga is an off-shoot of Tantra) is so complete simply because it stands for a complete experience of Life; and Transcending through Experience and not through Negating. However, if Swadhistan is over-active – you could spend a lifetime seeking only Pleasure and never progressing to Manipura.
When your Manipura chakra is active and balanced; you will feel Powerful. This is in a positive sense – you will be able to do and say the things that you want to and not be a doormat. You will find the Power to direct your Life in the manner you want to. This is self-empowering, self-affirming. However, when Manipura becomes over-active as it often does, we end up becoming Dictators. Without a progression to the next Ckakra, or continued Growth – very often we find that people start off with good intentions (revolutionaries for eg) but end up becoming obsessed with their own power (they become the dictators they fought against!) In families we often see Patriarchs trying to decide the fate of their children and grandchildren (though they are already adults); even though they are not in tune with the new social order of things, economy and so on.
Once your Anahata Chakra is activated and balanced, you transform into a Loving and Accepting person. You have the ability to Accept people for who they are without trying to change them to your way of thinking. This is especially beautiful since now the Human experience as such begins – we say that the lower 3 chakras are more Instinctual and in that sense it exists exactly as in the Jungle (with animals too). From Anahata, the human experience starts – so often we see People perform great acts of Service/ Charity for others often foregoing their own convenience. This is no more just Survival, Pleasure or Power! Throughout history we have placed LOVE as an ideal because it is so hard to practice. It requires something much deeper that the basic drives and hence is also so rewarding. If Anahata is over-active, then the person doesn’t progress and remains overly emotional – sometimes suffocating the ones that they love!
When Vishuddhi Chakra is active in us, we develop a non-judgemental attitude in life. Can you imagine how beautiful it would be to live without judging other people or situations? Almost all our problems in life are simply because of our own judgemental way of thinking. Individuals who are non-judgemental are very rare to find, and to live around Persons like this is the most beautiful thing, cause the acceptance is 100%. That is why we value Friendships so highly, cause in that space we are being non-Judgemental. But while we might be non-judgemental with a chosen few friends, with others we continue to be judgemental until we have progressed as Individuals.
When Ajna is active and balanced, we are Intuitive by nature. Throughout life we do have Intuition, but often we do no trust it – relying far too much on our Intellect. Only when our growth has taken us to Ajna, then Intuition guides our life. We become all-knowing not merely as Intellectuals (which really isn’t Learning gained from Experience in life), but as Persons who have gone trough life. Now, not every Old person will end up with complete Wisdom, it will depend on the work each Person puts into themselves. Life can Teach, but we need to Learn and thereby Grow.
Sahasraar is the crowning, flowering of an Individual. Buddhahood is that rare phenomenon in Humankind – that we revere our Saints more than our Businessmen, Artists or Politicians. So much so that we paint a Halo around a Saint’s head to depict that Sahasraar Chakra is active. The less said about this the experience of life the better – simply because I’m not qualified to speak on the subject! In fact very few people are, and so it’s best to evolve to experience rather than read about the same.
Total Yoga is a balanced style of Yoga that focuses on Fitness training and Mindfulness practice equally.