Chakras, asanas, pranayama, and bandhas are familiar terms to those who dabble in Yoga. Our previous blogs have covered a few topics like the bandhas (CLICK HERE to know more) and pranayama (CLICK HERE to learn more). Let us discuss another unique and beneficial aspect of Yoga today, i.e., the chakras.
What Are Chakras?
The word chakra is an Indian word that means ‘the wheel.’ In Yogic terms, chakra implies a spinning wheel of energy. Yogic teachings speak of the existence of intangible and subtle waves of energy surging through the human body. The energy flows through each cell of every organ in the body, powering it and controlling its functions.
Chakras are comparable to electric plugs that facilitate the current flow from the power source to the device. Similarly, Chakras govern the free flow of energy, as mentioned above, through the body.
The energy is known as prana, which means ‘life force.’ The life force flows through various arbitrary points in the body, each known as Nadi. Three Nadis coincide to form an imaginary triangle that forms one chakra. There are seven major chakras located at various points in the human body. The next section of the blog elaborates on each of the Chakras and their importance.
The Seven Chakras
There are different theories about the exact number and location of the chakras. Some scholars and books claim that 114 chakras are spread throughout the body. But most of the research advocates the theory that seven vital chakras govern the functions of the human body. The chakras are located at various points at the center of the spine. Each chakra has a name, a particular role, and a specific color.
1. Root Chakra
The first chakra is the root chakra near the back of the spinal cord near the tailbone. The first chakra is called Muladhara; the word Mula means ‘root.’ True to its name, the Muladhara forms the roots of your existence and gives you a sense of being stable and grounded. Yoga scholars associate the color red with the root chakra.
2. Sacral Chakra
As the name suggests, the sacral chakra may be found in the lower abdominal region, in the sacrum (a pelvic bone). The sacral chakra goes by the name Svadhishthana. Due to its proximity to the genitals, the sacral chakra controls sexual desire and functions. The chakra also stimulates the creative and emotional side of one’s nature. Yoga teachings closely associate the emotion of fear with the sacral chakra. The Orange color is relevant to the functions of the sacral chakra.
3. Solar Plexus Chakra
Solar plexus; we hear the term often, but not everybody knows what it is and why it is essential. The solar plexus includes a network of nerves located close to the stomach and heart within the human body. Manipura is the Sanskrit language word for the solar plexus.
The emotion of the ego is mainly under the control of the solar plexus chakra. Therefore, the chakra is associated with the level of self-confidence that one has. Yellow color is often associated with Manipura.
4. Heart Chakra
The fourth chakra located in the chest is the heart chakra. It is also known as Anahata and controls cardiac and respiratory functions. Anahata also governs the lymphatic system, which contains crucial physiological parts of the human body. The heart regulates the matters of love, and thus the heart chakra is closely associated with the emotions of love and compassion. The color green reflects the heart chakra.
5. Throat Chakra
The fifth chakra, the throat chakra or Vishuddha, governs the functions of the organs lying in the throat. We can communicate well and appropriately express our creativity when the throat chakra is functioning well. The color blue represents the throat chakra.
6. Third Eye Chakra
Ancient literature on Hinduism and Buddhism speaks of the presence of the mystical third eye. The third eye is believed to be an invisible eye that enables a person to have a good sense of perception and look beyond the obvious. The third eye chakra is located at the forehead’s center near the pineal gland. The third eye chakra, or Ajna chakra, stimulates fertile imagination. A healthy Ajna chakra empowers a person with excellent intuition.
7. Crown Chakra
The seventh chakra in the head is Sahasra, or the crown chakra. The Sahasra is known as the ‘bridge to the cosmic plane’ and is very spiritual. A healthy and active crown chakra allows a person to elevate their spiritual intelligence. Ancient Yogis had an active crown chakra that let them attain enlightenment and connect with the divine powers of the cosmic Universe.
How Do The Chakras Influence Your Health?
The chakras are channels through which prana flows and stimulates each cell within the human body. Though intangible and subtle, chakras have immense power to influence your overall well-being. The state of your chakras dramatically affects your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
You have heard your Yoga trainer talk about ‘aligning your chakras‘ or ‘opening your chakras.’ What does that mean, though? Why do you need to open your chakras? How can you align your chakras? Let’s find out!
The chakras allow all vital energy, known as prana, to flow freely through all the organs within the human body. The prana facilitates normal functioning of all the body systems and retains physiological balance. An open chakra allows an adequate amount of prana to flow and guides it along the right path. Furthermore, all chakras must be aligned with one another. If the third eye chakra does not work in coordination with the throat chakras, both their functions may be affected.
A chakra that is not functioning adequately or is not allowing an uninterrupted flow of prana is blocked. A blocked chakra is likely to disturb the physiological balance, directly affecting mental and physical health. Mental stress, poor diet choices, unhealthy lifestyle, wrong posture, or lack of adequate physical exercise are potential causes for a blocked chakra.
Here is how blocked chakras can affect people’s well-being.
- Mental Wellness
Blocked chakras may result in an upheaval of emotions and stimulate anxiety, anger, helplessness, or a myriad of other feelings. You may get stressed more often and easily when your chakras are not aligned. Unexplained fears, lack of self-confidence, or a sense of underachievement are common when your chakras are blocked. A blocked chakra will cause excess positive emotions too. People often experience uncontrolled happiness or vigor due to blocked chakras.
- Physical Health
Blocked or unbalanced chakras can affect every cell of the organ they are associated with. Chronic constipation, muscular stiffness, joint pain, general aches, and physical lethargy are some physical symptoms of blocked chakras. People with ongoing chronic disorders may experience worsening or recurrence of their old symptoms when their chakras are blocked. Sexual dysfunction, inflammatory diseases, hormonal disorders, recurrent infections, and lowered immune power may also be attributed to blocked chakras.
- Spiritual Wellbeing
Yoga emphasizes the importance of spiritual progress to maintain good health. According to Yogic philosophy, the ultimate aim of human life is union with the cosmic forces of the Universe. Your chakras guide you along the right path towards spiritual enlightenment.
Blocked chakras will deviate people from their spiritual goals by disturbing their state of mind. The inability to find mental peace and feeling lost or having no goals are some signs that your blocked chakras are hampering your spiritual progress.
Even a single blocked chakra can disturb the harmony of your health. It is crucial to keep the chakras open and aligned with one another at all times to maintain the balance of all physiological functions of the human body.
Yoga is an excellent way to manage and open your chakras. We will return soon with a new blog that will elaborate on the relationship between Yoga and chakras.