Yoga is an ancient practice that has been used for thousands of years as a means of strengthening human beings physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Fundamental to the practice and study of yoga is an understanding of the energetic body.
You may be familiar with the term Prana - the Sanskrit word for life force energy, there is a rhythm and current of Prana that runs through every living being and is connected through a system of Nadi’s. Nadi’s can be known as energetic channels or rivers that direct energy, a chakra is a meeting point of more than one of these Nadi’s. The term "chakra" comes from the Sanskrit word "cakra" meaning "wheel" or "circle." In Yogic philosophy there are seven main chakras or energetic meeting points that govern energy flow through the body. This concept is not something exclusive to Yoga, in Chinese medicine this energy is called Qi, in Japanese it is Ki and in western terms we may come to understand it as an aura.
Imbalances and blockages in the chakra system can therefore be the cause of many emotional, physical and spiritual being. Systems such as Yoga work on a subtle level to maintain a healthy energy flow. In this article, we will explore the concept of energetic anatomy with consideration for how to utilize a yoga practice for chakras. We will introduce the different chakras, their energetic properties, and ways to connect with each centre through yoga poses to promote balance and well-being.
There are believed to be over 72,000 Nadi’s in the human energetic make up, though they are not part of the physical body they correspond with the nervous system. There are 3 principle pathways and 14 major branches from which direct energy through the entire body. The seven chakras are the major meeting points of multiple Nadi’s and are located along the centre of the spine.
Of the 3 main pranic pathways the Sushumna Nadi can be considered as the energy channel located along the spine in direct correspondence with the Vegus Nerve. The 2 other synergistic Nadi’s interweave along the Sushmuna Nadi and govern the directional flow of masculine and feminine energy. The Ida Nadi governs female energy of rest and digest, introspection, calmness, intuition and nurture. The Pingala Nadi governs masculine energy of action, discernement, activity, metabolisation and motion. These three Nadi’s direct and balance the entire energy flow throughout the body.
In Yogic philosophy there is the concept of Kundalini. Kundalini is a primordial cosmic power, a psychic spiritual force that is present in all human being and lies coiled at the base of the spine at the Root Chakra. Through a practice of attentive awareness on the energetic body Kundalini can rise through the chakra system to eventually reach full connection with divine knowledge, known as Samadhi.
Working with an understanding of energetic anatomy is fundamental to a yoga practice. Breath and focus on directing energy flow through breathing techniques that can help to promote energy flow to the chakras.
As we move through the energetic system we learn that each chakra represents a different aspect and time in human life, the belief is held in many traditions that most people will only live in the lowest 3 chakras. Established between birth and adolescence, these three chakras govern a sense of safety, sensuality and creativity and will/ desire. These chakras can be known by simply living, breathing and being on this planet. Rising beyond these lower three chakras is achieved by attentive and intentional practices such as Yoga. The 4th - 7th higher chakras govern love, communication, intuition and divine knowledge.
Furthermore, each chakra is connected to certain qualities of being including physical location, govorning energy, color, and elements. Chakras can also be tuned into using their unique Jantra (symbol) and Bija sound. A Bija sounf is the vibrational frequency upon which the chakra resonates. Chanting or using sound bowls on that frequency can promote deeper connection in the psychic body.
Below is a quick reference guide to each of the chakras and their properties.
It is believed that each person is born with an energetic karmic imprint which is held within the chakras, which can be known as blockages or imbalances at the chakra points which affect how a person interacts in life. If a chakra is blocked it means energy is not flowing in that space or in that area of life, if it is imbalanced and moving too quickly it means there is too much energy in that area and vice versa if it is imbalanced and moving slowly then energy in this area is sluggishly. Beyond genetic imprint, chakras can also become blocked or imbalanced due to a variety of factors, including lifestyle, activity level, stress, trauma, diet, as well as patterns of thinking and behavior.
There are many ways of tuning into certain imbalances within your energetic field, such as reiki, chakra tuning, acupuncture, crystal healing, and of course Yoga Asana. Yoga postures can be used to draw energy focus into the chakra space and where focus goes prana (energy) flows. Connecting to the chakras through yoga can promote balance and well-being in kind of an energetic flush creating openness into the chakra. Working with the energies of the chakras is a subtle yoga practice and can be done through intelligent cueing and there are a variety of yoga poses that help tune into specific chakra placements. In addition, every person's chakras may have different imbalances and sensitivities, so it may be helpful to consult with a teacher or practitioner who is trained in chakra work.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when practicing yoga for chakras is that each pose should be tailored to the specific chakra that you are trying to balance. For example, if you are trying to open and balance the root chakra, you might focus on poses that involve grounding and stability, such as a yogi squat or mountain pose. If you are trying to open and balance the sacral chakra, you might focus on poses or sequences that involve more fluidity and movement, such as cat-cow pose or twists. Here are a few example of chakra yoga poses that can promote energy flow into certain chakras.
A grounding yoga pose that helps to drawn energy downward to the root chakra. Take your feet wide, slightly wider than hip width apart with the toes facing outward and lower into a squat. To deepen into this posture bring the elbows to the inside of the knees with the palms together. Drawing your energy back and down towards your root, this posture mainatians a sense of stability.
A posture that acts as a detoxifier of the body, it also promotes fluidity in rinsing out the energy lines tapping into the essential energy of the sacral chakra. Lying on your back draw your knees in towards your chest and allow the legs to come over to the right. The arms can come out long into a T shape and the gaze over towards the left. For the full effect of this posture stay for 10 breaths or more. Repeat on the left side.
A sequence that warms and heats the body, fueling the inner fire of the solar plexus chakra.
Opens through the entire front line of the body and is great for releasing tension in the chest and upper back by opening into the heart. From lying on the back draw the feet in below the knees. Drive the heels into the earth as you engage the glutes and lift the hips. Hands can come alongside the body or clasp behind the back, and the chin is away from the chest as the energy is lifted through the heart space.
A great pose for the throat chakra. Lie on your back and press down through your elbows to lift your chest and open the throat.
Requires focus and attention to stay balanced, therefore it is a wonderful pose to channel the third-eye chakra. Stand tall and place one foot on as a kick stand on the floor, on the inner side of the shin or on the inner thigh of the opposite leg, then bring your hands to prayer position and focus your gaze on a point in front of you.
A great pose for the crown chakra. It helps to stimulate the flow of energy to the top of the head and improve spiritual connection.
It is important to note that while these yoga poses may be particularly beneficial for certain chakras, yoga works on a subtle level with the body’s energy system and just by taking the time to connect with the energy body through the practice of yoga you will be stimulating and supporting your body’s energy flow. In addition to the physical practice of yoga, meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques) can also be helpful in balancing the chakras. Visualization, mantras, and affirmations can also be used to help balance the chakras.
Opening chakras should be a gradual process, it requires consistent practice and it is not a linear journey. When working with the body’s energy system it is important to be patient with yourself. When chakras are blocked, it can cause physical and emotional imbalance, and therefore moving too quickly or aggressively when working to bring more energy into that area can cause
motional, mental and physical disturbances. A qualified teacher or healer can guide you and support you through the process of supporting your own unique needs.
Understanding that yoga for chakras is more than just some postures that connect to certain parts of the body. To begin working with chakra yoga poses it is important to understand the intricate make up of the human energy body, beginning to use your yoga practice to stimulate energy flow through the chakra system is a powerful tool that will improve your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. By understanding the different chakras, their names, and qualities you can start to welcome this awareness into your practice.
A reminder whenever doing any type of energy work is to move mindfully and with patience and to work with a qualified teacher who can guide you intelligently.
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