Most people have at least heard of the chakras, though few arguably know what they are. One may have a general idea: That there are 7, they have different colours, they go along the center of our body and are energy centres. But it can all sound pretty esoteric without a deeper understanding. Much like the doshas, they are a convenient way of categorizing things. Whereas the doshas categorize how things work in the physical world, the chakras are about our subtle body. Before we can understand the chakras, we must understand this body a bit further.
The subtle body is our mind/emotional body, meaning or thoughts and feelings. This body is as real as anything else in the physical body. Thought it can be felt and detected, it is more subtle and elusive since it vibrates at a higher frequency and is beyond the perception of our ordinary senses. Just as your physically body has a brain that is connected by nerves, the subtle body has a mind that’s made up of channels called nadis. There are over 72,000 Nadis in your subtle body (no joke!):
The nadis are highways for pranic energy.
There are energy centres where some of these Nadis intersect. This is what we call the chakras.
Chakra literally means wheel in Sanskrit. The chakras often have colours associated with them, but there are varying schools of thought. This isn’t the most important or interesting aspect of the chakras. What is interesting is that by keeping our chakras in balance, we can keep our thoughts and emotions in balance. Each chakra is associated with different thoughts and feelings, though all of them at their heightened aspect are responsible for unconditional love.
Let’s talk about the chakras moving from bottom to top, densest to most subtle:
Muladhara or Root Chakra
This chakra contains the earth element, so we can gain the qualities of earth (feeling grounded) when it’s activated. It is located near your tailbone. Having too much pranic flow in this chakra can lead to being too grounded, heavy, immobile, lethargic, stubborn, and/or lazy. Having too little can mean being ungrounded, fearful, unfocused, etc. It’s hightened function is to sustain present moment consciousness.
Svadhistana or Sacral Chakra
This chakra contains the water element, so we can gain the qualities of water (attachment, desire, depth of feeling) when it’s activated. It is located between your pubic bone and pelvis. Having too much pranic flow in this chakra can lead to being over-attached and indulgent in the desires of the ego and senses. Having too little can mean having a lack of sensual desire or being difficult to arouse. It’s heightened function is a desire for the divine truth.
Manipura or Solar Plexus Chakra
This chakra contains the fire element, so we can gain the qualities of fire (focus, willpower) when it’s activated. It is located at your solar plexus. Having too much pranic flow in this chakra can lead to being angry, critical, judgmental, and having pursuits of the ego. Having too little can mean having a loss of focus and willpower and the inability to accomplish goals. It’s heightened function is discernment of higher goals towards spiritual enlightenment and divine truth.
Anahata or Heart Chakra
This chakra contains the air element, so we can gain the qualities of air (movement, specifically of thought), when it’s activated. It is located at the center of your chest. Having too much pranic flow in this chakra can lead to obsessive thoughts and distraction. Having too little can lead to slow and sluggish thought processes. It’s heightened function is detachment.
Vishudda or Throat Chakra
This chakra contains the ether element, so we can gain the qualities of ether (vocalization, self-expression), when it’s activated. It is located in your throat. Having too much pranic flow in this chakra can lead to rapid speech, rambling, and sensitivity to sounds. Having too little can lead to blocked speech and expression. It’s heightened function is to communicate truth.
Ajna or Third Eye Chakra
This chakra contains another type of ether element (astral), so we can gain it’s qualities (perception and self-perception) when it’s activated. It is located between your brows. Having too much pranic flow in this chakra can lead to looking too deeply into ideas and issues. Having too little can lead to a narrow, superficial, black and white view of the world and self. It’s heightened function is to have divine perception and insight.
Sahasra Padma or Crown Chakra
This chakra contains another type of ether element (causal), so we can gain it’s qualities (self-awareness of thoughts, feelings, and actions) when it’s activated. It is located at the crown of the head. Having too much flow in this chakra can lead to being self absorbed or self centred. Having too little leads to self ignorance an being unconscious of one’s own self. It’s heightened function is to see that there is no separation and that all things are divine and one.
The chakras are just another tool we can use to figure out what’s out of balance in a person and how to fix it. Instead of the imbalances being physical, we are now dealing with the mental and emotional. But still, all the bodies are connected. And just as we use diet and lifestyle to fix the physical body, the subtle body is helped via it’s own medicines: Mantras and Pranayama.
But that is a topic unto itself!
As always Ayurveda is rich with tools to help us in this life. And as always, until next time, I wish you all good health.