A Beginner’s Guide to the Chakras
The study and practice of yoga is more than just the physical side of the practice which you might be more familiar with and a lot of yogic philosophy is focussed on the chakras, or energy points, within the body.
You might have heard your yoga teacher refer to your heart chakra, or your root chakra or even your third eye in class, but what does that actually mean?
Chakra means ‘wheel’ and in yogic philosophy a chakra is a point in the body where pranic energy comes together on its journey through the body; a meeting point, if you like. We cannot see them, or feel them with our hands, but each is responsible for a different part of our mind, body or soul.
We have 7 major and 1 minor chakras in the body:
The first chakra is the root or earth chakra, located between the anus and the perineum. This is the source of Kundalini Shatki (primal energy) which should travel up the chakras in order for Samadhi (transcendal bliss and complete knowledge of the universe) to occur. This chakra is related to basic survival needs; thirst, hunger, tiredness, security, money, pain. Until your basic human needs are satisfied you cannot move up the chakras.
People who are focussed on this chakra may have money or security problems in their life, or are focussed very much on money and business. If you have a strong Mooladhara chakra you have satisfied your needs for money, security, food etc.
The second, water chakra is located at the base of the spine and is related to a person’s emotions, knowledge, intellect, relationships, pleasure etc. This is also where we conquer fear and store our unconscious past experiences, impressions, judgements and memories and as a result controls our instincts.
Those focussed on this chakra may be pleasure seekers, or hungry for knowledge, information, love etc. Those strong in this chakra may be teachers or intellectuals, with powerful emotions and good connections with other people.
The third, fire chakra is the home of the ego and is related to respect, power (both physical and non-physical) and dominance (confidence). It is located at the naval and is related strongly to the digestive system and metabolism. Mediation on this chakra will boost the metabolism and help with sluggishness and depression.
Those focussed on the third chakra may be seeking respect or control; they will need their ego boosting. People with a strong third chakra may be sportspeople or military personnel, police, political leaders or powerful influencers.
The heart chakra is located at the sternum and relates strongly to peace, nature and service to others. The practice of yoga starts here, after the attachments of the first three chakras are satisfied and cleansed. Those with a strong heart chakra will have a feeling of ‘one-ness’ with the world and their surroundings.
This chakra is the air chakra and those weak in this chakra should spend more time in nature in order to build and open up this chakra. On a physical level this chakra is related to respiratory health. Those with a strong heart chakra will likely be at home in nature, doing public service and have strong willpower.
The 5th chakra is the first chakra associated with the soul rather than the mind. It is located at the throat and related to communication with the universe, knowledge of the past and of other universes. This will manifest itself in physic powers within the person who has a strong 5th chakra. They will be able to read others and speak the truth about them.
The third-eye chakra is the place between the eyebrows and can see into the future. This chakra is related to psychic visions, perception of others and most importantly, hearing answers about the universe from the higher power. Meditation on this chakra can improve concentration, intelligence and memory.
The seventh chakra is a minor chakra and often not discussed when talking about chakras. It is located at the top of the back of the head and holds the ‘nada’ or psychic sound heard in meditation and required for Samadhi. This chakra also secretes a hormone which allows someone in a state of Samadhi to remain nourished, without eating in the physical world, so they can stay in this state for as long as possible.
The ‘crown’ chakra is the doorway to the highest consciousness and therefore the state of Samadhi. When Kundalini reaches this point the person will reach a state of pure bliss and ultimate knowledge of the soul, and the universe to which it belongs.