What are the chakras? You probably have heard this word or even seen the illustrations depicting the chakra centers with their unique colors in specific locations on the body.
But what are the chakras and how do they relate to our wellbeing?
How do they influence our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development?
How do we access them, open, mend if need be, and keep them healthy?
Let’s start from the beginning.
What are the chakras?
We will start by taking a short historic voyage to see the origins of chakras and then go on by introducing and explaining a few Sanskrit words and their definitions, that we will be coming across from now on, so we can have a better understanding of the whole concept before we move further.
Meanings of Sanskrit words
“Chakra” <चक्रं >, means wheel or turning, otherwise known as energy center
“Nadis” means pipe or vein, otherwise known as energy channels or paths of prana
“Prana” meaning breath, it’s the vital energy that flows through the Nadis
Nadis: “Sushumna” the most significant Nadis known as the way to liberation
“Ida “means comfort. It's the Nadi that runs on the lefts side of Sushumna Nadi
“Pingala” means tawny. It's the Nadi that runs on the right side of Sushumna Nadi
मन्त्र) is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"
Going back more than 4000 years we find the archaic scriptures of Hinduism the Yoga Kundalini Upanishads where the chakras are first mentioned and analyzed.
Similarities to key aspects of the chakra system are found in other ancient traditions from all around the world. Images such as a spiral form that symbolizes the serpent force of God’s or Goddess’s energy appears on Irish megalithic stones, antler artifacts from Northern European Mesolithic artifacts, 5th millennium BC ceramics of East-Central Europe. In ancient Greece in the Minoan, the Cycladic and Mycenaean art we find the universal motif of two opposed interlaced spirals, crescents and snakeheads intended to stimulate the process of becoming and later symbolizing medicine and healing.
In the ancient texts of the Upanishads, 88.000 chakras are said to exist in the human body. Out of which most yoga schools have distinguished 7 to be the major chakras and 40 more as secondary.
The chakra system offers a framework that helps in the understanding of the human energy by integrating mind, body and spirit. All three are equally important and dependent upon the other.
The chakras are described as the psychoenergetic centers from where the prana, life force, accessed through breath that circulates in five different forms throughout the body through a complex system of 72,000 nadis, channels.
The most significant of the nadis is the Sushumna, also known as the way to liberation, which is the central column of energy. The channels Ida, feminine, and Pingala, masculine, originate to the left and right, respectively, of the Sushumna Nadi and coil around it from the base of the spine up to the top of the head forming a serpentine pattern. In Kundalini Yoga it is known as the serpentine power or mystic fire. The six lower chakras are located at the intersections of the Ida and Pingala, the seventh is located at the crown (top) of the head.
Each of these chakras is associated with specific physical, psychological and spiritual states and is arranged along the central vertical axis of the spine and open towards the front of the body. As we will see further on, each chakra is also related to a specific color, mantra, vibration etc.