October 12 2017 | Yoga Practice
During your yoga career, it’s almost inevitable that you will hear mention of Chakra’s. They are the name of the mystical energy centres through which the ancient yogic sages believed our “life-force” (Prana) is distributed to the body. Prana, as they saw it, is primarily the spiritual, and to a lesser degree, physical energy we absorb through our breathing, diet, and senses. It is more than just, for example, the oxygen in the air that we breath!
The value of Chakras today is not just symbolic. They provide a valuable focal point for the physical practice of yoga: and during, or as a precursor to, meditation. Moreover, there are reassuring parallels with the vital organs in human physiology which illustrate that, as in so many things, the yogis were not far from the truth.
Science does not have all the answers and can have a high opinion of itself (written with due humility). The elephant in the room is not what we can prove by science, but what we can’t. I say that with total respect for science, which has done so much to improve our lives. Conversely, in my view, a healthy scepticism of all things, including yoga and science, is not only a good thing but good yoga too!
Anyone familiar with my teaching will know that I always try and describe yogic ideas in plain English; in a way which respects both what we know, through scientific method, and that which we don’t. One should always respect the wisdom, dignity, and integrity of ancient yoga. We have much to thank yoga for. Conversely, we must be prepared to be open to new ideas, facts, and evidence. I find it inconceivable that the yoga sages would not have done so!
There are seven commonly known chakras distributed vertically along the mid-line of the body, adjacent to the spine, from the pelvic floor to the brain: with a final, more spiritual chakra, floating above the head; that being the one through which we can connect with our true self, (our Atma).
In the coming weeks Yogapedia will be going into more detail on each of these Chakras. For now, here is a list of the seven we will consider in later articles:
The Root Chakra (Muladhara) located in the pelvic floor
The Sacral Chakra (Svadisthana) located near the naval
The Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura) located just beneath the ribcage
The Throat Chakra (Vishudda) located towards the bottom frontal area of the neck
The Heart Chakra (Anahata) located in the heart, which is slightly off-centre to the right of, and behind the sternum
The Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) located in line with the nose, above the eyebrow line, and towards the central base of the brain
The Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) located just above the head
The best way to visualise Chakras are as a spinning vortex of energy: each with their individual characteristics and functions. In Sanskrit, the name Chakra can be translated as wheel. So, these are not static concepts: they are constantly churning pranic energy into the body.
This is where they are most valuable. Visualising and thinking about the body’s energy being channelled in this way allows us to me interact the mind with the body, whilst we are practising yoga.
If you find this of interest then please keep watching for further short articles on the Chakras and other similar yogic concepts in Yogapedia.
Thank you, and namaste, Johnston
Founder Yoga Mind and Body
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