Chakra is a Sanskrit word which literally translates to disc or wheel. There are seven major chakra centers in human body, starting from the base of the spine, through to the crown of the head. They are interconnected through the network of subtle energy channels or nadis, through which vital energy (prana) circulates.
The three main nadis are Sushumna, the central energy channel, and Ida and Pingala, which run alongside the Sushumna, on either side of the spine. Starting at the base of the spine, where Muladhara chakra is located, the Ida and Pingala rise toward the crown of the head with a serpentine movement passing from left to right and surrounding each chakra. Ida finishes at the left nostril, and it is associated with the parasympathetic part of the brain and lunar, cooling, feminine energy. Pingala finishes at the right nostril, and it is associated with the sympathetic part of the brain and solar, fiery, masculine energy.
In everyday life, one of these nadis is always dominant. Although this dominance alternates throughout the day, one nadi tends to be ascendant more often and for longer periods than the other. During our course, we covered the Ribbon Breath, which is used to balanced Ida and Pingala and left and right brain hemisphere.
Chakras regulate the flow of energy in our body. How well the chakra centers function depends on our emotional state of being. In other words, the chakras reflect the way we view and experience the world around us. They store a lot of different emotions, including emotional hurt, anger, fear, pain, and any thoughts that can limit or expand the soul’s experience. We can all relate to experiencing one or more of these emotions on a daily basis, which is natural, but it is when we cling onto them and/or don’t deal with the causes, that they affect the flow of energy in our body, and over longer periods of time can develop into chronic health issues. Since mind, body, soul, and spirit are intimately connected, awareness of an imbalance in one area will help bring the others back into balance.
Along with the second chakra at the pelvis, the other even-numbered chakras (the fourth, at the heart, and the sixth, at the third eye) are concerned with the ‘feminine’ qualities of relaxation and openness. These chakras exercise our rights to feel, to love, and to see. Odd-numbered chakras, found in the legs and feet, solar plexus, throat, and crown of the head, are concerned with the ‘masculine’ endeavour of applying our will to the world, asserting our rights to have, to ask, to speak, and to know. The odd-numbered, masculine chakras tend to move energy through our systems, pushing it out into the world and creating warmth and heat. The even-numbered, feminine chakras cool things down, attracting energy inward.
In the modern world, the masculine and feminine principles of life are out of balance. The masculine energy of action and expression too often overrules the feminine energy of wisdom and acceptance, causing increased stress in our lives. Many people have an imbalanced work ethic and find little or no time for enjoyment or relaxation. We have forgotten the healing power of simple pleasures: listening to music, doing gentle yoga, getting a massage. Our lives give us plenty of opportunities to express ourselves and be active, so we need to make sure we complement this with relaxation and receptivity. Harmony requires balance. In yoga, that means creating a practice that combines strength and flexibility, effort and softness (Sthira and Sukham). Any imbalance in our yoga practice will be mirrored in our chakras.
The first three chakras, starting at the base of the spine are chakras of matter. They are more physical in nature. When we work through our physical chakras, or the first three, we can open the spiritual chakras more fully.
According to Dr. Myss, most people spend energy on the issues related the three lower chakras, and it is not coincidental that most illnesses result from the loss of energy in these three chakras. Dr. Myss claims that even illnesses that develop in upper parts of the body, such as heart conditions, breast cancer etc., can also be traced to the stress patterns and issues in the lower three chakras. Any illness is apparent in the subtle body before it is manifested in the physical body. This highlights the importance of the chakra system and tuning in to our body. By generating awareness and shifting the behavioural patterns, we can literally heal ourselves.
There are many holistic practitioners who have developed various theories and practices for cleansing and clearing chakras to unblock the flow of vital energy within the body. However, in this assignment, I will focus on the most common health issues associated with chakra dysfunctions and yoga poses that are beneficial for balancing them.