An Introduction to the Chakras
Many of us approach yoga from the pure physical opening. I know that I did. When I first started yoga, 13 years ago, I had a specific aim – to stretch my body and decrease the pain in my body. I am happy to say that it worked. The journey to the release was a lovely, bumpy and interesting one! I realized that the physical pain was connected to my emotions, my thoughts, my worries and all of the layers of pain that I had shoved down into my body. It was a foreign concept to me.
As a physician, 10 years of medical school did not give me this awareness. I had no idea that the pain someone is experiencing in their life was actually connected to their emotions. Yoga was truly life transforming. I had no idea that this information was even available.
When we look at the chakra system – the energy centers – we can see that this knowledge is actually documented and well studied. It is only in our Western Medical domain that we do not give credence to this beautiful, awe-inspiring study.
The chakra system or energy centers in our body often become blocked by long held tension and low self-esteem. Physical postures have been well studied that correspond to each chakra and when done regularly can release the block from the body. As a result, we are able to live free of these old fears that are often stagnating our life.
The 7 chakras are believed to be arranged in a vertical line from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Chakra is a Sanskrit word which means wheel and these wheels are believed to spin. Each chakra is actually associated with biological functions in our body.
Through understanding the chakra system, we can se that our external life and internal habits, life limiting concepts, self-esteem and chronic mental tension can produce imbalances in our chakras. When left over a period of time, these chakras do not spin as they should. As a result, if the imbalance is left it can result in an actual physical disease and dysfunction.
Chakras can be rebalanced through regular practice of yoga postures and meditation. This allows the energy to balance and allows any energy to clear.
Personally, I have seen the amazing affects of yoga and meditation on clearing many diseases, including thyroid disease, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, chronic physical pain and more.
The practice of yoga is truly amazing and mind-boggling. Such an ancient art of healing has been well studied and documented in ancient texts. Western Medicine has its role, especially with the acute ailments.
If, however, you suffer from a chronic disease, it is more than likely related to an imbalance in your chakras that started many years ago. Regular practice can actually release and allow your body to step into its natural way of being.
Bottom line: role out your yoga mat, rain or shine, and practice. You will be glad you did!
Chakras: What They Don't Tell You at Yoga Class
Six blind men lived in a village. One day a villager said, “Wow, there’s an elephant here today!” The blind men had never experienced “elephant.” After conferring, they decided to go touch the elephant and find out what the excitement was about. They gathered around the beast and each took hold of a different part.
The blind man holding the elephant’s leg said, “Hey, this elephant is like a pillar.”
Another, holding the tail, said, “No no! It’s like a rope.”
The third, touching the elephant’s trunk, said, “You’re both wrong — the elephant is like a thick tree branch.”
Another, holding the elephant’s ear, said, “It’s like a big banana leaf.”
“No. It’s like a huge wall,” said the blind man touching the elephant’s side. At this point one can only wonder at the patience of this elephant.
The sixth blind man said, “You’re all wrong. An elephant is like a solid pipe.” He was touching the elephant’s tusk, perhaps just prior to the elephant using it to toss the him over its shoulder.
Aside from the ensuing arguments about who was “right,” each blind man was correct in his perception — there was truth in each experience. In the Jain tradition, it is said the truth can be stated in seven versions or points of view, and the lesson is to be tolerant of the experiences and perceptions of others.
Thus it is with chakras. We’re like blind men with an elephant — each with our own view of the chakra system based on experience, exposure, what we’ve seen, read, heard, or been told — but ironically, it is the cherished belief in our “rightness” (about virtually anything) that ultimately blocks the development and unfolding of the subtle body’s energy centers. Defending any position can launch us into a state of emotional reactivity — the kryptonite of spiritual evolution.
“In different traditions, one can find wheels, flowers, angels, animals, animal parts, geometric shapes, children, the seven dwarves, deities, buddhas, yantras, or mandalas. But in fact, across the board, believing in any judgements which give rise to emotional reactivity is the one sure way to ‘block’ the performance of a chakra,” said Lar C. Short, author of The Way of Radiance and co-author of The Body of Light. By referring to the “performance” of a chakra, Short distinguishes these centers as activities (verbs) rather than things (nouns).
So gentle seeker, or finder as the case may be, suspend disbelief for this exploration of the paradoxical human chakra energetic system.