Images: Pauliina Salonen (Chakrapolku, Tammi 2014)
By Inderjit Kaur Khalsa
Although the history of yoga is long and it has many phases, chakras were not widely talked about in the west until the 19th century. Chakras are known to be associated with the tantric concept of human being, where all living things consist of prana, a life force energy. The chakras were first mentioned in the ancient Indian scriptures called Veda. The texts have been dated to 1500-500 BC. being the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Yoga, tantra and prana consciousness all come from the region of ancient India.
We consume prana though breathing, eating and drinking. The entire cosmos around us has prana in it, and it is a basic building block for every living being. When we strive for physical and mental well-being regulating our breath is the first tool to begin with. By lengthening and deepening our breathing, we increase the amount of prana. It circulates throughout our entire energetic system, that we call body, mind and spirit.
There are different numbers of chakras in different traditions. I personally represent Kundalini Yoga. In our tradition we have eight main chakras. Working with chakras always begins from the bottom as we strengthen our roots. The first, the root chakra also called Muladhara is associated with the color red. It represents acceptance and its element is Earth. The second chakra, Svadhishthana, is about creativity, representing the element of water and orange as its color. As we free ourselves from over-controlling our life and the circumstances, we allow the flow of energy to move freely. The third chakra, Manipura, is located at the navel region, having the element of fire, and color yellow. Its purpose is to maintain our own strength and will. Our will power begins from this area. In many traditions the third chakra also includes the diaphragm area, but after working for a long time on the chakras I have found that in these two areas is a significant difference. The third chakra at the navel point deals with commitment and willpower, while the diaphragm area is very sensitive. That is why I have named this area the 3.5 chakra because its function is to sense. It is like a sensitive receiver that reads the energy that surrounds us. This is easy to notice when you are in an uncomfortable situation instinctively putting your hands in a gust or otherwise trying to protectively cover the diaphragm area. In any difficult situation we naturally protect ourselves. These three chakras form a lower triangle, they represent our past, as well as grounding, whereas three upper chakras open us toward higher consciousness.
The fourth chakra, Anahata, located in the heart region with the color green and the element of air, is the meeting point of these two triangles. When we talk about enlightenment in the context of yoga, this is the area where it actually happens. We enlighten ourselves when we clear obstacles form our path with acceptance which leads to the activation of our inner light through love and compassion. The area of the fifth chakra, Vishuddha, has the element of Ether and the color of light blue. It is located in the neck area. This is the area for our own truth, our voice, self-expression and being heard and understood. The power for our own truth comes from the third chakra. That’s why breathing should always flow all the way down to the third chakra. Breathing gives strength to our own truth and voice.
Intuition and the sixth chakra, Ajna, has no element but the color is indigo blue. It is located in the area of the third eye, that is roughly between the eyebrows at the same level with the pituitary gland, which is located in the center of the skull. The seventh chakra, Sahasrara, is associated with the color purple and is located on the top of the head. It is connected to the pineal gland, which acts as a regulator of light and darkness. The theme of the seventh chakra is boundlessness. It involves the expansion of consciousness into the whole mystery of life and death. In Kundalini Yoga, we also have the eight chakra, the Aura, a protective electromagnetic field around our physical body. The color of eight chakra is white or in some traditions silver.
So the chakras are not a fixed entity that we could dick out from the body and explore scientifically, instead they are ever flowing energy that is in constant motion without one physical set location. The energy itself is subtle and far-reaching. We can never fully understand its whole entity. However, we can learn to listen the subtle messages of chakras and to understand how we can keep them in balance. Balanced chakra system is the key for living healthy, active and peaceful life. The balancing of the chakras begins with our breath. With breathing we guide prana, the life force energy through our chakra system. The messages form the chakras are first some mild symptom, usually from the area where the energy balancing is needed. If we don’t take the messages and symptoms seriously, they might end up building into an illness. Through breathing, meditation and yoga, it’s possible to get the chakras into balance very quickly. Sometimes we also use colors, scents, and elements that are associated with each chakra.
So the chakra system is not any mystical entity but a very practical way to get to know ourselves better, and to quickly understand what is needed in order to maintain physical and mental balance.
Inderjit Kaur Khalsa is a Kundalini Yoga teacher and trainer. She is a published author and the creator of Chakra Pathworking. She is also a founder and owner of Kundalini Yoga School in Helsinki.
Chakra Pathworking 8-weeks web course is coming up in Spring 2021
Images: Pauliina Salonen (Chakrapolku, Tammi 2014)