Chakra is a Sanskrit word which translates as “wheel.” Chakras are energetic power centers that both take in and distribute energy throughout the body.
There are seven major chakras that correspond to the nerve plexus and endocrine glands in our physical body.
Chakras in the body are perpetually affected by the way you interact with life’s situations, people and places on a physical, mental and emotional level. Thus, your chakras collect and absorb energy. The chakras are the medium through which you feed your body with health and balance; or deplete your vitality, health and well-being, depending upon how you live your life.
The innate intelligence of the life force, or prana, flows through your chakra system unimpeded when you are deeply relaxed in meditation or in deep sleep. Your self-conscious ego-mind dominates your subconscious, biological prana during the waking state. Your prana, instead of healing, gets expended by conflict and stress created by the ego-.mind. One of the major blocks to the free flowing movement of energy is the mind.
Our ego is constantly creating and re-entertaining our pre-programmed perceptions of the past. This impedes the flow of energy throughout the chakras, and deprives the body of the self-healing, self-balancing power of prana.
Most of our health issues are created at the mental and emotional level. This registers energetically in our body in the form of psychosomatic blocks. Our chakra system is aligned with the nerve centers and endocrine glands in the physical body, an energetic replica on a very subtle level. Chakras cannot be located in the physical body as they exist as psychic centers. Nevertheless, they have a powerful impact on the body’s physical well-being.
Each chakra, like each nerve plexus, nourishes and sustains the healthy functioning of the different internal organs it connects to. The location of the major chakras and their corresponding neuro plexus are listed below:
Basic (Muladhara) – Base of the spine, sacral-coccygeal plexus
Sex (Swadhisthana) – Behind the pubic bone lumbar plexus
Navel Center (Manipura) – At the navel center solar plexus
Heart (Anahata) – At the level of the heart cardiac plexus
Throat (Vishuddha) – Pit of the throat cervical plexus
Third Eye (Ajna) – Between the eyebrows
Crown (Sahasrara) – At the crown of the head
Cleansing, balancing and removing energy blockages from your chakras are fundamental to maintaining optimal health. This also helps eliminate that feeling of being “stuck” in repetitive “stories” of the past that create stress, disharmony and illness.
Chakra energy vibrates at a very subtle level. This is why the energy of the chakras is not readily felt. All the disturbances and conflict we experience on a physical, mental and emotional level convert our biological subconscious prana into our unconscious body of karma. This is the fundamental cause of all human suffering.
The Power of Instinct in the First Three Chakras
All of the chakras are animated by the primal intelligence of prana, which naturally restores and maintains balance, health and harmony of the body. The first three chakras are driven by the subconscious, instinctive wisdom of the animal body. We call it biological prana. Human beings are born with a self-conscious, individual sense of “I am.” This “I am” within human beings represents the soul. But when “I am” is identified with our mind-made sense of self-image, it begins to function as the ego-mind. The ego-mind takes the subconscious prana shakti and separates it from its source of “I AM,” the soul, the supreme prana within.
We, as humans, are born with the freedom to choose for or against what is present. This ability to choose empowers us with a higher freedom to rise above our instinctive animal nature and go against instinctive behaviors or live in harmony with them. We also have the divine potential to go beyond and transcend it. This freedom to choose can be a gift or a curse. Animals have no freedom to ignore their instinctive behavior. As a result, they have no possibility to transcend it.
In humans, energy follows attention. If our attention is caught up in the survival of the self-image, our energy (prana) remains a victim of the survival level of the first three chakras. Unless we free up our attention that is caught in the energy of survival, sensuality and power, we cannot reverse it from flowing downward and outward to inward and upward, towards the higher centers of consciousness.
The practice of “I AM,” is designed to effectively release the trapped energies of the unconscious self-image and reverse the flow inward and upward toward the higher integrative Self, the “I AM” within. Whenever “I AM” is identified with the mind-made false self-image, “I am” is in conflict with my Self. This means, we have an animal body, a human mind, and divine potential. The purpose of being born human is to be free from our selfcaused suffering (survival, sensuality and power) that comes from being a victim of the first three chakras and explore our divine potential through raising our consciousness.
Muladhara, at the base of the spine, operates directly through the instinctive wisdom of the body. It is the fundamental source of energy for the sustenance, survival, health and well-being of the body. But when this instinctive, innate intelligence of the body is abused, the energy of these chakras begins to flow downward and outward. It causes an imbalance in the chakra system and creates fear that can take many different forms, creating more internal conflict and stress. As a result, our real sustenance of health and well-being of the body is compromised when our prana is abusively used in the first three chakras.
Swadhisthana, the sex center, ensures survival of our species. Both the urge to merge and the urge for survival of the species are inborn instinctive forces. When this center is out of balance, we may be emotionally oversensitive or emotionally dependent. Repression of sexuality or addiction to sexuality can cause both emotional and physical problems. In animals, sex and procreation are regulated by biological rhythms. They have no freedom to ignore, explore or violate the laws of nature and/or to go against their instincts. Only human beings have the facility to go against their survival instinct to overindulge in food, sex or work. This uses the same prana as fuel that is also necessary for feeding the heart and higher centers of consciousness.
Located at the navel is Manipura, the power center, which provides the energy to develop the skills and capacities to control our environment. When it functions well, we are happy with our life and we remain grounded and confident in our personal space. It determines how we judge ourselves and others. When Manipura is out of balance you experience lack of self esteem or, on the other side, a need to be overly competitive.
All of the chakras are animated by the primal intelligence of prana, which naturally restores and maintains balance, health and harmony of the body.
When caught in the second and third centers of sensation or power, humans violate the instinctive apparatus that protects our physical health and well-being, which is the foundation for our spiritual journey. Whenever our ego-mind goes against our subconscious instincts or suppresses them, we create psychosomatic blocks that prevent us from going to the heart and higher integrative centers of consciousness.
Humans are born with the freedom to choose for or against what is present. When they choose against what is present, they remain the victim of their unconscious self-image. This means we create an internal conflict where the subconscious prana shakti gets separated from its ultimate divine source of Shiva consciousness.
As we move up, Anahata, the heart chakra governs our interactions as we reach out to touch and embrace others. The heart chakra provides us with the experience of love, and ebb and flow of love in our life. While we want to care deeply for others, we must accept responsibility for our own experience of love. The heart shows us both acceptance and forgiveness. When the heart chakra is out of balance you may experience possessiveness, jealousy or envy.
Vishuddha, the throat chakra, focuses on communication and expression. Directly connected to speech and language, this chakra lets us vocalize how we feel and what we think. It is through the voice that you bring your personal truth into the world. When this chakra is out of balance you experience stress and resentment because of your blocked expression.
Shouting or withdrawal of communication is a sign of problems. In yoga, we use singing, chanting and mantras as expressions to bring balance to Vishuddha.
Ajna, the eyebrow center, is our center of intuition and the center of meditation. It is all about seeing. Indeed, clairvoyance translates as clear seeing. When Ajna is out of balance, you may find yourself thinking and worrying too much about the future. If your emotional needs are too strong you get caught up in details and lose the big picture. The solution is to take a rest from your problems and allow Ajna to see new possibilities.
Finally, Sahasrara, the crown chakra.
The thousand petal lotus connects us to the universe, allowing us to move beyond the physical. Here we have unity of body, mind and spirit. Coordination and balance are the touchstones; and when this chakra is out of balance, you lose harmony with yourself and others. Allow yourself to tune in to what is around you through meditation and introspection.
Moving Energy Up Rather than Down and Out
When the energy in the first three chakras is focused on obtaining things in the external world specifically to protect our self-image; our energy moves downward. A lack of balance in the first three chakras (too much or too little energy) creates fear. Likewise, depression, despair and loneliness are the result of attention and energy being dissipated externally. This occurs when you try to control or manage all your external affairs in service of the self-image.
To compensate, humans create and indulge in addictions such as: sex, alcohol, drugs, food, relationships, work and negative emotions.
Each chakra, like each nerve plexus, nourishes and sustains the healthy functioning of the different internal organs it connects to.
Addictions are powerful because they provide a false sense of balance and a temporary relief from stress. A temporary shift is created from conflict creating duality into complementary polarity and this gives us a false sense of balance. When this temporary relief wears off we feel the need for even more, which is the addiction.
Chakra healing happens when you learn meditative, choiceless awareness and disengage from your dualistic conflict-creating behaviors and habit patterns. When the ego-mind is withdrawn from dominating your body’s wisdom, your chakras restore their integrative and self-balancing wisdom. Withdrawing from outgoing, self-destructive energy restores the balance between the inner and outer world; where tension and relaxation, sympathetic and parasympathetic, Ida and Pingala nadis, function to restore and regenerate their self-healing, homeostatic processes.
Each chakra center can operate either in natural balancing polarity, acquired personal dualistic conflicts, or the transcendent unity of the spirit. The moment you let go of the egotistical “I” which operates out of conflict and duality, all your chakras free up and align. Energy that was flowing down and out will reverse and prana will move their energy inward and upward towards the heart and higher integrative dimension of healing and transformation. The result is that not only will you feel better quickly; but your whole body will begin to heal because your internal energy is working for, not against, the natural rhythms of life.
Balancing and Cleansing the Chakras
The teachings and traditions of yoga offer several specific techniques that can restore the balancing power of the chakras, the prana body and the unifying power of spirit. These include:
Exercise and Asana
Pratyahara (Withdraw your outgoing reactive thoughts, actions and emotions)
Mantra and Chanting Meditation
Your Breath Can Balance Your Chakras
For thousands of years yogis have studied, experimented and learned how to use breath as a medium to balance chakras and steady the mental fluctuations of the mind. Our focus will be the effect of breath on restoring the polarity of the chakras. Breath work is a powerful medium to withdraw from the self-destructive, conflict creating habit patterns that consume our life force. It allows you to reverse the downward flow of the energy to upward, feeding the higher centers.
The breath that moves through the right side of your nose represents the Sun and is warming. This side connects with the left side of your brain. The breath that moves through the left side of your nose represents the Moon and is cooling. This side connects with the right side of your brain. The energy channel that parallels the spine is called the Sushumna. Starting at the base of your spine and spiraling up around this central channel are two side channels. These channels, called the Ida nadi and Pingala nadi, intersect and cross at every chakra all the way up to the Ajna chakra, your Third Eye.
Alternate Nostril Breathing is one way to bring balance into your breath and harmony to your chakras, mind, body and spirit. It connects and energizes the two hemispheres of your brain. It calms your mind. It allows energy to move freely through your body, which empowers your body to use its natural healing abilities. Here is a simple breath exercise to balance the chakras.
A Breath Exercise for Chakra Balancing
Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and become aware of your breath. Bring your awareness to the area at the top of your head, the crown chakra. Visualize a golden light there, the color of morning sunlight moving down into your body through your crown chakra…flowing into and down the back of the spine. Each breath in carries life, vitality, energy and love. As the light reaches the base of the spine, allow it to pool there and then as you exhale, bring the flow of light up the front of your body, out through your arms, into your throat and again out the top of your head, exhaling all negativity, emotions you no longer need. When done, slowly and consciously, you can begin to feel the energy moving in your body. This exercise can be done for just a few minutes, or it can be used to guide you into a deeper state of relaxation and meditation.
Yogi Amrit Desai: For more than 50 years, Yogi Amrit Desai has been a pioneer in re-establishing the spiritual depth of yoga. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world now teach and practice yoga as a result of Yogi Desai’s teachings. In 1970, he experienced a spontaneous Kundalini awakening by the grace of his guru, Swami Kripalvanandji. The yoga society Yogi Desai founded grew to become Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. www.amrityoga.org
Bill Eager is the author of eleven books including Thrive Inside: Transformative Secrets of Spiritual Masters, Gurus, Shamans. He is an Amrit Method yoga teacher and delivers workshops on yoga and yoga nidra around the world. www.ThriveInside.net