What are Chakras, anyway?

I am going to be profiling the chakras over the next few weeks to give you a little insight into how your own Chakras may be affecting your overall well-being.  But first, it is important to understand WHAT a Chakra is and WHY they are important to us; yogi or not.

Chakras are "wheels" of spiraling energy.  There are 7 main chakras (or energy centers) and they are located along the spinal column (relatively) where the 3 main nadi's cross (Ida + Pingala + Shushumna) and sit flat (think dinner plates or lotus flowers).  *If you are not familiar with the nadi's, no biggie, I will cover that another time*   You can picture each chakra as a "hub" of wires where information is in a constant flux of input and output.   

These 7 chakras connect different aspects of our being - social, physical, mental, spiritual, etc...and in turn they AFFECT these aspects of our being in different and unique ways.

If you can imagine each chakra as a hub of energy then you can picture how each hub can have a different amount of energy flowing to and from it.  Our chakras can have an excess of energy or be deficient in energy causing temporary or chronic imbalances.  These imbalances can trigger many different kinds of problems in our daily lives which will be detailed with each chakra profile.  How smoothly your chakras function can determine your body's physical comfort (pain vs. pain-free), how successful your relationships are and how much inner peace you are able to enjoy.  It is said in India that as you remove blockages in your chakras you enhance your senses while boosting your physical and emotional well-being.

* Meditating on your chakras keeps them open, functioning properly, and fully balanced/charged.

* Practicing with mantras purifies the chakras - saying a Sanskrit word carries vibrations at the chakra level.

* There are daily practices that you can do OFF the yoga mat to work on balancing your chakras as well (to be detailed in each chakra profile).

The chakras are interdependent on each other for harmony and balance.  They are not mutually exclusive but more woven together like a quilt.  Just as we can put a cast on the physical body to set a broken bone, we can use chakra practices to work on depression, addiction, heart ache, tight hips,  communication....the possibilities are endless!  By learning about our own chakra system we can begin to understand ourselves from an energetic level and discover something new about our well-being from a new perspective.  We are made up of energy in all forms so by balancing our own internal system we can begin to change our lives from the inside-out, radiating this energy outward `bringing about abundance in all areas of our lives.

Here is an example of the FLOW of energy through the Chakra System as it can move upward as well as downward:

Moving Energy Downward thru the Chakras:  (Consider this downward-moving energy as you put ideas into action)

    Idea comes to your mind (Crown Chakra)

    Think of and consider this thought (Brow Chakra)

    Discuss idea with friends, family, colleagues (Throat Chakra)

    Take the idea to heart (Heart Chakra)

    Put your energy into putting the idea into action (Solar Plexus Chakra)

    “Water” and feed this dream/idea (Sacral Chakra)

    Idea/Dream take concrete form (Root Chakra)

Energy Moves Upward as Well:

    Energy travels from its base at the Root Chakra becoming lighter, freer and less restricted (although more potent).  

    The energy moves from each Chakra center breaking through any blockages requiring work to create balance in each center and will eventually transcend the elements to awaken and liberate your consciousness at the Crown Chakra.