There are seven main chakras within the physical body. Six are located at various points within the spinal cord and the seventh is situated at the crown of the head.
The idea of chakras is of Eastern origin; they are directly related to the physical body:
Mooladara the root chakra is located at the perineum, between the anus and the sex organ in males and the cervix in females
Swadisthana located at the coccyx (base of the spine) relates directly to the testes/ ovaries
Manipura is located behind the navel and relates to the adrenal glands
Anahata is located at the heart centre and relates to the thymus gland
Vishuddhi is located at the throat and relates to the thyroid gland
Ajna is located at the top of the spine and relates to the pineal gland in the brain
Sahasrara chakra is located at the crown of the head and relates to the pituitary gland
Sahasrara Chakra is considered to go far beyond the realms of the physical body and is the ultimate light or knowledge of the universe.
The Chakras are symbolized by lotus flowers. They represent man’s 3 stages of development in spiritual life from the lowest state to the highest state: ignorance, aspiration and endeavour and illumination.
The lotus flower sprouts in the mud (man’s ignorance), grows up through the water (man’s endeavour and aspiration), and emerges into sunlight (man’s illumination).
The Chakras are stimulated, or ‘awakened’ by specific practises for that chakra. As the Chakras are stimulated, your potential for self awareness and understanding begins to open up, you become more sensitive to what is going on inside your mind; your attitudes and values change – material things have less meaning, disappointments and frustrations no longer bother you and you have compassion for all things. This is the rising of the kundalini.
The awakening of the chakras and the rising of kundalini can be explained by the electrical frequencies of the mind. Lower thoughts are at a lower frequency and higher thoughts are at a higher frequency. As we progress in our spiritual journey higher thoughts influence and awaken the chakras, and as the chakras are awakened the kundalini rises.
Each chakra confers certain abilities. These abilities are represented in the symbolism.
The symbol for mooladhara chakra, is a red lotus flower with four petals.
A seven tusked elephant represents the vehicle of the mind, a great dormant power resting in a completely stable, solid place and its potential for great creativity. The seven tusks represent the seven minerals essential to human physical functioning. Earth is the element for Mooladhara; this is represented by a yellow square or yantra.
Mooladhara is said to be the seat of kundalini. Kundalini is asleep in this chakra, when it wakes up, self awareness and understanding increases as it ascends through the higher chakras. When Kundalini is sleeping in mooladhara, our thoughts are focused on physical pleasures and material selfishness. However, when kundalini rises to Swadhisthana Chakra, difficulties are faced with strength and willpower and we are less tied to material things.
Mooladhara Chakra is associated with the excretory system and sexual instincts. Applying Moola Bandha (perineum contraction) can awaken Mooladara Chakra, giving physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Moola Bandha stimulates the pelvic nerves and tones the uro-genital and excretory systems, relieves depression and promotes good physical and mental health.
Swadisthana Chakra is located approximately 2 fingers width above mooladhara chakra in the spine. The literal translation means ‘one’s own abode’. Swadisthana Chakra is symbolised by a six petalled crimson lotus. The element is water, symbolised by a white crescent moon. A white crocodile represents the phantom of unconscious life and symbolises the karmas (past lives) and unconscious dimensions of human personality.
Swadisthana Chakra is associated with seeking pleasure and security and associated with the tongue and genitals. The emphasis is on overcoming fear, and on enjoyment, on pleasurable sensations and sexual interaction.
At the higher level, Swadhisthana is a direct switch for Bindu (the storehouse of karmas) freeing you from the internal struggles of lust, anger and greed. By purifying this centre, the animal nature is transcended and once this stage has been reached the kundalini is not likely to descend, although, one needs to be aware of acting for the good of the whole rather than for personal gain otherwise the kundalini will descend.
For concentration on this centre, visualise a vast deep ocean with dark waves beneath a night sky. The tides of the ocean represent the ebb and flow of awareness.
Manipura Chakra is the psychic centre behind the naval and is associated with vitality and energy. Known as the ‘city of jewels’, it is correlated to the adrenal glands, and regulates and energises the organs, systems and processes of life, radiating and distributing pranic energy throughout the human framework.
This chakra is symbolised by a 10 petalled bright yellow lotus. At the centre of the lotus is an inverted red triangle signifying the fire element. It is when prana (upward moving energy) and apana (downward moving energy) fuse together at the navel that this chakra is awakened and you start to gain a glimpse of higher planes of existence and a spiritual perspective. Awakening at this level becomes on-going; you can gain a deeper concept of self and become benevolent and compassionate, whereas in mooladhara and swadhisthana these qualities are tinged by selfishness.Awakening at this level becomes a confirmed awakening, and conscious awareness does not now fall back down to lower states.
Anahata Chakra is known as the jewel of correct and positive thinking. This Chakra is symbolised by a 12 petalled blue lotus with two interlaced triangles representing the opening of one’s heart. A black antelope, represents the qualities of alertness and fleetness of foot. At this level of evolution we are free to determine our own destiny, whereas in the lower chakras we feel bound by fate. The awakening of this chakra brings about intense feelings of love for God (or whatever you believe in), family, and every being on the planet. It is the seat of human love and divine love. You realise that spiritual compassion is truly unselfish; that love does not involve bargaining, you take on a completely different attitude; you have now overcome the selfishness of ego.
A subsidiary lotus with red petals symbolises the wish fulfilling tree or kalpa taru. Saints have recommended visualising the kalpa taru or a still lake with beautiful blue lotus to awaken Anahata chakra. This visualisation can help with emotional problems such love, hate, jealousy, and lack of hope which may arise if Anahata Chakra is out of balance.
Annahata is directly connected to the thymus gland and is important for a healthy immune system. If Annahata is out of balance we might experience physical problems such as heart problems, problems in the thoracic area of the spine or breathing problems such as asthma etc. A good asana for opening this chakra is Gomukhasana (cow’s face pose). This pose is excellent for reducing tension and anxiety, is especially good for opening up the chest area and relieving backache and stiffness in the shoulders and neck.
Vishuddhi Chakra is located at the throat, the centre of speech. This centre is known as the purification centre; it purifies and harmonises all opposites. Widely called the centre of nectar because it is at this level of being where poison and nectar, good and bad are united into a common experience of bliss.
The opening of Vishuddhi chakra has many health giving qualities, it rejuvenates the physical body and sharpens the mind. One has clarity of thought and discrimination between lower thoughts and higher thoughts. In other words, one becomes open to all experiences, whether good or bad and instead of fighting with life, one begins to flow with the current of life and relax and enjoy life whatever may be.
Vishudhi is represented by a sixteen petalled violet lotus and a white circle like a full moon. The petals correspond with the number of nadis associated with it and the full moon represents ether or akasha, the gateway to liberation. A white elephant, the vehicle of consciousness, is situated within the circle. When Vishuddhi Chakra is open and the senses are pure and controlled, you can visualize riding on the white elephant towards bliss and liberation.
Vishuddhi is directly associated with the thyroid gland and forms the basis for vijnanamaya kosha, or psychic development. A good asana for this chakra is Ushtrasana (camel pose) which, amongst other benefits, tones the organs in the neck area, regulates the thyroid gland and is helpful for asthma sufferers.
If Vishuddhi chakra is out of balance you may experience physical symptoms such as swollen glands, sore throat, neck problems or hearing problems etc. Emotionally, you may have trouble making decisions, taking responsibility, or communicating effectively.
Ajna Chakra, is located in the brain at the top of the spinal cord, in the medulla oblongata. It is also known as the ‘third eye’ or ‘eye of intuition’. Ajna chakra is also called the ‘guru chakra’ as it has a monitoring effect; observing and witnessing events within and without. It is customary in India for married women to put Sindoor on their eyebrow centre as this enables a constant conscious and unconscious awareness of ajna chakra.
When ajna chakra is well developed one has gained intuition and perception; we don’t get upset by events because we can see beyond cause and effect. All attachment to material things and people drops away and willpower becomes strong, although getting to this level of awareness requires firm belief and persistent effort. Furthermore, we must not become attached to these newly developed powers or use them for selfish reasons, otherwise it will hinder our spiritual progression.
Ajna Chakra is directly related to the pineal gland and is associated with the health of the brain and neurological system. An imbalance in ajna chakra could result in migraines, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating, confusion, memory problems or just feeling out of touch with reality.
A useful asana for awakening ajna is Akarna Dhanurasana (bow and arrow pose) which focuses the mind on the target while relaxing and releasing tension in the neck and shoulders. Jala Neti is also very useful for clearing the sinuses, it also has a calming and soothing influence on the brain, and alleviates anxiety, anger and depression.
Sahasrara Chakra is related to the pituitary gland. It is the culmination of progression through the Chakras; one has transcended the ego of the lower levels, gained an expanded spiritual awareness and connectedness and found one’s true self.
Sahasrara is represented by a one thousand petalled lotus signifying the vast magnitude and significance of this chakra; it is where consciousness and prana merge, shakti and shiva are united as one, leaving a just a single universal awareness. There is nothing yet there is everything. A useful asana for awakening Sahasrara Chakra is Naman Pranamasana (prostration pose). This is a helpful preliminary to the full headstand and very powerful for awakening sahasrara as it revitalizes the entire body and mind, and relieves anxiety and many other psychological problems.
Sandy Hector BSc(Hons) Psychology, Certificate in Education (Southampton University), Certified Master Practitioner of NLP, Certified Master Practitioner of HNLP, Certified Master Practitioner of the Art and Science of Time-Based Techniques, Registered Hypnotherapist (GHR), Certified Hypno-gastric Band Therapist, FRYOG Yoga Teacher Diploma.