What are Chakras and Why do they Matter?
We commonly get asked “What are chakras?” and also get questions about why they matter. The yogis have long believed in the power of regulating our subtle energy system – the parts of us that allow for energy to travel within our body. The chakras are one part of this intricate system. Within the context of yoga, there are physical poses, breathwork practices and meditation exercises that can keep these energy centers functionally optimally, in turn allowing you to feel and be at your best.
So what are chakras exactly?
A Sanskrit term, the word Chakra is most often translated into “wheel.” Often considered to be spinning vortexes of subtle energy, our chakras can be visualized as a ladder from which we travel up and down, along our central axis, climbing up toward heaven
or getting down to earth. The goal of this ladder is to fully integrate our selves and to provide a map for manifestation of our highest
good. As Anodea Judith puts it, “We Enter, Align, Activate, Soften, Attune, Illuminate and Awaken to the Divine Presence Within.” Each of these words, linking up to one of the 7 main chakras in the human body.
Why are chakras important and how does yoga help with balancing our chakras?
Yoga provides you with a wonderful opportunity to unplug from the busy-ness and distractions of life and tune into how you are feeling on any given day. Your yoga practice is like a laboratory where you get to explore yourself. One part of this exploration is uncovering your “stuck” places. In Sanskrit these places are often referred to as “granthi” or knots. It is believed these are the places where you are literally “not” – those places you are unwilling to go inside of yourself. In this sense, you get to use your yoga practice as tool to untie your own knots, with these knots often residing in the energy centers we call chakras.
To keep a chakra in balance, it needs to do 3 functions: receive, assimilate and express. Receiving more than we can assimilate = excess, which often shows up as attachment and/or over compensation. Expressing more than we are receiving = deficiency, which can show up as avoidance. Both of these states cause an imbalance and left out of tune long enough, any imbalances will negatively impact your overall energy. Depending on which chakra is affected by the imbalance, you may feel a variety of less than ideal states of being, including unfocused, anxious, lonely, unmotivated, depressed, etc. These states carry over into your work, your relationships and your perception of yourself.
The best way to keep your chakras in balance…
Keep up with a regular well-rounded yoga practice. This means a balance of reclined, seated and standing postures – some that help you ground, relax and restore and some that help stoke your inner fire and build strength. Add in breathwork practices that help move your prana – energy or life force – throughout your body. This could be Ujjayi – victorious or ocean sounding breath. Some days it may need to be something more energizing like a few rounds of breath of fire. And on other days, it may need to be something more calming like a 3-part (belly, lungs, chest) or counted breath. Finally, save time for meditation. Stilling the body allows you to better tune into how you are feeling – physically, mentally and emotionally. This will clue you in to where you may be imbalanced and need a little extra focus. Awareness is power when it comes to tuning ourselves and ensuring we are operating at our very best!
Resource: Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith PhD
We often hold workshops in Columbus, OH focused on balancing the chakras. To view our workshop schedules, click here, select your preferred location and select the Events tab. To purchase our online 7 Part Chakra Exploration Series click here.