Chakras are the seven main vortexes of energy, or prana, which correspond to different areas of the body. They begin at the pelvic floor, move up through the sacral area, the solar plexus region, the heart, throat, eyebrow center and end at the crown of the head. The chakras are not made up of the physical body, however. Chakras represent the subtle body. They serve to connect the physical body to the energetic body, each corresponding to a different area, different energy, and different qualities.
The chakra system comes from Tantric philosophy. According to Tantra, the universe was created when Shiva and Shakti were separated. Shiva, the male energy, represents divine consciousness, and Shakti, the female energy, represents Mother Nature herself. It is said that when Shakti separated from Shiva, the world as we know it was created.
To realize the true union of Shiva and Shakti—or the true nature of ourselves, connected to all that is (or a spiritual connection, if you choose)—we practice asana, pranayama, and meditation, increasing the flow of prana within us. This flow of prana moves kundalini, or the coil of energy at the base of the spine, up the Sushumna nadi (the main nadi that travels along the spine). As kundalini flows through each chakra, we experience a balance of energies that flows out into our lives.
Through the chakras, we are able to work with our life energies in a positive way. Learning about the chakras, and how chakra imbalances can affect our lives, and vice versa, can help us to understand the subtle nature of life itself. Through asana, pranayama, and meditation we can rebalance the chakras to improve energy flow within the body, mind, and spirit.
Each chakra is associated with aspects of life, areas of the body, energies, and so much more. In the coming months, we will delve into each chakra, learning its significance, how to identify chakra imbalances, and how to bring each chakra back into balance. In the meantime, know that your yoga practice is serving to open the energy flow within you, and all around you.