Chakras: 7 Chakra Basic Introduction

Chakras – Introduction

7 Chakra

A ‘Chakra’ is a Sanskrit word meaning a wheel or a disc. There are total 7 chakras present in our body which moves with the Prana – The Life Force. If you wonder why 7 and not 8 or 6 chakras then read about it at the end of this article. The locations of our chakras correspond with the places in our body where essential systems use a lot of energy which means Chakra provides energy to the part they are located in. So you can also say that the 7 Chakras means ‘Wheels of spinning Energy’.

The chakras themselves are not physical; you can’t see them on an X-ray. They are aspects of consciousness, and they interact with the physical and energetic body through the endocrine system and the nervous system. Each of the seven chakras is associated with one of the nine endocrine glands, and also with a particular group of nerves, called a plexus, making them important elements in healing. No one chakra is better than the others or more important than any other in the process of energy body balancing and chakra healing.

In case any of the chakra has a problem of either spinning too quickly or too slowly, then you will have some health issue. In other words, if you know how to control chakra ’s movement, you’ll master your health too. To learn about chakras, you first need to know what is Prana or the Life Force which moves them. Read about it in my previous blog – here.

Dormant chakras are energetic potentials in the same way a bud is the possibility of a flower. As with a flower, a dormant chakra, given the correct conditions, matures and blooms — but the absolute open, complete state of creative potential is the disappearance of the “bloom,” leaving only free-flowing nadis and fields of energy.

Which are The 7 Chakras, Where are they?

humanenergychakrasystem

The Root ChakraThe 1st Chakra or the Root Chakra, is located at the tailbone area. The Sanskrit name is Muladhara. It represents the foundation or the ground. We can link this with our financial stability which should be strong enough for our survival.

The Sacral Chakra – The 2nd Chakra or the Sacral Chakra, is located in the Lower abdomen, about 2 inches below the navel and 2 inches inside. The Sanskrit name is Svadhisthana. It is related to our ability to feel creative, sexual, and accept changes.

The  Solar Plexus Chakra – The 3rd Chakra or the Solar Plexus Chakra, is located in the upper abdomen in the stomach area. The Sanskrit name is Manipura. It is related to our ability to be confident and in control of our lives.

The Heart Chakra – The 4th Chakra or the Heart Chakra, is located in the center of chest just above the heart. The Sanskrit name is Anahata. It is related to our ability to love.

The Throat Chakra – The 5th Chakra or the Throat Chakra, is located in the throat. The Sanskrit name is Vishuddha. It is related to  our ability to communicate.

The Third Eye Chakra – The 6th Chakra or the Third Eye Chakra, is located in our forehead between the eyes. The Sanskrit name is Ajna. It is related for Intuition, imagination, wisdom and the ability to think and make decisions.

The Crown Chakra – The 7th Chakra or the Crown Chakra, is located at the top of the head. The Sanskrit name is Sahasrara. It is the highest chakra represents our ability to be fully connected spiritually.

Yoga is one way that we can work to strengthen and enhance the flow of our chakra systems. Clearing out clutter in our lives, physically and emotionally, helps to strengthen the flow of our energy. Forgiveness greatly enhances our energetic health. Reiki too helps to strengthen the body’s energetic flow to bring back balance and promotes well being on all levels.

Why 7 numbers of chakras

The number seven is a symbolic representation of the earthly plane. Hindu scriptures declare that our earth is but one in a series of several planes of existence, some belonging to the higher regions and some to the lower. In all there are said to be 14 planes or worlds of which six are above the earth and seven below the earth.

In Vedas, the explanation for all 14 planes are given.

  • the earth (bhur or bhuloka) inhabited by mortal beings,
  • the middle world of air (bhuvarloka) inhabited by celestial beings, and
  • the heavenly world of the sky (suva, svara or svargaloka) inhabited by devas or gods ruled by Indra.

the remaining four worlds, situated above the heavenly world of Indra. They are

  • maharloka (the world of radiant beings),
  • janaloka (the world of deities),
  • tapoloka (the world of pure souls) and
  • satyaloka or Brahmaloka (the world of Truth).

These seven worlds also said to correspond to the seven planes of consciousness or sheaths in our bodies: physical plane (annamayya) with earth, breath plane (pranamaya) with bhuva, mental plane (manomaya) with svarga, the plane of intelligence (vijnanamaya) with mahar, the plane of latent divinities with janah, the radiant plane of spiritual fire with tapo and the supreme consciousness of Atman itself with Brahma.

While there are six planes above the earth, there are seven below:

  • atala
  • vitala
  • sutala
  • mahatala
  • tatatala
  • rasatala 
  • patala

These are darker worlds inhabited by demons and dark forces.

In the human body, which is considered as a symbolic representation of the earth itself, we can find these 14 planes. The higher seven planes also correspond with the seven chakras in the body and seven planets in the solar system. We can see this relationship in the following table:

Chakra Higher World Lower World Body Sheath Higher Organ Lower Organ
Muladhara Earth Atala Anna Navel Hips
Svadhisthana Bhuvah Vitala Prana Abdomen Thighs
Manipura Suvah Sutala Mano Heart Knees
Anahata Mahar Talatala Vignana Throat Calves
Visuddha Jana Rasatala Janah Mouth Ankles
Ajna Tapah Mahatala Tapo Brain Feet
Sahasrara Satya Patala Brahma Top of the skull Soles of the feet

The number seven appears very frequently in Hindu scriptures. The Mundaka Upanishad refers seven tongues (sapta jivhas) or seven flames of Agni, which are Kaali (black), Karaali  (fierce), Manojava (swift as mind), Sulohita (red as iron), Sudhumravarna (smoke-colored), Vishwaruchi  (universally pleasing) and Sphulligini  (sparkling). They are depicted as the seven hands in the iconography of Agni and probably correspond to the seven dhatus (sapta dhatus) of the human body and seven energies (chakras) that awaken during our spiritual practice.

According to the Durga Saptashati, during a fight with one of the demons by name Raktabija, the Mother Goddess, Durga manifested herself into seven forms who are popularly known as saptamatrikas or seven little mothers. They are Brahmani, Maheswari or Sivani, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Chamundi or Narasimhi, and Aindri. As their names suggest they are the energies of Brahma, Siva, Skanda, Vishnu, Varaham, Narasimha and Indra respectively.

According to the tantras these seven shaktis correspond to seven subtle energies in our beings. They are shown below:

Deity or Shakti Energy Form
Brahmi The awakening power that is latent in the Pranava Nada or the primal sound AUM
Vaishnavi The organizing power that creates beauty and symmetry in the beings
Maheswari The concealing power that creates the sense of individuality in the beings
Kaumari The awakening power that creates aspiration for spiritual liberation in the beings and leads them to a guru for enlightenment
Varahi The assimilating power that lets beings enjoy foods and energies of all kinds
Aindri The conscientious power that destroys all the sensory opposition to the perceived moral code
Chamundi The controlling power that destroys all distractions of the mind and facilitates withdrawal and inward concentration.

More about Tantra will be taken in the coming up articles. Here I want you to understand that our body is connected with the Universe (Brahmand) with universal energy and this energy is channeled in our body through our 7 chakras. So to activate and balance these chakras, we need to understand each of them along with the universal energy more deeply. I will try to cover all these topics in my blog one after another.

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Prana – Life Force

What does Prana or Life Force mean?

As per Yoga there are two types of energy that are present in all beings: 1) Prana or the Life Force & 2) the Mind or Consciousness

Prana is thought to be responsible for maintaining all the physical functions of the body including life, heat & health. It means when one’s body has plenty of Prana, it is in perfect health & Vice Versa. One of the earliest references to prana is from the 3,000-year-old Chandogya Upanishad. The other Hindu texts including other Upanishads and Vedas have described similar ancient concept of prana. The concept is elaborated upon in great detail in the literature of haṭha yoga tantra, and Ayurveda.

The yogic practice of pranayama is one way in which the Prana energy can be sustained and enhanced. Pranayama is one of the eight limbs of yoga and is a practice of specific and often intricate breath control techniques. Many pranayama techniques are designed to cleanse the nadis, allowing for greater movement of prana. Deep meditation is possible through pranayama effectively. Yoga postures like cat pose, cobra pose, etc. are all thought to stimulate more life force and leave the yogi feeling energized. Life force is also considered to be the body’s natural healing energy.

The image is a simplified diagram of the mode of action of Mudras and Bandhas on the Sushumna, leading to liberation in Hatha Yoga philosophy. The subtle fluids affected have numerous names including prana, bindu, and amrit.

Prana flows in nadis (channels). The three most important nadis are the Ida on the left, the Pingala on the right, and the Sushumna in the centre connecting the base chakra to the crown chakra, enabling prana to flow throughout the subtle body.

A simplified view of the subtle body of Indian philosophy, showing the three major nadis or channels, the Ida (B), Sushumna (C), and Pingala (D), which run vertically in the body

Divisions of Prana

Though the antahkarana, the inner instrument, is one, yet it assumes four forms: i) manas, the thinking mind, ii) buddhi, intellect, iii) chitta, memory or consciousness and iv) ahamkara, ego, according to the different functions it performs. Likewise, though prana is one, it assumes five forms: i) prana, ii) apana, iii) samana, iv) udana and v) vyana according to the different functions it performs – this division is termed as vritti bheda.

Of these five, prana and apana are the chief agents. The seat of prana is the heart, its function is respiration; of apana, the lower abdomen to the anus, its function is excretion; samana, in the region of the navel, performs digestion; udana, in the throat, is responsible for swallowing and takes the jiva, the living being, to sleep, and separates the astral body from the physical body at the time of death; while vyana is all-pervading, it moves all over the body and is responsible for the circulation of blood.

Naga, koorma, krikara, devadatta and dhananjaya are the five sub-pranas. Naga is responsible for the functions of eructation and hiccup. Koorma performs the functions of blinking and opening the eyes. Krikara induces hunger and thirst. Devadatta is the prana which causes the action of yawning. Dhananjaya causes decomposition of the body after death.

Use of Prana

The Sanskrit term Prana, often translated as “breath”, is considered the vital power of the Supreme Self that manifests everything in the universe and permeates all created things. This vital power is what gives rise to and sustains the incoming and outgoing rhythm of our physical breathing. The great sages of the Upanishads teach that by paying close attention to our breath, especially through a steady practice of meditation, we connect with prana. This vital power in turn, leads our mind into the luminous space of the Self, which is the Heart and essences of our being.

We use power of prana through nervous system by thinking, willing, acting, moving, talking and writing. The excess is stored in the brain and nerve centres. It is stored in the brain in the form of spiritual energy.

In Ayurveda and therapeutic yoga, pranayama is utilized for many tasks, including to affect mood and aid in digestion. A. G. Mohan stated that the physical goals of pranayama may be to recover from illness or the maintenance of health, while its mental goals are: “to remove mental disturbances and make the mind focused for meditation”.

In other cultures

Similar concepts exist in various cultures, including the Latin anima (“breath”, “vital force”, “animating principle”), Islamic and Sufic ruh, the Greek pneuma, the Chinese qi, the Polynesian mana, the Amerindian orenda, the German od, and the Hebrew ruah.