Week 1 - Introduction
Step 1: Read Chakra Philosophy theory notes
More than four-thousand years ago, the ancient yogis of India described a second, more subtle nervous system that exists alongside our physical nervous system.
The yogic tradition claims that this “subtle anatomy”, as it is often referred to, consists of a network of 72,000 channels (in Sanskrit, ‘Nadi’, translated as ‘tube’ or ‘pipe’) that conduct an energetic life-force throughout our body. These energy channels form a tremendously ramified nerve-network and meet in seven major confluences.
It is these seven confluences that are called the “Chakras” in Sanskrit language. The word itself meaning “wheel” or “circles”, as the Chakras energetically appear to some as vortexes which ceaselessly spin clockwise. So, in essence, the Chakras are major meeting points within this subtle nerve-network and thus a central part of our subtle energetic system.
Most traditions describe seven major Chakras, that are lined up along and entwined around the central nerve-column called the “Sushumna” in Sanskrit. This main energetic channel of our body corresponds to our physical spinal cord and runs all the way from our coccyx to the very top of our head.
Along this channel, each of the seven Chakras energetically influences a certain region of the body and its related glands and organs but also our consciousness and several distinct emotional, mental and spiritual aspects.
Chakras operate just in between the physical and the spiritual. In fact, they serve as a mediator, a device that transforms the material into spiritual and the other way around. In this way, the Chakras are a meeting point of all possible levels of human existence – physical, energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual.
This unique position makes them a powerful tool for personal growth and spiritual transformation, as all those levels can equally be accessed and transformed through the Chakras.
Though we find the most detailed descriptions of the chakras in ancient Sanskrit scriptures the phenomenon of the Chakras is not at all limited to any single tradition but has been described and documented by many other ancient traditions as well, like ancient Egypt, mystical Judaism, Buddhism, several native American tribes and the Mayans.
Though the concept of Chakras might not seem common in our western culture, they are in fact deeply alive in our very experience right now and familiar to everybody as evidenced by a host of common expressions.
Everyone speaks of a “broken heart”, while if the heart would be scientifically dissected, we can be pretty sure it has remained physically intact. In the same way, people speak of “cold feet” or “shaky legs” (indication of the root Chakra), “butterflies in the stomach” (indication of the Sacral Chakra), pressure in the solar plexus (indication of the third Chakra) or suffocation in the throat (fifth Chakra).
Chakras are intuitive to us all, they are an intimate experience that resonates within our body, energetic system and emotional sphere at all times. We all feel the Chakras, we don’t need to think about them, which makes them such an exciting system of development, a universal tool to understand the human being and a powerful map of human development.
The lower chakras are associated with fundamental emotions and needs. The energy in the chakras below the heart vibrate at a lower frequency and are denser. The finer energy of the upper chakras relates to peoples higher mental and spiritual aspirations and faculties.
THE CHAKRAS OF MATTER
The first three chakras, starting at the base of the spine are chakras of matter. They are more physical in nature.
First Chakra: The Muladhara is the chakra of stability, security, and our basic needs. It encompasses the first three vertebrae, the bladder, and the colon. When this chakra is open, we feel safe and fearless.
Second Chakra: The Svadhisthana chakra is our creativity and sexual center. It is located above the pubic bone, below the navel, and is responsible for our creative expression.
Third Chakra: The Manipura chakra means lustrous gem and it’s the area from the navel to the breastbone. The third chakra is our source of personal power.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN MATTER AND SPIRIT
Located at the heart center, the fourth chakra, anahata is at the middle of the seven and unites the lower chakras of matter and the upper chakras of spirit.
The fourth chakra: is also spiritual but serves as a bridge between our body, mind, emotions, and spirit. The heart chakra is our source of love and connection. When we work through our physical chakras, or the first three, we can open the spiritual chakras more fully.
THE CHAKRAS OF SPIRIT
Fifth Chakra: The Vishuddha chakra is the fifth chakra, located in the area of the throat. This is our source of verbal expression and the ability to speak our highest truth. The fifth chakra includes the neck, thyroid, and parathyroid glands, jaw, mouth, and tongue.
Sixth Chakra: The Ajna chakra is located in between the eyebrows. It is also referred to as the “third eye” chakra. Ajna is our center of intuition. We all have a sense of intuition but we may not listen to it or heed its warnings. Focus on opening the sixth chakra will help you hone this ability.
Seventh Chakra: The Sahaswara chakra or the “thousand petal lotus” chakra is located at the crown of the head. This is the chakra of enlightenment and spiritual connection to our higher selves, others, and ultimately, to the divine. It is located at the crown of the head.
‘ENERGY FLOWS, WHERE ATTENTION GOES’.
The Chakras not only beautifully describe the human being in all its aspects, they are also a perfect map of human development. In fact, the Chakras are the most complete, easy-to-get and accessible system of self-development one could ever imagine. It is because unlike many theories and concepts, Chakras can be quite immediately traced in our direct experience. This makes them an incredibly intuitive and easy system to learn.
In this way, the Chakras can become our best evolutionary friend, helping us understand every step on our way and providing us with an inner map with which we can easily navigate through the ups and downs of our inner and outer process.
The seven Chakras are a clear outline of all levels of human existence and development – beginning with the most worldly levels of instinct, impulse and our basic relationship with life on earth, and culminating in our most refined layers of higher mental faculties and connection with the infinite source of life.
In this, they capture our journey of transcendence along which we overcome the limitations and inhibitions of our most basic and primitive responses to life and eventually, attain spiritual states of being which demonstrate fearlessness, unconditional love and a vast and expanded sense of self.
Healing, balancing and opening the Chakra system mark major stations and phases in our emotional maturation, the crystallization of our wisdom of life, as well as our spiritual progress. It is through the Chakra system that we have the opportunity to transform and to become an awakened spirit in human form.
That is why this workshop series is called yoga for awakening.
Enjoy the journey.