Yoga Posts

What are Chakras?

Written by Ekras Gorakh

Here’s a link to a Guided Chakra Meditation.

What are chakras?

A chakra means “wheel” in Sanskrit. Wheels move energy from one dimension to another. A water-wheel allows the movement of flowing water to turn a machine. A wheel on a cart allows the movement of the yoked horse to move the cart. The spinning vortex of the tornado brings atmospheric energy down the funnel onto the ground. Chakras are energy vortexes associated with our physical and energy body.

Let’s understand this a little more.


But first, a word about the Interwebs. There is a lot of information available everywhere about chakras. If you really want to know what chakras are, these won’t be of much use at all.  To be sure, chakras are not just theoretical, and they are not physical organs or places on a diagram. They don’t come inscribed with Sanskrit letters, and the color and number of lotus petals on each is also not useful information. They are ways that energy moves inside your own body. A better way to understand the chakras is to look inside yourself. Inside us is this wonder-filled world of energy we can explore and learn from.

Let’s understand energy. What is prana energy, or life force, or qi? We live inside a living universe that’s made of energy, filled with energy, and flowing with energy. As a part of this universe, our bodies occupy space, and we experience the flowing of energy inside and outside us. This energy also animates our body, and when the energies stop animating this chemical, physical and mechanical entity that’s our body, we are declared dead. In other words, the difference between a living person and a dead body is the prana, or energies. Most of these energies work below the level of our consciousness, and out of the control of our mind. For example, try as you might, you would not be able to stop the digestion of food in your stomach, or start growing your hair, or slow down the circulation of your blood. These are processes in our own body that are not directed by our conscious experience. You can slow down your breath, move your arm, or control the direction of your thought. These are energies that are more directly in control of the conscious self.

Energy flows. The energies that help us breathe, digest, circulate blood, or grow hair, clean blood through the kidneys, sweat, metabolize sugar, sleep and exercise…these energies are always flowing through our body. The flow of this energy can be experienced with practice. Yogis have come to see that the flow of energy takes pathways that remain the same from human to human.

If you sit by a river and watch the water flow, you will notice that water isn’t flowing in an eventless sheet. Instead, it makes eddies and whorls that are shaped by the terrain, the rocks and the speed of flow of the water. Its a chaotic seething bubbling flow. The energies that flow in the body also flow high and low, making eddies and whorls as they go along. This joy-filled pulsating flow of energies can be experienced in the physical body as well, with training and sensitivity.

And there are times you have felt this flow too. Remember when something startled you and a chill ran down your spine? What about arousal, or when your hair stood on their ends in goosebumps? Has your heart leapt with joy ever at seeing a friend, or have you clapped with excitement at a sports game? Has there been a lump in your throat when you were sad? Have your trembled with joy or felt the sweaty cold panic of fear?

In these extreme moments, you have experienced a sharp and sudden flow of energy through your body. Not every moment is so dramatic, but know that every living moment this energy flows in our bodies. Through the practice of yoga, pranayama and meditation, you can tune into the subtle flow of energy in your body. Then, chakras become obvious. You’ll know when you experience them.

Here’s a link to a Guided Chakra Meditation.

About the author

Ekras Gorakh

Ekras Gorakh is a software executive and a yoga-meditation teacher living in San Francisco, CA.

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