Understanding the Seven Chakras: A Comprehensive Guide
If you have explored yoga or spiritual teaching at all, then you have probably heard of the seven chakras before. The seven chakras sound like a confusing and mystical concept, but they are actually highly practical, and with a bit of understanding, we can discover how to harness their power. Each person has these 7 chakras already present, and through yoga practice, we can activate their divine energy within for deep healing and awakening.
But what exactly are the seven chakras? How do you activate them? And why are they important? We will explore these questions and more in this comprehensive guide on the seven chakra system today!
What Are the 7 Chakras?
The 7 chakras are essentially subtle energy centers that are located along the spine. The first chakra begins at the base of the spine, and then each chakra is located sequentially up the spinal column until the final chakra, which is located at the crown of the head. This pathway is lined with an intricate network of your nervous system that regulates all the functions throughout your entire being.
There are 7 chakras in the traditional 7 chakra system, which are as follows:
Root Chakra (Muladhara Chakra)
Location: Base of the spine
Root Mantra: Lam
Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana Chakra)
Location: 2-inches below the navel
Root Mantra: Vam
Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura Chakra)
Location: 2-inches above the navel
Root Mantra: Ram
Heart Chakra (Anahata Chakra)
Location: Heart center
Root Mantra: Yam
Throat Chakra (Vishuddha Chakra)
Location: Base of the throat
Root Mantra: Ham
Third-Eye Chakra (Ajna Chakra)
Location: Between the eyebrows
Root Mantra: Aum
Crown Chakra (Sahasrara Chakra)
Location: Crown of the head
Root Mantra: Aum
The word chakra means wheel – signifying that each cosmic center is a wheel of energy that can influence the movement of kundalini or the latent serpent energy at the base of the spine. Each chakra builds upon the previous one, leading to the subsequent awakening of the next chakra when that energy is properly directed.
Where Did the 7 Chakras Come From?
The seven chakras are a powerful philosophical concept with its roots in ancient yoga. But the chakra system wasn’t always part of yoga practice. They were first discovered around 800 BCE and were further developed in the Tantric schools of yoga. The chakras were always present; they were simply discovered by sages engaged in deep meditation that unveiled this secret potency that lies within each of us, just waiting to be unleashed.
However, much of what is practiced about the chakras actually comes from psychologist Carl Jung and other philosophers in the 19th and 20th centuries, who extrapolated the chakra system and integrated it with Western thought. The philosophy of the chakras that is practiced in yoga studios today is actually quite distant from the ancient chakra yoga practices in traditional Tantric philosophy.
What Happens When All 7 Chakras Are Open?
To understand the chakras, it is essential to also understand the underlying principle of kundalini. The kundalini energy is conceptualized as a coiled serpent energy located at the base of the spine in the root chakra. Through yoga and spiritual practices, you can gradually awaken this latent kundalini energy, causing it to ascend through the 7 chakras and awaken your entire being.
When all of the 7 chakras are open, this allows for a clear passageway of the kundalini energy through the body. When the chakras are blocked, the kundalini energy cannot move further up, which blocks the awakening process. Each chakra requires careful, subtle, energetic work to gradually awaken from within.
How Do You Activate All 7 Chakras?
You may have seen online some advertisements for healing services that can awaken your chakras in an hour or less – well unfortunately, this is quite far from the case. In traditional yoga practice, awakening or activating all 7 chakras takes an immense amount of spiritual practice or the grace of a guru. One of the primary purposes of yoga practices is to activate the chakras and the kundalini energy.
There are specific practices aimed at activating each individual chakra and the entire chakra system. Most yoga practices directly influence the subtle body system and can support the activation of the 7 chakras. Breathwork or pranayama, chanting, and meditation are considered the best practices for activating the chakras.
Each chakra is associated with a different root or seed mantra. One of the most popular ways to activate the 7 chakras is to chant these seed mantras individually at a specific tone or vibrational frequency to clear out energetic blockages from the chakras. It is important to remember that these practices have a lot of potency and should always be done under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Why Are the Chakras Important in Yoga?
Yoga is so much more than a physical practice for health and wellbeing. The ultimate goal of yoga is spiritual awakening, also known as samadhi or moksha. This state of true liberation and inner freedom is the culmination of yoga practice, which can be achieved through intense and serious yoga practice over a long period of time.
Chakras are a significant tool used in the yoga practice for spiritual awakening or enlightenment. When we activate the 7 chakras, we are increasing the level of prana or vital life force energy in the body and helping to direct it higher into the sushumna nadi or the central subtle energy channel. As the energy in the body builds, your state of consciousness also increases, resulting in a high energetic state.
The chakras are a complex and intricate phenomenon that can only truly be understood through deep meditation and other yoga practices. The chakras are one of the primary tools of awakening used in yoga to support the movement of energy and to help us understand how energy flows in the body to begin releasing and directing it.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
The traditional method of working with the chakras is through kundalini yoga. But before we dive deeper into kundalini yoga, it is essential to note the distinction between traditional kundalini yoga and kundalini yoga created by Yogi Bhajan.
Kundalini yoga, as created by Yogi Bhajan, is actually a synthesis of traditional yoga practice, Ayurveda, and Sikhism. This is a modern synthesis created by Yogi Bhajan in the 20th century and has since come under some criticism due to allegations of wrongdoing and abuse by its creator.
In contrast, traditional kundalini yoga is thousands of years old and rooted in a deep yoga philosophy system that has systematically developed a method for awakening. Traditional kundalini yoga also includes so much more than the 7-chakra system – there are actually many other chakra systems with a wide-ranging number of chakras to conceptualize the flow of energy in the body.
The primary aim of kundalini yoga is to awaken the kundalini energy at the base of the spine and facilitate its rise to the crown chakra, leading to enlightenment, awakening, or liberation. Kundalini yoga is a powerful practice and can lead to immense spiritual growth when done properly under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Are Chakra Healing and Kundalini Yoga Safe?
One of the most common questions of new yoga students is whether working with kundalini and the chakras is safe. While these energetic systems are undoubtedly powerful, it is important to note that many of the chakra healing and kundalini yoga practices in existence are generally beginner-friendly and will be gentle on your energetic system.
The more powerful and complex kundalini and chakra practices are often hidden by the sages and only revealed to a student under proper guidance when the student is ready. With the right guidance from a qualified teacher, chakra healing and kundalini yoga are entirely safe and can be incredibly powerful to support you in your journey to your true self.
Learn About the Chakras in Our Online Yoga Teacher Training Course
The seven chakras are an intricate and complex system that can take years of intensive study and experiential practice to fully understand. Many of the deeper teachings on the seven chakras are hidden from our awareness and kept with the wisdom of the sages, passed down from guru to disciple. But we can gradually begin to unlock the power of the chakras with the proper guidance and find the kundalini power within.
In our online yoga teacher training course, you can begin to explore the philosophy of the chakras in greater depth and apply these practices on the mat. Yoga practice inherently works with these subtle energy systems, facilitating a deep awakening from within. So, reach out to us for more information on how you can join our next online YTT and learn about the seven chakras in greater depth!