The practice of Yoga has gained an immense popularity over the last few decades. There are classes in gyms everywhere in small rural areas to cosmopolitan centers. Among the benefits of participating consistently in a well instructed class are good alignment, improved breathing and more spiritual connection (alignment through the Chakra system). This last part is often forgotten or completely overlooked because yoga is often represented as simply another form of exercise. Yoga means path or way. The practice of the Asanas (poses in yoga) are meant as a way to connect to one’s center, to source energy and spirit. Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that effects your body, mind and spirit by practicing balance, strength and focus as we connect to the chakra system. The words Yoga and Chakra were taken over by a flighty new age perspective at one point -it is important to reclaim them as they are refreshingly structured and grounded. They are concepts that have been around for thousands of years and for good reasons.
Chakra means wheel in Sanskrit. Literally wheel of energy. The seven main chakras correlate directly to nerve plexus exit points from the spine to the rest of your body. An optimal structural and energetic alignment affects your whole body’s systems (nervous, endocrine, cardio-vascular etc). A brief explanation of the chakra system is to imagine the seven chakras as (depicted in the photo above). Now imagine earth energy winding its way upward to meet the heavenly energy which is in turn is winding its way downward to meet the earth. This creates the spin action of the chakra wheels. Earth and Heaven or the divine masculine and feminine merging in a constant dance. To create a good alignment for these energies helps us to feel the great vitality and peace we are meant to experience. Before I get too esoteric let me finish by simply stating that maybe this fantastic feeling is why yoga caught on so fast and furiously in the west!
I often find that it is the root chakra (first Chakra) in many people that needs awareness and nourishment. The root chakra-our “survival” chakra includes our money, food, and shelter the basic necessities. Without these, we do not have a strong foundation for the other aspects of our lives (the other chakras). It is very important to realize that the root chakra begins at the feet. To feel grounded (root chakra) draw energy up thru the center of your feet . Nourishing earth energy. (See posture article than come back to this). Feel the whole foot on the ground. Toes and all.
For further work and information, Anodea Judith’s many books and audio tapes on the subject of the chakra system are excellent.
So, next time you are in yoga class remember in each pose you are effecting one if not several or all the chakras. Learning about each chakras purpose from the root to the crown will make the practice much deeper and exciting and even more enjoyable