The Chakra System - An Introduction to the Chakras
Updated: May 8, 2020
The chakra system provides a framework for understanding the concept of human energy in a way that unites the mind, body and spirit. Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means ‘wheel’ and it refers to the seven distinct energy centres, which are constantly in motion, located along the human body’s spinal column (Figure 1). Chakras can be described as organizing centers whose function is to receive, assimilate and transmit life energies. Most schools of yoga distinguish seven major chakras, each located within a specific location in the subtle energetic (non-physical) body – essentially, we cannot ‘see’ them – and are associated with specific physical, psychological, energetic and spiritual arenas.
Imbalances in the chakras can contribute to a variety of physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual ailments. Each ailment is associated with a specific chakra, and is determined by the chakra's respective and unique functions.
The recognition of the chakra system is not unique to yogic philosophy, where it was first described in India over 4000 years ago. Ancient wisdom traditions all over the world share uncanny similarities to key aspects of the chakra system.
For example, in Ifá – a religion originating from the Yoruba people of West Africa (the ethnic group I come from) – there are also seven chakras located in similar positions within the body and each one is attributed to a different Orisha (òrìṣà) or deity unique to the Yoruba religion (Figure 2).
Features of the Seven Chakras
Each chakra has a specific physical, psychological and spiritual association. In yogic philosophy, the chakras are located along sushumna, the central energy channel; and despite the chakras existing in the subtle body instead of the physical body; each one corresponds to seven major nerve ganglia of the spinal column.
In the yogic system, each chakra has its own unique associations and functions and each is represented by a symbol, element, sense, colour and power/’right’. The following is a brief description of the locations and corresponding colours of each chakra:
1. Root chakra (Muladhara) - base of the spine, red
2. Sacral chakra (Svadhistana) – just below navel, orange
3. Solar Plexus chakra (Manipura) – upper abdomen (between top of the navel and the base of the diaphragm), yellow
4. Heart chakra (Anahata) – centre of the chest, green
5. Throat chakra (Vishudda) – base of the throat, blue
6. Third Eye chakra (Ajna) – forehead (in-between the eyes), indigo
7. Crown chakra (Sahasrara) – top of the head, violet/white
Over the next few weeks I will be releasing blog posts on each chakra, where I will dive deeper into their characteristics and associations for your learning and enjoyment. These posts will provide an informative platform to prepare students for my upcoming chakra-themed 7-class series - The Chakra Crossing – created to balance out your chakras and help students build a greater sense of self-awareness.
I look forward to having you join me on this journey through the chakras.