“From the great spiral galaxies…to the trillions of atoms swirling in a grain of sand, the universe is composed of spinning wheels of energy. Flowers, trees, and people – each is made of tiny wheels turning inside, riding upon the great wheel of the Earth, spinning in its orbit through space. A fundamental building block of nature, the wheel is the circle of life flowing through all aspects of existence’ ~ Anodea Judith
The concept of the chakras, or the subtle energy centres within the body is one of the most explored teachings from the Yoga tradition.
Commonly known as ‘spinning wheels’, chakras are derived from Tantrik philosophy which defined them as focal points for meditation within the human body, visualised as structures of energy resembling discs or lotus flowers at the points where a number of nāḍīs (channels or meridians) meet. In Western yoga we typically describe the chakra system as being composed of 7 main centres in the human body. Although there are similar systems of decoding spirituality and the subtle body from other religious world traditions, the chakras are not visible, detectable or understood by Western medicine and science. It is, however, interesting to note that the location of the 7 chakras along the spinal column of the body corresponds to specific nerve bundles and glands which of course have a huge effect on our lives in many different ways- not just physical. In Tantra Yoga we work from the premise that there is no separation between mind and body and from body and Spirit.
In this way, from origins to the present day, the chakra system has evolved into a multi-dimensional map, incorporating yogic philosophy, physiology, psychology and life experiences. The psychological states associated with the chakras are a modern innovation that started with Carl Jung and whilst it was not traditionally taught this way, it is something that has been extremely valuable in my own ongoing journey of self-inquiry and practice.
For me, the chakra system holds great symbolic power for self-evaluation and transformation. As a map it offers us a way to decode our experiences; our energy body, health, habits, tendencies, psychological influences, expression and longing for spiritual connection. I believe the more we understand the makeup of our being – physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically and spiritually, the more we are equipped to make conscious choices; the more we are empowered to heal ourselves. If we know what is out of balance, it is the starting point of coming back into balance! Self-inquiry is a huge tenant of Yogic practice. For any change to take place, first, recognition is key.
So we can look at each chakra then as a layer, relating to specific life-themes and to specific aspects of nature that live inside of us. The spinning centres are vertically aligned along the spinal column- from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, and with the exploration of each layer we gain a more refined understanding of our personal and spiritual power in the world - and more self-knowledge. As they say, knowledge is power!
In my upcoming workshop I will share some interesting history about the philosophy and tradition of Tantra yoga, give an introduction to each chakra and after exploring the psychological & symbolic themes that can be associated with each one, we will explore them further in the body, using different practices to integrate: asana (physical postures), movement (flow), sound, breath, meditation and visualisation. The majority of our time together will be self-reflective and experiential so you can really get a taste of how to work with this system on an ongoing basis to create more balance in your life.
Come along to learn and experience more!
Here is a brief synopsis of the chakra model we will use together:
FIRST CHAKRA - Base / Root:
lessons relating to the material world
SECOND CHAKRA - Sacral:
lessons relating to sexuality, desire & creativity
THIRD CHAKRA - Solar:
lessons relating to the ego, & willpower
FOURTH CHAKRA - Heart:
lessons relating to love, forgiveness and compassion
FIFTH CHAKRA - Throat:
lessons relating to communication, sound, truth & expression
SIXTH CHAKRA - Third Eye:
lessons related to the mind, intuition, insight, dreams & visions
SEVENTH CHAKRA - Crown:
lessons relating to expanding awareness, bliss/ higher connection & wisdom
By Uma Elizabeth Knight - With thanks to Christopher Wallis for his knowledge, insight and inspiration for this article. Check out hareesh.org for more
The Chakra System is a workshop being held by Uma Elizabeth Knight on July 22nd.