The Chakra System

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The Chakra System is a way of understanding how we process our experience, an embodied hierarchy of needs and functions for optimal energy, expression and well-being. Until basic systems run smoothly, the other systems cannot function properly or optimally because they don’t have a steady and dependable foundation on which to rely.

Some people say they can see or sense these energy centers, but you don’t have to be able to see them to understand and derive benefit from this way of relating to your experience.  The Chakras are seven wheels of energy in the center of the body, just in front of the spine, and the locations correspond to neural plexuses, or places where nerves exit and enter the spine to disseminate and gather information and sensation.  You can imagine a series of water wheels, each refining and filtering the water before lifting it up to the next wheel.

All of these centers are coordinated along the highway of the nervous system, the spinal cord which corresponds to Sushumna Nadi. A “nadi” is a pathway for energy, and each of these plexuses can become restricted by posture, injury, lack of circulation and illness. Ida and Pingala Nadis correspond to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, or the “fight or flight” and “feed and breed” systems of nerves, hormones and drives that regulate our metabolism, mood and ability to relate.

In these Chakra Yoga Sequences, we will use yoga poses, sound, color and visualization to focus on the location and function of one chakra each week.  As we progress toward the upper chakras, our focus will shift from active yoga poses toward quiet, restorative practice and finally to seated meditation. Historically, yoga asana, or poses, were practiced to prepare the body for seated meditation. To cultivate stillness and become observant of the breath and the mind, the body must be flexible and steady to reduce distraction and support quietness.

Each of these practices is designed to be accessible to all levels of yoga practitioner.  Beginners may remain in the postures for only 3 breaths, Intermediate students for 5-7 breaths, and Advanced practitioners will remain for 12 breaths. It is vital to practice the relaxation sequence to complete each routine. Corpse, or final relaxation pose, is the pose during which your body incorporates all the beneficial you've created by stretching, compressing, strengthening every tissue in your body. In yoga poses you not only stretch and strengthen muscles, but also the nerves and other blood vessels, connective tissue and joints associated with them. In Corpse pose, your body acclimates to the "new normal" you've created through practice.

Choose one day each week for your chakra practice, and then incorporate some pose or aspect of that practice into every day and every yoga practice the following week. During that week, reflect on how the activities of that chakra are manifesting in your life. You can use journalling, drawing and other creative endeavors to deepen this practice. Start with Muladhara Chakra, and take each chakra in order up to the Crown Chakra.

The Crown Chakra. Sahasra chakra, located at the crown of the head, represents our connection to what is universal and to wisdom. The color associated with this chakra is purple and the Bija, or seed sound is silence. Seated meditation will energize and mobilize this area. Learn more about The Crown Chakra

The Third-Eye Chakra. Ajna chakra, located behind and between the brows, represents insight and understanding. The color associated with this chakra is indigo and the Bija, or seed sound is "Om" pronounced /ah-oh-um/.  Restorative postures with gentle pressure on the brow area will energize and mobilize this area. Learn more about The Third-Eye Chakra

The Throat Chakra. Vishudha chakra, located behind the voice box, represents our self-expression. The color associated with this chakra is ice blue and the Bija, or seed sound is "Ham" pronounced /hum/. Shoulder and trhoat opening postures will energize and mobilize this area. Learn more about The Throat Chakra

The Heart Chakra. Anahata chakra, located behind the breastbone, represents our connection to the present moment, others and to the world. The color associated with this chakra is green and the Bija, or seed sound is "Yam" pronounced /yum/. Backbends and heart opening postures will energize and mobilize this area. Learn more about The Heart Chakra

The Solar Plexus Chakra. Manipura chakra, located behind and above the stomach, represents power, vitality and joy. The color associated with this chakra is yellow and the Bija, or seed sound is "Ram" pronounced /rum/. Core and heart opening postures will energize and mobilize this area. Learn more about The Solar Plexus Chakra

The Sacral Chakra. Svadhisthana chakra, located in front of the sacrum, represents our creativity and fertility. The color associated with this chakra is orange and the Bija, or seed sound is "Vam." Hip opening and twisting postures will energize and mobilize this area. Learn more about The Sacral Chakra

The Root/Base Chakra. Muladhara chakra, located at the base of the torso just above the perineum, represents our connection to the Earth, sustenance and family. The color associated with this chakra is red and the Bija, or seed sound is "Lam." Hip opening postures will energize and mobilize this area. Learn more about The Root/Base Chakra