After teaching yoga for 18 years and chakra yoga for much of that time, there is still one question that people ask me that gets me a little stymied:
What's a chakra?
You'd think I'd have a stock response by now, but I really don't. I might be so entrenched in the depth of that question that the simplicity evades me. I know the beauty and the complexity of the chakra system. But complexity is not useful to anyone who hasn't experienced this work or studied it in their own life.
Simply put, chakra (pronounced chaa - kruh) is a Sanskrit word meaning wheel or disc. These wheels or discs are vortexes of energy in your body. In the modern context, there are seven of them.
How's that for a clear and concise answer?
If you're like me, it leads to more questions, so if you'll allow me, I'll continue...
Chakras are part of your subtle body system, which is what controls your physical body. Your subtle body is what senses the world around you and takes in information. It is your mind, intellect, and ego. It's where thoughts turn into action and experiences turn into feelings. You can't poke it, but it's there. (In fact, if someone pokes you, it's your subtle body that tells you "Ouch!" and "Now I'm sad because someone poked me.") If you've ever considered your reactions, responses, and sense of self, you've worked with your subtle body.
Your physical body is the most gross, or dense. (No offense!) The subtle body, including the chakras, vibrate at a higher frequency, and are not visible to the naked eye. Clairvoyants can see them, utilizing the third eye, but we digress...
As an adult, you know how to take care of and engage with your physical body. You know how to pick up a spoon, do your hair, and go to sleep. Engaging with the chakras is an exploration of who you are outside of all that.
Using the modern interpretation of the chakra system, we can study our patterns of action, our reactions, attachments, aversions, desires, gaps, and fears. If you ever want to break free of cycles in your life that repeat over and over and you don't seem to see what's really going on, the chakras are a beautiful mirror to help you see better. They break down the whole image into useful pieces that can be studied, turned over and flipped inside out for real "aha!" moments that break you free from the chains of habit and suffering.
Your wisdom is in the foundation of your subtle body, and can be unlocked with practices of yoga, meditation, and pranayama (breath control) that stimulate the chakras and get your energy flowing. That's why I especially love to teach chakra yoga at this time of year. We can get to our wisdom and let it guide us to our intention, the desires of our best and highest selves, and live a year with purposeful action, rather than knee-jerk reaction.
Now that you know what a chakra is, I hope you join me this Sunday at Castle Hill Fitness at 10:30am so you can experience your subtle body and really understand the chakras as your own personal ladder to enlightenment. There will be four different opportunities to practice together, and each will have its own theme.
And I almost forgot! Back by popular demand, Valentine's Partner Yoga is happening February 12! We anticipate this one selling out, so sign up and join in there right away.
May you take good care of yourself on both the physical and subtle level, and may you find joy in the journey of self discovery.
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