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The Energy Body 7 chakras & the subtle body What is a chakra anyway? An introduction to the subtle body. If you practice yoga, you’re probably at least a little familiar with the chakras. Aligning, clearing, and meditating on these esoteric centers is a common intention in yoga classes throughout the world. We do asanas that open certain chakras, chant mantras that make them vibrate, and call up colors to tap into their power. Yet, with all this chakra-talk ringing throughout the yoga world, how many of us can define what a chakra is?

The Energy Body · If you practice yoga, ... As Sadhguru explains on the Isha ... Muladhara: Finding Our Roots We begin at the root, the muladhara chakra.

Sep 01, 2018



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  • The Energy Body 7 chakras & the subtle body

    What is a chakra anyway? An introduction to the subtle body.

    If you practice yoga, youre probably at least a little familiar with the chakras. Aligning,

    clearing, and meditating on these esoteric centers is a common intention in yoga classes

    throughout the world. We do asanas that open certain chakras, chant mantras that make

    them vibrate, and call up colors to tap into their power. Yet, with all this chakra-talk ringing

    throughout the yoga world, how many of us can define what a chakra is?

  • Ashtanga Yoga Nicaragua

    This free e-book is produced by Ashtanga Yoga Nicaragua.

    We offer intensive Ashtanga yoga teacher trainings in Nicaragua.

    Please share it with your friends.

    OM Shanti

  • Multiple Anatomies 4 .............................................The Subtle Body 4 ...................................................................Enter the Chakras 5 .................................................................The Chakras and You 6 ...........................................Muladhara: Finding Our Roots 7 ...........................................Svadhistahana: Releasing Creative Flow 7 ............................Manipura: Strong Self, Strong Stomach 8 .............................Our Spiritual Connection 9 ....................................Anahata: Getting to the Heart of Things 10 ...........................Vishuddi: Speak Up and Be Heard 10 ....................................Ajna: Going Mental 11 .............................................................Sahasrara: Sensitive Spirit 11 .................................................Cosmic Chakras 12 ..................................................Taking notice from the outside 12 ...........................................while growing conscious of whats within 13 ...................and then tying it all together. 14 ..........................................Insights From The Planets 15 .................................Mars 15 .....................................................................................Mercury 15 ...............................................................................Jupiter 16 ..................................................................................Venus 16 ....................................................................................Saturn 16 ..................................................................................Sun 17 ........................................................................................Moon 17....................................................................................

  • Multiple Anatomies Chakras dont show up in an x-ray. You cant feel them in a massage. Theyre not of the physical world at all. In fact, chakras are part of our subtle body, the energetic anatomy of yoga. In yogic anatomy, we have not one, but rather five, bodies. These bodies, called the koshas, or sheaths, are layered inside each other like Russian dolls. Youre already familiar with the first, annamaya kosha, or the food sheath. This is the physical body we move about in each day. The next layer, pranamaya kosha, is made up of prana, the vital life force that powers us and the universe. Its often referred to as the subtle or energetic body.

    The next two koshas deal in our thinking, directly affecting the way we make decisions in our day-to-day lives. Manomaya kosha, the mind-stuff sheath, is generally considered to consist of the mind plus the five sense organs. Its the body we activate when we act reflexively, in autopilot. The next layer, vijnanamaya kosha, takes us to more intentional behavior. Vijnana is discernment, intellect, conscience, and wisdom. This is the sheath we enter when we shape our environment with discernment and intention, rather than simply reacting to whatever it throws at us. Finally, we have anandamaya kosha, the bliss sheath. This is the final Russian doll, the last, thin veil between unenlightened awareness and our higher Selves. For most, living in the anandamaya kosha is not a daily experience. Through yoga practice, however, we work our way towards this innermost sheath, involuting closer and closer towards the Self within.

    The Subtle Body When it comes to chakras, however, were working in the second sheath, the pranayama kosha. Also known as the astral body, the subtle body is distinct from our physical form. While the physical body consists of the material building blocks of bones, skin, and blood, the subtle body is purely energetic.

    Prana, the vital life energy that flows throughout the body, travels through the subtle body through a network of channels called nadis. Like veins or nerves, this vast network of 72,000 pathways reaches every part of the subtle body. Blockages in these pathways restrict the flow of prana, affecting us on both the physical and energetic levels. Ashtanga yoga practice works to systematically purify these energetic channels, letting prana flow freely through the body.

  • Through the center of the body, along the length of the spinal chord, run three important channels. The first, the shushumna nadi, runs analogous to the spinal chord. On either side of it run the ida and pingala nadis, on the left and right, respectively. The ida nadi is the lunar channel, associated with feminine, intuitive aspects of being. The pingala nadi, on the other side, is the solar channel, associated with masculine, logical characteristics. As Sadhguru explains on the Isha Foundation's blog, these two nadis represent the basic duality in the existence. Bringing balance between the Ida and Pingala, he explains, will make you effective in the world, it will make you handle life aspects well, easily navigating between masculine and feminine, logical and intuitive.

    Enter the Chakras Where do the chakras fit into all of this? The chakras are where the nadis intersect, converging into energetic plexuses. These seven psychoenergetic vortices, as they are described in Georg Feuersteins Shambala Encyclopedia of Yoga, run directly along the shushumna nadi. When they are clear of obstructions, energy can run from the muladhara chakra at the base all the way through the shushumna nadi to the sahasrara chakra at the top of the head.

    These circles of intense energy have corresponding effects on the physical body, regulating its functions and emotions. Any blockages or dysfunction in the chakras, then, has an effect on or physical, psychological, and emotional life. Hatha yoga practice, like the Ashtanga yoga practice, removes blockages, clearing the chakras and allowing prana to circulate freely. Which, to sum it up, is all just one more good reason to get on the mat.

  • The Chakras and You We spent the whole last chapter talking about subtle anatomy. We defined the chakras as plexuses of pranic channels, esoteric structures of the energetic body. Now, however, were going to take a step back from the energetic, into the substantial. Subtle though they may be, the chakras have definite palpable effects on our physical and emotional lives.

    Think of it this way: Prana is life force energy. It travels through the body through the nadis, which intersect in major plexuses at seven points, the chakras. Prana is our energetic and spiritual fuel. If for some reason its passage is blocked, the surrounding area will suffer on every level. Often, this experience is most noticeable in the physical body.

    Of course, all of our states are intertwined. Human beings are complex. Our emotional, physical, energetic, psychic and spiritual states all affect one another. The chakra framework is an effective tool for learning to identify the ways our physical state is symptomatic of our other states. This new awareness facilitates healing on every level.

  • Muladhara: Finding Our Roots We begin at the root, the muladhara chakra. Located at the base of the spine, this chakra keeps us, quite literally, grounded. Its tied to the legs and feet, so blockages of pranic flow here can leave us feeling unbalanced and uprooted. Degenerative arthritis, knee pain, sciatica, and other problems of the legs and feet might indicate disruption in the muladhara chakra, leaving us feeling unstable. This chakra is also related to our ability to eliminate waste, encompassing the rectum, kidneys and large intestine. Unexplainable gastrointestinal issues, such as stress-related constipation, indicate an imbalance in muladhara chakra.

    Each chakra also relates to the endocrine system, helping to regulate our hormonal balances. For the muladhara chakra, this conversation in physical-energetic balance exists with the adrenal gland. With all weve already discussed, this correspondence makes perfect sense. Our adrenal gland, responsible for the levels of adrenaline in our body, regulates our stress responses. If we feel stressed and unstable, imbalance in our adrenal gland may be to blame. Or, vice-versa, stress from external stimuli may create an imbalance in our adrenal gland. Either way, dysfunction exists in rooting muladhara chakra, and the stress-related physical effects in the legs and elimination organs result.

    Svadhistahana: Releasing Creative Flow Just between the pubic bone and the navel sits the svadhistahana chakra, seat of our sexual, reproductive, and creative energies. This plexus is tied to our reproductive system, affecting the ovaries or testes, as well as the bladder and kidneys. Urinary problems, such as infections or incontinence, might indicate dysfunction in the svadhistahana chakra, as might problems of the kidneys. Hip, pelvic, and lower back pain also indicate that energy isnt circulating freely in this area.

    On a hormonal level, the ovaries and testes control our sexual energy. Imbalances in sex drive, or physicalized expressions of issues around sexuality and intimacy, can manifest in this chakra. Sexual energy is also our generative energy, and therefore affects our creative selves. If were feeling any physical symptoms of blockage in the svadhistahana chakra, then, it might be worth examining our sexual or creative lives. Untraceable lower back pain or sudden tightness in the hips could be indicative of imbalances in our lives leading to blockages in this sacral chakra.

  • Manipura: Strong Self, Strong Stomach The manipura chakra, sometimes referenced as the solar plexus chakra, sits between the navel and the breastbone. As youd suspect by its location, the manipura chakra is related to the digestive system, affecting the liver, gall bladder, stomach, spleen, and small intestine. Its glandular parallel is the pancreas, which regulates blood sugar and secretes digestive organs. Digestive issues, blood sugar problems, stomach ulcers, and other ailments of the digestive system are all symptomatic of blockages in the manipura chakra.

    The manipura chakra is also associated with our personal power and sense of self. When you think about the physical effects of imbalance in this chakra, this emotional association makes a lot of sense. Nervous nausea or butterflies in the stomach are psychosomatic phenomena associated with situations that challenge our security in our personal power. When we see these two parallel imbalances, emotional and physical, in terms of the manipura chakra, we find a useful framework for identifying the source of the imbalance in our lives.

    As you can see, these three base chakras all provide insight into our basic psychological needs, in terms of security, creativity and sense of self. Using this framework for examining our emotional and physical lives, we can examine imbalances and work towards developing a healthier, happier day-to-day. The result is a more grounded, creative, secure personal state. With the next four chakras, well apply this same psychosomatic framework to our interpersonal and spiritual lives.

  • Our Spiritual Connection The chakras, as weve discovered, offer us a fascinating framework for exploring our intersecting physical, emotional, and energetic lives. Nothing exists in isolation, and finding the parallels between our blockages is a useful way to guide us towards finding balance in all aspects of our lives. The first three chakras, which we explored in the last chapter, offer valuable insight into our personal wellbeing and the various aspects of our sense of self. The next four, at the heart, throat, third eye, and crown, reveal the state of our interpersonal and spiritual lives.

  • Anahata: Getting to the Heart of Things The anahata chakra sits right at the heart, making it the ruler of all things circulatory. The state of this particular energetic plexus affects not only the heart, blood and circulatory system, but also the lungs, arms, and the immune and endocrine systems. Asthma, lung disease and, of course, heart disease might indicate blockages in this area, as would pain or dysfunction in the upper back, shoulders, arms or wrists.

    The anahata chakra is also tied to our thymus gland, the control center of our immune system. Ever notice how a broken heart and a sudden illness seem to go hand-in-hand? Disappointed hearts, romantic or otherwise, can unbalance our anahata chakra, wearing out our immune system and welcoming in illness. Other physical symptoms might also indicate imbalance in this important center. Pain in the upper back or shoulders, breathing trouble, or chest pain could be symptomatic of blockages in our ability to love, both romantically and generally.

    Vishuddi: Speak Up and Be Heard The next chakra, the vishuddi chakra, is located in our throat, affecting all things vocal. A sore throat, laryngitis, TMJ, or bronchitis could all stem from imbalances in this throat chakra. The vishuddi chakra is also tied to all areas of the face and neck, and can be the root of problems in the chin, cheeks, lips, jaw, tongue, and ears. Frequent unexplainable neck and shoulder pain? Vishuddi chakra. Sore throat or lost voice with no apparent cause? Vishuddi chakra again.

    This important chakra is also tied to the function of our thyroid gland. The thyroid gland regulates our metabolism, and dysfunction here can result in inexplicable weight gain or loss. It also can weave its way into all aspects of your life, causing depression, anxiety, fatigue, change of appetite, difficulty concentrating, body temperature issues, and more. On an emotional level, this makes a great deal of sense. Think about the last time you had something you wanted to get off your chest, but just couldnt quite say. Maybe you were in a situation where you felt you wouldnt be heard, or were scared to express your feelings. Feeling unable to express our truth causes an emotional toll that affects our psyche, appetite, and physical wellbeing.

  • Ajna: Going Mental Right between your eyebrows, settled in with your third eye, sits the ajna chakra. This important energetic plexus sits at command center, governing the brain and head. Headaches, sinus issues, blurred vision, eye problems, and seizures all relate to imbalances in the ajna chakra. This chakra also controls the pituitary gland, which governs the function of the other glands. Needless to say, imbalance in the pituitary gland trickles down throughout the system.

    If youre feeling lost psychically, imbalance in the ajna chakra may be to blame. Blockages here affect our judgment, leading to indecisiveness, perfectionism, aggressiveness, or stubbornness. Losing our grasp on our intuition creates a destabilizing imbalance that affects every level of our being. Recognizing the physical signs of imbalance in the ajna chakra, were given a hint to look at the state of our psyche, examining any life circumstances that may be sending our decisive abilities off-balance.

    Sahasrara: Sensitive Spirit The final chakra, sahasrara, sits at the top of the head, resting like a halo on our crown. Physically, it affects the spinal cord and brain stem. It also governs the pineal gland, which produces melatonin and regulates our cycles of sleeping and waking. It stands to reason, then, that the sahasrara chakras affects are mostly psychic in nature. Imbalances here may result in depression, sleeplessness, fatigue, memory-issues, and other such symptoms of a pained psyche. A blocked sahasrara chakra may also leave us over-sensitive to stimuli, disturbed by variants in light, sound, and environment. These are the familiar symptoms of spiritual depletion, those times when life has us feeling low, joyless, and destructive. Noticing the physical and emotional signs and caring for ourselves accordingly can set us on the path towards healing. Identifying the ethereal experiences related to these four chakras can be a difficult task. Often, we ignore our emotional and spiritual selves, pushing through the emotional and psycho-spiritual pain that unbalances these upper four chakras. Whether it be our ability to love and be loved, speak and be heard, decide and understand, or feel fulfilled and joyful, the psychic and emotional experiences related to these chakras are important to our wellbeing. Luckily, with this framework, we can access their imbalances through visceral physical experience, putting us on the path to healing for fuller, happier lives

  • Cosmic Chakras For Ashtanga yoga practitioners, the new and full moons are frequently a cause for celebration. Abstaining from yoga practice on these astrologically significant days, many Ashtanga practitioners relish a much-needed break. As time goes on, however, the anticipation of these days goes beyond the enjoyment of a rare morning spent sleeping in. Simultaneously honoring the moons rhythms and purifying the body through yoga, we become increasingly sensitive to the affects of the lunar cycles. The new moon brings with it both a grounding affect and, frequently, a decrease in energy. The full moon, on the other hand, increases energy, often creating an almost frenetic feeling in mind and body. Both are welcome causes for a break from yoga practice.

    Taking notice from the outside While its often the first we notice, the lunar cycle is not the only rhythm we grow attuned to through yoga practice. Through continued practice of Ashtanga yoga, we

  • grow increasingly sensitive to energies and cycles, both internal and external. We start to feel prana moving on the energetic level of the body, picking up the subtler effects of practice. We also start to feel more strongly the effects of external stimuli. This can be the food we eat, our environment, or even the movements of the stars.

    Perhaps this is effect most obvious in terms in terms of the food we eat. With regular yoga practice, you may begin to notice how your practice changes according to what you had for dinner the night before, or what youve been eating throughout the week. Later, you may notice your body become more sensitive to alcohol, intoxicants, or even sugar. Maybe you feel increasingly attuned to shifts in the weather, feeling a rainfall resonating energetically. Perhaps youll notice your body and mind cycle with the seasons, syncing with the Earths cycles with instinctive intuition. The sensations you experience will be diverse, ever-growing, and completely individual. One thing, however, is certain. The longer you practice Ashtanga, the more youll pick up on the effects external stimuli have on your energetic system.

    ...while growing conscious of whats within Internally, yoga practice continually deepens our self-awareness and, with it, our sensitivity. Think back to when you were first beginning yoga practice. Every movement probably felt foreign and revolutionary. The basic action of moving your body through space and into postures required concentration and new consciousness. After youve been practicing for some time, however, the asana practice becomes more and more subtle. Awareness of bandhas, which evolves throughout our practice lives, invites a nuanced approach to postures. Perhaps you develop a delicate awareness of the hands and feet, or the intricacies of movement in the hips. Because it happens gradually, we dont necessarily notice this awareness as it develops. Compared to your first experiences of Ashtanga, however, you probably experience your body in asana today on an incredibly subtle level.

    Eventually, this subtle awareness deepens into the energetic body. We start to feel the energetic lines of the asanas as we tap into them through the physical body. Think about the psychosomatic experience of asana as it relates to the chakras, for example. You may start to feel the psycho-energetic effects of asanas that open the heart, unblocking anahata chakra. Or perhaps you feel an energetic sensation related to strengthening your base, building the security and grounding of a strong muladhara chakra. Your energetic experience of yoga practice will, again, be your own, relating to your history and your life at the moment. It will also evolve over time, as your practice grows and your situation changes. Whatever your experience,

  • the longer you practice Ashtanga yoga, the more sensitive you will become to your energetic body.

    and then tying it all together. This combined external and internal sensitivity makes the parallels between planets and chakras a particularly interesting framework to explore, especially for those practicing Ashtanga Yoga. Under this framework, each chakra has a corresponding planet. Just like the moon, the planets affect us energetically, depending on their movements and positioning. Understanding them in terms of the chakras can help us become more sensitive to these effects, just as abstaining from practice on the new and full moon can help us become more sensitive to lunar cycles. In the next entry, well explore the ways awareness of the planets and chakras can help us navigate our energetic lives.

  • Insights From The Planets In our last chapter, we discussed the sensitivity cultivated through continuous Ashtanga practice. Overtime, yoga practice increases our awareness, helping us become more and more attuned to both external and internal stimuli. As this evolves, its useful to have frameworks within which to study our experiences. Not only do these frameworks give us a guide for making use of the new information self-awareness provides, but they also help us fine tune this sensitivity through exploration of new points of consciousness.

    To this end, exploring the parallels between the planets and the chakra system can be an extremely useful practice. Combining awareness of both external and internal stimuli, this framework gives us valuable insight into the state of our energetic body and how its affected by external cycles. Pairing each chakra with a planet, we can investigate the effects cosmic movement while simultaneously inquiring into our own energetic states.

    Mars Our base chakra, muladhara, is associated with the planet Mars. Mars influences our physical strength, offering us courage with an intense, childlike energy. As our root chakra, muladharas effects align well with this dynamic planet. We are strongest when we are at our most rooted. Feeling secure and grounded, we are able to follow our intuition, allowing us to be decisive as we seek out the most productive paths. With awareness of these parallels, we can study how the movements of Mars align with our personal experiences of muladhara chakra. With increased sensitivity, we can notice when we become uprooted, perhaps avoiding undesirable and reactive behaviors in the process.

    Mercury Svadisthana chakra, located just between the pubic bone and navel, is ruled by capricious Mercury. In astrology, this planet represents intelligence and creativity, just as svadisthana represents our personal generative and creative powers. When Mercury is in retrograde, communication fails, technology glitches, and the best-laid plans go awry. When Mercury is on our side, however, our ability to build and create flourishes. Becoming aware of the cycles of this planet and allowing ourselves to be

  • inquisitive about their energetic affects can offer interesting insights into our creative and productive lives.

    Jupiter Jupiter guides our third chakra, center of our sense of self. A healthy manipura chakra positions us for generosity, establishing a strong sense of personal worth that allows us to give freely. Jupiter, likewise, is a generous planet. A sign of prosperity, it begets increase in all things. This can have both positive and negative effects. If our manipura chakra is imbalanced, our insecurities may lead us towards unproductive, even hurtful, action. If our manipura chakra is balanced, we have a base from which to be productive and loving in all of our interactions. Studying this propensity for increase in both this chakra and its corresponding planet allows us to evaluate the motivations of our actions and choose more productive paths.

    Venus Our heart chakra, or anahata, is governed by Venus. Named for the goddess of love, this planet represents love, beauty, and harmony. Imbalance in this chakra may bring about disharmony in our lives, as we struggle to approach our interactions with love and compassion. Recognizing the patterns of this openhearted planet and the parallels with our own energetic experience allows us to investigate what in our lives may be blocking this important energy center.

    Saturn Vishuddi chakra, located in the throat, governs our ability to speak our truth. Saturn, its corresponding planet, functions in the cosmos like a teacher, helping us grow in character. Throwing educational obstacles in our path, this planet helps us come into our power, growing into our fullest selves. As we develop our character, we gain the ability to effectively communicate. Understanding ourselves gives us the stability to speak and be heard. Investigating the connections between vishuddhi chakra and Saturns lessons can offer valuable insights into developing productive communication and moving through any feelings of isolation we may be experiencing.

  • Sun Situated right between the eyebrows, at the site of our third eye, ajna chakra has major effects on our mental acuity and our ego-self. Its cosmic parallel, appropriately, is the sun. Astrologically, the position of the sun at our birth has a powerful effect on our personality, determining the sun sign that will form our foundational traits. As we move past our identifiers, towards a more universal identity, however, the ajna chakra dynamically opens. We become more discerning, letting go of conditioning and increasing the power of our intuition. By looking into the positioning of the sun in our charts, we can better determine what conditioning we start with, allowing us to move through ego towards a more open, intuitive perspectiv.

    Moon Finally, we reach sahasrara chakra. Sitting on the top of the head, like a halo, sahasrara is the ruler of our spiritual wellbeing. Imbalances here will be felt on a deep emotional or intuitive level. As the gateway to enlightenment, opening this chakra reveals the way to our unconscious Self. It makes sense, then, that this chakra is governed by the intuitive, subtle power of the moon. The moon is, in many cultures, associated with the divine feminine, casting light on our emotive, intuitive selves. Growing sensitive to lunar cycles, as we do in Ashtanga yoga, we find insights into the state of our sahasrara chakra and our own evolutionary paths.

    Like any framework, these parallels are only a guide. They provide a jumping off point towards cultivating and understanding the sensitivity developed in yoga practice. Paying attention to the external effects of the planets and the internal balance of our chakras, we gain valuable insights towards choosing more productive action, every day.

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    Multiple AnatomiesThe Subtle BodyEnter the ChakrasThe Chakras and YouMuladhara: Finding Our RootsSvadhistahana: Releasing Creative FlowManipura: Strong Self, Strong StomachOur Spiritual ConnectionAnahata: Getting to the Heart of ThingsVishuddi: Speak Up and Be HeardAjna: Going MentalSahasrara: Sensitive SpiritCosmic ChakrasTaking notice from the outside...while growing conscious of whats withinand then tying it all together.Insights From The PlanetsMarsMercuryJupiterVenusSaturnSunMoon