Keys to Health and Spiritual Evolution

By Rudra Shivananda

A reader asks why I put so much emphasis on the chakras in my teachings. There is probably no other yogic tool as important as that of the energy centers or chakras since they have important roles for both the physical, emotional and mental health of a person as well as being pivotal in attaining to higher conscious states.

ChakrasThere are hundreds of chakras in the energy body but the six major ones along the subtle spine are the most crucial. This is because they are the repositories of our karma. The six chakras are the muladhara at the perineum (connected to the base of the spine), swadhisthana at the sacrum (about 3 inches above the base), manipura at the back corresponding to the navel, anahata or heart center, vishuddhi at the base of the neck and ajna in the middle of the brain. There is of course the 7th chakra called sahasrara chakra or thousand-petalled lotus at the top of the head but this center is that of perfection and does not have any function.

It is very useful to learn the names of the chakras themselves as they have mantric significance and the repetition of their names causes vibrations at the energy centers.
Each of the chakras is responsible for certain bodily functions – the muladhara is responsible for the physical body as a whole, the swadhisthana for the emotional body, the manipura for the energy body, the anahata for the mental body and the vishuddhi for the causal body.

There is also overlapping of functionalities in that although muladhara has overall control of the physical body, it also has minor functions for emotions, energy, mental states and karmic memory. For instance, this first chakra rules the emotions of fear and courage.

It is important to understand that these energy centers are very subtle pranic structures and are maintained directly by the life-force energy. When the life-force energy is depleted, then they cannot function properly and then every aspect of our life that they control will be hurt. On the flip side, when we do, say or even think something negative which resonates with a particular chakra, then it becomes depleted of prana! Of course when we apply ourselves positively, then more prana will go to the chakra concerned.
In the subtle energy body, the chakras are connected together by fine filaments of energy called the nadis. These nadis act like the arteries and nerves in the physical body, and they can be blocked or even damaged so that some parts of the subtle body might not be getting the life-force needed. However, since they are energy filaments, they can be repaired, redirected and even grown by the power of prana – this aspect is essential for healing purposes.

For the spiritual evolution and development of higher consciousness, the main energy channel called sushumna nadi flows along the spine and through the 6 major chakras that we have been discussing. It is through this central channel that the latent kundalini shakti has to rise up for the bliss of samadhi and the flowering of super-conscious states. Therefore, each chakra has to be sufficiently opened and filled with life-force energy before the kundalini will be attracted up to it. We need to work progressively upward in the normal course of events in order to raise the kundalini but in practical safety terms, it is recommended to try to open the 6th chakra or ajna first, in order to provide the positive pull from above.

If the higher chakras are shut and we open up the lower ones, then there may be difficulties encountered in the first three chakras which may challenge the practitioner’s ability to cope. There are practices which work on all 6 chakras progressively without over-emphasizing on any one at a time and these are the kind of practice that I recommend. Even when one is putting greater emphasis on one particular chakra in order to work out certain problems, it is always a good idea to exercise all the other chakras regularly to some extent. For instance, if you are spending half an hour on the heart chakra, combine it with a five minute each practice on the other five chakras, making up almost an hour.

Working on the chakras is a life-long pursuit but one of the most worthwhile that anyone can embark on. The healing affects can occur very quickly but due to our karmic inertia and habit patterns, the energy centers cannot be so easily opened and developed for spiritual purposes. However, it is a necessity for Self-Realization and so persevere in your efforts.

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