We talk a lot about the body, mind, and spirit. But rarely do we give the latter two as much importance as the former. It’s understandable, given that the body is tangible, while the mind and spirit are intangible. It’s rather hard to understand their existence in the first place, let alone gauge or fix health issues at such ethereal levels.
Yet, several western and eastern philosophies stress the importance of mental and spiritual wellbeing. The vedic and yogic philosophies address this through the concept of chakras or points of energy balance. In her book Eastern Body, Western Mind, psychologist and chakra expert Anodea Judith defines a chakra as “a centre of organisation that receives, assimilates, and expresses life force energy”. Experts believe there are at least seven such centres–muladhara (root chakra), svadhisthana (sacral chakra), nabhi-manipura (solar-plexus chakra), anahata (heart chakra), vishuddhi (throat chakra), ajna (third-eye chakra), and sahasrara (crown chakra).
Energy healers often approach the human body in terms of these chakras or energy junctures, rather than as isolated parts. Because of this approach, energy healing practices take into account not only the body, but also the mind and spirit. Medical professionals increasingly believe this well-rounded outlook can heal an individual more effectively.
Yogis have long maintained that chakras are a vital aspect of not only our physical health but also our spiritual wellbeing.
In fact, professor of naturopathy and energy medicine Leonard Wisneski, in his book The Scientific Basis of Integrative Medicine–a treatise on the nascent field of energy and subtle body–acknowledges that the concept of chakras is a holistic approach to wellbeing.
It’s not only the healers and medical professionals who believe in this approach. Yogis have long maintained that chakras are a vital aspect of not only our physical health but also our spiritual wellbeing. Explaining the practicality of maintaining balance in our chakras, spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev writes in his blog: “Doing the necessary work to keep the chakras mobile is important because the mobility of the chakras determines how flexible and effective you are in different types of situations, in order to meet different types of requirements.”
Yoga is, perhaps, the most commonly used practice to maintain this chakra balance. Yoga is said to harmonise the seven chakras in our bodies and bring about a complete sense of wellbeing. According to Judith’s Chakra Yoga, the purpose of chakra-based yoga is to create vibrant health and spiritual awakening. The book charts out various asanas that can help heal specific chakras in the body. Through prescribed bodily movements, one can attain complete energy balance. Chakra-based yoga is a way to prepare the body for the emergence of your spiritual fire, she writes.
“Traditionally, yoga is a wholesome approach. The practice doesn’t target a specific chakra. It works on the overall body and mind.”
However, targeting a specific chakra is more of a modern approach rather than an ancient yogic one, experts say. Yoga trainer Shubananda Srinivas says, “Traditionally, yoga is a wholesome approach. The practice doesn’t target a specific chakra. It works on the overall body and mind.” He clarifies that asanas targeting a particular chakra may be advised, only if a person has been diagnosed with a specific ailment which corresponds to that chakra. Otherwise, surya namaskar and kapalbhati are two of the most commonly used asanas to purify and balance all chakras, along with proper breathing techniques, he maintains.
Contrary to the common notion that any generic yoga practice can bring about wellbeing, yoga practitioners point out that mainstream yoga might not be the right way to go if chakra-balance is the primary goal. Says yoga expert Rajesh Jain, “In all honesty, none of the popular yoga practices taught today will balance one’s chakras. Yoga is becoming synonymous with exercise and flexibility. Traditionally speaking, the very concept of ‘power yoga’ is paradoxical. And it has little to do with chakra balance.”
How do we even know if our chakras are balanced? After all, we’re not all healers trained to gauge energy health. According to Jain, the chakras usually remain balanced, unless the individual is dealing with any ailments. For instance, a person in depression, whose life has turned rather static, would have an imbalance in his/her heart chakra. In such a case, yoga can be used to regulate the energy flow and help improve the person’s state of mind. After all, even Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra states that yoga is primarily for the regulation of various states of mind.
The one chakra that many adept yoga practitioners want to pay attention to is the topmost sahasrara (crown chakra). According to Jain, the sahasrara is a culmination of all the other lower chakras in sync. He explains that this chakra aids in Kundalini awakening–a state of bliss. This state can be achieved through the practice of one of the two types of yoga–Hatha Yoga or Kundalini Yoga. The first kind takes 25 years to result in the awakening, while the latter takes 12. “However, given the sheer meditative discipline required to master Kundalini Yoga, one may give up more easily. Even though it’s a shorter route to the awakening, it’s harder than Hatha Yoga,” he observes.
So, practising yoga to balance chakras is not only for the body and mind but also for the spirit. If we can master yoga the right way, we’d not only foster physical and mental health but also gain spiritual elevation through the chakras. After all, we’d never say no to a complete sense of wellbeing. We’d love to bring about a balance in our body’s energy channels, just so we may function in our best spirits. Practising yoga can certainly help us with that. Who knows? If we practise it right, we might even unlock our sahasrara chakra and find that spiritual bliss.