Chakras are an unavoidable concept in the practice of energetic yoga. The Cakras are seen as antennas, able to both receive and transmit, all the different vibrational frequencies of the universe. The energy work on Cakras enables us to match or transform any manifested experience. Each cakra has a particular connection with a specific layer of the Universe or level of consciousness.
Energetic Hatha yoga: a practice rooted in Tantric metaphysics
Describing the chakras system in a simple manner without reducing its amazing accuracy and relevance is a challenge. The chakras and the corresponding energy work is something easier to communicate through experience than through a discourse.
There is simple reason for this. As a technology to transcend human limitations, Yoga and tantra aim at traveling in places where the mind does not reach. Places where there is no language. For the journey, we use a map of the world beyond the physical, in the realm of metaphysics.
A simplified way to access this system is to view the Universe with seven manifested levels of consciousness from gross to subtle, like a ladder. Together these 7 levels can be referred to as Shakti. There is yet another level, unmanifest this one, that is pure consciousness, also called Shiva. The five initial steps of the ladder, and the most important at this stage of our practice, can be associated with the (from the bottom up) physical, energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual realms. This corresponds with the five body theory (Panchakosha) and is associated with the five elements, the five sense organs and the five action organs.
This will be subject of another and more specific article. For now, let's look at some characteristics of each of the 7 chakras...
Chakra based Hatha Yoga
Practice of Energetic Hatha Yoga aims at building up energy in the body and flushing it into the heart chakra or above, generating an elevation in the state of consciousness. In time, the practitioner gains ability to move the energy with the mind strength alone and to create higher states of consciousness at will.
The practice consists of simple, chakra-specific yoga poses, held for a long time. Eyes closed, we focus on the effect the flowing energy has on the current experience. The stillness of this practice is its very challenge and its benefit too. Stability of awareness allows energy to flow fully into the area of focus. This stillness helps us harvest the benefits of the practice by gradually becoming aware and integrating the changes taking place in our experience.
As an extreme simplification, we could say that awareness of the chakras are the initial steps we have to master to reach high states of consciousness.
The first chakra, also called root chakra, represents our connection with the earth element. Working with the first chakra provides vitality, energy and endurance. While desire for life comes from the second chakra, the energy to fuel that desire comes from the first chakra. Beyond vitality, the second quality of Earth is cohesion. Energy flowing in the first chakras benefits our memory, our endurance, the stability factor behind every enterprise, and longevity. The first chakra is the seat of the mother energy, Kundalini.
Unstreamed energy flow at this level generates irrational fear, excessive need for safety and security, laziness, inertia, conservative temperament, greed, hypochondria, workaholism, hyperactivity, perfectionism.
The second Chakra, also called sacral chakra, represents our connection with the water element. Working with the second chakra provides creativity and imagination. Water is the juice of life, the second chakra brings the desire, including sexual desire. The second chakra is the home of sexuality, emotion, drama and romance. This is the dominant chakras on a planet that's so predominantly composed of water.
Unstreamed energy flow at this level generates confusion and delusion, a state where dreams are taken for reality creating a constant situation of drama. Related to sexual desire it can bring lust and endless search for pleasure. As water takes the shape of its container, weakness at the second chakra can lead to conformism and conventionality, dependence on family, social interaction and relationships and jealousy. Small mindedness, detail-oriented, easily distracted state of consciousness, potentially leading to feelings of depression and suicide are also examples of poor energy management at this level.
The third chakra, also called Navel chakra or hara in Japanese martial art, represents our connection with the fire element. Working with the third chakra provides courage and discipline. Fire is the transformative element. The third chakra imparts the fiery qualities of ambition, ego, willpower, dynamism, enthusiasm, confidence and expansion.
Unstreamed energy at this level generates anger, violence and revenge. The third chakra is the realm of uncontrolled ego and selfishness, pride and vanity, temptation for power, cynicism, materialism and righteousness, stubbornness and shame.
The fourth chakra, also called heart chakra, represents our connection with the air element. Working with the fourth chakra provides compassion and empathy. Air is a subtle and touching element, it imparts the quality of Love, selflessness, compassion, affection, higher aesthetic and intellectual feelings.
Unstreamed energy at this level brings people to spread themselves too thin while pretending to serve others. One can be lost in the personal and fail to reach the transpersonal (confusion between romantic love and unconditional Love), living in foolish idealism. Being superficial, unstable, scattered, or anxious are marks of poor management of energy at this level.
The fifth chakra, also called throat chakra, represents our connection with the element of space. Working with the fifth chakra provides purity and clarity in communication. Space is a very peculiar and mysterious element, it imparts quick and deep intelligence, aesthetic and symbolic vision together with spiritual intuition.
Unstreamed energy at this level brings a form of puritanical intolerance, separation and isolation in the search of enlightenment for oneself.
The sixth chakra, also called third eye, is already beyond the realm of the elements, we are entering the very subtle and higher spheres. Working with the sixth chakra provides clarity, mental projection, insights and mental powers like telepathy, clairvoyance and hypnosis. While it is possible and important to improve the qualities of the sixth chakra, lack of doing so does not really bring any negative form of behaviour.
The seventh chakra, is more like a gate than a chakra. It is the gate to the highest spiritual realms, our connection with the heavens, where all duality merges into oneness. When differentiation disappears, it becomes impossible to host any negativity at this level.