CHAKRAS AND MUDRAS: A pumpkin described in poetry cannot be used to cook curry – ‘kaavia puusani karikku uthavaathu’. Similarly the effect of Chakras are to be experienced to receive universal Pranic energy for efficient use by the body. But we shall place this compilation as basic reading material for beginners. In addition to providing Prana or the vital force for specific function by areas of
the body, Chakras are trigger points for awakening the higher dimensions of consciousness. One awakens Prana with the aid and blessing of a trained master or Guru.
CHAKRAS and NADIS: Hindu scriptures describing the chakras go back as far as the later Upanishads such as Yoga Kundalini Upanishad. Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means "wheel." Indian traditional beliefs centers around the idea of several chakras running down the center of your body, with each correlating to different parts of the body and life situations. Chakras vitalize the physical body through prana which flows along pathways called ‘Nadis’.
Nadi means channel, stream or flow.This is an energy channel in which prana energy flows and connects the chakras. The main nadis are Shushumna, Ida and Pingala. Nadis have an extrasensory function playing a part in instinctive responses. They are viewed as not extending only to the skin but the boundary of the aura. The Ida and Pingala nadis are often seen as referring to the two hemispheres of the brain. Pingala is the extroverted, solar nadi, and corresponds to the left hand side of the brain. Ida is the introverted, lunar nadi, and refers to the right hand side of the brain. The two nadis are stimulated through the practice of pranayama, which involves alternate breathing through left and right nostrils, which would alternately stimulate the left and right sides of the brain.
Each chakra is associated with: a physical part of your body; an emotional part of your body; glands and organs; colors, one of the five senses, elements of the Earth and particular types of foods. The lower chakras focus on details such as our home, family, and emotions, while the upper chakras focus on the spiritual aspect of our lives. All of the chakras affect one another and work together. Each chakra is associated with particular functions within the body and with specific life issues and the way we handle them, both inside ourselves and in our interactions with the world. Chakras can be thought of as sites where we receive, absorb, and distribute life energies. Through external situations and internal habits, a chakra can become either deficient or excessive, and imbalanced.
TANTRA: Tantra considers the universe to be a manifestation of Pure Consciousness. Kundalini Yoga is the most important of the Tantric and Yogic practices. In Tantra the human form is the supreme instrument of Tantra-Sadhana. Blue complexion denotes that energy level has attained its maximum. Thus Kundalini yoga is a meditational yogic process by which the kundalini is awakened and consciousness traverses across the different chakras and attains pure consciousness. This is the Sahasrara achievement in Tantra. It is represented as the lotus with a thousand petals.
In Tantra there are thirty chakras constituting energy points. The primary points are Muladhara, Svadhishthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajna and Sahasrara. The energy in coiled serpent form is usually low-lying, that is, around the base of the spine where the Muladhara chakra is located. The energy is kindled now and then, and traverses across the other two chakras which lie in between the Muladhara and navel. These chakras are Svadhishthana and Manipura. It is only by 'mantra-sadhana' or yogic practice that the mind attains the fourth plane which is 'Anahata'. Its attainment paves the way for the 'jeevatma', the path for attaining the Vishuddha chakra…now all is in flames and the attainment of Ajna is complete. The Ajna is the ultimate point from which the mind passes to Sahasrara where consciousness becomes one with the universe and the energy sprouts like a lotus with a thousand petals. Thus the fist six are within the human body whereas the Sahasrara is a form of pure consciousness. That is absolute, objective and beyond physical entity.
THE SEVEN RIGHTS AND HINDRANCES: Each of the seven chakras has a basic right that, if infringed upon or not claimed or expressed, can provide problems in that chakra and thus, in that area of our life. They are: 1.the right to be here, 2.the right to feel, 3.the right to act, 4.the right to love and be loved, 5.the right to speak and hear truth, 6.the right to see and 7.the right to know. The hindrances are described as demons or tricksters of the Chakras. These are symbolic and conceptual. However, while they are tricksters of the chakras, they do teach a thing or two. Moving past a trickster helps the chakra in question and it is a challenge. They are: 1.Fear, 2.Guilt, 3.Shame, 4.Grief, 5.Lies, 6.Illusion and 7.Attachment.
MULADHARA : The first chakra, muladhara, is at the base of the spine. ‘Mula’ means origins or the first. So this is referred to as the root chakra. It is located at the base of the spine. Energy stored under this chakra is often referred to as ‘coiled serpent’. Kundali Yoga focuses on stimulating this energy. The muladhara keeps one grounded and centered. It is associated with survival, instincts and basic communication. The concerns associated with this chakra involve food, clothing, shelter - practical things. The emotion associated with this chakra is fear. The less we are connected to the earth, the more fear we have. To ground yourself, go for a walk, be out in nature.
Deity: Lord Ganesha, Goddess Bhuma Devi
Action: ‘I am here’
Symbolism: Lotus flower with four petals.
Colors: The colors associated with muladhara are red and black. Red is the color of blood, of life. Black, the secondary color, helps to reground us with the earth. Having black stones nearby helps to reground. One is advised to wear red to stimulate the chakra.
Organs: The organs and glands associated with the 1st chakra are adrenal glands, organs of elimination (kidney, skin, colon), bones, hair, nails, legs. If muladhara is sluggish, you might have constipation. Over stimulation may cause diarrhea.
Sense: The sense associated with muladhara is the sense of smell.
Element: The element for this chakra is earth. This chakra grounds us to the earth.
Food: The foods for this chakra are protein-rich foods and red foods.
If the muladhara is congested, we may have a tendency towards hoarding things, being materialistic. To get the energy moving, let go of things, give them away, and release them. This pertains to mental and emotional things as well as material things. Holding on to things keeps the energy from flowing freely. In yoga, standing poses balance and strengthen the 1st chakra, which helps the body become more grounded.
SVADISHTHANA: This is the second chakra. Svadhisthana means ‘dwelling place of the Self. It is located in the lower abdomen about an inch below the navel. Svadisthana is associated with creativity and procreation. It also governs emotional and sensual aspects of our lives. The emotion associated with this chakra is passion. If you grew up in an environment where emotions were repressed or denied, this chakra may be deficient. Some signs of deficiency are fear of pleasure, being out of touch with one's feelings and resistance to change. Signs of an excessive 2nd chakra may be overly emotional behavior, sexual addiction or poor boundaries. Excessiveness can be caused by living in an environment where there is a constant need for pleasurable stimulation, such as entertaining or partying. Frequent emotional drama can cause excessiveness also. In yoga, backward and forward bends and squatting strengthen the svatisthana chakra.
Deity: Lord Vishu (representing preservation and control)
Action: ‘I feel’
Symbolism: Lotus flower with six petals.
Colour: The color for svatisthana is orange. Orange is a very stimulating color because of its vibrational energy.
Organs: The organs or glands associated with this chakra are: reproductive organs; all liquids in the body - the circulation of blood, urine, menstruation, tears; hips, sacrum, low back and the kidneys
Element: The element for the svathisthana is water, thus the association with the liquids of the body. Water flows, moves and changes. A balanced second chakra allows us to do that also.
Sense: The sense for this is taste, especially a sweet taste.
Food: The foods for svatisthana are orange foods, sweet foods and liquids.
MANIPURA: The third chakra, manipura, is in the solar plexus, navel and digestive system. Manipura means ‘lustrous gem’. It is associated with self-definition, ego and fire. It is the seat of the intellect and is connected to self-esteem and vitality. When this chakra is excessive, anger, hatred, too much attention to power, status and recognition can be present. When it is deficient, one can have digestive problems, eating disorders, low self-esteem and a feeling of powerlessness.
Deity: Lord Rudra (reminding the law of impermanence)
Action: ‘I act’
Symbolism: Lotus flower with ten petals.
Colors: The colors for the manipura are yellow and gold.
Organs: .Glands/organs associated with Manipura are the pancreas, organs of digestion (small intestine). When the manipura is imbalanced, there may be digestive problems.
Element: The element for manipura is fire. Digestive problems can arise if there is too much heat in this part of the body. All of the "itis" diseases begin in this chakra when the fire gets out of control.
Yoga: Bikram yoga (hot yoga) stimulates the manipura. However manipura needs stimulation before participating in Bikram yoga.
Emotion: The emotion for manipura is anger.
Sense: The sense for manipura is sight and cognitive thinking. It is the root for ‘gut-feelings’.
ANAHATA: The fourth, anahata, is the heart chakra. Anahata means "unstruck" or "stillness." This seems to imply that deep beneath our brokenness and pain, wholeness abides. Anahata is located in our heart center. It governs our intuition and love. It is also known as the heart chakra. When the anahata is deficient, you may experience feelings of shyness and loneliness, an inability to forgive or a lack of empathy. Physical conditions can include shallow breathing, asthma, and some lung diseases. When the anahata chakra is excessive one may experience co-dependency, possessiveness, jealousy, heart problems and high blood pressure.
Deity: Ishana Shiva (representing complete detachment)
Action: ‘I love and I’am loved’
Symbolism: Lotus flower with twelve petals.
Color: The primary color for anahata is green and the secondary color is pink.
Organs: Glands/organs/parts of the body associated anahata are thymus, heart, lungs, chest, arms, breasts.
Element: The element for anahata is air. Pranayama practice helps to balance this chakra.
Sense: The sense for anahata is touch, feeling, clairsentient.
Emotion: The emotion of the heart chakra is compassion and joy. It is the anahata that feels the suffering of others.
Food: The foods for this chakra are air, green vegetables and love.
Yoga: In yoga, poses that stimulate the 4th chakra are backward bends (anything that opens the chest). A powerful way to energize this chakra is to love ourselves and others.
VISUDDHA: The fifth chakra, visuddha, is in the throat. "Vishuddha" which means "purity." This is the first of the chakras that focuses primarily on the spiritual plane. The 4th chakra is spiritual, but it is also the bridge between the lower chakras that focus on earth and the upper chakras that deal with spirituality. Deficient energy in the 5th chakra can cause neck and shoulder problems, jaw disorders, throat problems, an under active thyroid and a fear of speaking. On the other hand, excessive energy in the 5th chakra can cause hearing problems, inability to listen, excessive talking and an overactive thyroid.
Deity: Panchavaktrawill Shiva (granting clarity of sight)
Action: ‘I speak and I am heard’
Symbolism: Lotus flower with sixteen petals
Color: The color for the visuddha chakra is blue, as the color of the sky.
Emotion: The emotion for the visuddha is faith and understanding. Because the visuddha chakra is located in the throat and governs higher communication, speaking, hearing and listening, it helps us to understand our inner truth and convey it with our voice to the outside world.
Sense: The sense for the Visuddha is hearing. Chanting, singing, speaking, reading aloud are all good for the 5th chakra. The vibrations of all these things affect the body down to the cellular level.
Organs: The glands/organs/body parts associated with the visuddha chakra are thyroid, parathyroid, jaw, neck, mouth, throat, tongue, larynx
Element: The element for this chakra is ether/space. It is connected to the cosmos, which consists of these elements.
Food: The food for this chakra is fruit and prana (air).
Yoga: Poses that are good for the 5th chakra are neck and shoulder stretches, Camel pose, Bridge pose and Plow pose.
AJNA: The sixth chakra, ajna, also called the third eye. "Ajna" means "beyond wisdom." It has also been translated to mean "the perception center." The sixth chakra is located between, and just above, the eyes. This chakra deals with visualization, intuition, imagination and telepathy. It is associated with self-reflection, archetypical identity and light. When the energy in the ajna chakra is excessive, it can cause headaches, hallucinations, nightmares and difficulty in concentrating. But when the energy is deficient, there may be eye problems, poor memory, inability to visualize.
Deity: Adhanarishvara, Siva-Shakti Union; no duality.
Action: ‘I see’
Symbolism: Lotus flower with two petals
Color: The color is purple/violet, both spiritual colors.
Organs: Organ/parts of body associated with the ajna are the pituitary gland, eyes, head, lower brain.
Emotion: The emotion for the ajna is "knowing", an intuitive type of knowing. When this chakra is dominant, one may have extended vision as in clairvoyance to see beyond.
Yoga: Poses for the 6th chakra are supported forward bends and also eye exercises. Doing positive visualizations can also strengthen this chakra.
SAHASRARA: The final chakra, sahasrara, is connected to self-knowledge, universal identity and thought. "Sahasrara", means "thousand-fold." The Shasrara is represented by a 1000-petaled lotus, which symbolizes the infinite nature of this chakra, connecting us with the Divine. It is located at the crown of the head and serves as the crown of the entire chakra system, symbolizing the highest state of enlightenment. The function of the Shasrara is connection with the infinite. Excessiveness in the shahasrara chakra appears as being overly intellectual. Deficient energy manifests as difficulty in independent thinking, apathy, spiritual skepticism and materialism. The element of the shasrara is thought/cosmic consciousness. The mind creates our belief systems that control our thoughts and actions.
Deity: Lord Siva as Parabrahma, the Highest Entity.
Action: ‘We are, We know’
Mantra: Om or Silence
Symbolism: Lotus flower with thousand petals.
Color: The shasrara is sometimes associated with the color violet, but it is usually referred to as the color white, a combination of all colors. This is in line with the chakra also being a culmination of all the other chakras.
Organ: Gland/part of body associated with this chakra are pineal gland, upper brain.
Yoga: Meditation is the yogic practice best for the 7th chakra. Meditation clears and quiets the mind, in preparation for experiencing the Divine.
MUDRAS: Mudra's are hand gestures or positions which connect small chakra points on the hands thus channeling energy directly through the appropriate psychic channel in the arms and through the body. (see previous posting)
ROOT CHAKRA - PRANA MUDRA: Prana mudra is an extremely effective root chakra mudra. Root chakra has dual effect as it activates extremities of the energetic system. While clearing the leg and foot channels it also helps activate some of the upper more spiritual regions as well. Prana mudra channels all of the energetic force through the root channels and really activates the chakra's on the souls of the feet, allowing life force energy to enter your bio-energetic system. It releases unhealthy energy.
SACRAL CHAKRA - DHYANI MUDRA: This is the most common mudra used in meditation because of the significance of its representation of a chalice or bowl. The bowl is represents the lower energetic storage centre. It is the entire sexual energy transmutation system. This mudra may have side effects on the impact and efficiency of the sacral chakra. The sacral chakra is said to be the first to collapse should the chakra system be out of balance. One’s behavior reflects lethargy to meet deadlines or fulfilling responsibilities. This in turn causes stress and anxiety. Constantly working hard with this mudra shows noticeable impact on the bowel and reproductive systems.
SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA - HAKINI MUDRA: This mudra is an extremely important chakra as it has multiple purposes. It is a mudra designed to assist in developing memory and brain retention. Place this mudra over the solar plexus and you will create a vortex which balances and mobilises the solar plexus chakra. Physically there is an above average amount of nerve endings in this vicinity of this chakra as it controls the pumping of blood to all parts of the body. By balancing the solar plexus one has a dynamic impact above and below this chakra. Such balancing also help dampen the impact of energies around you and help improve emotional balance. By balancing the solar plexus chakra one takes control of anxiety, nervous conditions and enhances personal power to decide one’s own destiny.
HEART CHAKRA - GYAN MUDRA: The simplest mudra to apply to the heart chakra is the simple gyanmudra. It is easy to apply and causes positive side-effects. This mudra helps to open the heart chakra. Gyan mudra assists in grounding at the lower end of the energetic system. It also opens the energetic faculties associated with mental and psychic faculties at the upper end of the energetic system. Gyan mudra has immediate effect on the heart chakra. Thus it is a holistic mudra. Apply this mudra with both hands placing the right hand thumb and index finger close to the body over the heart chakra. The heart chakra is the centre associated with love and compassion manifesting in many different ways. This mudra helps in clearing of arm and hand channels. Good quality energy is shared when coming in contact with society. Sub-consciously one becomes a compassionate loving being.
THROAT CHAKRA - GYAN MUDRA: This is a multi purpose mudra. It benefits the glands it operates and significantly impacts throat chakra. The pituitary and the endocrine glands are glands are hampered by denying our own truth and personal power. Balancing this chakra will help undo any karmic damage done by holding back such truths. A meditative position is adopted to use this mudra whilst resting your hands on your knees.
THIRD EYE CHAKRA - SHAMBAVI MUDRA: This mudra enables the opening of the third eye chakra. It is unlike other mudras as it uses the eyes to focus the intent of the energy. This mudra requires that one slowly turn the eyes upwards and inwards attempting to observe an imaginary point in the third eye. This may sometimes be easier to do so with eyes closed. Shambavi mudra gradually allows kundalini energy to rise from the base chakra through the sushumna channel to the third eye and in time beyond. This mudra will increase one’s intuitive abilities, whilst releasing all subconscious control mechanisms. Balancing and developing this chakra enhances psychic and spiritual powers. This allows the development of the Third Eye to truly become the window of the soul. This increases awareness and consciousness levels. Personal power is improved by the mudra’s ability to connect with the inner divine teacher. Hence one gains mastery over inner power.
CROWN CHAKRA - AKASHA MUDRA: The akasha mudra is by far the easiest method of balancing the crown chakra, allowing access to bliss and the true nature of your spirituality. One is to apply the akasha mudra by simply touching the thumb and middle finger tips whilst rolling eyes upwards in the shambavi mudra. Akasha literally means ‘spirit or space.’ This mudra balances the space or spirit within and the space or spirit without. This allows the body’s ability to absorb spirit or space energy so that crown chakra is balanced and functions effectively. Akasha mudra is also enhanced by Kechari mudra, which is the practice of rolling the tongue back into the nasal cavity. But it is forewarned to be practice under the direction of a guru.
SRI RAMANA MAHARISHI: Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi states that kundalini energy is nothing but the natural energy of the Self, where Self is the universal consciousness, the Paramatma present in every being, and that the individual mind of thoughts cloaks this natural energy from unadulterated expression. In advaita Vedanta one approaches this aspect as Self-realization or enlightenment. Self-enquiry, atma-vichara is therefore considered a simple means to achieve this goal.
SIVA-SHAKTI: Siva is the static, fixed or unchanging aspect of Consciousness. It is the latent, formless principle, the stuff out of which we and the whole of the universe is manifested. Shakti is the active, fluid or changing aspect of Consciousness. She manifests outward as kundalini, prana, nadis, chakras, the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, space) mind, senses and personality along with the physical brain and body. Therefore, where kundalini Shakti is conceived as a Goddess, then, when it rises to the Saharara, She unites with the Supreme Being, Lord Siva. It is then that the aspirant becomes engrosses in deep meditation and infinite bliss. The word ‘Kunda’ in Kundalini-Shakti means a bowl implying Shakti resides in a bowl called kunda at the base of the spine. Along the line the word Shakti is dropped and her other manifestations take new names and shapes. One way of describing the entire journey of spirituality of Self-realization is tracing the manifestations of Shakti, which appears to be the ‘I’ or ‘me’ back through the layers of appearances, to the point of the Shiva-Shakti Union and seen as One. Awakening kundalini and being in Union with the Absolute is the goal of all Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra.
SWAMI SIVANANDA: “O Divine Mother Kundalini, the Divine Cosmic Energy that is hidden in men! Thou art Kali, Durga, Adisakti, Rajarajeswari, Tripurasundari, Maha-Lakshmi, Maha-Sarasvati! Thou hast put on all these names and forms. Thou hast manifested as Prana, electricity, force, magnetism, cohesion, gravitation in this universe. This whole universe rests in Thy bosom. Crores of salutations unto thee. O Mother of this world! Lead me on to open the Sushumna Nadi and take Thee along the Chakras to Sahasrara Chakra and to merge myself in Thee and Thy consort, Lord Siva.”