2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses (2015)
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF CHAKRAS
In Sanskrit the word chakra can be translated into “wheel” or “turning.” In the yogic interpretation, the chakras are based on the concept of a vortex and are visually portrayed as a lotus flower.
According to various Eastern yogic spiritual practices such as Hinduism and Tantric Buddhism, chakras are described as wheels or rings of energy found in the subtle (non-physical) body; the culmination of the mind, intelligence, and ego, which influences the gross physical body. Within this subtle body there are energy channels called nadis that carry the life force or vital energy (prana). The main nadi that runs through the chakras is called the sushumna (brahma) nadi. The sushumna joins two other important nadis (ida and pingala) together at the first and seventh chakras. The diameter of a singular nadi is believed to be no thicker than a thousandth of a hair’s width and is located along the spine.
There are various opinions on how many chakras there are, but it is generally agreed that chakras spin in a “wheel-like” motion to draw in vital energy that creates a balance between the spiritual and physical body.
The earliest known recording of chakras dates back to the ancient Vedas (1700 BCE). The most popular chakra model used today is based on two Indian texts: Shat-Cakra-Nirupana, written by a Bengali yogi named Purnananda Swami in 1577, and the Padaka-Panchaka, written in the 10th century.
Chakras are activated in the following ways:
By stretching open the area where the chakra is located. For example, the throat chakra can be activated in Camel Pose (Ushtrasana). The head is rolled back so there is a stretch in the front of the throat.
By applying physical pressure on the area where the chakra is located. Throat chakra, for example, can be activated in Staff Pose (Dandasana). The Chin Lock (Jaladhara Bandha) is engaged by bringing the chin to the clavicle bone, therefore applying pressure to the throat area.
By combining the two methods above, throat chakra is activated in full version of Inverted Locust Pose (Viparita Shalabhasana). The head is rolling back, creating a stretch in the front of the throat. At the same time, the throat area is pressed to the floor, so there is physical pressure on that area.