Its imperative we realize that Yoga is more than its Westernized notion of a practice that encompasses just physical exercise.
The science of yoga deals with holistic health. Yoga Asanas (postures), Pranayama (breathing) Dhyana (meditation) Kriyas (clensing techniques) Yoga Nidra (guided relaxation) Chakra Awareness (harmonizing energy centers) mantras (sound energy and chanting) etc aim to bring body mind and spirit into a state of equanimity.
Basic yoga can be attempted by all, however exploring our spiritual self, through the science and art of balancing our energy centers (chakras), requires deep and regular practice as well as guidance.
Enrolling in Online Yoga Live Classes by an experienced teacher, will help us get a sound introduction on Chakras.
For those starting from scratch, here is a guide to help one understand the basics.
There are infinite Chakras or centers of energy within the Pranic level of our body. Chakras are exactly that – points or areas or centers of concentrated energy. Of these innumerous Chakras there are seven main ones. These seven whirlpools of spinning energy along the central axis of a human, is what we usually talk about. Each chakra corresponds to specific physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our being. From the root chakra at the base of the spine to the crown chakra at the top of the head, each chakra plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall well-being.
The first chakra, known as the Muladhara or Root chakra, is located in the Perineum (tailbone area) in the subtle Pranic body, the body of energy a level below the tangible physical body. It is associated with stability, security, and connection to the earth. Asanas that engage the lower body, such as Tadasana (Mountain Pose) Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I), and sitting postures like Squats and Malasana help activate and balance the root chakra. These grounding poses help cultivate a sense of stability and strength within the body and mind and this slowly leads to developing emotional balance as well.
Moving up the body, we encounter the Svadhisthana or Sacral chakra, which is located between the naval and the genitals. This energy center governs creativity, sexuality, and emotional well-being. Asanas that engage the hips, such as Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose or Butterfly pose) and Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Ushtrasana (Camel pose) stimulate and balance this chakra. These asanas can aid in releasing stagnant energy in the sacral area, fostering creativity and emotional expression.
The Manipura or Solar plexus chakra or Navel chakra, located just behind the navel, is associated with personal power, self-esteem, and willpower, as well as with our digestion. Asanas that engage the core, such as Navasana (Boat Pose), Santolanasana (Plank) and Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), activate and balance this chakra. Such yoga asanas build strength and confidence, allowing the practitioner to inculcate a strong sense of self and help the practitioner maintain a well functioning digestive system.
The Anahata or Heart chakra located deep in the chest behind the physical heart, represents love, compassion, and emotional well-being. Heart-opening asanas, such as Ustrasana (Camel Pose) and Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), help release restriction in the chest region and stimulate and balance this chakra. Yoga asanas for Anahata Chakra cultivate self-acceptance, forgiveness and the ability to connect with others from a place of love and compassion.
The Vishuddha or Throat chakra located behind the base of the throat, is associated with communication, self-expression, and the concept of truth. Asanas that engage the throat and neck area, such as Matsyasana (Fish Pose) and Halasana (Plow Pose), help activate and balance this chakra. The asanas which stabilize the Vishuddha chakra, promote clear and authentic communication, enabling individuals to express their thoughts and feelings with confidence.
The Ajna or third eye chakra is often associated with intuition, insight, and a mysterious point from where we enter deeper realms of awareness. Meditation and concentration building techniques, such as Trataka (candle gazing), as also Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing), help awaken and balance this chakra. These practices help one attain clarity of mind, deep introspection, and an enhanced connection to one’s intuition.
The last of the seven main energy centers, the Sahasrara chakra, is located at the very crown of a persons head. This mysterious center is said to be a conduit which allows an energy interchange between the universe or the cosmos outside and a person; or between the Macrocosm and the Microcosm.
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