What Are Chakras?
There are seven main energy centers (chakras) of the body which resonate with the seven rainbow colous. Anyone who is familiar with Acupuncture will realize that there are, however, a large number of minor chakras throughout the body, totaling something in excess of 300.
A Chakra is like a spiral of energy, each one relating to the others. Chakra (pronounced sha-kra) is the Sanskrit word for 'wheel '. If you can imagine the main chakras / energy centers as a set of cogs/wheels, they are rather like the workings of a clock or an engine; each cog /wheel needs to move smoothly and at a similar speed for the clock / engine to work properly. Thus good health and well being is achieved by a balance of all these energies (or the smooth running of the cogs/wheels).
Here are the Seven Chakras and their respective characteristics:
Chakra One: Roots, Alignment, Earth
Muladhara is the body in physical space and time, developing groundedness, stability and foundation. In Amrit Yoga, the attention is alignment in all poses, building awareness and strength in the legs - especially all standing poses. Anything that stabilizes and roots the foundation reinforces muladhara.
Chakra Two: Sensation, Flow, Water
In Swadisthana we become aware of the senses, sensation (pleasure/pain) and emotions that accompany each pose. We allow our awareness of ecstatic energy to build in the second half of the pose. Suggested poses include pigeon, bridge and the spinal twist.
Chakra Three: Power, Fire
In Manipura, our fire (spiritual heat) is stimulated. We "jump-start" the battery of the body, the physical storehouse of energy, through strong standing poses like The Warrior. The willful aspect of the practice is also associated with chakra three. In the first half of the Amrit Yoga Level I sequence, we are building the battery in the belly and then consciously directing that energy upward. This is an essential part of Level I as this conscious generation and directing of energy is necessary for prana to awaken and move upward to higher centers.
Chakra Four: Awakening to the Spiritual Path
In Anahata, we are asked to open the heart. This requires spiritual commitment to let the ego drop away. In Amrit Yoga the heart energy is engaged with the use of the arms, with mudras, giving and receiving movements. Some heart chakra opening poses can be: camel, yoga mudra, cobra, half locust (opens arms and heart meridians). Breath and the fourth chakra are closely connected (lungs).
Chakra Five: Communication (internal/external) - the power of sound vibration
Visuddha is more apparent in Level II Amrit Yoga, but also in Level I - we turn into the vibration of prana that sources the movement. Use sound vibration when in the pose and the power of your word (opening intention and Om) to create the vibrational field you intend. Become aware of your own inner dialogue and if it serves you or not. In Amrit Yoga the throat chakra may be stimulated through chanting, bridge, camel and shoulder stand postures.
Chakra Six: the Third Eye
Meditation, witness, meditative awareness Pratyahara; deep absorption without choosing for or against what is present in Ajna chakra. In the second half of the pose and Third Eye integration-consciously allow energies to grow with meditative attention and draw freed energies upward toward the Third Eye for integration. All forward bending poses where the head is lower than the heart brings attention and energy to the third eye (child, yoga mudra, wide-angle forward bend).
Chakra Seven: Silence
In the Sahasrar, the elixir of Amrita comes through silencing the fluctuations of the mind. This is the entry into the bliss body, which can happen in the second half of the pose, in Third Eye Meditation integration, or in any pose. All these practices of Amrit Yoga are intended to reach the final point of stilling the modifications of the mind, which is always associated with the seventh chakra.