The word Chakra in Sanskrit mean’s wheel. Chakra’s can be visualised as wheels of energy (prana) spinning in a vortex or a whirlpool. They are our innerspirals of pranic energy located at certain points in the psychic body. They spin from slow to fast according to the energy they contain which creates particular rates of vibrations.Chakras are also seen as Lotus’s or Padma’s.
The Lotus Flower represents the human condition evolving from the lowest states of awareness to the higher states of consciousness. The Lotus Flower starts its journey with its roots underwater in the mud and darkness, representing ignorance. But when the Lotus Flower grows up through the mud and water, it symbolises endeavour and aspiration. It finally reaches the water’s surface to blossom beautifully in the sunlight symbolising illumination. This can be compared with our spiritual quest gradually awakening with a development of our human potentiality to be all that we can be.There are many chakras found in the psychic body, in Yoga we concentrate on the seven main chakras relating to the human personality.
Chakra Locations and Symbolisation
The seven main Chakras are located in the psychic body along Sushumna Nadi within the centre of the spinal cord. Sushumna Nadi starts in the Perineum and finishes at the crown of the head. The Sushumna Nadi is also called the Brahma Nadi, due to the ascending Kundalini energy through Sushumna. The rising of the Kundalini is said to liberate one to the state of Brahmin or Absolute.
The Chakras are associated with major nerve plexuses and endocrine glands that are connected to a network of Nadis (psychic channels or energy flows) distributing energy throughout the body. It is said that there are 72,000 to 300,000 Nadis in the body. The two main Nadis are Ida and Pingala (located in the spinal cord) and they pass through each Chakra in turn forming a criss-cross pathway starting in Muladhara Chakra (Base/Root Chakra) and finishing in Ajna Chakra (Third Eye Chakra).
In the Yogic tradition Chakras are symbolised as different colour Lotus Flowers. On each petal there is a letter of the Sanskrit alphabet representing the connection to the different Nadis. As each Chakra ascends up the spine along Sushumna Nadi the number of petals increases on the chakra signifying the increasing number of Nadis being connected to it.
Each Chakra has an elemental quality or Tattwa. The elemental quality in its slowest form of vibration is in Muladhara Chakra (root/base) and gradually increases to a higher and higher vibration as the Chakras ascend in the spine. The increasing number of Lotus petals in ascending order may also be taken to indicate the rising energy vibrations of respective Chakras too. This can be portrayed as a reflection of our potential of consciousness to evolve to higher states with the gradual awakening of the Chakras.
Each Chakra has a ruling deity or pair of deities. These deiteis (figures) act as initiators into the essential experience of the Chakra. The deities are often depicted with many heads and arms to indicate the various qualities or aspects. The God forms hold items that symbolise the lessons that the Chakra holds for the aspirant.
The Chakras are additionally symbolised by various animals and these animals underline the elemental (Tattwa) correspondences, they also carry the Mantra for each Chakra.