“Our work here is to understand ourselves as multilayered beings and to find balance and harmony within our hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits.”
Healing the Divide
by Jenn Collotta
The chakra system originated more than ten thousand years ago in Northern India, and has been referred to in ancient texts such as the Vedas, Upanishads and Yoga Sutras. The word chakra translates to wheel or disc and refers to an accumulation of energy within the body. There are thousands of smaller energetic clusters, or chakras, in various places throughout the body; here, we will focus on the seven largest chakras, which stack one on top of the other, rising from the root of our spine to the crown of our heads.
Chakras are not physical entities that can be held in ones hand like a book, but hold energetic weight like feelings and ideas. Before we delve deeper into our chakra system, we must first familiarize ourselves with prana or life force energy. If you would like more information, please read our in-depth article on prana here.
Our life force energy is continuously moving through our body giving life to our chakras through nadis, or channels. Subtler than nerves, nadis provide a pathway for prana to circulate throughout body. There are over 72,000 nadis within the human body, here we will focus on three: ida, pingala, and sushumna. Ida nadi is known as the left channel, beginning in the root chakra, weaving itself through the chakras and ending in the left nostril. This nadi is associated with our cool, lunar, feminine and mental energy, dealing with the inner workings of our minds. Pingala nadi is known as the right channel, originating in the root and traveling up towards the right nostril. This nadi is associated with our warmer, sun, masculine and physical energy. The central highway of energy, which flows through the center of the spinal chord, is our sushumna nadi. Sushumna begins at our root and ends at the top of our head; where these three major nadis come together, our seven chakras take form.
When our prana flows freely, we feel energized and benefit from good vitality. When our prana is restricted, we feel tired, have poor circulation, and experience difficulties with health. When blockages occur in a chakra, the flow of prana is obstructed. “Imbalances occur through childhood trauma, cultural conditioning, limited belief systems, restrictive and exhausting habits, physical and emotional injuries, or even just a lack of attention can all contribute to blockage.” Pg.16 Eastern Body, Western Mind. The seven chakras remind us that physical manifestations of dis-ease often begin beneath the surface from an emotional or spiritual disturbance that is left unresolved.
Our work here is to understand ourselves as multilayered beings and to find balance and harmony within our hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits. Within this seven piece series, we will dive deep into chakras alongside their physical, emotional, and spiritual implications for the human experience.
Beginning at the base, muladhara, mula- root and adhara- support, is our first chakra. Depicted by a deep red, four-petal lotus, the purpose of muladhara is our foundation, physical and familial. Our roots represent where we came from, the earth, our ancestors, and our personal history. It is here we first identify with our body, develop trust, find nourishment, and experience safety within a family unit. If our basic needs of safety, food, and shelter were not met as young children, a maladaptation in our root chakra may develop. When our root chakra is balanced, we experience good health, feel grounded, and have the ability to relax and manifest abundance. Imbalanced characteristics can manifest as fearfulness, an inability to focus, a disconnection from ones body, and financial difficulty. As our foundation and connection to the earth, physical manifestations of an imbalanced root are seen in feet and leg injuries, eating disorders, and anus or large intestine issues. Thankfully, balance can be restored by conscious attention and consistent care. Restoration practices include, but are not limited too, appropriate physical touch, reconnecting to our body, barefoot grounding into the earth, and physical activity such as dancing or aerobics. As we begin to reclaim our foundation, we will feel safe and at home within ourselves no matter where we are physically in the world. Muladhara is literally the foundation for our spiritual journey inward and upward. As you contemplate your own root chakra, ask yourself the following questions
Do I feel safe to be in the world?
Do I trust my own ability to create abundance?
Am I connected to my body in a healthy way?
As you consider your answers, remember that we are all works of art in progress. There is no reason to feel fearful of answers that are not entirely positive, instead use your answers as pathways towards introspection, inner wisdom, and healing. The pathway to enlightenment is not always easy, but it will always be worth it. Enjoy your journey along this path.
Born in the heart of Boston, Jenn’s path to yoga began in college as she looked for ways to find balance in her life. She began practicing in 2009 and got her teaching certification in 2013. Since then she has taught thousands of classes as a full-time yoga instructor and has led numerous 200-hour trainings as an E-RYT.
Along with yoga, Jenn enjoys hiking the beautiful mountains of Hawai’i, which she now calls home, and being outdoors in nature. She loves creating, sharing and inspiring and hopes to do just that here at The Source Yoga + Wellness.