The Chakras: A Full Guide to the 7 Chakras
The chakras function as controls, which are able to activate our higher capacities of consciousness
The pranic (energy) body is powered by energy centres called chakras. These dynamic centres receive and store prana from the environment – acting as transformers – ensuring the energy can be used by our organs and biological processes. Also, the chakras function as switches or controls, which are able to activate our higher capacities of consciousness.
The seven main chakras are: The Root chakra (Mooladhara), Sacral chakra (Swadhisthana), Solar plexus chakra (Manipura), Heart chakra (Anahata), Throat chakra (Vishuddhi), Third-eye chakra (Ajna) and the Crown chakra (Sahasrara). There is an eighth centre – called Bindu – which is not really a chakra but an important centre within the brain, directly connected to the throat chakra.
The chakras form part of the energy body, however their locations correspond to important nerve plexuses in the physical body.
Each chakra has a different frequency and velocity of vibration. Those located closer to the base of the spine operate at lower frequencies, and in turn govern lower states of consciousness. Chakras located near the top of the spine, operate at higher frequencies and govern superior intelligence and subtler states of consciousness.
The different types of yoga – particularly hatha yoga and kriya yoga – purify, balance and activate the chakras both individually and as a system. With time, as the chakras awaken and the pranic levels rise, it becomes easier to experience the movement and exchange of prana within the chakras.
Every chakra has a specific kshetra – a contact point through which it can be aroused – and is related to a specific endocrine gland.
The Root Chakra (Mooladhara)
The root chakra is our pranic power station, the centre where prana is generated. The awakening of prana commences at the root chakra, and traverses up the spinal cord through an energy channel called pingala nadi.
There is a special relationship between Mooladhara and Ajna chakra as they are directly connected. Mooladhara acts as the pranic generator and Ajna as the distributor. This relationship also makes Mooladhara a direct switch for awakening ajna chakra. However, this can only happen after the prana is awakened at Mooladhara.
Location and Kshetra of the Root chakra
In men, it is located at the perineum, halfway between the genital organ and the anus, and approximately two centimetres inwards.
In women, it is located on the upper side of the cervix, halfway between the vagina and the uterus.
In the root chakra, the location and Kshetra are the same.
The Energy block at the Root chakra
The root chakra is the home of an energy knot known as Brahma Granthi or the “Knot of Brahma.” This energy knot reflects our attachment to food, shelter, wellness and survival in general. Unless the knot is undone, the energy in Mooladhara remains blocked. The moment the knot is undone Kundalini awakens, significantly increasing our energy levels.
The Root chakra and Tamas
In relation to the gunas or the three qualities of nature of all humans, Mooladhara is connected to the quality of tamas, which relates to lethargy, dullness and ignorance.
The Root chakra and the element of Earth
Mooladhara is associated to the element of Earth and Annamaya Kosha (the physical body). It is linked to the biological processes of nourishment and elimination.
Psychology of the Root chakra
In psychological terms, the root chakra is associated with the unconscious mind, where our deep-rooted instincts and fears remain hidden. In the psychological perspective, Mooladhara acts as a doorway to higher as well as lower experiences and levels of consciousness.
Meditating on the Root chakra
Mooladhara can be visualised in meditation as a red lotus with four petals. The petals are seen red due to the electrical discharges which emit light particles in this region. An arrangement of four petals is produced due to the closeness of the discharges. Each of the chakras are seen as lotuses of different colours and varying number of petals. The number of petals correlate to the level of pranic force at each chakra.
Sense, organ of perception and organ of action of Mooladhara:
The tanmatra (specific sense modality) of Mooladhara is the sense of smell, its gyanendriya (organ of sense perception) is the nose and its karmendriya (organ of action) is the anus.
Endocrine relationship of the root chakra
Mooladhara chakra is related to the perineal body.
The Bija mantra – master key – of Mooladhara is the mantra “Lam.” (Pronounced like “lum” in the word ‘lump’)
The Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana)
The word Swadhisthana, means “one’s own abode”. It is located near the root chakra and is also responsible for the awakening of Kundalini energy.
The Sacral chakra acts as the storehouse of all our dormant samskaras or mental impressions, which are considered the bedrock of our very existence. The existence of this storehouse makes it difficult for awakened prana to cross Swadhisthana chakra and move towards Manipura.
Location and Kshetra of the Sacral Chakra
The Sacral chakra is located at the coccyx, in very close proximity to Mooladhara chakra. The Kshetra of Swadhisthana is the pubic bone.
The Sacral Chakra and Tamas
In relation to the gunas or the three qualities of nature of all humans, Swadhisthana is connected to the quality of tamas, which relates to lethargy, dullness and ignorance.
The Sacral chakra and the element of Water
Swadhistana is associated to the element of Water and Pranamaya Kosha (the energy body). It is linked to the sexual and urinary processes of the physical body.
Psychology of the Sacral chakra
The sacral chakra is associated to the subconscious mind, and rules lethargy and sleep. It is also related to the reproductive organs and the sense of taste.
The desire for indulgence – mainly in the form of food and sex – intensifies when Swadhisthana is activated. These very desires, may hinder the awakening of prana at this centre. The only way for the energy to move through Swadhisthana, is by developing strong willpower.
Meditating on the Sacral Chakra
Swadhisthana can be visualised in states of meditation, as a vermilion lotus of six petals.
Sense, organ of perception and organ of action of Swadhisthana:
The tanmatra (specific sense modality) of Swadhisthana is the sense of taste, its gyanendriya (organ of sense perception) is the tongue and its karmendriya (organ of action) are the sexual organs, the kidneys and urinary system.
Endocrine relationship of the sacral chakra
Swadhisthana chakra is related to the testes/ovaries.
The Bija mantra – master key – of Swadhisthana is the mantra “Vam”
(When pronounced rhymes with “Lam” – bija mantra of Mooladhara)
The Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura)
The word Manipura translates to ‘city of jewels.’ The solar plexus is the storehouse of prana, which is why its development is of high importance. It is associated with heat, vigour, vitality and the processes of generation and preservation.
Manipura is frequently compared to the sun. The sun radiates light and heat, similarly Manipura radiates and distributes energy throughout the body, powering and controlling all of life’s processes.
Location and Kshetra of the Solar plexus
The Solar plexus is located in the spine, just behind the navel. The Kshetra of Manipura is the Navel.
The Solar plexus and Rajas
In relation to the gunas or the three qualities of nature of all humans, Manipura is predominantly influenced by rajas – activity, vitality, vigour and will.
The Solar plexus and the element of Fire
Manipura is associated to the element of Fire and Pranamaya Kosha (the energy body). It is linked with digestion and distribution of energy.
Psychology of the Solar plexus
At the level of Manipura, one no longer sees the world through personal prejudice and complexes. One is able to see higher possibilities of human consciousness. One’s life becomes influenced by this higher vision.
Meditating on the Solar plexus
Manipura can be visualised in states of meditation, as a yellow lotus with ten petals.
Sense, organ of perception and organ of action of Manipura:
The tanmatra (specific sense modality) of Manipura is the sense of sight, its gyanendriya (organ of sense perception) are the eyes and its karmendriya (organ of action) are the feet.
Endocrine relationship of the navel chakra
Manipura is related to the adrenal glands.
The Bija mantra – master key – of Manipura is the mantra “Ram”
The Heart Chakra (Anahata)
The word Anahata means ‘unstruck’ and is often referred to as ‘the seat of unstruck sound.’
It is called ‘unstruck sound’ because it is not caused by any external process and cannot be picked up by the sense of hearing or the mind. It is a transcendental sound, which can only be perceived by a sophisticated consciousness.
Anahata chakra is the heart centre. It is responsible for the awakening or higher emotions. People with developed heart chakras are generally very sensitive and empathetic.
The heart chakra is the seat of Pure love. This is the centre which converts emotion into devotion.
Location and Kshetra of the Heart chakra
Anahata is located behind the heart, in the spine. Its Kshetra is the centre of the chest.
The Energy block at the Heart chakra
Anahata is the home of an energy knot known as Vishnu Granthi or the “Knot of Vishnu” the second of the three energetic knots. This knot represents emotional attachment. When the knot is undone, one becomes free from all selfish and emotional attachment, attaining great mental and emotional control, bringing forth peace. Only then, can the prana proceed to the throat chakra.
The heart chakra and Rajas
In relation to the gunas or the three qualities of nature of all humans, Anahata is predominantly influenced by rajas – activity, vitality, vigour and will.
The heart chakra and the element of Air
Anahata is associated with Manomaya Kosha (the mental body). It is linked to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The element of Anahata is air.
Psychology of the Heart chakra
At this level, once one is freed from emotional attachment, the mind becomes calm, steady and peaceful. This level of peace, gives one greater control over one’s life and future.
Meditating on the Heart chakra
Anahata can be visualised in states of meditation, as a blue lotus of 12 petals.
Sense, organ of perception and organ of action of Anahata:
The tanmatra (specific sense modality) of Anahata is the sense of touch, its gyanendriya (organ of sense perception) is the skin and its karmendriya (organ of action) are the hands.
Endocrine relationship of the heart chakra
Anahata is related to the thymus gland.
The Bija mantra – master key – of Anahata is the mantra “Yam”
(When pronounced, rhymes with “ram” – bija mantra of Manipura chakra)
The Throat Chakra (Vishuddhi)
Vishuddhi chakra is the centre of purification and longevity, also known as “the fountain of youth.” The ancient yogic scriptures state the awakening of Vishuddhi reverses diseases.
A purified and activated Vishuddhi chakra, greatly sharpens and intensifies the sense of hearing.
Location and Kshetra of the Throat chakra
Vishuddhi is located in the spine, behind the throat pit and is associated to the thyroid gland and the element of ether. Its Kshetra is the pit of the throat.
The Throat chakra and Sattva
Vishuddhi is predominantly influenced by sattva – purity, luminosity and serenity.
The throat chaktra and the element of Ether
Vishuddhi chakra is associated with Vijnanamaya Kosha (the psychic body – which relates to the subconscious and unconscious mind) and the vocal cords. It is a centre of higher mental faculties and its element is ether.
Psychology of the Throat chakra
At the level of Vishuddhi, negative experiences can be transformed into a state of bliss. The level of consciousness rises to a point in which external happenings no longer affect inner peace.
Meditating on the Throat chakra
Vishuddhi can be seen in states of meditation, as a violet lotus of 16 petals. Meditating on Vishuddhi empties the mind of thoughts, making it an empty space, a quality it shares with its element.
Sense, organ of perception and organ of action of Vishuddhi:
The tanmatra (specific sense modality) of Vishuddhi is the sense of hearing, its gyanendriya (organ of sense perception) are the ears and and its karmendriya (organ of action) is the vocal cord.
Vishuddhi is related to the thyroid gland.
The Bija mantra – master key – of Vishuddhi is the mantra “Ham”
(Pronounced “hum” as in ‘hummingbird’)
The Third Eye chakra (Ajna)
The word Ajna (pronounced agya) literally means ‘to know’. Ajna chakra is the control centre, sometimes referred to as the “guru chakra” or “the third eye”.
The three main nadis or energy channels: ida (which carries mental energy), pingala (which carries prana or vital energy) and sushumna (which carries Kundalini energy) converge into one channel of consciousness at the third-eye chakra. This single stream then flows up to Sahasrara, the crown chakra.
The Guru Chakra
In deep meditation, when all the senses are withdrawn and one enters the state of shoonya (the void), it is said the inner guru (internal wisdom) guides the yogi on the path from ajna chakra to Sahasrara chakra by issuing perfectly perceivable commands.
The development of the third-eye is of great importance and it is at this level that prana is experienced in the form of light. In certain yogic practices, Ajna chakra acts as the distributing centre of prana.
The Third eye
Ajna is the epicentre of the mind. It is frequently referred to as ‘the eye of intuition’ or ‘the third eye’. It is an eye which looks inwards rather than outward, through which one is able to ‘see’ within and understand the underlying nature of one’s existence. This inner eye is symbolical for the ability to see the self with unprecedented clarity when our consciousness is activated at the level of ajna.
Location and Kshetra of the Third-eye chakra
Ajna is located within the brain, at the very top of the spinal cord, in the medulla oblongata. It corresponds to the pineal gland. Its Kshetra is called Bhrumadhya, and is located at the eyebrow centre.
The Energy block at the Third-eye Chakra
Ajna is the home of an energy knot known as Rudra Granthi or the “Knot of Rudra” the last of the three energetic knots. This knot represents the subtle attachment to the mental faculties ensuing from the awakening of ajna chakra. Like all attachment, this subtle attachment too blocks the evolution of consciousness. Once undone, the energy can move towards Sahasrara, the crown chakra.
The Third-eye and Sattva
In relation to the gunas or the three qualities of nature of all humans, Ajna is predominantly influenced by sattva – purity, nobility and innocence.
The Third-eye and the sixth element
Ajna chakra is related to Vijnanamaya Kosha (the bliss body) and its element is the sixth element: the mind.
Psychology of the Third eye chakra
Ajna chakra is the witnessing centre, when one becomes ‘the detached witness.’ The level of awareness at ajna lets us see and perceive beyond our ordinary capacity, as we are no longer attached to our emotions, ideals or our very own sense of identity. We are able to see things as they truly are.
Meditating on Ajna
Ajna can be visualised in states of meditation, as a silver lotus of two petals.
Sense, organ of perception and organ of action of Ajna:
The tanmatra (specific sense modality), gyanendriya (organ of sense perception) and karmendriya (organ of action) of Ajna are all the mind.
Endocrine relationship of the third eye
Ajna is related to the pineal gland.
The Bija mantra – master key – of Ajna is the mantra “Om”
Bindu literally translates to ‘point’ and represents the point where creation originated, and the point where all things return to in the end. Bindu is the gateway to the state of shoonya, a meditative state equivalent to Nirvana.
Bindu is symbolised by a crescent moon with a drop of nectar. The ancient tantric texts describe it as a small pit within the superior centres of the brain which contains a diminutive secretion of fluid. Within the centre of this fluid, there is a minuscule elevated point, which resembles an island. This point is the Bindu.
Bindu secretes a fluid which is then consumed by Manipura’s heat. This energy process is responsible for ageing. Certain Yogic techniques help reverse this process, so the fluid is retained at Vishuddhi chakra and sent back to Bindu, reversing the process of biological ageing.
Location and Kosha of Bindu
Bindu is located at the top back of the head. Bindu is associated to Anandamaya Kosha (the bliss body), the outermost layer of the human aura.
The Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)
The Crown chakra is the centre of absolute consciousness, which is located at the top of the head. In reality, it is not a chakra at all, as it is beyond the mind itself.
Sahasrara represents the highest point in human evolution. It is a control centre which controls the awakening of all the other chakras. The individual chakras act as individual switches; however, the power lies at Sahasrara.
When Kundalini reaches Sahasrara is when self-realisation or enlightenment take place. Individual consciousness is replaced by Universal consciousness at this level.
Location, Kshetra and Kosha of the crown chakra
Sahasrara location and kshetra are both the crown of the head. It is associated with Anandamaya Kosha (the body of bliss), the outermost layer of the human aura.
Meditating on the Crown chakra
Sahasrara can be visualised in states of meditation, as a silver lotus of a thousand petals, which originates in the crown of the head.
Sahasrara is related to the pituitary gland.
The Bija mantra – master key – of Sahasrara is the mantra “Om”