It is not easy to define Chakras. It's like asking “What does the word body really mean?” Where would you begin? We need anatomy books to look at images of what we have inside of our bodies. For this reason, I am using images to help you visualize this amazing invisible structure called the Chakra system. It is real. It is there. You can experience it for yourself, but it requires self-discipline and self-integrity. The science of Yoga created movements (postures = asanas in Sanskrit) and breathing techniques (= pranayama) many thousands of years ago that affect specific Chakras in the body. The spinal column is obviously the center around which all else revolves. All of the movements and breathing techniques aim to free and develop the Chakras by opening and freeing the passage within the spinal cord where they vibrate and flow. As you begin this journey, you will invariably run across some new ways of spelling Chakra...the ancient Tibetan spelling is Cakra, and Chakka is the Pali equivalent used by Buddha for his doctrine as the Dhammachakkappavattana Sutta. Chakras are also called padmas. You will run across different theories, different spellings, and even different parts of the body. In this series, you will be taught about the 7 Chakras. Keep in mind that there are many more.
Paramahansa Yogananda (shown here with his Guru, Yukteswar, to his right), is one of the more well-known Gurus from India. He founded the Self-Realization Fellowship worldwide. He said: “Christ taught Yoga methods to his close disciples to aid in their redemption...” Yoga was described in the Bible in the often misunderstood Book of Revelations. “...Saint John speaks of 7 stars and 7 churches. These symbols refer to the 7 Chakras of light in man's cerebrospinal axis, explained in Yoga treatises as the 7 divinely planned exits or 'trap doors' through which the devotee, by meditation, may escape by 7 successive steps into Cosmic Consciousness...” Sri Yukteswar defines the Chakras: “The 7 golden candlesticks are the 7 shining places in the body, known as brain (Sahasrara), medulla oblongata (Ajna), and 5 spinal centers—cervical (Visuddha), dorsal (Anahata), lumbar (Manipura), sacral (Svadhisthana), and coccygeal (Muladhara)—where the Spirit becomes manifested.” Yogananda taught a series of Kriya Yoga meditations and exercises that make it possible to speed up the evolution of human consciousness. He taught how to spiritualize your body, to perceive it as a reflection of Spirit and to think of yourself as the divine life energy that sustains your body, rather than as a mere physical vehicle consisting of bones and muscles of a certain volume and weight. Thanks to the Self-Realization Fellowship, all of his lessons were recorded and organized so that you can now use them to study and learn Kriya Yoga on your own—at home. I began to study these lessons in 1970 after I read the Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda (the book is available at their Web site provided later in this series). If you are serious about learning Yoga, it is very inexpensive to have the lessons mailed to you (one lesson arrives every 2 weeks). Go to the Lessons page at www.yogananda-srf.org/lessons/index.html. You will never regret it. Each lesson begins with the most beautiful poem written by Yogananda and then is followed by extraordinary how-to exercises in Kriya Yoga and the opening of the Chakra system, slowly and methodically (which is the only way to approach this subject). I believe even Einstein had some of his own experiences with the Chakra system. When he was 68 years old, he wrote, “The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the rank of devoutly religious men.” To read more words by Einstein and to learn about his life check out my page on Immortals. He was definitely someone I looked up to as a child and that fascination had never subsided. The word chakra comes from the Sanskrit language, and simply means wheel. Chakras are centers that are integrated neurophysiologically. They channel life force, feelings, memories, and thoughts. People who see the chakras always describe them as coming straight out of the body in a horizontal manner. The colors that emanate from them can be seen by many as the aura around the physical body. Classical Yoga philosophy refers to 7 such chakras: Additionally, a transcerebral center is described in these teachings, 6 inches to 3 feet above the top of the head, referred to as the Brahmanandhara; in some traditions it is believed to reside as a spark within the heart, referred to as the Hridaya center. It represents the state of Enlightenment. Sources for this Chakra Series (Many of these books are out of print and no longer available.):
- Eugenia Basilewsky, my teacher and guide in Sweden
- Karma Healing by John Jones (a workshop, not a book)
- The Human Aura by Swami Pachadasi
- Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar (1966)
- The Power of the Rays by S.G.J. Ouseley (1951)
- Practical Techniques of Astral Projections by Dr. Douglas M. Baker (1977)
- Advanced Course in Yogi Philosophy and Oriental Occultism by Yogi Ramacharaka (1904)
- The Universal Text Book of Religion and Morals Part III, Vol. 1
- Hinduism Edited by Annie Besant (1915)
- The Holy Science by Swami Sri Yuktsewar (1972)
- How to Read the Aura by W.E. Butler (1971)
- New Chakra Healing by Cyndi Dale
- Practical Yoga and Persian Magic by O. Hashnu Hara (1909)
- Some of the sources are unknown from scribbled notes over the past 37 years. If anyone has a problem with anything I have included in this Chakra series of my site, please let me know. I respect copyrights and will request permission when I know whom to contact, or delete the content if asked to. Sometimes when a book is out of print, it is hard to find out who actually owns it today!