We feel fresh and energetic post the practice on the yoga mat. That’s the way one should feel after yoga session. There is scientific explanation behind this secret smile on our face. The release of happy hormones like oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine during your yoga practice boosts your mood without any special reason. What stimulates the flow of hormones during the practice? Hormones can stream comfortably and joyfully with a better flow of energy in the body. The asana and pranayama practice works as the fuel to your body, allowing your energy to travel more freely and quickly throughout the body.
The positioning of seven chakras in a human body, in the spine, was confirmed by ancient yogis when the concept of modern science was not even conceived. We will surprise to know that all seven chakras are located close to seven major endocrine glands, which regulate levels of essential hormones in our body. It shows the great understanding of body mechanism on yogis’ parts.
Our energy body (Pranamaya Kosha) is one of the five bodies of us. Prana means breath which equals to pranic energy. According to Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga, our presence is not limited to our physical body (Annamayakosha) but we have four more bodies— Pranamayakosha (Energy Body), Manomayakosha (Mental Body), Vijnanamayakosha (Intellectual Body/Wisdom) and Anandamayakosha (Bliss Body/ Consciousness)—five sheaths overlapping each others like onion layers. Prana (energy) flows throughout our subtle bodies—all sheaths.
This prana (energy flow) is governed by seven major energy centers which are called chakras. Our body, however, is the home to 114 chakras—out of these two are outside physical body. Like whirlpools, the chakras rotate at the speed of light in a clockwise direction. Activating and balancing the chakras considered as the one of the paths which helps you to realize your higher self or to connect your spiritual self. You can call it enlightenment, kundalini awakening or simply a connection to the divine universal energy.
The blockages in the chakras don’t allow you to live your life in fuller terms. What can obstruct a free flow of energy in our body? A positive energy flow is disturbed by a negative one. From where does this negative energy come from? It enters through our feelings/emotions in the physical body. Though we all seek a simple and joyful life, we come across mess in the life from time to time. Intense emotional experiences and uncontrollable devastating life events bring with them sadness, guilt, fear, anxiety, depression, attachment, grief and hatred. These unhealthy emotions don’t allow energy to flow smoothly in a person’s body. Hatha Yoga (asanas, pranayamas, kriyas and mudras, counteracts negative energies and stabilizes the chakras, stimulating them to spin rhythmically.
Let’s understand the significance of each chakra, an endocrine gland associated with it and the feelings that may paralyze that respective chakra. The awareness of emotions motivates us to work on them and clear the disturbances in our energy flow. Depending on your capability and comfort, you can choose to practice any yoga techniques—hatha yoga, meditation or simply bija mantras to remove these blockages. Apart from above mentioned means, there are many techniques that can be used to open our chakras.
MULADHAR CHAKRA (ROOT CENTER)
Endocrine Gland & its Functions: This chakra associated reproductive glands—ovaries in women and testes in men, which secrete sex hormones. Ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, helps developing breasts and regulates menstruation. Testosterone is produced by testes, promotes production of sperms and maintains sex drive.
Bija Mantra: Lam
Significance: Muladhara chakra is the foundation that supports our survival instincts, so we need to keep this center strong and stable. Our lower body; includes legs, the base of spine and feet are governed by this center. It gives you energy to meet your core needs easily.This is the base of our kundalini, the source of our energy—in the form of sexual energy. The journey towards higher spiritual self begins here. Your kundalini rises to the top (Sahasra Chakra) as you start unblocking your chakras one by one.
Blockages: Located at the base of spine, this root chakra is blocked by fear, anxiety and doubts. To activate this chakra, you must face and surrender your fears and anxiety. Fears need not be very big, even a simple constant fear of failure in the exam, can put your muladhar off the track. But if you have studied hard enough you don’t need to worry about it. Just allow your results to unfold to you and be ready to accept them.
SWADHISHTHAN CHAKRA (THE SACRAL CENTER)
Endocrine Gland & its Functions: Adrenal glands are linked to the sacral center which regulates our immune system and manages gastrointestinal functions.
Bija Mantra: Vam
Significance: Swadhishthan can be translated as “one’s own abode”. Here “swa” means self and “than” stands for dwelling place. The second chakra Swadhishthan located exactly below your navel centre takes care of all fluid movements in your body. This chakra is involved with sensuality, sexuality, creativity, joy, emotions, intimacy, and desires. Your circulation, urination, menstruation, orgasm and tears are taken care by this chakra. Your sacral region, area of sexual organs, sacrum, lower back, womb, urinary bladder and kidney function nourished with Swadhishthan’s energy.
Blockages: You can access all kinds of pleasures and joys with the energy of Swadhishthan. But a feeling of guilt doesn’t allow you to enjoy your life. We all feel guilty some or other time. But a continuous self-guilt will not allow you to celebrate any moment of your life. So first understand what do you blame yourself for? Accept the reality and forgive yourself. A very basic guilt of eating sweets when you are following a weight loss regime, can make you very irritable with own self. That sweet or chocolate pastry may not add any pounds to your body, but your guilt will certainly. The research has proved that when you release blockages in your mental/emotional body, you can shed weight more easily.
MANIPURA CHAKRA (SOLAR PLEXUS)
Endocrine Gland & its Functions: Pancreas produces insulin, which maintains our blood sugar levels.
Bija Mantra: Ram
Significance: The third chakra, Manipura, is located at the solar plexus, little above your navel center. Manipura, means “city of gems” and refers to a special kind sights—vision of your eyes as well as vision of your mind. This is also known as the “power center” as you can manifest all your desires though this chakra. The Manipura,governs our digestion and metabolism.
Blockages: It is blocked by a feeling of shame. You can unblock this chakra with the power of self-esteem and willpower. A feeling of shame doesn’t allow a person to rise in life. He always stays in abyss. Accepting and loving all aspects (dark, grey or white) of you is the key to find balance in this center, which is easier said than done. But you can gradually open this chakra with backward bending asanas, performed against the gravitational force, which helps you cultivating willpower.
ANAHATA CHAKRA (HEART CENTER)
Endocrine Gland & its functions: Thymus gland plays a vital role in regulating immune system.
Bija Mantra: Yum
Significance: Anahata chakra, the heart center, is the core of our being. The word Anahata mean “unstuck”. The unstuck sound is known as Anahadnaad, manifested at heart chakra. It is known as primordial sound, which is beyond words. Located close to thymus gland, it takes care of your heart, upper chest, and upper back. The heart chakra governs the soft powers of life; love, affection, harmony and peace.
Blockages: This center is blocked by grief—the sadness you feel when you miss or lose somebody very dear or when your loved ones hurt you, or somebody breaks your faith. Feel the grief, accept the realities and practice asanas that will stimulate flow in your heart chakra, specifically asanas that promotes chest expansion, shoulder opening and neck tension releasing.
VISHUDDHI CHAKRA (THROAT CENTER)
Endocrine Gland & its Functions: Thyroid glands associated with this center regulate body temperature and metabolism. It also plays a part in bone development by controlling calcium and phosphorous levels.
Bija Mantra: Hum
Significance: The word shudhhi means “purification”. It’s a purification center of your body and mind, which helps you to express your true self. Your communication whether through speaking or writing, through music or dance or painting, is originated and refined here. The work on this chakra can make you a powerful person in any chosen area. It maintains health of neck, throat, jaw, mouth, vocal cords, larynx, thyroid and parathyroid glands.
Blockages: Truth is the nature of this chakra. The lies hamper the balance of this chakra. Lies are not only what you tell others, but lies which you tell yourself too. When you pretend things, behave and act as someone else, you are just closing your Vishudhha Chakra. Accept your realities, good and bad, will pave the way for true empowerment. The empowerment which takes place in you when you accept the way you are, easily accept your flaws and effortlessly express your potentials.
AJNA CHAKRA (THIRD EYE CENTER)
Endocrine Gland & its Functions: Pituitary Gland produces hormones and governs the function of all five glands and regulates emotions and intellect. Many hormones like growth hormones, prolactin, thyroid stimulating hormones and oxytocin are produced by this gland.
Sense: Sixth sense that includes clairvoyance and intuition.
Bija Mantra: Ma
Significance: The word ajna means command and that’s why it is known as the “command center”. The location of this chakra, third eye, is the place where the two main energy channels, ida and pingala, meet. Ajna chakra is the seat of the mind, of conscious and unconscious awareness. It governs your thoughts, dreams, imagination, and vision. You can visualize the past and imagine wonderful picture of the future with Ajna Chakra. It cultivates your Sixth sense includes clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, intuition, dreaming, imagination, and visualization.
Blockages: It is troubled by illusion—means realities which don’t exist. The illusion of separation puts out of rhythm. We are all connected to each other. There is no separation.
SAHASRA CHAKRA (CROWN CENTER)
Endocrine Gland & its Functions: Pineal Gland secretes melatonin, which regulates biological cycles including sleep.
Sense: It takes you beyond all senses, closer to higher consciousness.
Bija Mantra: Om
Significance: The word means Sahasra means thousand. This chakra is depicted by a white shining lotus of thousand petals, which signifies higher consciousness, infinite being, kundalini awakening, pure bliss and enlightenment. Located at the crown of the head, Sahasra Chakra connects us with the divine energy or universal consciousness. It connects to you to your higher self. This is full expression of yoga—the unification of being with action of universality with individuality.
Blockages: Your journey from Ajna to Sahasra may take longer as we all have many attachments–attachment with loved ones, attachment with place, people and many materialistic things. There is nothing wrong if you are attached to loved ones but it may come in your higher path. The practice of detachment will take you closer to higher self. Detachment doesn’t mean staying away from your near ones but you give them freedom to choose to do what they want. You give yourself freedom to love without any expectations. Meditation will help you to get detached from your loved ones and love them eternally.