by: Raechel T
So, first a note on the title of this post. Here’s the thing. If you would have asked me, oh, less than two years ago, if I would be writing a blog post about chakras I would have laughed in your face. Chakras were for new agey, a-political hippies, and I was certainly not one of those. Sure I did Bikram yoga, and I happened to like some hippie food (I mean, granola, c’mon, who doesn’t?), but I was a modern gal, with firm politics, and serious skepticism for any form of “healing” that didn’t involve a medical doctor. Also, I dressed way better than hippies.
Oh my, how quickly things change! It was my foray into clean eating/detox communities, and my shift from Bikram to Vinyasa yoga that really got things started about a year and a half ago. Now that I’ve been in teacher training, all bets are off. Although I still approach this stuff with my lefty political lens, I have, for all intents and purposes, drunk “the kool-aid.” But don’t let that scare you. All that really means is that I’m allowing myself to be open to everything I’m learning and feeling. And in a society that teaches you to buffer your vulnerability with material possessions, I don’t see how this could possibly be a bad thing.
The reality of my hippie-dom was never more evident than after our chakra tuning yoga class on Sunday night. Readers, after only 15 minutes of the 90 minute session, I was in tears. The tears didn’t stop. I was honestly (quietly) crying through the entire class! I can’t really articulate what or how I was moved so intensely, but it was.in.tense. And when Mike picked me up from class, and I was still in tears, and he asked me how it was, the only thing I could respond with was a confession: “Oh baby! I’m a hippie!” I sort of laugh/cried after this, then just kept repeating how intense it was. Oh dear.
Anyway, I’m trying to embrace this. As long as I keep my politics and my fashion sensibilities, I think I’ll be okay.
So, chakras! What are they? Chakras can be understood as energetic spheres or accumulation points in our bodies. These spheres helps us understand how we perceive ourselves and how we perceive others. These energy centers can be stimulated or aggravated throughout our lives, so it’s helpful to be in tune with how they function so we can better handle the various situations we, as living beings, encounter.
The chakras run along our spine (kind of–symbolically they do, anyway), starting at the tailbone and working their way up to a few inches above our head. Below is a list of the seven chakras.
“Root place.” Located at the base of your tailbone. Place where we acknowledge our basic needs (“what am I going to eat? how will I protect myself?” etc.). Invokes survival and stability (or lack of).
Color: Red; Element: Earth; Sense: Smell. Sound: “LAM”
Creativity, Sensuality, Sexuality. Located a few fingers-widths below your belly button. Concerned with pleasure, intimate relationships, sexuality. Associated with sex organs.
Color: Orange; Element: Water; Sense: Taste. Sound: “VAM”
“Jewel of the City.” Located at the solar plexus. Strength, vitality, confidence. (“how do I present myself? how do I want to be seen by others?”). This chakra is about power; as yogis we must ask, How do I find this energy to have power to do good in the world, but not to have power over?
Color: Yellow; Element: Fire; Sense: Sights. Sound: “RAM”
“Unstruck.” Located at heart-center.Compassion, Selflessness, Unconditional Love. You start to see yourself in others; (“everyone wants the same things, so what can I do for them?”).
Color: Green; Element: Air; Sense: Touch. Sound: “YAM”
Throat Chakra. “Pure” or “Poison Removing.” This chakra impacts how we communicate. Ability to know what’s true and essential and be able to put that into the world (often through words). Finding balance in this chakra will keep us truthful, non-manipulative, and help us listen to others.
Color: Blue; Element: Ether; Sound: Hearning. Sound: “HAM”
Anja Chakra: Located at Third Eye Center. “Command Center.” Intuition, Humility. Ability to perceive what is essential in a situation. Having faith that in every situation there is some potential for learning and growth.
Color: Violet; Element: Space; Sense: Telepathy. Sound: “OM/AUM”
Sahasrara Chakra: “Thousand Petaled.” Enlightenment. Located 6-8 in. above your head, where you might envision a halo. Related to your relationship with the Universe/Highest Self. When in balance, it cultivates a feeling of ONENESS.
Color: Light; Sense: Cosmic Conciousness; Sense: the subtlest. Sound: (a silent ‘OM’)
In order to ‘tune’ the chakras, one of our amazing yoga instructors developed a yoga sequence to target each of these energy spheres. To do that, not only did we go through a series of asanas that physically targeted the chakra location, but we also chanted the chakra “sound” through the poses, and she also guided us to bring people and thoughts into our consciousness. For example, during the Manipura Chakra portion, we did a series of twisting poses, since this engages the solar plexus part of the body. When we twisted to the right, we were to bring into mind a time our ego got in the way of our compassion, and when we twisted to the left, a time that we let our insecurity take over our confidence. During the last twisting pose, we repeated the mantra “RAM” (pronounced “raum“). Here’s an article from Yoga Journal about yoga poses for the chakra system.
This whole thing probably sounds super out-there, but as is clear from my non-stop waterworks, it was immensely powerful.
Are you familiar with chakras? Have you ever done any chakra work? Am I totally off my rocker, or is this stuff kind of cool?
Note: This piece was originally featured on the author’s blog and republished with permission. You can find the original here.
Raechel T is a PhD Candidate in Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests include: critical media studies, queer studies, rhetoric, critical pedagogy, and the labor movement. She’s a long-time labor activist and a full-time cat lady. You can read more of Raechel’s thoughts at rebelgrrlacademy.wordpress.com, and you can follow her adventures with vegan food and healthy living at rebelgrrlkitchen.wordpress.com.