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Somatically Identifying Chakras

People tend to equate “yoga” with the practice of asana. This is probably due to the fact that asana can be interpreted by sensation. There is a reference within our personal experience through which physical movement may be understood. Esoteric foundations of yoga practice including kundalini, nadis, koshas and chakras are less readily processed for lack of palpable density. In other words, since they aren’t tissue, they don’t feel real.

Oddly enough, few of us relate to internal organs with conscious relationship. Although they are undeniably manifesting as tissue, we don’t tend to understand the gall bladder, colon or spleen until we find problematic symptoms. If we think of the energetic anatomy as being hidden to our common perception as these organs are, perhaps, we can bridge to an illuminating view of this essential system of energy.

Think of the central nervous system as a type of lightening rod, a conductor of light. Likewise, think of the physical body as a generator which keeps that awareness interpreting the world (maya) through personal reality. The light itself is universal (impersonal). At some point the body will fall away, and the universal will continue. Each being has a contract to merge spirit with matter; this is the journey. This is the essence of the chakras.

Once we’re born, life works to infuse itself through our CNS, anchoring itself at the base of the spine. As in all matter from atoms to planets, equal and opposite forces affect action/reaction. So too with the chakras. As the ida and pingala intersect, opposing energies create energetic vortexes something like tornadoes. Each of these chakras radiates with physical, psychological and emotional qualities. Of course, these characteristics resonate with the autonomic functions of their spinal location. We can develop relationship with each of the chakras by starting with the physical traits and sensitizing to the subtle ones.

Muladhara, located at the base of the tailbone, is our most primal experience. The body’s need to eliminate waste is interwoven with primary needs: air, food, water, shelter. All issues of self-survival resonate from this chakra. This involves our perceptions of danger and safety, fight and flight.

Svadhistana, located mid-sacrum, is the generator of sexual drive (species-survival). Sexuality is also our paradigm for creative needs. We need to create, and we do... consciously or unconsciously. Failure to realize this results in creating too much flesh, unwanted children, exhausting dramas and cluttered lives. Channeling this energy mindfully creates abundance!

Manipura, found at the top of the lumbar region, is the digestive fire. That which we assimilate is reborn! What was living becomes life again through cell generation. Power is the ability to transmute inspiration into action. Assimilating concepts and creating experience is the gift of this center.

Anahata, our most vulnerable area, is a bridge between our physical instincts and our acquired values. Known as the heart chakra, anahata animates our “trust experience”. Just as the heart receives and gives blood, our psyches give and receive. Risking rejection, opening to possibilities and fortifying compassion are all aspects of the fourth chakra.

Vishuddi, located in the cervical region, regulates self expression: speech, personality, title, communication etc... The throat facilitates interaction and regulates boundaries.

Ajna, located at the “3rd eye”, is our mental body, our dreams, our insights, and our access to subtle perceptions. Waking and tonifying this area helps us to sidestep a world of bottom line realities and to see radiant energy. Noticing colors within light, journeying through meditation and finding access to the impersonal mind are characteristic of this region.

Sahasrara, our crown, is the energetic link between the external Divine (Brahman) and the internal Divine (Atman).

One of the most helpful approaches to identifying the chakra qualities, is respecting the coexistence of linear and vertical realities. The mundane truths of “before, now and later” are part of time and space (maya). They are also part of the physical body. The esoteric truth of eternity involves the unwavering radiance of bliss. This is the formula of the seven energy centers.

Our spines hold the link between the tangible and the eternal. As light refracts itself in prismatic observability, the chakras do the same. We hold the seven colors each vibrating at different frequencies throughout our CNS’s. Beginning with red in the muladhara and culminating with white at Sahasrara, we are “light beings”.

We practice our eight limbs of raja yoga in order to palpate the paradox of linear and vertical truths. As we fine tune our lightening rods, we create conscious relationship between our physical dance and our inherent divinity. That qualifies as magic.


by Toni Zuper
Alternative Healing
Center City, Philadelphia

published in Yoga Living Magazine -- July 2003 issue