Wheel Pose, which goes by the names Chakrasana and Urdhva Danurasana, can look like the arc of a rainbow. It represents the rainbow bridge of the chakras, psycho-energetic fields that can be thought of as vortexes of subtle energy that ascend along the length of the spine.
The seven major chakras are:
- Muladhara Chakra (at the base of the spine)
- Svadhisthana Chakra (in the pelvis)
- Manipura Chakra (solar plexus)
- Anahata Chakra (the heart)
- Vishuddhi Chakra (in the throat)
- Ajna Chakra (the third eye)
- Sahasrara Chakra (the crown of the head)
Chakras and the birth of Hatha Yoga
In the fifteenth century, Nath yogis were some of the first to classify and document the structure and function of the chakras. It was from the Nath yogis that the
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Pradipika was born. This influential text was written by senior Nath yogi, Svatmarama. It examines the ways in which we can use the tool of the body to focus the mind. Nath yogis used asana,pranayama, mudra and meditation to strengthen the body in order to receive or access siddhis, which can be defined as ‘super-normal perceptual states’ (special yogic powers that have sometimes been associated with the occult).
The chakras (which are examined in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika) can each be understood as a different state of energy and consciousness; the most dense state is experienced at Muladhara Chakra at the base of the spine, the lightest is experienced at Sahasrara Chakra at the crown of the head. In modern times each chakra has also come to be associated with a different psychological state. For example Manipura Chakra is thought to regulate our self esteem and drive to achieve. Vishuddhi Chakra is thought to be associated with our ability express ourselves creatively and to speak truth and hear the truths of others. The bridge that connects the lower to the upper chakras is Anahata Chakra, the heart center.
As we ascend through the chakras our consciousness ascends too. The higher we rise, the closer we are to a true state of Yoga, where our ‘self’ and ‘Self’ are united; where ego consciousness merges with an egoless form of consciousness that gives rise to a realisation that we are one with all of creation.
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