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Mapping the Chakras*

With gratitude to our teachers, both ancient and contemporary, for mapping, visualizing, feeling and intuiting the seven chakras and their subtle nature

It is thought that one of the first tools the yogis used to study their reality were the five elements— earth, water, fire, air and space— which they experienced/perceived through their five senses— smell, taste, sight, touch and sound. By observing their natural environment and how all things arose from and returned back to these elements, it was logical to conclude that their physical bodies were comprised of these elements and subject to the cycle of birth and death. After centuries of experimentation and various yogic practices– pranayama, pratyahara, meditation… yogis were able to perceive subtler and subtler qualities of the original five elements. Yogic texts refer to these subtle qualities as nadis, which are sometimes described as a river of life force, a slow pulsatory rhythm, or a channel/pathway of pranic mental, physical and spiritual current.

According to Vedic scripture, there are 72,000 nadis in the human body. The network of nadis helps the life force (prana) flow in the body. Of all those nadis, three of them have special importance, the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. The Ida Nadi arises in the left side of the body and is connected to the moon principle. The Pingala Nadi comes from the right side of the body and symbolizes the sun principle. And lastly, the Sushumna Nadi runs through the center channel of the spinal cord and represents pure consciousness. The intersection of these three nadis creates a vortex of energy along the spine called a chakra.

The chakras move in a spiral motion similar to those of ocean currents, weather patterns, and the circulation of blood and lymph through the body. The chakras also represent the circular nature of time, as in a cycle of years, a horoscope, our lifespan, and the great wheel of time. By accessing and mapping these chakras the yogis have opened the doors of perception and have given seekers the opportunity to experience the subtle body and the wisdom it imparts to humanity.

*The word “chakra” is pronounced Cha-kra (not Sha-kra). This pronunciation is important because there is energy and power in the sound and resonance of this word.

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