Yoga has become so amazingly popular today and of course the perception of the general public towards it has changed dramatically. Just a decade or so ago it was still shrouded in mystery and very bound up with ideas of the energy Chakras, enlightenment, Moksha, meditation and so on. Some of this still remains, however, by far the majority of students who walk through the door of a yoga studio have little or no knowledge of or interest in these things. Those who do may be a little dissapointed most of the time to discover that most teachers and classes will involve only stretching, breathwork and a little meditation.
Despite the association of Yoga today with back health, losing weight, physical exercise and so on, the ideas of the Chakras, Nadis, Moksha and Samadhi remain and integral part of yoga. Somehow the ideas of the Chakras have been separated out of yoga practice and become incorporated into quite different practices such as Reiki, Shamanic work, even Angel Healing Therapy and so on.
So does yoga as most people know it today have anything to do with Chakra work, Kundalini etc? Will stretching exercises and synchronized deep breathing clear your Chakras (whatever they are) and bring you closer to enlightenment? And who should you be asking? Your ‘yoga’ teaacher?
Many courses these days include exotic visualizations and methods to clear Chakras. You might use colours, sound, even visualize glowing spheres of energy along the spine being cleansed and powerful energy rising from the sacrum to the crown of your head and beyond. Are these all forms of yoga? Will you get any of this from your yoga class? Do you even want to????
Here is my humble perspective. It’s just my opinion. I have practiced yoga and meditation for nearly 30 years and dabbled in many other things besides including Reiki, acupuncture, hypnosis and so on. My honest opinion is that yes, you can expect your energy system to be purified and strengthened through the practice of yoga and meditation. Going swimming or running will also be good for your energy system. Carrying out a charitable act, an act of kindness or love will also strongly benefit this subtle energy system. How will you know its working? As one of my teachers, Yogi Hari once pointed out, if your heart Chakra is ‘activated’ you won’t have visions of swirling green or pink vortices of energy (and if you did, how would they benefit you?), rather, you will feel more compassionate and forgiving as a person. Likewise with your base Chakra, you will feel more grounded in reality, less prone to float away in dreams, connected by loyalty to your family and ‘tribe’ and so on.
Many people have psychic gifts and may be able to see the colors of Chakras and so on, but if you don’t have this gift and if you don’t have the time to develop it, this doesn’t mean you can’t work on the energy of your Chakras. You may not be able to see them like a psychic, but they may well be more developed than those of someone who is only able to see them, but doesn’t know how to work with them!
To develop your base Chakra, spend time with our family. To develop your main abdominal Chakra, learn to take pleasure in life and develop your creativity. To develop your solar plexus Chakra, learn to take responsibilty, step up to the plate more often and develop your self-confidence. To develop the heart, be more kind, loving and forgiving. To develop the throat, learn to speak clearly, honestly and with confidence. To develop your third eye, learn to think clearly, to be objective, to develop your personal vision for your future and those of your loved ones. To develop your crown Chakra….
Physical yoga, asana and pranayama helps you with all of these things, but if you choose to remain in a vain, selfish, hateful state of mind, you may have a flexible body, perhaps even a beautiful one, you may even have learned Patanjali’s aphorisms by heart, but your Chakras will be as closed as your mind and as blind as your desire to see swirling vortices of energy in your spine!