Meet Your Chakras

Different traditions associate different things with each chakra: which body parts, emotions, and thoughts each chakra governs; which colors each chakra radiates; which areas of our personality each chakra represents. We (the authors) like to refer to the chakras according to their associated planets, excepting the top two chakras, whose names are descriptive.

Just about everybody who talks about chakras calls them something different. There are no pervasive Western names for the chakras; people name them after colors, mantra syllables, the elements, and so on. Yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein names chakras things like "root prop wheel," "jewel city wheel," and "wheel of the unstruck sound." None of these naming systems are arbitrary; the chakras do indeed correspond to many different energies. We find the planet-name system to be evocative but nonesoteric—and fun!

Here are the seven chakras:

> Saturn chakra. Located just above the anus at the base of the spine, this involves elimination and the sense of smell. This is where the kun-dalini lies. When awakened through yoga, this energy travels up the spine through all the chakras.

> Jupiter chakra. Located on the spine near the genitals, this involves water, sexuality, passion, the creation of life, and taste.

> Mars chakra. Located on the spine behind the navel, this is associated with digestion or "gastric fire," your sense of self, and your actions.

> Venus chakra. Located behind the heart, this is the center of your compassion and emotions.

> Mercury chakra. Located in the throat, this is the center for communication.

> Sun chakra. Located in the middle of the brow, this is also known as the third eye, or center of unclouded perception.

> Thousand Petaled Lotus chakra. Located at the crown of the skull, this is the center of self-realization, perspective, unity, and enlightenment.

All chakras must be activated or awakened for true enlightenment, which is not an easy process. Awakening your chakras—releasing the energy that flows through your spine—can take years, perhaps lifetimes! It's hard work to lighten up (or to achieve enlightenment).

A Yoga Minute

Every chakra has a

corresponding

color:

Thousand

Violet

Petaled Lotus

Sun

Indigo

Mercury

Blue

Venus

Green

Mars

Yellow

Jupiter

Orange

Saturn

Red

The seven chakras are often depicted as different mandala-like shapes drawn along the human spine. More on mandalas later in this chapter.

Ouch!

Feeling frazzled and unfocused? Try a pose that awakens your Saturn chakra, located at the base of your spine. Angry, hostile, or overemotional? Try a pose that stimulates your Venus chakra, located behind your heart. Having a problem communicating? Work with your Mercury chakra, located in the throat. Each Hatha Yoga posture is designed to awaken different chakras, so practicing the right poses can be the best prescription for what ails you.

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