The chakras are pranic centres within the human framework. In each person, there are myriad of chakras. However, only a few principal ones are utilized in yogic practice. These few are the ones which span the full spectrum of man's being from the gross to the subtle. These main chakras are:
Though we have included sahasrara in this list, it is not really a chakra; it transcends them all and includes all of the chakras and sahasrara together because they are the basic centres common to many mind awakening systems throughout the world, including yoga. Together with another focal point called the bindu they are the fundamental centres used in kriya yoga techniques. Some mind expanding systems bring in other chakras, such as the sun a and chandra chakras above the navel. These are perfectly acceptable, but in yoga and tantra they are not used.
These chakras are both real and symbolic. That is, they imply two things. They represent:
1. Centres of subtle energies (prana) within the pranic body of man, each chakra being associated with pranic energy at specific frequency levels and subtlety. Each chakra is a switch which turns on or opens up specific levels of the mind.
2. Progressively higher states of awareness. That is, the chakras symbolize different levels of awareness in man from the more instinctive realms associated with mool-adhara chakra to the more intuitive realms associated with ajna chakra. They symbolize the spiritual path.
These two aspects are really two different ways of saying the same thing, for manipulation and control of prana in any of the centres will induce a corresponding state of awareness. Conversely, a specific state of awareness will induce prana to predominate at the corresponding chakra. Each is directly related to the other.
The internalized awareness aspect is symbolized by the ida nadi and the prana aspect by the pingala nadi. These two nadis will be fully discussed later in the book1; it will suffice to say here that the ida and pingala are nadis that cross each other at each ofthe six main chakras. This implies that the awakening of each chakra is inseparably related to both prana and consciousness. There are many other implications which will not be discussed here.
Physical or mental stimulation of the psychic centres can lead to changes of consciousness. This awakens the psychic potential in man and gives him a greater vision and realization of his own reality. This is the purpose of kriya yoga. It is to give you a basic understanding of chakras and the physical location in the body in preparation for kriya yoga, that we have introduced the subject of chakras at this stage in the course.
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