The chakras are points in the human system where the network of energy channels come together and meet. According to the yogic tradition, there are 7 chakras that are the primary ones within the human body. These are named the Muladhara chakra, the Swadhisthana chakra, the Manipuraka chakra, the Anahata chakra, the Vishuddhi chakra, the Ajna chakra and the Sahasrar chakra.
Each chakra has a specific significance in the context of one’s spiritual growth. The Muladhara chakra is located at the perineum. It is also referred to as the “foundation chakra” because it forms the basis upon which the rest of the energy system rests. The next chakra is the Swadhisthana. It is located slightly above the genital organs. Though often mistakenly associated with sexuality, the Swadhisthana is traditionally considered the “abode of the self”. The Swadhisthana is related to the element of water, while Muladhara is related to the element of earth.
The Manipuraka chakra is located below the navel, and is associated with the element of fire. The Manipuraka is the center that drives our ambition and activity. It is also associated with digestion. Above the Manipuraka is the Anahata chakra, located just below the point where the ribcage meets. The Anahata is often referred to as the “heart chakra” and is associated with love and creativity.
Above the Anahata is the Vishuddhi chakra at the pit of the throat. The Vishuddhi is also known as the center of Lord Shiva, one of the three primary Hindu divinities, the other two being Brahma and Vishnu. In Indian mythology, Shiva is said to have consumed all the poison that escaped when the primordial ocean was churned. This poison was held in his throat, which turned blue. Beyond the Vishuddhi lies the Ajna chakra at the point between the eyebrows. This is the center of clarity in a human being and is known as the third eye, a reference to the new vision that opens up when one attains to this chakra.
The last of the 7 chakras is the Sahasrar chakra at the top of the head. It is through the Sahasrar that one attains union with the existence. Attaining to Sahasrar is also said to bring an experience of great ecstasy in the body.
Essentially, yoga and meditation were created as methods to raise a human being’s experience from the Muladhara to the Sahasrar chakra, thereby leading one to enlightenment. In fact, the word “yoga” literally means “union” or “yoking” and is derived from the root word “yeug” which means “to join”, referring to the union of the individual with the larger existence.