What is a Chakra?
A Chakra is a wheel, or a vortex of energy that exists on many levels in the body. Different system define a chakra is various ways.
We think of the brain as a lump of tissue in our skull. Try thinking of your brain as your entire nervous system. Your spinal column connects through synapsis, to every nerve in your body, it is all one organ. Nervous plexuses are formed at seven main points in the system. These are at the crown of your head, your forehead, throat, middle of your chest, solar plexus, just below your navel, and in you perineum between your legs. The amount of nervous energy at each plexus is dictated by the amount needed at any one site. Some are more active than others.
The Endocrine System
Associated with each plexus is an endocrine organ. The crown of your head is the Pineal Gland, forehead, the Pituitary Gland, throat, the Thyroid Gland, chest, the Thymus Gland, solar plexus, the Pancreas, the navel, the adrenal glands, the perineum, the gonads. Each gland contributes hormones into the body system. Different glands will respond differently in different people. Some systems may be dominated by the gonadal hormones while others may be dominated by the pituitary and so on. The entire system talks to itself via the cardio vascular system and hormones are delivered to where they are needed in the blood stream.
The Traditional Chakra System
In the Yogic and Ayurvedic systems of both mind and body each chakra is given a Sanskrit name and has associated characteristics. The crown chakra is the Sahasaram and is associated with creativity. The forehead chakra, the Ajna is associated with sensitivity and harmony. The throat chakra, the Vishuddi is associated with thought and cognition. The heart chakra, the Anhatta, is associated with emotion and power. The solar plexus chakra is associated with intellect and perceptual experience. The navel chakra is associated with sensuality, friendship and family. The base chakra in perineum is associated the body as a whole, sexuality and physical action or behaviour.
The Seven Yoga
The Rishes, or researchers, recognised that people were dominated physically, emotionally and mentally by the hormones of particular chakras that created different personality types. To cater for the self development needs of the differing personality types the Rishes identified seven ways of being that became known as the Yogas. Yoga comes from the root word Yug or to gather. A yoga is all the information that has been gathered and understood about that chakra. The seven yogas are:
Tantra – concerned with the creative imagination
Raja – concerned with meditative and spiritual practice
Mantra – concerned with the mind, thought and the spoken word
Bhakti – concerned with the control of power and the development of service to others
Jnana – concerned with the intellect, experiment and research of new ideas
HaTha – concerned balancing the energy of the body, mind and emotion to create stability
Karma – concerned with the rightness of action
While many personality types followed a single yogic path there were some who followed all seven, this is known as Ashtanga or Integral Yoga.
Bio – Energy
Many people and systems identify the chakras as colours that can be seen in the bio-energetic energy that emanates from and surrounds the body. This energy, that can know be photographed using a Kirlean camera, was traditionally termed the Aura. The colours in the aura depend on the openness of each chakra. Those who have studied the chakra system in depth have worked to develop a form of Ayurvedic psychology. Over time, in the west this has become a form of spectral psychology, which identifies the colours of the chakras and their primary drives.
Crown – Pineal – Creativity – Violet
Forehead – Pituitary – Intuition – Indigo
Throat – Thyroid – Conceptual – mind Blue
Chest – Thymus – Emotion – Green
Solar Plexus – Pancreas – Intellectual – mind Yellow
Navel – Adrenal – Social/sensual – Orange
Perineum – Gonads – Sexual/Behavioural – Red
From all the work alluded to above a small group of western psychologists and other practitioners have, and continue to develop the understanding of the spectral model of psychology. The notables that I have worked with are Christopher Hills, Kevin Kingsland, David Pike, and a few others. David Pike and myself are hoping to prepare a publication that will go into the concepts of spectral psychology and therapy in depth.
There is plenty to read on the chakra system so have a good google. If you want to dive into some good yoga psychology check out Ramurti Mishra, Text Book of Yoga Psychology.