Understanding & Integrating Chakra Awareness

by Francesca Bonta, Metaphysical Healer

Understanding the chakras, or vital energy centers, gives us self-knowledge at every level of our being

The Chakras is how our essence manifests in human form. The word chakra literally means a “spinning wheel”—a great metaphor, as spirit uses the chakras to weave the fabric of life. The chakras govern our behavior, shape our emotional life, give expression to our deepest desires, and build the structure of our physical body and personality.
Understanding the chakras gives us self-knowledge at every level of our being. Luckily for us, the chakras also map out the journey to fulfillment and enlightenment.
Yoga is designed to use the energy of the chakras to accelerate that journey. The chakra system describes how the life force, prana, circulates between the physical world of the body and in the realm of pure consciousness. Prana nurtures and sustains every aspect of our body and mind through these seven main energy centers respect to their position along the spine, but keep in mind they are they are the loci of subtle energy, which manifests on many different levels.

Root Chakra (Muladhara)

Located at the base of the spine (the pelvic floor), the root chakra gives us our individual connection to the foundation of earthly existence, physical well-being, and security.  The muladhara gives rise to the instinctive urges—such as hunger, sleep, and self-preservation—that fuel our activities as well as our passions. On the physical level, the root chakra is associated with the earth element, the sense of smell, and the capacity of excretion. It is also where our individual potential lies sleeping in the depths of our unconscious mind. Our spiritual journey in the universe of the body is to awaken this divine potential (kundalini) and unite her with the infinite at the crown of the head. Asana practice, such as mountain pose, in particular can ground and pacify the energies of this center, offering safe haven in the home of the body. Other practices—such as observing the yamas and the niyamas, the do's & don't of yoga in everyday life (which we will delve into later)—help us regulate the urges and free ourselves from an excessive or inappropriate focus on survival issues.

Pelvic Chakra (Svadishthana)

The svadishthana chakra, associated with the sacrum, the water element, governs taste & creativity, as well as desire and pleasure. Our zest for life has its origin here, but if mismanaged, the power of this center can result in cravings, attachments, and addictions of all kinds.
The literal meaning of svadishthana—“her own abode”—implies that the goddess Kundalini, when awakened from her slumber in the muladhara, resides here, and our desire is one and the same as divine desire. We are no longer ruled by personal likes and dislikes, but rather are instruments in the hands of the Divine at the deepest level of our being. Drinking water & consuming high-water content food is incredibly supportive of allowing fluidity in the body as well as the best tool for grounding.  We are primarily comprised of water thus it seems rather fitting to use water as a healer & means to bring harmony into the body.

Navel Chakra (Manipura)

The manipura chakra, located at the navel, regulates the lumbar spine, the digestive organs, eyesight, and locomotion. As the pranic hub of the body, the navel chakra is associated with the fire & sun elements. Fire is transformative, and since yoga is a transformative process, many yoga practices focus on the navel to strengthen this fire. As the center of vitality, the manipura provides the easiest access to the pranic force in the physical body.
Physical practices that activate this area of the body—including many asanas, such as plank pose, and more subtle breath (pranyam) practices improve digestion and mobilize healing energy throughout the other systems of the body. Glowing good health, courage, enthusiasm, vitality, and self-esteem are hallmarks of strong navel chakra energy. At the psychological level, issues of aggression, power, and ego-identity play out through this center.  Wearing yellow is a great tool to help support your Manipura chakra.

Heart Chakra (Anahata)

At the intersection of the downward-descending divine force and the upward-ascending forces of instinct lies the fourth energy locus—the anahata chakra. Governing the heart and the lungs, the anahata is the seat of the "Self", the very “heart of the matter”.  It is associated with the air element, the thoracic spine, and the sense of touch. Compassion, unconditional love, affinity, and connectedness—as well as grasping, manipulation, and feelings of abandonment, isolation, and despair—all surface through this chakra. Breath work & heart-centered meditation practices to enhance the intake of prana and quiet the mind work with the energies of the heart. A gratitude shower is a brillant way to attract more goodness into your world & support the Anahata chakra.

Throat Chakra (Vishuddhi) 

Located at the throat and associated with the element space, the vishuddhi chakra governs the cervical spine, the voice box, speech and hearing, and regulates our metabolism. Creative expression, connection to the Divine, and the transmittal of consciousness are themes of the vishuddhi. A familiar yoga pose such as fish pose target the throat. Find the capacity for mindful expression which gives rise to the use of mantra, what we say & think, as a means for transmitting divine consciousness.

Eyebrow Chakra (Ajna)

The ajna, third eye, is the seat of the mind, and the interface between body and mind to open the mind to deep inner stillness. The integration of intellect and feeling at the ajna results in divine sight, intuition, and profound self-knowledge. Without that integration, we stay trapped in the consciousness of ordinary reality and the realm of the senses. Yoga practices, such as alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhanam) and meditation on the breath or mantra at the ajna chakra, help us gain access to a deeper level of consciousness.
Relaxation and meditation practices make use of this center to consciously reach beyond physical awareness into the compulsive responses in the psyche, reshaping both body and mind.

Crown Center (Sahasrara)

The crown chakra, the sahasrara, is the gateway to pure consciousness. The thousand-petaled lotus is its symbol—which denotes the infinite number of attributes of divine connection & enlightenment.  According to the tantric yoga tradition, each human is a miniature universe built on the same template as the cosmos, and the chakras connect the individual and the cosmic forces. Awakening kundalini—the latent energy in the chakras that lies coiled at the base of the spine—and leading her to unity with the energy at the crown center is the spiritual process by which we grow beyond the personal and into cosmic consciousness. Thus, the chakra system describes the totality of a human being: physical, mental, and spiritual.
Yoga practice, including breathwork, mindfullness, meditation & how we go about our daily live is the practical application of the chakra model to achieve good health, self-understanding, and spiritual wisdom. The range of yoga & lifestyle practices directs awareness to the more refined levels of consciousness, and removing obstacles to self-realization. Yoga calls us to consciously experience the Divine in the chakra-built shrine of our own human self.
To learn more about how to integrate Chakra Awareness into your personal life feel free to reach out to Francesca for a personal session.  Virtual Sessions can be booked via this LINK.  Connect with Francesca at francescabonta@gmail.com @francesca.bonta  In person sessions are available in Toronto, ON