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Thoughts from Vintage Yoga...

A Very Brief History of the Chakra System

And why it matters...


An important part of The Healing Journey is becoming more self-aware. We will begin the journey by trying to notice the sensation of the natural, even subtle energy within our body. As we explore each of the energy centers called chakras, we will learn how each one is associated with different organs in the body as well as being correlated with different emotions. When we understand this, we can make decisions about our physical and emotional well-being and perhaps work on healing ourselves much like people have done for centuries.


The concept of the chakra system was born out of the practice of Kundalini yoga, which “refers to a life force energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine.” Kundalini is a dynamic yoga practice that involves breathing, yoga postures, mantras and more to create a unique and powerful experience in the body. It is the oldest form of yoga practice dating back to the Upanishads.


The Upanishads are a collection of some of the few remaining documents recording Indian philosophy from over 2,700 years ago. The word “Upanishad” comes from the Sankrit words “upa” meaning “at the foot” and “nishad” which translates to “sitting down.” Students would “sit at the feet of the teacher” to learn these techniques and traditions.

 

The idea of studying and learning about the chakra system may seem a little strange to people in the “Western world.” It’s natural to be wary or even a little afraid of something that seems somewhat mysterious. Especially if you don’t really understand what it is. We often see yoga and its related Eastern practices portrayed in a manner that is described as “woo-woo” or maybe even going against certain beliefs. But you can incorporate these ancient practices into your life without feeling like you are compromising what you believe by learning and understanding them more.


People long ago didn’t have carpools, nine-to-five jobs, television, and the internet to distract their attention, so they had more time to tune in to their body. They had time to notice how their body was feeling and to even recognize subtle changes in how they felt. In today's world, we’re so distracted that we often don’t notice something is “wrong” until we are experiencing pain or emotional distress.


It's important to know that these techniques and traditions arose from a culture that spent time thinking about, learning about, and paying attention to the interconnectedness of the body, the mind, the emotions, and the spirit.


When was the last time you took a moment to be still and tune in to your body? If you have, you may have noticed an unusual sensation that’s difficult to put into words. Perhaps you noticed a sense of movement within your body. Maybe it felt like warmth inside or even a sensation of something expanding within you. If you generally don’t pay attention or take time to check-in with your body, take a moment right now to sit in a quiet place, be still and just notice your body. What do you feel? What do you notice?


There’s nothing woo-woo about it. It’s happening all the time but we’re often so busy that we never even notice.


I’d love to hear about your experience of “noticing.” What does it feel like for you? Please feel free to share with me if you’d like.


AND be sure to join me on The Healing Journey which begins with the first chakra February 6, 2024.


With Love & Gratitude,



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