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The Spiritual Anatomy of Yoga - Muladhara

Updated: May 2

“Wherever you go, you carry your light with you”

~ Yogi Ashokananda, my Beloved Teacher

The spiritual anatomy of yoga is a vast subject; over the next few weeks, we will be examining the key points of this aspect of the yogic sciences as I share with you the historical and modern teachings as imparted to and interpreted by me.

These articles are in no way exhaustive, but are shared to offer a glimpse of the light that we all carry within us; the light from which we originated and which we shine into the world.

This week we begin our examination of the most widely recognised (and usually most misunderstood), components of the spiritual anatomy - the Chakras.

Muladhara - The Root Chakra

The seven major chakras of the subtle body are some of the most instantly recognisable components of the human spiritual anatomy, with countless texts and articles having been written over thousands of years.

The word ‘chakra’ translates as ‘wheel’ or ‘vortex’ and they are said to lie in an energetic form along the spinal column of the physical body; some traditions place them within the physical body itself or manifesting slightly outside of the corporeal form. The chakras are considered to represent, and have an energetic control over, key aspects of the human experience, with almost identical concepts and parallels found in other global spiritual traditions and practices.

If we reflect back on the last week's blog, and upon our body as being an electromagnetic system, we can take the view that the chakras are the powerhouses of this system. They are the transformers and regulators of immense amounts of Prana within the body, using this energy to not only balance themselves but also the aspects of the human experience and of our consciousness of which they are said to govern.

Many teachers and guides within the modern New Age movement focus their teachings of the chakras upon the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of the human experience, relating them to imbalances within the chakra system - this is an oversimplification of the physical/spiritual relationship of the body and the chakras and, quite often, is incorrect.

Furthermore, complex and highly detailed systems of correspondences between the chakras and astrology, crystals, essential oils, massage and almost any branch of healing therapies within the New Age movement have developed; systems that have only developed in the last 100 years with the expansion and sharing of knowledge within the esoteric sciences in a global forum.

The chakras were first referred to in the Hindu Vedas, the earliest known religious and philosophical texts known to humanity (c. 5,000 years old), albeit in a greatly different form to what we would know as a “chakra” today. The chakras were seen as metaphysical concepts only and as points of contemplative focus during meditative practice. Over the centuries, various traditions from the Indo-Subcontinent and further afield intermingled and merged (such as the Tibetan system and the Buddhist system which have, in turn, been influenced by the Chinese system), producing greatly differing systems of what is seen as the subtle body.

For the purposes of clarity and ease, these articles will reference the modern chakra system of 7 chakras, drawing on sources and original texts from the Hatha Yoga tradition of the early mediaeval period. 

The first of the chakras is called ‘Muladhara’ or the Root Chakra.

Energetically found 2- 3 cms below the physical perineum or at the base of the spinal column, the characteristic of this chakra are are follows:

Associated Colour: Red

Governs: Security, Survival, Safety, Trust

Associated Element: Earth

Mantra: LAM

Muladhara is considered to be the foundation stone of the chakra system and plays an important role in supporting the other six chakras. It is from here that our consciousness regarding our primordial instincts originates - consciousness about survival, safety, trust and of being ‘here’ within the physical world.

Muladhara is said to be the origin point within the subtle body of the three major Nadi channels; Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. It is symbolised as a four-petaled red lotus with a yellow square at its centre. Muladhara is acknowledged within Hindu Tantric traditions as the seat of the ‘kundalini’ energy of the body, with many practices emphasising the importance of stabilising and balancing the powerful energy lying dormant within this particular chakra.

This beautiful line from the 15th century poem ‘Sat-Chakra-Nirupana’ by Swami Purnananda delightfully extols the virtues of one whole meditates on this first great source of Light within the human experience:

“By meditating thus on Her who shines within the Muladhara Chakra, with the lustre of ten million Suns, a [person] becomes Lord of speech and King among [humankind], and an Adept in all kinds of learning. [They] become ever free from all diseases, and [their] inmost Spirit becomes full of great gladness. Pure of disposition by [their] deep and musical words, [they] serve the foremost of the [Angels].”

Next week, we will continue to explore the historical and modern interpretations of the chakras and take a closer look at the second of the chakras: Svadhisthana aka the Sacral Chakra.

Matt ~ The Bearded Naked Yogi

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