Hatha Yoga: The Yoga of the Physical Body.
Yoga's Psychic Physiology.
In the Hatha Yoga section, together with each asana and other practice, you will find that a particular point is recommended for concentration. Sometimes it is the breath, sometimes a physical part of the body, and often it is one of the chakras. These psychic centers are very essential mediums through which to develop concentration and they have deep significance in themselves.
The 7 Major Chakras of the Human Being.
If we wish to relax the mind and gain optimum physical benefits from our yoga practices, it is necessary to concentrate on something. By directing the mind to specific regions of the body or to the breath, the effect of the particular practice is greatly increased. In a physical sense, chakras are associated with the major nerve plexuses and endocrinal glands in the body. These are the main relay and control centers of the human organism, which have extensive influence on the whole being of the individual. Many asanas have a particularly powerful and beneficial effect on one or more of these glands or plexuses.
For example, sarvangasana exerts a strong pressure on the thyroid gland in the throat region, which is associated with vishuddi chakra. The thyroid is given a good massage and its functioning improves greatly. However, if the concentration is directed to this area during execution of the asana, then the benefits will be even greater. In most people these psychic centers are lying dormant and inactive.
Modern psychology agrees with yogic philosophy, for it postulates that man normally uses no more than one tenth of the possible capacity of the brain. The untapped faculties lie unconnected to the conscious problems. There are vast, uncharted areas in the brain which are sleeping; there are almost infinite unknown depths within our subconscious and unconscious mind about which we know little or nothing.
By concentrating on the chakras while doing asana or other practices, energy is stimulated to flow through the chakras. This will help to awaken the correponding faculties in the psychic and mental bodies, allowing the individual to experience higher planes of consciousness, of which he is normally unaware.
The major chakras are seven in number and are located in the region of the spinal cord, from the lowest point in the perineum, to the top of the head. They are connected and energized through a network of psychic channels called nadis, which correspond on a grosser level to the nerves in the nervous system.
They are depicted symbolically as lotus flowers, each having a particular number of petals and a characteristic colour. The petals represent the different manifestations of psychic energy in the chakras and the psychic channels leading in and out of them.
Each chakra is the center of an element, having a form, a seed sound (bija mantra) and a presiding deity with its respective vehicle (vahana) and certain qualities associated with it. The following is a more detailed description of each individual chakra.
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