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Lesson 47 - Pranayama Q&A Chakras?
Date: Mon Dec 15, 2003 5:18pm
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: I have read about the importance of chakras in spiritual practice. What are they and
how do they figure into the lessons here?
A: Chakras, also known as spiritual energy centers, are components of our internal energy
anatomy corresponding to various aspects of our nervous system. They are vital internal
mechanisms through which consciousness, as prana, functions in us. Philosophically, they
are prominent in the religions of the East, and can be found in Christianity as well, for
example, in the Book of Revelations.
How important are chakras in advanced yoga practices? They are important, but not in the
sense that they need to be intellectually understood for maximum spiritual progress to
Think of your car for a minute. When you get into it in the morning, there are just a few
things you have to do to get going on your way. You turn the key, put the car in gear,
step on the gas, and go. Then you have to steer, step on the brake, and so on. Driving a
car is something that most of us can handle fairly easily. But suppose while driving we
had to involve ourselves in every detail going on under the hood to make the car go.
Suppose we had to pump the gas from the tank to the engine, fire the spark plugs, monitor
the pistons going up and down, and follow the torque through the crankshaft and
transmission to the wheels. Suppose we also had to simultaneously supervise everything
going on in the engine cooling system, lubrication system, air conditioning system,
electrical system, and so on. Could we drive the car then? Probably not. The reason we can
drive the car as easily as we do is because we know how to handle the main controls. All
the rest is automatically going on under the hood. We don't even have to think about it.
The car was designed to be easy to drive, even though the technology inside it is complex.
This is just how it is in advanced yoga practices. Spiritually speaking, we were designed
to be easy to drive. We can use the main controls, and all the rest will go on
automatically. We do not have to be involved in every detail. For the most part, the
functioning of the chakras is "under the hood." There is a tendency we all have
to get involved in the details of things. We are a curious species and we want to know how
things work. We like to tinker. That's okay, but it doesn't have much to do with engaging
in effective spiritual practice, i.e., driving the car. These lessons have to do mainly
with driving the car, not analyzing the machinery under the hood.
Having said that, let's take a brief look at how the main controls we've learned so far
affect the chakras.
In meditation, we are quickly calming all the inner machinery and going straight to the
source, the silence of pure bliss consciousness. So, the effect of meditation on chakras
is to calm them, to still them. In meditation, purification occurs according to the unique
patterns of obstruction in the nervous system. The chakras are involved in this, but not
in any predictable way. The purification goes the way it needs to, and all we do is follow
the simple procedure of meditation.
In pranayama, we are tracing the inside of the spinal nerve up and down with the breath.
The spinal nerve, or sushumna, is the main highway in the nervous system. Every other
nerve is influenced by what is happening in the spinal nerve. It is the master nerve over
the many thousands of nerves in our body. The chakras are rooted in the spinal nerve,
spread along it from bottom to top. So, as we travel up and down, purifying the spinal
nerve and increasing the flow of prana in the nervous system, we are also purifying and
enlivening the chakras. It is automatic.
As we progress in our advanced yoga practices, we will be increasing stimulation of the
spinal nerve in particular ways. In doing so we will be influencing the chakras. This will
be done through practices that are both physically and mentally oriented. We will not be
pondering the chakras as part of our practices. But we will influence them tremendously
all the same as we utilize the master controls. We may mention a chakra occasionally in
these lessons as we discuss the various experiences that are coming up. Too much focus on
chakras can be a distraction to spiritual practice, just as thinking too much about the
car engine can distract us from our driving.
We are doing quite a lot with chakras already in meditation and pranayama. It is going on
automatically under the hood. So take it easy and enjoy the ride.
Click here for descriptions
of the seven main chakras in relation to the AYP system.
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed instructions on spinal
breathing, see the
AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama book,
and AYP Plus.
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