Modern science recognizes what the ancient sages, masters, and shamans have known for eons – that our physical universe is in a persistent state of change from one form of energy to another. In fact, many of the personal growth, health, and spiritual practices we are familiar with today (yoga, acupuncture, Qi Qong, and others) utilize this universal principle of energetic transformation.

Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning “wheel” or “vortex,” and refers to specific energy centers of the body that receive and process life-force energy, also known as Prana, Chi, or Qi. Like a radio picks up external radio waves and transforms them into sound, chakras receive life-force energy from the universe, metabolize it, and then distribute it throughout the body all the way down to the cellular level – where it energizes, replenishes, and harmonizes our cellular function and nourishes our consciousness.

Chakras are part of an interconnected system of energy centers in which each one affects the energy of the rest. In other words, if one chakra is tense, blocked, or out of balance, other chakras will be negatively affected, and their vitality diminished. Alternatively, when one chakra becomes healed, opened, and re-balanced, the resulting free flow of energy promotes revitalization and healthy expansion of the other chakras.

Located in the central core of our body are the seven major chakras aligned in a vertical axis at the (1) root/base of the pelvis (2) belly, (3) solar plexus, (4) heart, (5) throat, (6) “third eye”/center of head, and (7) crown/top of head. Connecting the chakras is an energetic channel running up and down the same vertical axis. This channel is known in Sanskrit as the sushumna, by Taoists as the “Hollow Bamboo,” or as the “Inner Flute.” In fact, the sushumna follows the physical and neurological pathways that connect our endocrine glands. Breathing and moving energy through the chakras tones and nourishes the nervous system, the endocrine system, and down to the cellular level.

We can learn to move our life-force energy through all of our energy centers in order to reach higher states of consciousness – connecting the energy from our root up through the heart and to the brain and beyond – while maintaining a relaxed body, peaceful mind, and open heart.

Ultimately, as we learn to transform basic energy into more subtle, refined, and exquisite energy, we are able to experience and approach life with more presence, awareness, and joyful aliveness. In fact, the fruits of these practices can permeate every aspect of our lives, and enhance our sense of self, creativity, life work, parenting, as well as how we care for others and our earth.

By Marilynne Chophel