• Posted on May 8th, 2012 12:00:32 PM Alice G. Walton 7 comments

    The Science of Chakras - The Real EvidenceSo the chakra debate continues. Though I didn’t discover much empirical evidence in my search, and didn’t find any labs with chakra-detecting technology, there are a couple of reasons why this may not matter so much. A doctor and a yogi help close the chakra conversation we started a few weeks ago:

    One way of thinking about chakras, continues Dr. Jeff Migdow, who teaches Prana Yoga teacher training at the Open Center in NYC and also trains at Kripalu, is to remember that we all know what energy is intuitively. We can all recall the sensation when energy travels through our bodies, and conjuring up that feeling might help make chakras become more tangible.

    “Each one of us,” he says, “has had experiences we’ve felt really good in. It’s that tingling, champagne feeling in the body when we’re excited or engaged in something. This is energy flowing into the nervous system. We’ve all felt it at one time or another, even though we may not know exactly what it is. We may not be able measure it with medical equipment – it takes place on a subtler level.”

    I like this explanation. I can get on board with this, I think. Most people, myself included, have felt the almost-indescribable swell of energy during happy times, and the low contraction of heartbreak. These types of energy shifts, and other varieties, can be felt at different physical points in the body. Maybe thinking of these points as related to the chakras isn’t a bad way to look at it.

    Equally helpful was another person’s take. I asked my teacher, and YogaGlo’s own, Elena Brower, to help with my chakra confusion. In fact, I asked her to explain chakras to me like I was a five-year old. To this, she said, “chakras are specific places where we can put our attention in order to unwind any blocks in our bodies.” She added, “my experience is just that the chakras are locations in my subtle, energetic body toward which I can point my attention to experience consciousness more profoundly and with purpose.”

    The shift in attention that Elena talks about is so fundamental, and seems to be the key to a lot of things – like mindfulness, and its many accompanying physiological changes. To figure chakras as points in the body to which to attention can be shifted makes a lot of sense to me. It finally makes the concept relevant and valuable.

    In the end, it may not be about “proving” whether or not chakras exist. It may be more about how we sit in our own bodies, and connect to the energy that we already know is moving around within it. And if focusing attention on specific points in the body helps our minds let go of the roadblocks and quiet the chatter, then maybe that’s all the proof we need. Maybe we had it all along.

    Alice G. Walton, PhD is a health and science writer, and began practicing (and falling in love with) yoga last year. She is the Associate Editor at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com and a Contributor at Forbes.com. Alice will be exploring yoga’s different styles, history, and philosophy, and sharing what she learns here on the YogaGlo blog. You can follow Alice on Twitter @AliceWalton and Facebook at Facebook.com/alicegwalton.

    Want to learn more about chakras through asana and meditation? Our seven week What the Chakra program allows you to explore the First Chakra, Second Chakra, Third Chakra, Fourth Chakra, Fifth Chakra, Sixth Chakra and Seventh Chakra in two very different ways.


  • Posted on April 24th, 2012 8:30:01 AM Alice G. Walton 2 comments

    Beginning a yoga practice can feel a little like entering a play already in progress. You can pick up the general storyline pretty quickly, but there are some integral plot details you really need to go back for in order to get the full experience.

    By the same token, there are terms used in yoga classes which are a little bit elusive to the beginner. Namastes and Ohms are easier understood, but there is a wealth of vocabulary that reflects trickier concepts. The idea of chakras is one that can be harder to grasp, especially for Westerners (or for me, at least). I’ve kind of avoided delving into the chakra question, but figured I should give it a go, since clearly, having been around for millennia, it isn’t going anywhere. Understanding chakras in the most sciency way was, of course, my goal, since this is generally what makes things tangible and come alive.

    What I found in my search, however, surprised me. Of the many people I polled, from doctors to researchers and everyone in between, not many wanted to comment. Some said there was too little research, some said the question was too large to get into quickly, and some just declined to comment. Scientific literature searches didn’t reveal much.

    A couple of people did volunteer to “go there.” One was Jeff Migdow, MD, who has taught yoga and headed teacher trainings at Kripalu. He first explained that chakras are typically thought of as “swirling spheres, or spinning vortices of energy. The faster they spin, the more energy is sucked into energy body.”

    I told him that I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around that. I wanted to know how they can exist in the physical body – if you could measure them with equipment, or if they were more philosophical in nature.

    The Science of Chakras Part I - What the Chakra, Indeed

    Migdow suggested that while the concept of chakras is an ancient one, there are some biological links that have been suggested more recently, which may help Western minds feel a little less skeptical. One idea is that each of the chakras corresponds to a nerve plexus in the body – points where nerve bundles branch off to innervate different parts of the body. For example, the root chakra might correspond to the coccygeal plexus, the heart chakra to the heart plexus. Another theory is that the chakras correspond to the endocrine glands of the body: the crown chakra to the pituitary gland, third eye chakra to the pineal gland, the root chakra to the adrenal glands, and so on. Communication within the nerve fibers or fluctuations in the endocrine (hormone) system might correspond to the shifts in energy that some experience as chakras.

    While these theories seem logical on some level, they seem to be just that – theories. In the end, I’m not sure there is much empirical Western evidence that the chakras exist physically. But I’m also not so sure that this matters much. It may be more about subtler changes or movements of other particles throughout our bodies. Even more, it may be about how we choose to conceptualize chakras for ourselves that’s the real evidence. As I discovered from researching further, their existence is, quite possibly, larger than the literal.

    Stay tuned for more on chakras. In the meantime, please tell us your own thoughts: How do you conceptualize chakras? How do you feel them, experience them, and relate to them, both in class and outside of it?

    Alice G. Walton, PhD is a health and science writer, and began practicing (and falling in love with) yoga last year. She is the Associate Editor at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com and a Contributor at Forbes.com. Alice will be exploring yoga’s different styles, history, and philosophy, and sharing what she learns here on the YogaGlo blog. You can follow Alice on Twitter @AliceWalton and Facebook at Facebook.com/alicegwalton.

    Want to learn more about chakras through asana and meditation? Our seven week What the Chakra program allows you to explore the First Chakra, Second Chakra, Third Chakra, Fourth Chakra, Fifth Chakra, Sixth Chakra and Seventh Chakra in two very different ways.


  • Posted on October 30th, 2011 10:09:21 AM YogaGlo No comments

    If you missed it this week, both classes exploring the seventh chakra – or crown chakra –  have been added to the site:

    • Seventh Chakra Meditation – Crown Chakra. This meditation focuses on the sahasrara energy center located in the crown of the head.
    • Seventh Chakra Practice - Receive the Blessings. Cutlivating unity through your strong foundation and open crown, this sequence of standing poses, inversions, standing balances and backbends will help you create receptivity to the beneficial influences that surround you.

    These are the last classes in our What the Chakra series and we hope you enjoy your exploration of the final chakra.


  • Posted on October 23rd, 2011 11:59:56 AM YogaGlo No comments

    If you missed it this week, both classes exploring the sixth chakra – or third eye chakra –  have been added to the site:

    • Sixth Chakra Meditation – Third Eye Chakra. This meditation focuses on the ajna energy center located in the space between the eyebrows.
    • Sixth Chakra Practice – Your Vision, Your Light. What you see really is what you get. Shift your perception and perspective into a state of complete acceptance and watch your body unfold through this sequence of standing poses, forward bends, splits, hip openers, a moment of restoration and meditation to open your eyes to the light within and around you.

    These classes, taken together, will help you shift your view of yourself, others and the world around you. Enjoy!


  • Posted on October 16th, 2011 7:13:36 AM YogaGlo 2 comments

    If you missed it this week, both classes exploring the fifth chakra – or throat chakra –  have been added to the site:

    • Fifth Chakra Meditation – Throat Chakra. This meditation focuses on vishuddha energy center located in the throat.
    • Fifth Chakra Practice – Your Truth, Your Voice. Attentive listening, radical honesty and why that matters in your practice – or in any realm of your life. Use this sequence of standing balances and standing backbends, hip openers, supported plow and shoulderstand, as well as some Reiki for your throat, a restorative backbend and meditation, to open your throat and locate both the grace and the wisdom in your voice.

    Explore you unique voice and all that brings to your life.


  • Posted on October 9th, 2011 1:41:32 PM YogaGlo 2 comments

    If you missed it this week, both classes exploring the fourth chakra were added to the site so you can continue to follow along with us as we take a deeper look at different ways to work with the chakras in your body:

    • Fourth Chakra Meditation – Heart Chakra. This meditation focuses on the anahata energy center located in the center of the chest.
    • Fourth Chakra Practice - Love and Be Loved. Love is the subtle force that connects us all; we are all here on the planet to learn how to love and love fully. Use this sequence of standing poses, arm balance variations, baby and big backbends, hip openers and meditation to give and receive love by asking for entry into your own heart.

    Go forth and get your fourth chakra on!


  • Posted on September 28th, 2011 12:48:14 PM YogaGlo 3 comments

    Have you been following along with the chakra goodness each week? If you haven’t, there’s no time like the present to dive in. This week, Harshada Wagner and Elena Brower explore the third chakra in different ways:

    • Third Chakra Meditation –  Belly Chakra. This meditation focuses on the manipura energy center located in the core of the abdomen. In today’s world, this chakra is a major one for us. When the contraction here goes, a big freedom ensues! Keep with it. This is also a great one to touch in on during the day. “Gut check” yourself from moment to moment and allow space and freedom there.
    • Third Chakra Practice – Manifest Transformation. Ignite the fire of your will and take action, in practice and in your life. Feel into your solar plexus, the spirit of the light in your body, through a series of standing poses and arm balancings, leading into seated twists and meditation.

    Have you had a chance to take these classes and work with your third chakra yet? It is powerful stuff! Let us know how your chakra practice is coming along and if you have any questions. We’re all learning so it’s a safe space to ask away!


  • Posted on September 23rd, 2011 10:10:01 AM YogaGlo 1 comment

    Are you following along with What the Chakra? This week we explore the second chakra through meditation and asana:

    Second Chakra Meditation with Harshada Wagner – Sexual Chakra meditation. This meditation focuses on the svadhishtana energy center located in the core of the pelvis.

    Second Chakra Practice with Elena Brower – Chakra 2 – Svadisthana (Navel) Chakra. Creative, Compassionate Freedom. Clarify your foundational alignment and open the flow of your light through this sequence of cleansing twists, both standing and seated, with breathwork and meditation to close.

    Enjoy this exploration of the second chakra and let us know if you have any questions along the way.


  • Posted on September 14th, 2011 2:02:51 PM YogaGlo 7 comments

    Seven Part Series on Exploring the Chakras

    Ever wonder what chakra represents what? Or where it’s even located in your body? Some of you may be well-versed in all things chakra (bravo!), but many of us aren’t. To help us sort out what the heck it’s all about, we’re launching a seven part series of asana and meditation this week to provide more insight into each chakra. Each week, Harshada Wagner will explore a single chakra in meditation and Elena Brower will explore the same chakra through a 90-minute asana class.

    This week’s chakra is the Root chakra, represented by the red flower in the illustration above:

    • Root Chakra Meditation with Harshada Wagner – This meditation focuses on the muladhara energy center located in the base of the pelvis.
    • Root Chakra Practice with Elena Brower – Ground Yourself. Cultivate stability, acceptance, trust and gratitude through a standing pose flow to ground and center you, including standing balances, hip openers, starting and ending with some brief, delicious breath work and meditation.

    Join us for the next seven weeks as we explore the chakras together and please let us know if you have any questions along the way!