Making Energy Move
Fundamental to yoga philosophy is the notion of universal energy, or prana which comprises, and is within, everything in the known world. We are therefore all connected by this energy to each other and to the generality of prana around and within us.
Ancient tantric wisdom about the Chakras and the subtle energy system has now been validated by modern scientific thinking. Quantum physics is reintroducing ideas that were current in yoga philosophy many thousand of years ago. Hiroshi Motoyama’s scientific research and his measuring instruments have now demonstrated the existence of the chakras as the centres of the body’s energy systems and the link between the physical, astral and casual bodies, and with the universal energy around us.1 Deepak Chopra also describes it in modern terminology: “Because your body emanates electro-magnetic frequencies, you are yet another expression of this same field. The pulsations of nerve signals racing along your limbs, the electric charge emitted by your heart cells, and the faint field of current surrounding your brain all demonstrate that you are not separate from any form of energy in the universe. Any appearance of separation is only the product of the limitation of your senses, which are not attuned to these energies.” 2
As we humans have become more ‘civilised’, we have lost awareness of this connection, and become isolated in life rhythms and practices that are divorced from those of the natural environment. We have lost the ability to ‘tune in’ to the universal energy, to the frequencies of higher awareness that recharge our energies and enable us to live in balance and in communication. In most human beings the primal energy lies dormant, with the result that we use a very small amount of our potential at any one time. In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika it says that “if our perception were finely tuned to the pranic body, we would see a light body in which there were thousands of fine, wire-like structures conducting shakti”.3 The text goes on to describe the first steps in purifying the nadis and the energy channels, by increasing the flow of prana and storing it in the chakras. “When the nadis are purified, there are external symptoms. Success is definite when the body becomes thin and glows.” Not only will the body be radiant from the increased flow of energy, but it will lead to greater mental and physical capacities.
With yoga practice one can begin to re-awaken some of these faculties by stimulating the Chakras. As a yoga teacher I begin with students in their second year, explaining about the subtle energy system, and describing the chakras as the junction points, which act like transformers, modifying the power of the universal energy to a frequency that the human body, mind and consciousness can cope with. Each chakra is a switch which turns on or opens up specific levels of the mind.
Beginners can learn to feel the chakras through asanas and simple breathing practices, and to understand how they relate to general health and well-being. But for students who have been practising regularly for at least a couple of years, who have experienced moving prana around the body and have developed a level of awareness, something more is needed.
This project was carried out in my monthly three hour workshops for Intermediate Level students, over a five month period. These workshops comprise a three hour programme of integrated chakra awareness through chanting, asana, pranayama., discussion, yoga nidra and meditation . The yoga nidra visualisations and the meditations specifically incorporated different aspects of chakra awareness. Nine students volunteered to commit themselves to an additional daily practice of about 20 minutes over a period of 14 weeks, and in each two week period they were given three daily practices to do, which they monitored and recorded.
The results were very interesting indeed. All the students experienced significant movement of energy. Each one felt the energy in different ways. It was no surprise that the most significant energy movements were felt in the lower chakras, where, according to Swami Satyananda, most of us are stuck. There were some fascinating details. With manipura chakra for example, one student started to ‘comfort eat’ during that specific fortnight, two had stomach problems and one said that after each morning practice that fortnight, she was unable to eat any breakfast! None of the students had any prior knowledge of what might happen.
The workshops were enjoyed by all those taking part and their feedback gave me confidence in teaching subtler practices. It has also given me a blue-print to build on in taking more advanced students further and, hopefully, some useful information to share with other teachers. To this end I have had copies, including six chakra balancing class plans, printed and bound for sale to any interested colleagues.
1 Hiroshi Motoyama, Theories of the Chakras (New Age Books, New Delhi 1981)
2 Deepak Chopra , Ageless Body, Timeless Mind (Ebury Press, London 1993) p. 27
3 Swami Muktibhodananda, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, (Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, India 1993 ) p. 138