Chakra is a concept originating in Hindu texts, featured in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for “wheel” or “turning” (cakraṃ चक्रं [ˈtʃəkrə̃], pronounced [ˈtʃəkrə] in Hindi; Pali: cakka चक्क, Thai: จักระ, Telugu: చక్ర, Tamil: சக்கரம், Kannada: ಚಕ್ರ, Chinese: 轮, Tibetan: འཁོར་ལོ་; khorlo).
Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, are believed to exist in the surface of the subtle body of living beings. The Chakras are said to be “force centers” or whorls of energy permeating, from a point on the physical body, the layers of the subtle bodies in an ever-increasing fan-shaped formation. Rotating vortices of subtle matter, they are considered the focal points for the reception and transmission of energies. Different systems posit a varying number of chakras; the most well known system in the West is that of seven chakras.
It is typical for chakras to be depicted as either flower-like or wheel-like. In the former, “petals” are shown around the perimeter of a circle. In the latter, spokes divide the circle into segments that make the chakra resemble a wheel (or “chakra”). Each chakra possesses a specific number of segments or petals.
Chakras, as described above, are energy centers along the spine located at major branchings of the human nervous system, beginning at the base of the spinal column and moving upward to the top of the skull, through which pass 3 major energy channels, Sushumna, Ida and Pingala. Chakras are considered to be a point or nexus of biophysical energy or prana of the human body. Shumsky states that “prana is the basic component of your subtle body, your energy field, and the entire chakra system…the key to life and source of energy in the universe.”
The following seven primary chakras are commonly described:
Muladhara (Sanskrit: मूलाधार, Mūlādhāra, Thai: มูลาธาระ) Base or Root Chakra (ovaries/prostate)
Swadhisthana (Sanskrit: स्वाधिष्ठान, Svādhiṣṭhāna, Thai: สฺวาธิษฺฐานะ) Sacral Chakra (last bone in spinal cord, the coccyx)
Manipura (Sanskrit: मणिपूर, Maṇipūra, Thai: มณีปูระ) Solar Plexus Chakra (navel area)
Anahata (Sanskrit: अनाहत, Anāhata, Thai: อนาหะตะ) Heart Chakra (heart area)
Vishuddha (Sanskrit: विशुद्ध, Viśuddha, Thai: วิศุทฺธะ) Throat Chakra (throat and neck area)
Ajna (Sanskrit: आज्ञा, Ājñā, Thai: อาชฺญา) Brow or Third Eye Chakra (pineal gland or third eye)
Sahasrara (Sanskrit: सहस्रार, Sahasrāra, Thai: สหัสฺราระ) Crown Chakra (top of the head; ‘soft spot’ of a newborn)