In yoga philosophy we find a picture of the subtle body, which stands along side the physical, it is commonly described as having 7 cakra or subtle energy centres, located at different points alongside the spine.
In other Eastern spiritual systems for human development, however, we find the subtle body being described with a different numbers of cakra, for example, in Tibeaten Buddhist (Tantra) meditation practice they mainly acknowledge 5 cakra, but depending on their type of meditation they can relate to 4,5,7,10 cakra.
Depending on what system you follow, therefore, a person may see the subtle body and its cakra differently.
What are cakra ? The Sanskrit word cakra is translated into English as wheel, but in many schools of yoga philosophy these wheels are also described as flowers, each with certain number of petals. A task on the path of yoga is to bring these flowers into lively expression or these wheels into movement, in order to promote health and spiritual well being.
The word cakra is said to have first appeared in the ancient Eastern yoga texts, the Upanishads, dating 7-800BCE, since this time, in both the East and West, the meaning of the cakra, these subtle wheels or energy centres, and their role on the yoga path, has been described differently in the varying schools of yoga philosophy.
About these wheels or flowers the 15th century poet Kabir wrote:
‘Do not go to the garden of flowers! O Friend! go not there; In your body is the garden of flowers. Take your seat on the thousand petals of the lotus, and there gaze on the Infinite Beauty.’
How do the 7 cakra relate to the path of yoga and the practice of a yoga pose?