An introduction to chakras and energy centres

Mandala Yoga Dublin Guide to the chakras for beginners

Chakras and Energy Centres

By Susan Ní Dhubhlaoich

Chakra is the Sanskrit word for wheel or disc. Wheels are designed to move.  And wheels move best when there is no friction. Not too flat. Not too pumped up. Just right!

This is a brief introduction to your Chakra wheels or ‘Energy Centres’.

Chakras are part of our subtle body or energy layer.  The subtle body is that part of the body that we cannot touch or see. But we feel it. We know it’s there. Energy, in yoga terms at least, is described as ‘prana’ or ‘life force’.  As long as we are breathing, there is life.

Our Chakras are spinning wheels of energy. In my head I  magine them as vibrant whirlpools.  There are actually 114 chakras in total but only 7 are considered primary chakras. These are the 7 we generally learn about in the west.  Each chakra has a colour, an element, a source sound, an essence..

Chakra energy centres

Chakras as spinning wheels of energy

So where are they? Our 7 primary chakra ‘wheels’ spin in between the front and the back of the body. They are located along the spine. Each chakra rotates at a different speed. And the size and brightness of the wheels vary at any given time with your emotional state, physical condition, energy levels and indeed levels of stress or distress.

The lower 3 chakras are associated with meeting our most basic personal needs – food, shelter and in today’s world – enough money to pay the bills. But also our need for security and belonging.

The upper 3 chakras are associated with ‘higher’ pursuits – finding purpose and meaning. How we contribute to the world.

The middle chakra – our Heart chakra – connects the lower and upper chakras to achieve harmony between both. 

Introducing the Nadis

In the yogi world, energy or prana travels through us along pathways known as nadis. Thousands of nadis carry and direct energy into every nook and cranny of ourselves. (Similar to how arteries and capillaries are tasked with carrying blood into every cell of the body.)

I imagine the Nadis as a vast road network. Carrying lots of energy. Where there is excessive energy or build-up in one place there are blockages. Energy traffic jams. And if there is an extended build-up of energy over time this leads to stagnation. (Inner road rage!)

Still staying with that traffic analogy, three of the Nadis take a disproportionate amount of the ‘energy traffic’.  Three of our nadis are super highways of the subtle body.

Sushumna is the most important nadi.  It links our tailbone to the crown of our head. In the physical body this is our spinal cord, which of course is home to our nervous system. Energy congestion anywhere along Sushumna leads to all kinds of unhealthy blockages.

Pingala is our principal yang nadi. The Pingala highway carries our masculine, ‘shiva’ energy starting in the tail bone and ending at the right nostril.

Ida – our yin energy nadi carries our feminine or ‘shakti’ energy. The Ida highway travels from the tailbone all the way up to our left nostril.


Principal Nadis Ida Pingala Sushumna

So how do the chakras link up to nadis?

Our 7 primary chakras are located at the intersection points of the 3 giant superhighways. They are the giant energy roundabouts that converge at certain points along the spine. For there to be harmony, for everything to flow freely, the energy roundabouts need to be kept clear.

When a chakra becomes unbalanced or blocked it can manifest as illness, emotional upset, distress or even depression. Extended periods of blocked energy is how disease or dis-ease (anxiety) develop. We either stagnate or go into overdrive.

The good news? Our chakras are activated or cleared through meditation, asana and pranayama – also known as your yoga practice!  That ‘yoga high’ you feel after yoga is exactly this – a feeling of a clearing-out of stagnant or blocked energy.

 ”The Energy Body acts as a bridge connecting our physical and spiritual bodies.   In order for us to influence transformation of the body and mind, we must learn to transform the energy flow.” ~ Ilchi Lee ~


Curious to learn more about the chakras?

Our next Journey through the Chakras workshop takes place on Saturday November 11th led by Manasi Sridhar.

This workshop will explore how we can activate the energy centres in different ways through our yoga practice. 

Want to delve deeper?

Check out these other blogs. Each one explores each of the energy centres and how they show up for us on and off the mat.

Root chakra

Sacral chakra

Solar plexus chakra

Heart chakra

Throat Chakra

Third Eye / Brow chakra