The Myth About Chakras & Why You Probably Have it All Wrong. ~ Mijael Brandwajn

Via Mijael Brandwajnon Jul 16, 2013

photo credit: flickr/omnos
photo credit: flickr/omnos

I want to be clear—I don’t want you to believe that the chakras don’t exist.

I cannot be sure of their existence myself, as no one has been able to “measure” these energetic centers in the body.  But just because science hasn’t been able to prove their existence, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

There are certain implications about the existence of chakras that need to be explored.

For starters, there is no unified theory of the chakras.

There is no consensus as to their shape, size, color, meaning, location, related organs and emotions or even how to balance or clean them if such a thing can be accomplished.

Sure, you will find book authors and teachers, many of whom speak about the chakras with such authority as if they had been present when God Herself invented them.

But the truth is that many people who claim to be enlightened or claim to see and feel the chakras with detail, or both, have spoken about them in terms that are nothing short of contradictory.

Some systems have 7, 9, 13 or however many chakras. Some say the third eye is blue, others purple and others say gold. Some say the root chakra is in the perineum, others in the anus, and the discrepancies only get bigger as authors add more details to their theories.

What is in the scriptures?

We can find most of the mentions of the subtle system in the Upanishads (very old yogic texts). They usually mention seven chakras, and along with their names, sometimes you can find location (not always the same for each chakra), their “bija sound” (seed sound or mantra) and their number of petals.

The colors? They began to appear in Western literature not that long ago. The idea that there is a strong relationship to our different organs and body systems or to different stones or affirmations is even newer.

Don’t even get me started on which poses affect which chakras.

Who’s telling the truth?

I would contend that if there is no way to measure them, at the very least the experience of the chakras should be somewhat universal.

What I mean is: the experts who claim to see and feel the chakras should have much more agreements about the way they experience them.

If the chakras do exist, and have a specific color, shape, and amount, then why is there so much disagreement among those who claim to know them authoritatively?

I consider three distinct options:

  1. Nobody knows the details, and our minds “fill in the gaps” of our knowledge about them.
  2. Only a few people know the chakras in the “right” way. Everyone else is wrong.
  3. The chakras don’t exist, and we have a case of massive delusion and placebo effects.

Does it matter?

This is, I believe, the ultimate and perhaps most important question of this subject. I use the chakras because they serve me and my students. They are a great way to describe our different needs as human beings and to tie them to a physical sensation, so it’s easier to access in a more tangible way.

To me, it is irrelevant if you are actually cleaning the chakra or if it’s the placebo effect helping you create more balance in your life. What matters to me, is that it works for you.

And I have seen it work, regardless of the color or whatever detail you may assign to the chakra. What seems to make a difference is how much you believe in what you are doing, both as a facilitator and as a student or client.

What is missing?

I believe we are missing some humility in the way the theories of the subtle body are taught.

Just because you were taught a system that works for you and your students, doesn’t make it an absolute, universal truth. Just because you can see the chakras one way, doesn’t mean that someone else might experience them differently, yet in a completely valid way.

So I suggest that you teach the chakras the way you see them, not the way “they are.” Treat the chakras with respect by allowing them to be true in the relative terms they have come forth to each one of us.

This way, even if the chakras turn out to be a myth, they will remain a very useful and valuable one.


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Assistant Ed: Paula Carrasquillo/Ed: Bryonie Wise

About Mijael Brandwajn

Mijael Brandwajn is a yoga teacher and currently owns the largest yoga studio in Panama, Central America. He loves teaching teachers and facilitating his latest project,  yoga for back pain in Spanish. He is most passionate about the evolution of yoga and how we can make it relevant in our lives. Learn more about Mijael on his very opinionated blog.


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23 Responses to “The Myth About Chakras & Why You Probably Have it All Wrong. ~ Mijael Brandwajn”

  1. Well done, Mijael. I like your common sense approach.

    I'm posting this to Best of Yoga Philosophy, my new virtual magazine & forum.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Demystified

  2. Great article Michael! I remember when I was first taught about the chakras over 15 years ago it took me another five years to realize that the whole body is filled with points of light that feed into the main chakra system. It was “enlightening” to feel myself “full”–all lit up with energy as opposed to only focusing on sensing the main chakras. Glad you are keepin it real and getting a humble message out there.

    • MijaelYoga says:

      Thanks Michelle!! I have the same experience with energy, I feel it throughout the body, and my experience keeps shifting with practice… so I guess I have a lot to learn and experience when it comes to energy and the subtle body!

  3. Edee says:

    What about a fourth possibility? We each have different centers/chakras, which depend on each individual's nature…? I have really no opinions about the chackras, i just have no clue… lol

    • MijaelYoga says:

      Hi Edee!

      I hadn't considered that! I guess in some people's minds it would be a bit like having different organs depending on your nature… but of course, it's energy, and it plays by different rules, so I think you are right in adding it as a 4th possibility.

      Thanks for enriching the conversation!

    • Brooke says:

      This is the possibility that I agree with! I have seen some colors associated with my energy coming from difn points of my body while in meditation. I find that my heart is pink; around my head, whether that be third eye or crown or whatever, is gold and my hands have an electric blue energy.

  4. Angela says:

    Hey Michael,
    I studied Kinesiology and the teacher had this hand held machine (I can't remember what it was called) but it actually picked up and made a sound on the acupressure points. It was amazing! Just thought you'd be interested. Nice article cheers.

    • MijaelYoga says:

      Thanks Angela, I didn't know about this!

      I'm totally interested, and if you have the name of the machine I'd love to research further.
      Thanks for sharing!

  5. Vladimir says:

    All one has to do is recall a lump in the throat, a heartache, or butterflies in the gut to know these energy centers are very real. If assigning them colors makes them more accessible, or cleaning them creates some balance, why not? I love everything about energy, and chakras are a great way to understand it through their sounds, names, colors, their thrills and chills and especially their truth! Thanks Mijael.

    • MijaelYoga says:

      Thank YOU Vladimir!
      I couldn't agree more. To me it's really fascinating, and I also think that the more "tangible" we make the chakras (for example, giving them colors, sounds, movement), the more accesible and real they become, and the more useful they become.

      Again, thanks for sharing!

  6. Dabbling Diary says:

    I've just begun studying chakras during my teacher training and have found it fascinating so far. Because what I've read makes sense to me, it's helping me relax my skeptical nature and open myself to more possibilities. Thanks for broadening my perspective on how to approach the topic.

  7. Freya Watson Freya Watson says:

    Thanks, Mijael! I've been working on a short piece about the reality of chakras, which I'll post soon and am in total agreement that we need to base what we teach on our own experience.

  8. Good …I relate more to the endocrine system

  9. Ed Spyhill says:

    This is why my agnosticism applies to everything and anything. I can't feel energy loops in Yoga. I think I may experience my chakras, but not sure. I rely of personal experience and never assume another human will have the same experiences, so I don't teach.

  10. Malcolm says:

    "The idea that there is a strong relationship to our different organs and body systems…is even newer…"

    This is not correct — There is a considerable amount of information in ancient yoga texts in the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist tantric tradition that discusses the relationships between cakras and organs systems, etc, and the effects of working with cakras and nadis on one's health in some detail, texts dating from 8th century onwards.

  11. vikers says:

    The chakras can only be experienced in a higher state that most of us are not in … and at most we have a glimpse of it sometimes momentarily … our experience is limiting and if we teach from our experience then we are … limiting. This is the limiting nature of the human mind.

    Which leads us to the whole Guru thing … those who teach each class with the blessing of their guru/shiva teach not from their experience but from the infinite wisdom … and this is where the contradictions in western yoga teacher training and obsession with knowledge based on limiting experience begins.

    Please read up Ashtanga … understand it before dealing with Chakras which are a natural progression in Dharana practice but cannot be done before.

    When the sadhaka is ready, then the knowledge unfolds. Everyday that you practice, makes you move forward …

    As a warning … higher practices done without preparation or when not ready and without the guidance of a Guru, is dangerous. There are too many cases with people doing incorrect practices without guidance and then having physical / mental issues …

  12. Fredrik says:

    Good article Mijael Brandwajn

    I have been having some of the same thoughts. I found this thread because I´m trying to figure our WHY the Chakras have the colors they have. I understand that different colors have different frequencies, but exactly why my stomach is orange and my heart is green I do not know. Don´t get me wrong, I do believe in Qi, life energy, and a lot more, but I find it really difficult to make other people get "it", because I cannot really explain what "it" is. (Oh no, I realized that was probably from The Matrix movie). Anyway, I did find something concrete to use to explain it to non-believers; the Chakras correspond with the glands in the body: 1. The adrenal glands. 2. The gondas/ovaries. 3. The spleen/pancreas. 4. The thymus. 5. The thyroid/parathyroid. 6. The pituitary gland. 7. The pineal gland.
    At least that´s something both a traditional medical doctor and an alternative practitioner can use as a common starting point.
    As for more clarity and understanding, may the force be with us all!

  13. donneperth says:

    "……as no one has been able to “measure” these energetic centers in the body. But just because science hasn’t been able to prove their existence, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.'

    Ahem: You may like to check out the work of Valerie Hunt from 1970's who used scientific equipment to MEASURE the chakras.

  14. therationalyogini says:

    "……as no one has been able to “measure” these energetic centers in the body. But just because science hasn’t been able to prove their existence, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.'

    And no one has ever proven that the world spins on the tip of a monkey's tail. But just because science hasn't been able to prove it, it doesn't mean it's not happening.

    This is a fallacy. Throw out the unfalsifiable and say it could be true because I can't prove it's not. Perhaps, it's more likely that there are no chakras. There's no reason to go beyond embodiment to find common vocabularies with students.

  15. Violet says:

    I think of knowledge of energy and vibrational medicine is evolving, just like it took us awhile to discover that Earth goes around the Sun, so too will it take us awhile to find the "accurate" Chakra system. Using my own research I've discovered a few subtle differences from the most popular reference so I think it will take awhile for us to discover the truth about energy but I think, in time, we will be able to prove it with science because we'll be able to have devices that measure energy at that frequency. In the future, when we have devices that can measure vibrational energy and such, we may just find it silly that the belief in Chakras was not widely supported by science.

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