Mind & Body

what is it and can it help find balance?


There’s something about living that is more than just skin and bone. There’s a feeling, an energy, running through our bodies and here to help us understand it is experienced yogi and teacher, Rachael Coopes of BodyMindLife. 

When I first started doing yoga, it was like some kind of ninja magic. I’d drag myself to the studio with my brain’s five hundred tabs open, feeling the usual fatigue of modern-day life. I was tired & didn’t want to go. But inevitably every time I left, I felt different. I didn’t understand how, or why, I just knew I felt much better when I practiced, and so I kept coming again and again.

This magic is the work of the chakras & co. Otherwise known as the yoga physiology.

The yoga physiology isn’t like anatomy where we can slice the muscles with a physical knife. It was studied by the ancient yogis experientially and then mapped out in some detail.

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What they discovered was this: our energy flows like traffic along little roads or ‘nadis’ in the body. Like all roads, when there are lots of cars on the road or there’s an obstacle of some sort, cars end up in a traffic jam. In the same way, when our energy is out of balance, it can get blocked.

There are around 72,000 nadis in the body. But we are concerned with the three major ones. “Susumna nadi”, the central channel, is like the major freeway of energy that sits along the spine. The other two, “ida” and “pingala”, start either side and wind along the central channel. The seven points along sushumna where the three intersect are home to the “chakras”.

When sushumna, the major freeway is free and clear energy can flow easily. However if there are traffic jams along the way, energy can get stuck. And energy is what underpins everything in our lives. When it gets stuck, life does too. This is why it’s a good idea to get our chakras un-stuck.

The chakras are lenses through which we perceive the world. And because we see the world through our relationship with it, the chakras are a reflection of our relationships. Each one is associated with an element. For example, the first, or base chakra muladhara (root), at the base of the spine, is associated with the element earth. All the others sit along the spine above this one and reflect other relationships and elements.

Muladhara chakra represents our relationship with- the earth. How we relate to where we live- the city, suburb, street, our home. It’s how grounded and stable we feel. How connected to our tribe we are- our work crew, family and friends. Muladhara is the seat of survival- of fight or flight. When we are balanced in muladhara, we feel very safe in this world. We love our home and have deep trust that our tribe has our back.

If you’ve ever moved houses, lost a job, had conflict with family, you’ll know that feeling of instability or groundlessness. Many of us get stuck in this base chakra, purely because modern life is keeping us in a state of fight or flight every day. We hear the little “ding” of the phone. It triggers cortisol and dopamine- and all sorts of other basic survival chemicals. In the current uncertain global landscape we are constantly worried about jobs, money, housing, all the basic survival needs.

If the base chakra is out of balance, it effects all the other chakras. We can’t move freely through intimacy & creativity (svhadhistana or 2nd chakra -half way between base of spine and naval centre), we attach to our ego & identity or have self-doubt (manipura or 3rd chakra- behind naval centre), we struggle with compassion, courage, fear, love & forgiveness (anahata or 4th chakra- the heart space).

We can’t speak our truth, say what we mean and mean what we say, or listen (visshudha or 5th chakra-throat/neck), we don’t trust our intuition (ajna or 6th chakra – between the eyebrows) so we don’t experience true happiness (sahasrara or 7th chakra- crown of the head).

In order to balance muladhara, we can foster healthy relationships with our family & tribe, take care of our home, eat grounding foods, care for the planet in practical ways, and connect with our real home inside ourselves.

This is what I love about the yoga physiology. Much of it we can practically do every day. And some it – where grace steps in- is just good old magic ninja stuff.

Rachael Coopes is a yoga teacher at BodyMindLife, Play School presenter, mother, and story teller To learn more about the Chakras and yoga’s energetic systems join Noelle Connolly and special guest teachers Rachael Coopes, Jade Clark and Sarah Routhier at the Advanced Energetics Teacher Training with BodyMindLife.