I have come to believe the concepts of "chakras" and "qi" stem from people trying to describe consciously experiencing the sensory feedback from the body regarding its position, motion and balance, our sense of proprioception.
Chakras, Qi ... Old stories to help build the connection betweeen body and mind, guiding us in the pursuit of a body working at optimal - dynamically balanced and aligned, with a full range of natural movement.
"Chakra" is probably the most well-known terminology in English for a concept that appears in many traditions. I remain vague about 'many traditions' (my knowledge is insufficient to comment) and I include no specific definition for "chakra" but the existence of chakras is a topic that appears to split people (who have an opinion on the topic and inhabit the online world) into two camps - those who talk of chakras as if they are real phenomenon and those that say it all sounds like nonsense.
I would classify my starting knowledge as almost zero. I've seen the typical posters (go-ogle images) but I've never been to a yoga class and don't even have another example of where I might encounter chakras. (Edited Nov. 2021, I've been to my first yoga class, no mention of chakras!)
But when I started working with my Base-Line - focusing on activating my pelvic floor and then my rectus abdominis muscles section by section from pubic symphysis to chest - I found myself thinking 'red, orange, yellow, green ...' and the concept of chakras came to mind.
I went looking for the original source of chakras (internet trawling).
Reading the blurbs from a couple of "classic" chakra books instinct/rational thought said to me this is not the right path for me to take. Most information that appears via go-ogle is an echo-chamber - energy centres, meditation, blockages, symbols, colours, petals ... It gets flaky fast. I did however deem a couple of articles bookmark worthy at the time:
1. Hinduism/concepts/chakras. A couple of lines that stood out:
I stopped reading at the "seven basic chakras" during my original research.
I felt no need to read further.
2. Tantrik studies. Makes some interesting points on how chakras are portrayed and the modern associations with them. A few lines:
Use the word 'imagine' before the details.
Qi translates as "air" and figuratively as "material energy".
Prana translates as "breath", the "vital force" forming part of any living entity.
My research into Qi and associated concepts left me with a feeling of vagueness, something that is experienced but not solid. Many labels for the same sensation?
I believe chakras and Qi are describing the phenomenon of conscious proprioception. When we are aware of the sensory information generated by the body regarding our position, motion and state of balance (proprioceptive feedback).
The experience of being able to sense/see/feel positioning of my body in relation to my midline anatomy, starting from Base-Line. Feeling the connection between body and mind, the strength and power of the body when the five main muscles of movement are fully utilised.
Chakras and Qi are clues to developing the connection between body and mind, stories to increase awareness of our sense of proprioception so that we can feel how to move in order to work towards a body more balanced and aligned.
I've used 'the sparkles' describe the visual experience of increasing awareness of the position of my body relative to my Base-Line but "energy" could describe the flow of light and colours I see.
I believe "blockages in energy" are due to physical restrictions that form in our connective tissue system (in a response to inflammation due to trauma, infection etc.).
These restrictions reduce our range of movement and the affect sensory feedback from the body, creating 'blank spaces' and causing the signals to be misaligned on the 'body map' in our mind.
Releasing the restrictions allows the sparkles to be experienced - the 'energy' to flow.
I've felt the sensation of twirling/swirling in my tissues as I released physical restrictions. Also the sensation of a 'flickering' between left and right muscle pairs, working towards both sides fully activated at the same time. Could these be the basis of "energy vortexes"?
Over the centuries many things can get lost in translation, are subject to interpretation and the translators whim, or sometimes just plain adulterated. I believe the descriptions of chakras are not details to be memorised and regurgitated, they are something to be experienced to be understood.
Chakra are prescriptions - something to imagine - shapes and patterns to visualise to increase our awareness of our anatomy.
I would be very interested to compare the original words in the Upanishads to the anatomy of the main muscles of movement and the associated connective tissues (bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, aponeuroses etc.)
This section is a work in progress but ultimately details aren't important, it's your experience of your body that counts.
The following comments are my clues the puzzle of the human experience of chakras and qi:
The "root chakra" represents the pelvic floor muscles.
The individual muscles could be prescribed as petals of a flower.
The pelvic floor is a crescent shape on midline, aligning with the median plane.
The "7 chakra system" from pelvic floor working up the sections of the rectus abdominis and trapezius muscles.
The rib cage linking the top of the rectus abdominis at front to the base of the trapezius muscles at the back.
The shapes of the connective tissue attaching the trapezius muscle to the back of the skull.
I imagine a ribbon that runs through the body from pubic symphysis of the pelvis to external occipital protuberance at the back of the skull. The ribbon should be able to flex and rotate at every level without crumpling, our central core from where the rest of the body extends.
The linea alba and nuchal & supraspinous ligaments a string from 'head to tail 'that should be felt to fully extend and align with the median plane.
In the legs, the aponeuroses (sheets of connective tissue) that sandwich the muscular tissue of each rectus femoris muscle from hip to shin at the front of the thighs.
The gluteus maximus balls of muscle connecting the legs to the torso
We are electro-chemical beings, a constant movement of ions and electrons.
Somewhere along the line I started to think: proton-electron ~ yin-yang.
A thought experiment: Think of electrons as positive, protons as negative. Does it change your perspective at all?