A few years ago, yoga instructor David Thornton, asked me whether I’d been thinking about the chakras when I described the posture zones in The New Rules of Posture. Here’s what I wrote to David: I understand the chakras to be energy vortices located along the body’s central energy channel that affect all aspects of the person—body/mind/spirit. The chakras have spiritual or emotional content that impedes the free flow of energy through the core of the being.
I organized The New Rules around the physical partitions that lie (roughly) horizontally across the physical body’s central vertical axis. In the Rolfing community we speak of these structures as “diaphragms.” (Click here for more about diaphragms.)
The central axis represents the body’s static alignment in gravity, and also the person’s dynamic presence in the space between earth and the heavens. The central axis is also a metaphor for upright human life.
Remarkably, that central line exists within us even pre-birth--pre-gravity--as the embryonic midline around which cells migrate as life develops.
I wasn’t thinking about the chakra system when I wrote my book, but I can certainly see why your thoughts might go in that direction. In common is the understanding that the human system has a central organizing channel, and that that channel must be clear for life to be expressed through us unimpeded.
I liked David’s response so much that I’m quoting him here: “Yes, most people think the chakras are beautiful things with colors, etc. They are, in fact, a result of a blockage called a “granthi” or knot. When we have good, pure, happy thoughts moving through our core/central channel and they hit a blockage, the energy/prana gets trapped and a pressure build-up occurs. A garden hose with a kink in it that prevents water from moving though will eventually begin to leak at the kink or even spray out in many directions. When this happens in the body it forms a chakra. Chakra means “wheel.” Its spokes are the prana spraying out in many directions due to the blockage. The practice of yoga is to repair the prana leakage and allow the full expression of our inner being.”
The "enlivening the spine" practice I shared in August is one way of embodying these understandings.