Practitioners of yoga are generally familiar with the usual definitions of the chakras, their forms, colors and major operative powers when they open. In the integral yoga, where evolutionary planes of consciousness are recognised, Sri Aurobindo has expanded the definitions and understanding of the chakras to include their relation to the planes of consciousness and their action in the physical, vital and mental formations of the being.

As any chakra opens, wholly or partially, it begins to impact the action of the particular plane or part of the being which it governs. In some cases new powers of understanding or action become available to the practitioner of the yoga. In other cases blockages or limitations in a part of the being are ameliorated or removed entirely thus permitting functionality that should ordinarily have been available, but was restricted for some reason. This represents one of the causes for different phases of the sadhana, as the practitioner confronts new situations, circumstances and powers that begin to act as the practice develops.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “In the process of our yoga the centres have each a fixed psychological use and general function which base all their special powers and functionings. The muladhara governs the physical down to the subconscient; the abdominal centre — svadhisthana — governs the lower vital; the navel centre — nabhipadma or manipura — governs the larger vital; the heart centre — hrtpadma or anahata — governs the emotional being; the throat centre — visuddha — governs the expressive and externalising mind; the centre between the eye-brows — ajnacakra — governs the dynamic mind, will, vision, mental formation; the thousand-petalled lotus — sahasradala — above commands the higher thinking mind, houses the still higher illumined mind and at the highest opens to the intuition through which or else by an overflooding directness the overmind can have with the rest communication or an immediate contact.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Integral Yoga and Other Systems of Yoga and Philosophy, pg. 32

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971. He is author of a daily blog focused on this work at He is author of 16 books and is editor in chief at Lotus Press. Santosh is President of the Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.