THE SACRAL CHAKRA (a.k.a. the 2nd chakra)
( Part 3 of a 9 Part Chakra Series for Beginners )
Greetings and welcome to Part Three of this nine part series. I am writing this series as a type of free online course geared toward beginners who want to start learning about, engaging with, and cultivating a relationship to their chakras. Each blog builds on the one preceding it, so if you have not read the first two, you may want to do that. I will not be redefining terms which I have already defined in the first two blogs, but I will define any new terms that I include here.
At the bottom of this post, I have made a list of terms and which post they are in as well as a link to that post. For further clarification, if you see a word that has been italicized, that indicates that it has been previously defined. An italicized word that also has quotations, is being newly introduced and will be fully defined for the benefit of the reader.
It may be helpful to read the Sanskrit Terms & Concepts section first, so that you can familiarize yourself with the vocabulary. That way as you are reading you do not have to break attention, focus or flow by having to stop and look something up. If you are simply reading this blog for pleasure, you may not wish to do that. For those of you who are approaching this series as a free online course, then familiarizing yourself with the vocabulary is part of the course.
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The Sacral Chakra Sanskrit Name & Yantra
The Name & Yantra
The Sanskrit word for the Sacral Chakra is Svadhisthana (pronounced sva-dish-ta-na) - it means “one’s own abode”, or “ abode of self”. It also means “ where your being is established”. Sva means “self” and adhisthana means “ established”. The yantra for the sacral chakra is a six petaled lotus, surrounding concentric circles and a crescent moon - inside is the bidja or seed syllable “Vam”.
The Six Petalled Lotus
The six petaled lotus represent the six nadis (or subtle body channels) which converge at the second chakra. The six petals also represent the nerve plexus that meets at the same juncture as the nadis (in this case - the hypogastric plexus). The six petals also represent six “vrittis” or states of consciousness to be overcome in order to raise one’s level of consciousness. These six states are: anger, envy, hatred, cruelty, pride and desire. I have dedicated a section of this post to vrittis, so we will explore that more in a bit.
The Circle & The Moon
The concentric circles in the yantra represent movement, change and the cycles of life death and rebirth. The crescent moon (like the circles) corresponds to the water element (associated with this chakra, as earth is associated with the root chakra). The crescent relates to phases of the moon and also it’s ebb and flow. The ebb and flow are likened to our likes and dislikes which lead to desire. Hence, it is from this chakra that our desires govern us.
Components of the Sacral Chakra
Location and Kshetra
The kshetra (location or point of contact) of the sacral chakra (is about three finger widths below the navel, level with the lumbar region of the spine. Another definition is, about 3 cm above the lower part of the spinal column where the coccyx and the sacrum meet. Some sources say that the first and second chakras share the same kshetra. It seems to be that the two overlap, the way two circles form a vesica pisces at the point where they overlap. A more detailed explanation of the precise location of the root chakra kshetra is given here. You can find it in The Introduction to the Root Chakra section under the subheading “ The More Technical Answer”.
This location or contact point for the first and second chakras and their point of intersection is highly important. The reason being is that the aim is to activate the kundalini located at this juncture, so that it can rise up the spine and we can experience higher (less deluded) states of consciousness.
The Type of Prana
Apana Prana or apana vayu is associated with both the root and sacral chakra. When the downward moving prana (located in the pelvis that governs elimination and outward movement) - called apana prana or “ apana vayu”), is joined with upward moving prana (located in the head and chest which governs intake, inspiration, propulsion, forward momentum) - called “prana vayu”; it hooks into the first and second chakras and acts like a key that opens a door and unties The Knot of Brahma , hence freeing the kundalini and allowing it to rise.
When this happens , we have access to higher states of awareness and consciousness, thereby freeing ourselves of the “samskaras” ( mental imprints, karma, trauma) and delusions of the lower states of consciousness located in the lower three chakras.
As mentioned in the previous post we have five bodies or sheaths. Both the root chakra and the sacral chakra (Svadhishthana) correspond to the physical body sheath called annamaya kosha in Sanskrit. It translates as the “sheath made of food”.
The sacral chakra supports emotional and physical health, and governs many of the body’s fluids, including the sex organs, the bladder, and the kidneys. (source)
The guna (or quality of energy) associated with the second chakra is tamas - the same as for the root chakra. The five elements along with the gunas “.. are the primordial forces that have an effect on both the physical and astral planes. They influence all forms of life physically, psychically, and spiritually from the beginning of their earthly existence to their end. Through the multi-layered combinations of these basic powers the human body, with its highly complex organ, nerve and brain functions, comes into existence and the psyche and mind are formed.” (Source)
The three gunas are tamas, rajas and sattva. The guna of tamas or tamasic nature is associated with both the root and sacral chakras. It is associated with: rigidity, ignorance, laziness and darkness.
An Introduction to the Sacral Chakra
While the statement for the root or first chakra is “I Am”, the statement for the sacral chakra is “I FEEL”
It is associated with: our feelings and emotions (water element), the joy and bliss that is derived from the five senses (i.e. sensual pleasure), passion and enthusiasm. It informs and energizes our creative passions and endeavors, shapes our signature as an individual in the world and fuels our resilience and adaptability. It is also directly related to our relationships with others (all kinds) and to our sexuality.
More specifically it relates to healthy passions that enliven you and feed your energy, not passions that drain your life force. It relates not just to any creativity, but to creativity that has your unique stamp on it, your own creative signature, (kind of like your voice is your signature) - your creative thumbprint so to speak. It relates not only to sexual energy but procreative energy in general. Procreative energy is the life force behind all forms of creation, be it poetry, music, dance, singing, and all artistic expression.
So how you relate to others, how you create, your individual expression, and how you relate to yourself are all in your second chakra. How you engage with the world as an individual and how you engage with yourself - that is the realm of your second chakra. What really frees the second chakra up, is right action and the right use of will. It also houses the subconscious, so learning about what is buried there will also help unlock the energy of the second chakra.
Using the tools given below, you can begin to discover if maybe your second chakra is either underactive or overactive. Almost all humans are storing some kind of trauma in their first and second chakras, whether from this life or another. Take a look at your expression as an individuated self, how do you engage with the world? Are you overly extroverted or introverted? What are your relationships like with others? What is your relationship to self like? Are you engaging in your creative gifts?
Are you able to move gracefully with the ebb and flow and cycles of life? Are you fluid and resilient? Are you rigid in thought or stiff in your body? Are you overly engaged or overly withdrawn when it comes to sexual activity? Are you secure in yourself? Is it ok, to stand out , or do you prefer to blend in?
Do you allow yourself to feel your emotions, or do you deny their expression? Are you overly emotional? The answers to all of these questions point to the state of balance, or imbalance, underactivity or overactivity of the second chakra.
The Psychological Component
Svadhisthana is the place where our unconscious memory is stored, and locks into us. Although our unconscious memory is stored in the second chakra, it’s roots are in the first chakra. The whole region of the hips, pelvic floor and legs is where unconscious memory gets pushed to. Conscious thoughts (crown, third eye and throat), get pushed to the subconscious region (heart and solar plexus) and then it gets pressed down into svadhisthana (the unconscious region). (source - see video).
“The Sacral chakra acts as the storehouse of all our dormant “samskaras” or mental impressions, which are considered the bedrock of our very existence. The existence of this storehouse makes it difficult for awakened prana to cross Swadhisthana chakra and move towards Manipura (the third chakra)”.
Qualities and Associations
While the first or root chakra is associated with the unconscious, the second or sacral chakra is the realm of the subconscious - the first realm of human development. While the first chakra is associated with the earth plane, the second chakra is associated with the astral plane. Fear is associated with the first chakra, while anger is associated with the second chakra. In the second chakra we are learning to overcome the tendencies toward, tiredness, fatigue and lethargy ( sometimes these qualities can be rooted in a mental component, like avoidance). While the secretion for the first chakra is urine, for the second chakra it is hormones. The corresponding endocrine gland is the adrenals and the associated hormones are: adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol (all stress related hormones). This also has a direct connection to the discussion below about “ vrittis”. The associated organ(s) are the reproductive organs. The corresponding body part is our flesh. The corresponding sense is that of taste. The second chakra is also associated with movement. It corresponds to to the network of nerves in the lower abdomen known as the hypogastric plexus, which is connected to the six petals of the lotus or six nadis (or subtle body channels) that meet at the second chakra. It’s “rasa” or essence is fluidity (like it’s element, water).
1st & 2nd Chakra Similarities
You can see how similar the first and chakra are. Their location is very proximal. They share the same kosha (the physical body sheath), the same type of prana (downward moving), the same guna (or quality of energy). This is very important. In order for kundalini to rise , our energy must move upward. The first chakra is the foundation for the second and all other chakras. Just as the second chakra is the foundation for the third chakra and so forth. You can see how these two are almost like two chakras in one. If we can not reconcile these two chakras, there is no way to move the energy up the spine.
More importantly is that if we are stuck in fear and dealing with issues of survival and having our basic needs met (all first chakra issues), then it is next to impossible to maintain relationships to people and explore our creativity (second chakra). Issues in either of these chakras can really undermine our destiny, and our full potential. It is next to impossible to get in tune with the cycles of life and of nature and have the flexibility to move with the ebb and flow of the tides of life ( sacral chakra) if our first chakra is imbalanced or in disharmony.
“The desire for union and the striving for expansion are “natural”; they are intrinsic impulses of nature. Why does the seed that was planted in the lap of the earth sprout? Because the impetus for growth and duplication lies in its nature - uniting, unfolding, growing, multiplying, protecting, preserving and nourishing; put concisely, “loving” is the fundamental characteristic of Prakriti. Love contains the impulse for development and expansion, and this love is part of the Divine Being.” (Source)
What is Vritti?
In each blog I introduce new Sanskrit vocabulary as it pertains to the chakras. As mentioned in the last post, there are no equivalent words in English to Sanskrit words, only definitions. And since we are studying a system whose science was birthed in India, then we must become familiar with some of the vocabulary and the concepts around that vocabulary.
I recently came across the word “vritti”. It is a word with such importance and multilayered meaning, that I wanted to go a little deeper into it here.
“Vritti, literally "whirlpool", is a technical term in yoga meant to indicate that the contents of mental awareness are disturbances in the medium of consciousness. Vritti can be taken as a catch-all term for any content in consciousness, where consciousness is regarded as a medium or container for any possible mental content. The scope of the idea is very broad, referring not only to thoughts and perceptions experienced in a normal waking state, but also to all super-physical perceptions, such as dreams or in any altered state of consciousness.”
“In the context of Hinduism and yoga, “vrittis” refer to different tendencies, or psycho-physical propensities, which give scope for the mind to express a variety of feelings and emotions. Hindu texts describe “samskaras” to be a result of past actions and experiences that have left an imprint on the mind. The expression of samskaras gives rise to vrittis, which collectively represent the behaviour that makes each person unique: their desires and repulsions, their predispositions and complexes. “ (Source)
“According to some modern descriptions, a vritti triggers the glands associated with that particular propensity to secrete the corresponding hormones. Usually this is done subconsciously, although yogis endeavour to control and master the expression of their vritties, through the practice of asanas (postures) and sadhana (meditation), leading to the attainment of siddhis (occult powers), and giving clear passage for the kundalini to rise.”(Source)
Balanced or Imbalanced?
That last paragraph is extremely important! Each chakra has a corresponding endocrine gland and each endocrine gland secretes specific hormones. The Taoists ( pronounced Da-oh istss - those who follow the way of the Tao) call hormones “spirit molecules”. Hormones do indeed affect our spirit. Not spirit with a big S, as in body, mind and spirit; but spirit as in “ her spirits were down today”. In other words hormones directly affect our state of mind ( as well as our physical state).
This is a very important connection to make. Via our understanding of our states of mind/consciousness and how they are related to our body chemistry and how we can regulate them using, breathwork, yoga poses (asanas), diet, essential oils, etc. is a monumental piece when it comes to self-awareness and self mastery. Getting to know and understand our endocrine glands, their functions and secretions, is of utmost importance on our spiritual journey. This is a major part of the way that we can learn to maintain balance, as well as access more of our “sattvic” quality.
As mentioned above, the endocrine gland(s) associated with the second chakra are the adrenals. All stressful emotions excite the adrenals, not just fear. So anger can cause the adrenals to excrete either cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline or aldosterone. Whether we are aware of it or not, hormones directly affect our body and mind. As an example aldosterone can influence our mood and appetite.
Each chakra is a dimension of self with challenges and gifts. When we learn what is buried there, what the gifts and challenges are, what situations spark the associated gland and directly affect our mood, behavior and body chemistry, we have a chance to really cultivate self regulation. We can really begin to harness the power of the mind and body and learn to directly affect our states of mind, our internal and external realities and the internal activity of the body. That to me sounds like true empowerment!
To learn more about indicators of: sacral chakra balance, imbalance, overactive and underactive signs, I have provided some links in the Establishing a Connection section below.
As you can glean, the chakras are multifaceted and have many components and layers to them. Understanding their makeup, qualities, associations, virtues and challenges opens us up to a deep exploration of the self, and an opportunity to evolve spiritually. The chakras gift us with the knowledge and wisdom to more fully inhabit our body, connect to our soul, and harvest the full cornucopia of our human experience.
Awakening kundalini is for some the undertaking of a lifetime and no small task. The whole journey hinges on unlocking the forces of energy of the first and second chakras so that the coil of energy which lies dormant in this region can begin it’s ascent up the spine. So we must start at the beginning, by having our basic needs met. We must feel grounded, safe and connected to our body and to this earthly plane.
From there we can build on that foundation and begin to unlock the gifts, qualities, wisdom, virtues and powers of the second chakra. This is where we explore our unique and individual expression as a physical being. Using the energy of this chakra we cultivate our relationships and forge our creative endeavors - the gifts that we were born to share and express. We learn to become resilient and fluid, so that we can go with the flow, roll with the tides, and follow the natural rhythms of the seasons and cycles of life, and the cadence of our soul’s journey.
Establishing an intimate relationship with the chakras is to establish an intimate relationship with the self. By so doing we begin to discover that the being we are is where the finite self and the Self that is a part of everything merge. This is true union (the meaning of the word yoga). Yoga is defined as “a Sanskrit word translated as “yoke” or “union.” To yoke means to draw together, to bind together; or to unite. Its aim is to yoke or create a union of the body, mind, soul, and universal consciousness.” (Source)
Chakras are indelibly intertwined with yogic practices. Yogic practices are much deeper than just a set of poses or asanas. To practice yoga is to walk the path of a spiritual adept whose goal is to unify mind, body and spirit. So there you have it dear reader. This completes part three of this nine part series. I hope you are enjoying this series and I hope you will return next week for more, as we explore the third chakra.
Establishing a Connection
(Resources to Work With and Connect to Your Chakras)
How to Balance the Sacral Chakra for Greater Sensuality, Intimacy, and Creativity
Nine Simple Ways to Balance the Sacral Chakra
Physical & Mental Signs of Imbalance in the Sacral Chakra & How to Balance Them
Connecting to The Five Koshas (mental, physical, etc)
A Beginners Guide to Bandhas (how to activate and engage them in practice)
This short, sweet and easy to understand article on the bandhas can be found here.
If you would like to experience connecting to your 5 “Koshas” (sheaths, or bodies), this link offers 5 different Yoga Nidra Exercises (one for each sheath). Activate your bodies here.
This website is an excellent resource for exploring the chakras and yogic principles. It sticks to traditional Ayurvedic knowledge and goes far into the depth on each chakra. This is a gem of a website to be sure! It’s called “Chakras.net” and you can find it here.
Sanskrit Terms & Concepts
Introduction Post (words and terms): chakra ( pronounced cha-kruh, not shakra) nadis, and other terms and words not used in this post are defined in the first post of this series entitled Chakras for beginners. It can be found here.
Second Chakra Post (words and terms): The Knot of Brahma, yantra, kshetra, kosha, annamaya kosha, gunas, tamas, prana, apana prana are all defined in the previous post called, The Root Chakra which can be accessed here.
NEWLY INTRODUCED TERMS
Apana Vayu: apana vayu is synonymous with apana prana. “Our life force, prana, divides itself into five vayus, each governing different functions and aspects of being.” Apana vayu is located in the pelvis and governs elimination, downward and outward movement. You can read more about the five vayus here, By drawing your navel back as you exhale (activating the stomach lock or uddiyana bandha) you can engage apana vayu to balance the water element of your sacral chakra. You can find more on the five vayus here or here.
Bandhas: bandhas (pronounced bun-duhs) are described as three yogic locks. “The throat and root locks function in some respects to seal the upper and lower end of the spinal column. According to adepts, the throat lock temporarily prevents prana from moving upward and restricts the flow of energy through ida and pingala. The root lock blocks the downward movement of apana and pulls this energy back toward the navel region. When the upward- and downward-moving forces are thus blocked and forced into proximity with each other, then it is said that they function like two sticks being rubbed together: they produce heat. And this heat is magnified by the application of the stomach lock.” (Source)
Rasa: “A rasa represents the energy of human emotion. This energy, whether negative or positive, directly affects one’s spiritual and physical health. Rasa is a Sanskrit term meaning "sap," "essence" or "fluid." In the spiritual tradition, this term refers to the essence of human experience; the emotions that govern human life. Tantric belief identifies nine basic human emotions. In the practice of yoga however, only three of these rasas are considered to be fundamental: the vira rasa (refers to the power of controlling the breath, mind and body), the shanti rasa (refers to the serenity of equilibrium) and the sringara rasa (refers to the spiritual and physical unity achieved through yoga).” (Source)
Samskaras: a result of past actions and experiences that have left an imprint on the mind. These give rise to vrittis.
Sattvic: from the three gunas or qualities (tamas, rajas and sattva). Sattvic qualities are: harmony, light, purity and knowledge.
Vrittis: behaviour that makes each person unique: their desires and repulsions, their predispositions and complexes.