Asanas are considered an essential complement to the meditation practice and explained the important role asanas have in helping to balance the body-mind.
By performing asanas regularly, human beings can control the propensities attached to each chakra, and hence the thoughts which arise in their minds and their behaviours.
Research has confirmed the existence of energy fields at the areas of the body the yogis have called chakras. Valerie Hunt, a researcher at UCLA, found that there are high frequency vibrations emanating from these seven areas. Another researcher, Hiroshi Motoyama in Japan, found that when people directed their mental focus to individual chakras, they could increase the frequency of that particular area. Candace Pert, a leader in the field of psychoneuroimmunology, discovered a high concentration of a specific neuropeptide at the location of the classical chakras. This neuropeptide, called VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide), is critical in regulating the neural immune switches between the brain and the immune system.
Science has recently recognized the close functional relationships between the endocrine system and the nervous system – so much so that both systems together are now referred to as the neuro-endocrine system. The relationship between mood and the nervous system has long been understood and has even entered the vernacular with expressions like, “It gets on my nerves” or “You have some nerve!” Hormones secreted by the endocrine glands also have a profound effect on our moods–as any woman who’s experienced PMS or low thyroid function can attest. The yogis understood when the nerve plexi and endocrine glands functioned properly, the mind was balanced, the body felt better and meditation became easier–in other words, balanced chakras equal a balanced mind.
Balancing the chakras through yoga postures is the key to balancing mental/emotional states. Excessive or inadequate secretion from the endocrine glands results in triggering receptors in centers in the brain which exaggerate emotional states. Similarly, a weak nervous system can cause a variety of imbalanced mental/emotional state. By doing specific yoga postures regularly, we can regulate the function of the neuroendocrine system and thereby balance the chakras.
The tantric yogis taught that each chakra was like a lotus flower surrounded by a specific number of petals. They called these petals the vrttis (also spelled “vrittiâ”). A vrtti is a mental tendency or propensity–a potential state of mind. You have probably seen drawings of yogis sitting in lotus position with their many-petaled chakras. This image gives us a symbolic idea of the energy patterns the chakras and vrttis create.