Traditionally the chakra system is considered quite distinct from the glandular system: chakras are found in the subtle body (the pranamaya kosha), while the endocrine system is definitely part of the physical body (the annamaya kosha.) They are not the same thing, although some teachers do link them. Many years ago, in an anatomy lab lead by Gil Hedley, I listened intently to a correlation he drew between the energy levels purported to surround the chakras and the energies that stimulate various glands. It may only be a coincidence, but it is quite fascinating. I thought I would share this idea.
We exist in vast fields of energy: wifi surrounds us, light from the sun and artificial sources bathe us, sound from stereos, iPhones and iPods, even from our voices caress us, pressure from gravity touches us. There are many sources and types of energy that come in and through our bodies, and our bodies react to these energies, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. We need sunlight and sound to be healthy and whole.
Yogis have taught that the highest chakra vibrates with the highest frequency: the lower chakras vibrate with lower frequencies. There is a correlation within our bodies as well. Inside our skulls we have a couple of glands that react to light: the pituitary gland (situated right behind the eyes) and the pineal gland, deeper embedded in the brain. These glands have many functions, but one is to help us wake up in the morning light. In Gil Hedley’s anatomy lab I was surprised to notice just how translucent the skull is around the eyes: light penetrates through the front of the skull stimulating these glands – this is the 6th chakra: the ajna – the “command centre.” Light, of course, vibrates a very high frequency – billions of cycles per second (one cycle per second is called a hertz.) We need light to wake up; to activate our pituitary and pineal glands.
In our throat we have other glands: the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which help to regulate our metabolism, among other functions. It is no accident that Mother Nature located these glands in our throat. There is a powerful energy source nearby – our vocal chords. Every time we talk, and especially as we sing and chant “Ommmm”, we are vibrating these glands, nourishing them. Sound is energy, but its frequency is on the order of thousands of cycles per second, far lower than visible light’s energy. This 5th chakra, the vishuddhi – purification, has a lower frequency than the 6th. Yoga teacher Diana Batts loves to include bhramari breathing in her Yin Yoga classes: the humming of the bees helps to heal and strengthen the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
Going lower, to the 4th chakra: the anahata – the unstruck. The thymus gland is located here – just beneath the breastbone. The thymus is important for our immune system: Killer T cells are matured here and taught to recognize cells that are us and foreign bodies that are not us. In our early youth the thymus is quite large, reaching its peak size around 3 ~ 4 years of age, but then it starts to shrink. Some medical researchers believe it is gone by the time we are adults, but Gil Hedley has observed that there are always a few thymus cells kicking around even in the elderly. Right beneath our thymus is a powerful source of energy: the heart. Once a second (a frequency of about 1 hertz), the heart beats and each heartbeat creates a pressure wave that massages the thymus. It is located where it is for a very good reason: it responds to this frequency. If you are feeling under the weather, or know someone near to you who is, heart-tapping may be a very effective way to stimulate the immune system: with the tips of your fingers, tap up and down the breastbone (but not so low as to hit the xiphoid process – the floaty-bit just below the breastbone: you could break that.) You are stimulating the immune system.
Look lower on the diagram depicting the glands and you will see another important gland: the pancreas – the source of insulin. It too is nourished with a certain form of energy. We are now at the 3rd chakra: the Manipura – city of jewels and power. Right above the pancreas is the diaphragm and it too moves: every breath we take causes the diaphragm to compress and release the pancreas. On average we breath 20 times a minute, for a frequency of pressure on the pancreas of 1/3rd of a hertz.
Lower still, we come to the 2nd chakra: the svadhisthana – the centre of water and sexuality. Here we find the reproductive glands. Here also we find a source of energy: body movement. When we dance, especially slow, tribal, sensual dancing, we stimulate these glands, and we notice the effect quite happily. Slow undulating movements are at very low frequencies: when we are seductive, we are slow.
Finally, we arrive at the 1st chakra, the muladhara – the root. Movement here is the slowest – we use our anus but once a day. Is the anus a gland? Not by Western definitions. Maybe our analogy begins to break down as we reach the grossest level, but we can ask – is the anus important? Try to live with out a proper functioning anus and all your other glands will be very unhappy.
Back on top, we started with the 6th chakra not the 7th. The 7th, the sahasrara chakra, is not part of the physical body at all, so there is no associated glands to affect, but the models of the chakras do suggest that this level is associated with the highest possible frequencies of energy: so high that they do not exist in the physical realm at all.
There are many forms of energy that our bodies use and react to, are nourished or harmed by. Whether the ancient yogis and seers ever correlated their concept and experience of the chakras with our physical glands we may never know, but we do know that as we ascend from the grossest to the more subtle levels within our bodies, our glands react and respond to increasing frequencies of energy. If you are suffering from glandular insufficiency, maybe try using an appropriate source and frequency of energy to find your balance again (after checking in with your health care team, of course.)