According to yoga theory, our physical body is accompanied and surrounded by an electromagnetic field called the energetic body. Within this energetic body, there are seven energy centers, called chakras (or cakras). The chakras start on the floor of the pelvis at the perineum with the mula, or the root chakra, and run all the way up to the top of the head to the sahasrara, or the crown chakra. They are generally described as spinning wheels of light that store, regulate, and provide prana, which is the life force, or energy for our body, mind, and soul.
As far as what the researchers know, the chakra system was originated in India, over four thousand years ago. It is referred to in the Rig Veda, which is the oldest portion of the sacred canon of the Vedas, and dates back to 1550 B.C. It is once again mentioned around 900 B.C. in the earliest Upanishads, which is the genre of Hindu spiritual literature that transcribes knowledge transmitted by word of mouth from the teacher to the student. There is also reference to the chakras in the Yoga Sutras. The word chakra means “wheel” or “disk,” and each of the seven chakras roughly corresponds to one of the major nerve (ganglia) plexuses (centers) of the body that branch forward from the spinal column. The chakras emanate from the nadis, or the channels that conduct prana through the physical and electromagnetic bodies. They cannot be physically located or seen, but each has a specific location in the body.
It is generally thought that as we evolve spiritually, our prana moves up through the chakras. The chakras are often divided up into the lower three and the upper three, with the 4th chakra being kind of a transitional point between them. It does not mean that lower chakras are bad and the upper chakras are good. It simply means that the lower chakras vibrate at a much slower frequency. They store information such as thoughts, instincts, memories, impressions, and so on that is needed for basic tangible things like survival and reproduction.
As we evolve spiritually, more prana gets directed to the upper centers. These upper chakras spin faster and store lighter information. They vibrate faster and have more to do with our spiritual aspirations and with ethereal concepts like the Divine Consciousness. The whole practice of yoga is directed at consciously moving this prana into higher and higher chakras. This upward movement of the prana corresponds to increasing mindfulness, awareness, and power of concentration.