Chakras: spiral, vortex or double helix?

Details on my 7 part series “Therapeutic Chakra Workshop” available at

Earth energy and spinning

We’ve all heard that the body is over 50% water. Elementary school children know that the pull of the moon creates the tides (you can take their re-fresher course here). The direction of the spin of water down a drain may appear different whether one is in the northern, southern or equatorial regions of the earth. Still, people will argue based on perception and without understanding the laws of fluid motion. The same can be said of the earth as it spins from the west to the east, appearing to spin counterclockwise when viewed from the north pole. The sun, the asteroids, and all the other planets (except Uranus and Venus) rotate in a counterclockwise direction. I have to disagree that there is “nothing special” in this fact, just because we’re not yet special enough to understand this!

The upper seven chakras spin clockwise

So what of the spinning chakras? The upper seven chakras from the top of head to the base of the spine: Sahasrara (crown), Ajna (third eye), Vishuddha (throat), Anahata (heart), Manipura (solar plexus), Svadhisthana (abdomen), Muladhara (perineum, or root) all spin clockwise. Our chakras spin within their respective, “nothing special” locations. Our modern understanding of endocrine anatomy aligns directly with the very special location of these seven chakras! The direction of the spin, and the location of the chakras does not appear to be arbitrary. People figured out the location and the spin of the chakras thousands of years ahead of modern medicine and anatomy. Ancient people weren’t ignorant, they were just ancient! Think of all the things we could discover without the distractions of modern living. Like the location and spin of the chakra energy centers in the body.

The lower seven chakras spin counterclockwise

In western-style yoga, the seven chakras below the Muladhara chakra (root chakra) are not as well known. Their names and locations are: Atala (hips), Vitala (thighs), Sutala (knees), Talatala (calves), Rasatala (ankles), Mahatala (feet) and Patala (souls of the feet, or below to the underworld). There is a large body of knowledge concerning their qualities, and long complicated stories of their significance in Indian philosophy. They come up in discussion in this article because they happen to spin counterclockwise, like our earth. Very special, indeed. Curious, in fact!

Enter the vortex, or rather the helix

As long as we are on the topic of spinning, we’d do well to consider vortexes, spirals, the helix, and the double helix in nature. Consider how the planets rotate around the sun. Watch this simple 3 minute video showing how they do more than simply spin around the sun, they move with it, through space. The video takes some license with science, and has attracted some serious debunking and even detractors of that debunking. All the hairsplitting of this science does not negate the distinctive helix pattern formed by the paths of the planets. The spin and spiral around the sun is reminiscent of the double helix of DNA.

Does the spinning energy of the Chakras form a double helix?

Just maybe. The seven upper chakras spin clockwise. The seven lower chakras spin counterclockwise. In yoga we speak to “balancing the chakras.” When one or more of our chakras are out of balance, we lack resonance and coherence with the systems of the body. There is a state of dis-ease at one or more levels of the parts of ourselves (i.e., the Koshas as described in yoga: the physical body, the energy body, the emotional body, the spiritual body, the bliss body).

Perfect balance might look like a complete energy exchange between all 14 major chakras. The lower seven, in the “super gross” energy body (earth bound lower chakras below the root chakra), gross body (first, second, and third chakras from root, abdomen, solar plexus), and the higher, subtle bodies (fourth, fifth, and sixth chakras from heart, throat, and crown).

Bottomline: It would be foolhardy to think the energy forces in our universe are nothing special, just because we have described them. It would be ignorant to discount their effects on the forms of plants and animals, and on movement because they seem common. Regardless of scale (or maybe because they can be scaled up!) we should look for glimpses of their effects on all the things we cannot see, and all the things we have yet to discover.

Attend my 7 week Therapeutic Chakra Workshop, Tuesday evenings 7-8pm ET, August 2-Sept 13, 2022. $100. Details on my Tampa Yoga Therapy website here.

Prana Vayu: upward moving, uplifting, upregulating

Prana Vayu is one of the five Prana Vayus. It is the upward, uplifting current of energy

First let me mention that the singular term “Prana Vayu” is also the name of the five Vayus as a collective. The Vayus are also collectively referred to as the Prana Vayus. This makes it a little confusing! One of the components (Prana Vayu) has the same name as the group that comprises these five types of prana currents (“the” Prana Vayus). This individual Vayu, the Prana Vayu represents a type of energy, a current of energy that is upward moving from the navel to the heart center. I may have made all of that as clear as mud!

Inhale. Prana Vayu: upward movement of the breath, upward current of energy. Exhale. Apana Vayu: downward movement of the breath, grounding current of energy. Prana Vayu, along with Apana Vayu may be the easiest energy currents to feel in the body. After all, breathing in and out is a major component to the practice of yoga. The other Prana Vayus (Samana, Udana, Vyana) are perhaps even less easy to feel or embody. The Five Prana Vayus are subtle forms of energy that we may not actually be able to feel or sense in the body. By labeling and categorizing, we can understand these different types of energy, learn their locations in the body, and the come to appreciate the qualities they represent within our emotional body.

Prana Vayu begins at the navel and moves upward into the area of the heart and lungs – the heart center, the fourth chakra, Anahata.

HRV and the autonomic nervous system is the science describing energy fluctuation

In physiologic or allopathic terms, the movement of energy created by the breath is called respiration. The inhaling and exhaling of the body is the respiratory system at work. Any ideas about a “current of energy” would be ascribed to the nervous system and the stimulation of the vagus nerve. Depending on the breathing pattern, the inhalation and exhalation might have the effect of upregulating or downregulating the autonomic nervous system. Modern science “discovered” HRV (heart rate variability) Yoga “described” the phenomena nearly five thousand years ago. Sit up tall. Get quiet. Breathe and everything changes.

Chronic stress and trauma

Current trauma theorists and health care providers help us to understand the effects of respiration by using hybrid, non-medical language. For example, explaining the inhale as pushing the gas pedal, and the exhale as pressing down on the brakes. Both energies are necessary to move us through life safely. And I’d have to say that a person we describe as a “train wreck” may have fallen onto the throttle, with little desire to pull back on the brakes! A continual pushing the “pedal to the metal” leads to stress response overload. The physiology involves the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands (HPA axis). A cascade of hormones (pouring gasoline on the fire) cranks up levels of cortisol and keeps our complete system in high alert. Staying in a state that keeps you ready for a five alarm fire at all times will take its toll on your health. Stress can kill you. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but always eventually. Guaranteed.

Joseph LePage guides a seven chakra practice, including Anahata the fourth chakra
Anahata – Fourth Chakra

Prana Vayu and balance within Anahata, the Heart Center

Prana Vayu is the upward current of energy. It is related to Anahata, the heart Chakra. Heart-centered yoga practices guide us to breathe into the heart. Focus on the area around your heart and lungs. The yogic language sounds like this: Inhale deeply, exhale slowly. This is the mantra of yoga teachers the world over. Create balance in the container. Develop awareness of how an upward current feels in the body. Be reminded how to change your energy with a slow calming exhale, notice a downward current. Focus your breathing along the energy channels of the body, the Chakras. Modern science “discovered” the endocrine system. Yoga “described” the Chakras nearly five thousand years ago.

It is still true we need to press down on that proverbial gas pedal. We need to react to our own depressed states of fatigue and lethargy. If the breath is habitually shallow and quick we are unable to produce a long, slow exhale. Who needs the brakes when you don’t have enough gas to propel you forward? Upward energy is necessary to bring energy into the heart center. It brings positive feelings, reduces negative thinking, it is uplifting and inspiring. It keeps us alert. It helps us concentrate. And Prana Vayu helps to crack open the “emotional heart.”

We practice yoga to become more discerning. Our body awareness reminds us to balance both the highs and the lows of our energy. We use our tools to bring about this balance to our container, our heart-mind-body being. Our yoga practice needs to become huge in our lives. All encompassing. Yoga is a physio-psycho-social-spiritual practice. And I’m probably missing one of those “ologies” in that listing!

Come to yoga practice. Let’s inhale deeply, exhale slowly. Let’s watch the breath in the body. Let’s go deep inside and feel the uplifting quality of the Prana Vayu as a current of energy on the inhale. Let’s send the breath down through the body to its base and feel the grounding of that energy on the exhale. Prana Vayu up, Apana Vayu down. Pranayama. Our breath practice.


Voluntary upregulation of heart rate variability through biofeedback is improved by mental contemplative training. Bornemann, B., Kovacs, P. & Singer, T. Voluntary upregulation of heart rate variability through biofeedback is improved by mental contemplative training. Sci Rep 9, 7860 (2019).

Understanding the stress response. A Staying Healthy article.
Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, online