This specific school of Yoga focuses mainly on a kind of energy in the body called “chakra”, which means “wheel” or “circle” in Sanskrit.
There are seven different chakras, (2) of which are supposedly centers of energy that begin at the base of the spine and end at the top of the head. Each of these chakras are responsible for different physical actions of the body.
Chakras began as any other theory began; to explain a certain element of nature. In this case, chakras were used to describe energy and life itself.
Chakras, in Hinduism and Buddism, are a part of energy, or “prana”. Prana was defined as a special kind of energy from space that radiated down to Earth, such as sunlight. (3) Chakras were the wheels that drew this energy into the body, and then distributed it through channels.
People also believed that certain disorders within the body could cause an energy imbalance, which could lead to sickness or even death.
“Chi” is yet another theory in Taoism that exists to explain life-force, or energy. Though there are varying definitions, the general accepted theory is that Chi is the energy that animates matter, such as people and animals. Chi is brought into the body through things such as food, water, air, sunlight, etc.
Such as chakra does with prana, this Chi is channeled through the body to provide energy. This energy is used in Chinese acupuncture procedures, to help stimulate and move the energy within the body.
Yet, these theories of energy lack evidence and do not align with the principles of modern science. Prana and chakras are invisible and undetectable, making it hard to believe that there are such things. There are also so many variations of chakra theory in Hinduism that it becomes quite hard to even pin-point how many chakras there are, and what they do in the first place.
People also debate where exactly certain chakra lie in the body, further complicating things.
The prana in the body of a person is also said to give them an “aura”. (4) This is the radiation of energy from the body.
Apparently, psychics are able to see these auras, and from them are able to observe certain aspects of somebody’s well-being. However, there is little to no evidence for this belief. There are many parts of this theory that are not able to be repeated multiple times with the same outcomes, therefore disproving it as a scientific theory.
Chi, just as chakra and prana, has scarcely any evidence supporting it and nothing that can be replicated several times with the scientific method.
People who believe in these theories of life-forces are most likely “feeling” these energies for psychological reasons. Human minds are very easy to trick, and those who are convinced of life-forces are probably experiencing prana, chakra or chi because they are under a sort of hypnotic state of mind. This can persuade the mind into feeling a certain way because you believe it is feeling that way. (5)
The same principles are used in placebo medicines, which can effectively relieve a pain in the body due to the fact that the person believes the medicine is making him feel better. (6)
In reality, the mind was most likely persuaded by the person’s belief, thus relieving the pain.
This effect is what can cause people to continue to believe and “feel” these life-forces, even if evidence is not present.
References & Image Credits:
(1) The Smiling Skeptic
(3) Skeptics SA
(4) CSI Cop
(5) Skepdic: Kirlian
(6) Kirlian Photography Taking Pictures of Human Emotion
(7) nessman via Compfight cc
(8) Wikipedia: 7 Main Chakras