The chakras have become a popular topic in New Age thinking, alternative medicine, and yoga, as has kundalini, the serpent power which energizes them. But there is a growing gap between how the chakras are viewed today and how they are regarded in traditional yogic literature. Today the chakras are used mainly for physical healing. This is different from, and at best preliminary to, the yogic process of Self-realization, which is concerned with going beyond the body and mind. Opening the chakras requires a radical change in consciousness, which usually occurs only after years of meditation. It is not a simple matter of emotional opening or physical cleansing.