Yoga and the Chakras: Focus on the Crown Chakra
Part of the practice of yoga is recognizing the chakras, which are a fundamental aspect of achieving inner peace and balance. Chakra is the Sanskrit word for ‘wheel’ and there are seven chakras arranged vertically in the body from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Chakras are thought of as spinning vortexes of energy that, when balanced, lead to higher consciousness and peace.
The Crown Chakra (Sahasrara Chakra)
This chakra is located on the top of the head and is associated with information, understanding, and comprehension. Sahasrara, the Sanskrit word for thousand-petal lotus, is symbolized by the white lotus flower with one thousand petals. The circle of the lotus flower represents the full moon. In Hinduism, the number zero represents infinity and one thousand represents infinity to the utmost.
Violet is the color that is most commonly associated with the crown chakra, in addition to white. It is the color of spiritual mastery, blending blue (spirit) with red (matter). When these colors come together as one, they are indicative of transformation.
Physiologically, the crown chakra is associated with the pineal gland, central nervous system, and the brain. It has also been compared directly to the pituitary gland, which secretes hormones that communicate to the central nervous and endocrine systems. Of all the chakras, it is the most communicative because it draws together and oversees all other chakras and their physiological representations in the body.
Inspiration, devotion, selflessness, and spiritual understanding are all associated with the crown chakra. The closest chakra to enlightenment, sahasrara has no boundaries, and all the energy that flows through us passes from the base of our being (the sacrum) to the crown of our heads and out towards the heavens and infinite understanding. It transcends time and space, offering limitless possibilities for ‘pure consciousness’ (enlightenment).
Because it is the body’s primary coordination center, balancing the crown chakra expands our physical and emotional awareness. Some of the signs that your Sahasrara chakra is unbalanced are: poor balance and lack of coordination, clumsiness, attempts to stop new thoughts (in both yourself and others), and the lack of motivation and spiritual exploration.
Asana for Sahasrara
Here are three asana and pranayama that will help you to open and balance the crown chakra.
Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
This pose requires you to lie down on your back, with your legs straight and your feet together. Place your hands, with palms down, underneath your thighs. On the inhale, arch your back and drop your head back (so that the top of your head is on the floor). Rest your weight on your elbows and exhale. Breathe deeply while in the position and keep your torso relaxed. This opens up the entire region from your heart to the top of your head.
Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
Start by lying down on your back and lift your hips off the floor. Bring your legs up, over and beyond your head. Lift your back off the floor and move your legs further beyond your head. Straighten your spine so your back is straight and move your hands toward your back. Then, place your arms against your upper back (off the floor at this point) and move your hands as close to your shoulder blades as you can. Push your back upwards with your hands. Lift one leg at a time so they are both straight up in the air. Use your shoulders and pelvis to support your weight. Breathe deeply and find your balance. This pose encourages energy to flow down through the other six chakras to the crown chakra. This helps restore balance and openness.
This breathing technique is best done cross-legged. Close your right nostril with the right thumb and draw in air slowly through the left nostril. Then, also close the left nostril with the little and ring fingers of the right hand. Hold in the air as long as you can (comfortably). Slowly exhale through the right nostril after removing your thumb. Then draw in air through the right nostril and hold in the air as long as you can (comfortably). Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Exhale very slowly through the left nostril after removing the little and ring fingers. Perform this process five to eight times in one sitting.