Music for The Chakras

This month we have been wrapping up our chakra journey through full body chakra practices. Its been so fun to take the specialized work we’ve done in each chakra over the course of the last six months and now see that unfold in a full  practice. One of the key elements to a chakra practice can be finding music that helps you connect with that element. Whether its music that resonates with the emotions and issues of that element, or in the case of the lower chakras, music that reminds us of the element itself. Below you will find some musical recommendations for each chakra to continue your journey.

1st Chakra: Root (Earth)

chakras

  • Chigumbo by Ben Leinbach & Geoffrey Gordon
  • Inion by Afro Celt Sound System
  • Kothbiro by Ayuba Ogada
  • The Rhythm is Not Mine (Instrumental) by John de Kat
  • Earth Album by Alex Theory

2nd Chakra: Sacral (Water)

  • Watermoon by Bernard Scholl
  • Orcadrift (Remix) by Adham Shaikh
  • Natural Healing by Shajan
  • The Yearning by Kamal
  • Samadhi by Shaman’s Dream Project
  • Down Temple Dubs: Waves Album by Desert Dwellers

3rd Chakra: Solar Plexus (Fire)

  • Nomad by Niraj Chag
  • Durga Shakti by Shaman’s Dream Project
  • Dreamcatcher by Bhramja & Maneesh De Moor
  • Down Temple Dubs: Flames Album by Desert Dwellers

4th Chakra: Heart (Air)

  • Geometry of Dreams by Gretchen Yanover
  • Cedar by Gretchen Yanover
  • Gobinday Mukunday by Shashara
  • Shiva’s Flute by Shaman’s Dream Project
  • Sun Will Set by Zoe Keating

5th Chakra: Throat (Sound)

  • Radiance: Prayer to the Goddess Saraswati by Jai Uttal & Ben Leinbach
  • Guru Brahma by Shaman’s Dream Project
  • Mala by Ty Burhoe
  • Invocation to Water by Cynthia Bourgeault
  • The Healing Waters by Kamal

6th Chakra: 3rd Eye (Light) 

  • Untitled by Chinmaya Dunster (from Buddha Moon)
  • Horizon of Gold by Ben Leinbach
  • Khumjun by Ben Leinbach
  • Walking into the Himalaya to Meditate by Nawang Khechog
  • The Heriophant by Ben Leinbach
  • Celestial Abode by Todd Norian

7th Chakra: Crown (Akasha)

  • Silence
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Nurturing the 6th Chakra Through the Moon

The Moon, in Qabalistic tradition, is called the Intelligence of Interrelatedness and is though to have an affinity for the occipital region of the brain (the round curve at the back of your heard). In esoteric metaphysics, the occipital region of the brain is said to be connected to every point in time and space. Through the Moon we are connected to the universe. An idea to entertain (in your occipital) is that this region of the brain is the portal through which images cross from our minds out into the world, where they become real. – Caroline Casey

With this second to last full moon of 2012, the lunar power swirling through the universe held a certain amount of intensity. As I sat with it in preperation for our final 6th chakra yoga class, I began to see the parallels of the energy of the moon and the energy of the 6th chakra. Both the 6th chakra and the moon invite us to dive inside in and explore our inner realms. They both explore the fruits of dream time and our power to be active participants in the world we dream up. As I explored this further, I came across the passage above from Caroline Casey about the moon. It seemed fitting, this idea of the moon’s residence in the back of the skull and that like the 6th chakra it created this bridge between our own mind and the world.

We are gearing up for powerful energetic shifts as we begin the final month of 2012. An open 6th chakra is a key navigational tool for artfully managing these changes and the moon is ushering these shifts. Lena Stevens writes of the lunar energies, “Between now and the winter solstice on December 21 is a crucial time of letting go, revisiting priorities, separating yourself from what is not in your best interest, and reaching for a higher vibration in all things.” I invite you to use these chakra practices as we move forward to continue to open, enliven and enrich your energetic system.

Hakini Mudra

hakini mudraThe practice of hakini mudra helps to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain. As we bring together the tips of the fingers we invite a balance between the two hemispheres. This balancing of the brain will help bring calmness and equanimity to the 6th chakra and is an excellent way to begin any 6th chakra practice. To practice this mudra bring the tips of all 5 fingers together and place the hands in front of the heart.

Om: The Sound of the 6th Chakra

OmOver the past months we have explored the seed syllables of each of the chakras as a way to access and activate the energy centers. Each chakra has a specific sound, and the seed syllable for the 6th chakra is one we’re only familiar with intoning. The sound here is of the 6th chakra is Om. To activate this chakra a simple chanting of Om directed to the center of the brain or to third eye will help to activate the energy flow in this chakra.

Working Intention with the 6th Chakra

MoonIn her passage about the moon, Casey also spoke about a Qabalistic tradition of setting intention before sleep, allowing it to come to rest in the back of the skull and then drawing it into our dreamworld. We brought the essence of this practice into our yoga class that evening, inviting our intention into the “wakeful dreaming” of our meditation and asana practice. To begin this practice, find a comfortable seat and close the eyes. Bring the awareness to the back of the skull and feel a heaviness there. As you connect with this region in the head, start to see it illuminated with silvery, white light, the color of moonlight. After several breaths, draw up an intention, instilling it in the back of the skull. Feel its extra weight resting there and see the silvery, white light flare as it is ignited by the power of your intention. Meditate on this light and open up to broader reaches of your intention. Then as you take your next exhale, allow the chin to drop to the chest. Feel your intention sliding forward through the 6th chakra and toward the the 3rd eye. Allow your intention to pool up in the third eye, experiencing it as warmth, weight or tingling. Spend several breaths here and on an exhale roll the right ear to the right shoulder. The eyes remain closed as you allow your intention to flow over into the right hemisphere of the brain. Take several breaths and on exhale roll the left ear to the left shoulder, feel your intention wash through the left hemisphere of the brain. Take several more breaths and bring the chin back to the chest. Feel the intention slide, like honey, back to the third eye. Finally, on an inhale, bring the head to neutral. Feel the intention slide back in the skull to 6th chakra and the center of the head. Watch it ignite, glowing purple, and call that intention up one last time deep from your core before you being your practice.

“To go into the dark, with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and signs, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.” – Wendell Barry

6th Chakra & Neptune The Power of Dream Time

“Neptune’s realm is the unhurried, imaginative dream state, which is always available to us through the act of conscious reflection…When we pause in dream time to gather our wits, we are reminded that beauty is ubundantly available to the unhurried mind. Conscious reveries, trance—any portal to ecstatic self-loss, such as diving through a sun-dappled wave—are all forms of worshipping Neptune. Neptune rewards us for these acts of reverence with inspiration.” – Caroline Casey, Making the Gods Work for You

One could easily substitute 6th chakra for Neptune in the description above. The 6th chakra is our portal to dream time and our capacity to dream our world into being and to manifest is often directed by the 6th chakra. The power of the chakra is profound, but it is something we wield unconsciously. Casey goes on to write, “We are constantly summoning and invoking through our imaginings, but often in an inconsistent and confused manner. Our lives, therefore, assume a corresponding design of confusion. One law of the dream world is that our personal lives are expanded or constricted by what we imagine to be possible.” Working in the 6th chakra becomes important work to ensure we are manifesting what we truly desire rather than dreaming unconsciously. Use these practices below to access the dream world of Neptune and the 6th chakra.

Nadi Shodhana

Nadi Shodhana is an excellent pranayama practice for stimulating the 6th chakra. The movement of prana up the nadis (ida & pingala) terminate at the 6th chakra and are accessed through the breath flow through the nostrils. Try this variation on Nadi Shodhana, instead of using the hands use the focus on the mind. Bring your awareness to the third eye at the brow center. Focus your awareness on the third eye and visualize an orb of purple light there. After a few minutes, connect with your breath and take several deep breaths in and out through the nostrils. Feel the breath in both nostrils evenly and smoothly. Now focus on your left nostril and draw the inhale through your left nostril into the third eye region. From third eye exhale out through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril up into the third eye and exhale through the left. This is one round. Do 8 more rounds with the focus on the third eye. Once you complete the pranayama practice, spend several minutes with the eyes closed, and the focus on the 3rd eye and the prana that you have generated there.

Inversions

image from fitsugar.com

Prepare the 6th chakra for an expansive savasana through the practice of inversions toward the end of your practice. Any kind of inversion practice will bring a flow of blood and prana to the 6th and 7th chakras. As the pranic flow increases to the 6th chakra, we open up to its capacity for fruitful dreaming. If possible practice a version of headstand or headstand to ensure an open flow of energy to the upper chakras (inversion like shoulder stand while beneficial in their own right will not bring the same flow of prana to the 6th chakra). Practice the inversion and then give yourself 5-7 breaths in downward dog to transition and finally 5-7 breaths in virasana to absorb the benefits of your inversion practice.

Yoga Nidra

image from dancingthesoul.com

Yoga Nidra is often known as the yoga of sleep. The practice of yoga nidra allows the body to relax while the mind stays awake through a form of guided meditation. Yoga nidra practice allows the body to drop into a brain-wave state that we reach during sleep. This brain wave state is one that takes several hours of sleep to reach, yet yoga nidra can reach it instantly. It is a wonderful practice for nourishing and replenishing the body, but it is also a place where we can actively participate in our dreams. I often encourage students to set an intention when they begin their yoga nidra practice as it is carried with them into their subconscious mind and working with intention on this level can help to powerfully shift behavioral and thought patterns and can open us up to new ways of dealing with issues that have arisen for us. For more information about yoga nidra, please visit my website.

Chakra Color Visualization to Activate the 6th Chakra

“The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

As we traveled through the lower chakras, we explored the elements associated with each. The first chakra is associated with earth, the second water, third with fire and the fourth with air. The throat chakra is often spoken of as being associated with the element of ether, which has a very light and etheric quality, but moving out of the throat, we leave all traditional element behind (a note here, that sometimes the throat is considered to embody the element of sound). The sixth chakra, is sometimes spoken of as embracing the element of light. While light is not an element in it the most traditional sense, it certainly has elemental qualities and given the 6th chakra association with sight, light makes perfect sense in this context.

Diving further into the element of light, we have the opportunity to connect with vision and this week we explored that through the colors of each of the chakras. The practice involved visualizing the colors of the chakras as we worked particular areas. Not only does this begin training the inner eye of the 6th chakra, but it also offers us the opportunity to activate each of the chakras through the energetic activation that comes form visualizing the colors of the chakras.

Below are colors and areas of the body to focus on around each of the chakras:

1st Chakra
Visualize the color of deep crimson red. See this at the base of the spine, in the perineum. You can also visualize this red light traveling down the leg lines and into the soles of the feet. Visualize this color in standing poses, balance poses and seated poses.

2nd Chakra
See the color of deep burnt orange in the 2nd chakra. See this color in the hips, low back, sacrum, and low below. Visualize this color in hip openers like pigeon pose and thread the needle. See the color orange as you take belly breaths in reclining poses like Supta Bodhakonasa.

3rd Chakra
Visualize a vibrant yellow in the solar plexus, the belly region above the navel center and contained by the diaphragm. Visualize this bright yellow light moving through the upper belly like electricity or fire. See it in core activating poses, when working uddiyana bhanda and other pranayama like kapalabhati. You can also bring this color to the organs in the abdomen.

4th Chakra
The color of the fourth chakra is a rich emerald green. See this color in the heart center at front and back of the chest. Visualize it in the lungs, the physical heart and up to the shoulders. I also like to visualize this light traveling out through the the arms and into the hands. See this color green in chest openers like bridge pose and in poses where the breath is invited into the chest through a binding of the arms behind the back.

5th Chakra
See the color here at the throat as cobalt blue. See it wrapping the throat like a band of blue light. Its focus here on the physical body is the cervical spine. See the color blue flooding the neck during neck stretches and release. Also visualize the color blue went chanting and moving the breath.

6th Chakra
The color here at the center of the brain is amethyst purple. Visualize this color during meditation. See the purple light traveling from the center of the brain out through third eye at the center of the forehead. Direct this light outward, but also turn it back on itself opening up inner site and intuitive wisdom.

6th Chakra: The Art of Seeing

After two weeks off of writing this blog, I returned with explorations for the 6th chakra. It seemed appropriate that the week of this first class in this chakra was the week of the elections. I spent Tuesday night and some of Wednesday plugged in to the radio and computer and even found myself watching a bit of TV to catch the updates. It was an information overload and was a good reminder for me of all the information we bring into our physical and energetic system through the eyes, and, especially in our “plugged in” society, how rare it is that we turn all of that off.

The 6th chakra, sometimes known as the third eye…though I find this to be a misnomer as the third eye is an energetic center in its own right, but doesn’t actually represent the location of the 6th chakra. The chakra system lies along, and is fed by, the sushumna nadi which runs along the spine and then continues that pathway up through the center of the throat. As we leave the 5th chakra at the throat, the sushumna does not jut forward in the head but continues straight up through the center of the brain and up through the crown. The result, is that the 6th chakra is located in the center of the brain, near the pituitary gland. The 3rd eye, while an important aspect of energy that flows in and out of the 6th chakra is not the 6th chakra itself.

All this talk of the 3rd eye, brings us to the function of the 6th chakra: to see, both internally and externally. We take in information from the outside world through our eyes and process it through the 6th chakra, but we also turn inward and explore our personal landscape processing this information and drawing on our own internal wisdom and intuition. As we have moved well out of the lower chakras, the practices become less and less about the physical body and more connected with the mind and spirit, particularly through meditation. Our practices this week focused on the art of seeing both outwardly and inwardly.

Cleaning the Mind’s Eye

art by Dominique Falla

At the beginning of your practice close your eyes. Notice the darkness behind your eye lids, notice how you feel as you slip into the stillness and silence of your closed eyes. As you sit, first notice what kind of pictures the mind creates for you that rise up to take the place of the darkness. Then as you begin to notice these thoughts and pictures arise, release them one by one with the breath. Each time a thought arises offer it up to the inhale and release it with the exhale. As the thoughts start to slow, revel in the void behind the closed eyes. We spend our days taking in information through our eyes. Give yourself this opportunity in which you don’t have to take in information. Observe how it feels and, if you like, use this opportunity to know open up to intuitive wisdom and guidance and see what arises for you. This is the perfect time to set an intention for your practice.

 

Exercising the Outer Sight

Close the eyes, take a moment to let the eyes rest. Next open the eyes and focus your gaze center. Without moving the head, take your gaze to the left on inhale, center on exhale, right on inhale and center on exhale. Close the eyes again and allow the eyes to rest. Open the eyes and repeat that same movement center, left, center, right and then close the eyes. Now open the eyes, without moving the head look up on inhale, center on exhale, down on inhale and center on exhale. Close the eyes and rest and then repeat again. On the next round, open the eyes and without moving the head look to the upper right corner of the eye on inhale, bottom corner of the left on exhale, upper right on inhale and bottom left on exhale. Close the eyes, rest and when you open the eyes, repeat, but now starting in the upper left and moving to the lower right. Close the eyes. Finally open the eyes and make two circles in each direction, counter-clockwise and clockwise again without moving the head. Close the eyes and keep them closed as you rub the palms of the hands together. Once they are warm, bring the palms to cover the eyes and allow the warmth to sink into the eyes.

Working the Inner Sight

art by Alex Grey

Close the eyes. In your mind’s eye, see the sushumna nadi, the central channel, running along the spine. Visualize it traveling down to the base of the spine and up through the brain to the crown of the head. Draw your awareness up to the region of the 6th chakra, at the center of the brain. As you bring your focus there, visualize a glowing orb of amethyst purple light. Take several deep breaths here, narrowing your focus and sharpening the image in your mind’s eye. Now begin to direct purple light to shine forward from the 6th chakra toward the front of the head. Direct the beam of light to shine out between the eyebrows at 3rd eye center. Notice any sensations you feel on the forehead as you continue to direct this light out of the head. After several breaths, start to visualize an eye between the two brows. See this eye with your inner vision and once the image comes into focus, now visualize yourself opening your 3rd eye. As the eye blinks open, look outward and see what you notice. What information comes to you? Sit with this. After a few minutes, imagine the eye could rotate around and focus inward, inside your own mind. With the eye opened to your inner mind, now notice what information arises. Do you receive intuitive guidance or wisdom? After several minutes drop your awareness from the third eye down the sushumna nadi to the base of the spine. Take several deep breaths into your sit-bones before you open your eyes.

The 5th Chakra our Creative Center

In the philosophies of India, sound is considered the primordial ingredient of creation. Sound, crafted from the cosmic drum of Shiva in the celestial realms, was given to Brahma and Saraswati, the pair of deities that rule over creation and beginnings. The divine order o the universe, the essence of spirit, and the element of sound are intricately connected. Without sound, the universe will collapse again into nothingness, stolen by Mother Kali, in her final act of destruction. With sound, we are given the power to create from within ourselves using the same primordial energies that crate the world around us and indeed, our very selves.

With sound, we are given the tools to avert destruction. The fifth chakra facilitates a profound passage between the abstract information of conception, image and idea, and the manifested realm of the material world. It takes us through the heart where we communicate and connect with each other; through our power where we command and contain; through our emotions, and down into the coordination of the cells within our bodies. on the spiritual plane, sound brings us up through the lower chakras (using body, movement, will and breath) into resonance and harmony, information and understanding. It is the prime transmitter of consciousness itself.  Although sound may be the primordial ingredient of existence, it is consciousness–created from vibrational impact–that creates and maintains the very web of life. – Anodea Judith Eastern Body, Western Mind

Working with the 5th chakra truly brings us into alignment with our own creative capacity, but first we have to believe in our own ability to do that and in our own worthiness for owning such creations. The throat chakra is a tricky place, I find it so intricately linked to the other chakras as its often a gateway for expressing our chakra energy and needs in the world. When we can’t find this expression not only does the 5th chakra become blocked, but we also experience energy stagnation in other energy centers as well. For example, when we’re unable to speak our truth about our feelings, not only does our 5th chakra become blocked, but our 2nd chakra is also denied and energetically shut down. An open and flowing chakra then truly opens us up to health in many of our other chakras and in our capacity to make manifest the intention coming down from the higher chakras and the emotion, passion and physical experiences of the lower chakras. We can therefore, use our other chakras to help gain access to our 5th. The more we create flow through multiple chakras we open to better health and well-being in the body, mind and spirit. Try these practices below to open the 5th chakra by way of the lower chakras.

1st Chakra Body Movement

One of the best ways to free the voice is to first free up the body, and the body is ruled by the 1st chakra. Free form body movement helps us to get more comfortable in our skin, as we get comfortable in our own skin we get more comfortable with sharing our voice and speaking truthfully. This practice is so simple and can be done at any time. Turn on some music, preferably something with an accessible drumbeat and is somewhat unknown to you (i.e. don’t turn on your favorite Beyonce dance song as you most likely have a particular way of moving your body to this song). A favorite song of mine is The Rhythm is Not Mine (Instrumental) by John de Kadt. To do this practice, turn the music on, close your eyes and begin swaying with the music. As your body drops into the rhythm, widen the stance into a squat and continue to move. Involve the arms, the legs, the head, shoulders and neck. Keep your eyes closed, no judgement about movement and start to dance. Don’t worry about your dance moves, move in a way that feels authentic, represents the experience of energy and emotion in the body and keep moving. As you drop away the layers of worry around doing it correctly, you’ll find an authentic voice in your body’s movement which will eventually help you find an authentic voice in your 5th chakra.

2nd Chakra Emotional Release

image from energyenhancement.org

When we can give voice to our emotions, whatever they may be, we open up to the power of the 5th chakra. I have definitely found myself in tears in yoga class before and not really been able to express how or why I feel that way. The more we can open to the waves of emotion that arise for us on the mat, the more we can be open to the authenticity of our expression in the 5th chakra. Woodchopper is one of my favorite poses for releasing emotion locked in the body. A series of 10-12 is often enough to move energy through and open up to emotions. After the series, be sure to give yourself time to be with the flow of energy and let whatever comes up move through the body like a wave. Don’t hold on to anything that arises and don’t worry about unpacking where the emotion came from. Let it arise, be with it and let it go.

3rd Chakra Practice for Stimulating Creative Flow and Opening

image from yogajournal.com

The 3rd chakra and the 5th chakra are intricately linked. They hold either side of the heart and are both associated with creativity. The 3rd chakra is associated with more physical manifestations of creativity and the the 5th chakra with more consciousness based manifestation of creativity. Both equally important and both tied together. When we do 3rd chakra practices to clear out this chakra for creativity, we can also open the 5th chakra for the same energies. A heat building and clearing practice that I love is lion’s breath. It can also help clear 2nd chakra emotional blockages much in the same way that the Woodchopper can. Use this breath in any pose where you feel stuck and as you exhale bring your awareness to your throat and visualize vibrant blue light traveling out with the breath. As you take each lions breath you stimulate the 3rd chakra, release the 2nd chakra and open the 5th chakra.

Opening the Neck to Open the Throat Chakra

This week was our first exploration of the throat chakra. As a society we tend to have unbalanced throat chakras. Advances in technology and social media have lead to an over abundance of “communication” but communication that is inauthentic and doesn’t provide true connection. You can see this physically manifested in the over-stretching common in so many people who spend their days at the computer. The neck is long in the back and constricted in the front, the cervical curve is lost. Energetically this speaks to a blockage in the front of the chakra (the giving side of the chakra) and a weakness in the back of the chakra (the receiving side of the chakr). We can all benefit from a little throat chakra work!

The throat chakra is the center for communication. It is the place from which we speak our truth and connect with others. It is the first chakra above the heart and represents the first chakra in the “upper” chakras associated with wisdom, spirit and thought. To begin working with the neck, starting with the physical structure is the easiest avenue. As a result of our poor posture, many can benefit from working the neck, stretching and strengthening. This combined with vocal work will help loosen and open the throat chakra and facilitate better communication and listening.

Neck Stretches

The most basic way to access and work with the throat chakra is through the structure of the neck. Begin your practice with some basic neck stretches. Turn the head from left to right several times. Drop the chest to the chin and lengthen the crown forward. After several breaths, lengthen up through the chin as you lift your gaze to the ceiling. Do not let the head drop back, keep the cervical spine long. After several breaths, drop the chin to the chest then on inhale roll the right ear to the right shoulder. Bring the right hand to the let side of the head and apply gentle pressure, lengthen the left fingertips toward the floor. Find some small movements, shake the head yes and no and open and close the mouth. Release the right hand, take a few more movements. Bring the right hand to the right side of the head and press the head up to center as you find a neutral spine. Complete the same sequence on the other side. Take an exhale and drop the chin to the chest, roll the head from side to side with the breath. After several rounds complete full circles with the head in both directions. Finish the sequence by bringing the chin to the chest, squeeze the shoulder blades together on the back. Breathe here for 5 breaths.

Woodchopper: Clear Out the Blockages

image from energyenhancement.org

One of my all time favorite throat chakra clearing exercises! The picture shows the hands going between the legs, in my variation I have students stand feet shoulder width apart with a little bend to the knees. Arms are lifted up alongside the ears on inhale and on exhale the arms are swept alongside the legs and back behind the body. On the exhale make a loud “HA” noise, or if any other sound needs to escape use that. As you prepare for the practice and move into it, imagine all the spaces in your life when you haven’t been able to speak your truth, speak your mind or perhaps even share your voice. With each “HA” allow yourself to release these memories and release the energetic blockages they’ve created in the throat.

Restorative Neck Stretches

End the practice with several restorative neck stretches. Start on the back and bend the knees, set the feet to the floor and come up into bridge pose. Take a block and slide it underneath the fleshy part of the butt and the sacrum. Rest here for 3-5 minutes. Let the back of the head be heavy. To come out rise up onto the toes, lift off the block, slide it out of the way and roll down one vertebrae at a time. Next prepare for a supported fish pose. Roll over to the side, come up to your seat, take a bolster and lay it lengthwise on the mat. Sit on the edge of the bolster and recline back. The shoulders should be on the bolster, the edge of the bolster follows the length of the bolster as the back of the head touches the floor (see a more supported version above for those with neck injuries). Stay here for at least 3 minutes. Breathe into the front of the throat. Ensure the teeth are not clenched. Breathe. To come out roll over to one side into fetal position, press up to a seat and clear the mat for savasana.