The seven chakras are "wheels" or energy centers within the human body. Each one is like a conductor or storehouse of energy governing different bodily aspects from gross to subtle. They can seem mysterious and difficult to understand, but as you study the chakras and develop awareness of your energy system, they become more tangible and accessible.
This blog post explores the sixth of the seven chakras, ajna, which translates as “command” or “summon.” You can read about the first through 5th of the seven chakras in posts below.
Ajna, to see more deeply
As we get closer to the top of the head and the last chakra, the energy centers become very subtle. So subtle, in fact, they are no longer tied to one of the 5 elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether). We rise up into the realms of higher consciousness which is less tangible and harder to access.
Most of us have heard of “the third eye” and we know its location: center of the forehead. This is the 6th chakra in the yogic energy system and it’s called ajna chakra in Sanskrit. Ajna means to command or to summon. It also translates as perception. It relates to light and the ability to see. Its color is indigo and its seed sound is Om.
Our ability to see is not just associated with our eyes: it’s also our intuitive ability to see more deeply…to perceive that which isn’t visible to the naked eye. When we begin to awaken the third eye, we see the nature of things below the surface. This applies to the world around us and the world within us.
Buried deep within each human being is a storehouse of mental impressions. Impressions that we are unaware of much of the time, and yet these impressions color our perceptions of ourselves and the world. By awakening this inner eye we gain access to these buried mental patterns that often keep us from seeing clearly, from seeing the truth of our innermost nature. As they rise to the surface, the unconscious becomes conscious and clarity is gained. We begin to see what is real —or true— and what is not.
Om, the vibrational sound of the universe
Om is the seed sound for the 6th chakra; it is the vibrational sound of the universe. As we begin to see more clearly, better understanding ourselves, we naturally begin to see and understand all that surrounds us. The microcosm is the macrocosm according to the yogic scriptures ,and Om is the vibration of all things. In fact, scientists studying the universe in the 1950’s discovered a sound vibrating through the universe. When they amplified that sound, they discovered Om reverberating endlessly. And we learn from Patanjali’s yoga sutras that Om reduces all obstacles on the yoga path and that chanting Om is a means to enlightenment by itself.
A pranayama practice to move energy up to the ajna chakra and purify prana, creating more clarity and mental balance
-Sit in a comfortable position with the spine tall and aligned. Begin alternate nostril breathing with the right hand. Use the thumb to open and close the right nostril, and the ring and pinkie fingers together to operate the left nostril. If practicing early in the day begin by inhaling through the right nostril, if later in the day, start with the left side. Exhale out of the opposite side; inhale again from this same side; and then exhale once again out of the opposite side.
-Do this for several rounds to create an even and steady breathing pattern. Once you are in a comfortable rhythm, add a visualization technique involving your breath, your energy and your third eye. Visualize energy as you inhale moving from your nostril up to your third eye, and as you exhale see the energy move from your third eye out of the other nostril. Follow the pattern, visualizing the next inhalation entering through that nostril up to the third eye and then out of the other nostril…as if creating an inverted V shape. Do this for a few minutes. Image the flow of energy (prana) making an inverted V shape as you practice alternate nostril breathing.
-Moving to a very subtle technique, do the same exercise except without the use of your hand. Visualize the alternate nostril breathing without actually using your hand and breathing through one side at a time. Think of it as mental alternate nostril breathing. This meditative technique gently moves energy up to the ajna chakra and purifies prana, creating more clarity and mental balance.
Look for more chattra blog posts about the chakras from Nikki…the more you focus on the chakras, their location, qualities and seed sounds, the more real and accessible they will become — and the more aware you will be of your own amazing energy system.
About Nikki Estrada
Nikki Estrada has been in the yoga scene for more than twenty years. She lectures, leads workshops, teacher training and immersions nationwide. Nikki began her formal training in India, focusing on Ashtanga—a very physically challenging style of yoga. She is currently a senior yoga teacher and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nikki's Vinyasa-based classes are a synthesis of her years of yogic and Ayurveda study and personal experience, with an emphasis on spirituality, intelligent alignment, meditation, and living life more joyfully. Her videos can be found on www.yogainternational.com. More information about Nikki can be found at www.nikkiestradayoga.com She resides in northern California with her husband and two daughters.