We’ve reached the top! The last of the seven energy centers is called the sahasrara chakra and it means a thousand petaled lotus. Located at the very top of the head, this chakra is the pinnacle energy center of the human body and can seem very mysterious. It’s the most subtle of the seven energy centers and like the sixth chakra has no associated element (such as fire, water, earth, wind). This chakra’s color is described as white or violet; it’s name, lotus, represents awakening. It has no seed sound. It is pure silence.
Why is sahasrara so significant?
Reaching the seventh chakra wheel means one has first created a degree of access to all the preceding chakras — one through six. Sahasrara chakra is deep knowledge. Not mental or academic knowledge but rather the deepest self-knowledge possible. It’s a knowledge that is pure consciousness beyond the thinking mind. A state of awareness that’s beyond your rational mind. This chakra is the link between the physical world and spiritual world.
Shiva — the deity of the crown chakra
Sahasrara is located at the top of the head, and it is believed that the deity Shiva also resides here. Shiva is described as stillness, supreme consciousness, presiding over yoga and meditation, teaching the interconnection of the individual self to the greater universal self — in silence.
Asanas to access sahasrara
With years of committed practice, deep self-knowledge and access to the 7th chakra develops. Here are a few asanas and a meditation practice to assist in stimulating sahasrara and connecting with the seventh chakra.
Prasarita Padottanasana A is a wide stance, straight leg, forward bend. Practicing this pose with the head placed on a block gives one the sensation of headstand without the same weight or risk to the neck. Step feet approximately 3-4 wide apart and position them parallel. Firm both legs. Place hands at the hips and lengthen the spine with an inhalation; fold forward with an exhalation. Bring both hands to the floor, shoulder width apart. Place the top of the head on a block while maintaining a long spine. Keep the shoulders lifting away from the floor and the legs firm. Hold for 5-10 breaths, feeling the connection of the top of the head and the block. Slowly return upright to avoid dizziness.
For more advanced students, headstand is the go to pose to directly stimulate the crown chakra. This posture should be practiced within the context of a skillful sequence and not in isolation. Be sure to warm up first and seek the guidance of a qualified teacher to help you build the strength and proper alignment of headstand. Begin on hands and knees. Place the very top of the head on the floor, taking your time to make sure you are not more toward the forehead or the back of the head. Place your elbows and forearms on the floor shoulder width apart and cup the back of the head with interlaced fingers. Lift the shoulders away from the floor as you press the forearms down. Walk the feet in toward the head and, using abdominal strength, lift the feet up, extending the legs straight overhead. You want to be aligned from the top of your head to your feet -- just like mountain pose but upside down. Stay and breathe for as long as you can balance and maintain your shoulder strength. When you come back down, rest in child’s pose.
The most important tool to help us access the knowledge of the 7th chakra is meditation. This practice truly builds our ability to enter and sustain silence. Try this:
Find a comfortable seat, either on the floor or in a chair. If sitting on the floor, use a zafu meditation cushion, stacked blankets or a bolster high enough to eliminate knee, hip or back pain. It’s important to align the spine, starting with the pelvis. Think of the pelvis like a water bowl. Most of us roll our pelvis backwards, eliminating the inward curve of the lower back and “spilling water out of the back of the bowl.” Instead, make the imaginary water bowl level and move the lower back slightly forward, creating a natural curve. Lift up tall, stacking the vertebrae all the way to the top of the head. Relax without slouching and let your breath flow normally. Bring your attention to the spine. This is the focus of the meditation. Whether you experience your physical spine, or the less known energy spine (sushumna), hold your attention there. If you lose sense of your spine, sway side to side slightly until you regain awareness, then become still again. Do this for 5 or more minutes daily.
Read all of Nikki’s chakra blog posts…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.