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 the gross to the 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 fifth of the seven chakras, vishuddhi, which translates as “purification.” You can read about the first through fourth of the seven chakras in these earlier chattra posts: https://chattra.com/blogs/chattra-blog
Vishuddhi — light, ethereal, blue
As we rise up through the chakra system, the energy centers become less dense and increasingly subtle. The element of vishuddhi, the 5th chakra, is ether, or space. It is the lightest and least physical of the world’s five elements. Its seed (bija) sound is HAM and its color is blue; it relates directly to communication.
Balanced Vishuddhi = healthy communication
Seemingly vague and esoteric, the vishuddhi chakra is a vital energy system. When we speak, our voice travels through space. Our words and their tone deliver messages. As sound and vibration are specific functions of the throat chakra, developing our capacity for good, positive and clear communication is linked to a healthy vishuddhi: when the vishuddhi chakra is functioning well, communication is clear, kind, effortless and respectful. Here are a few practices to help balance vishuddhi.
Using mantra to develop throat harmony
The first tool we can use to develop harmony in the throat chakra is mantra — sound vibration. Chanting is mantra expressed aloud. Sanskrit mantras each have a unique energy quality and trigger vibration throughout the body.
You can start with simple mantras like Om or Om Shanti Om. You can also use the seed sound for the throat -- HAM. Try sitting comfortably in a chair or on the floor on a meditation cushion, ensuring your spine is lengthened and aligned. Focus for a few moments on your breath. Then begin to chant your chosen mantra, taking time with each repetition. Do this aloud for several minutes, eventually repeating the mantra silently in your mind. Try this every day, even for a few minutes, to regularly energize your vishuddhi chakra.
Asanas for vishuddhi
As the physical location of vishuddhi chakra is the throat, postures that involve the neck help gain access and understanding of this energy center. Shoulder stand is a particularly good asana for building awareness of the neck and throat region as it flexes the neck and engages jalandara bandha (the chin lock). When we bring the head and neck into position (neck flexion with the chest staying open) for shoulder stand, we build energy in the throat chakra. It’s important when practicing this pose that the neck is in its natural lordotic (concave) curvature with the chest moving toward the chin and that the chin is untucked. Blankets can assist in protecting your neck while practicing this asana. It’s also important to be warmed up and well prepared before attempting this pose.
Another great vishuddhi energizing asana is bridge pose. It produces the same effect as shoulder stand without going all the way upside down and putting weight on the neck. As in shoulder stand, in bridge we want to maintain the natural curvature of the neck while keeping all sides of the neck soft, relaxed and free of tension. As always, work with an experienced teacher to learn how to protect your neck during these asanas.
Aligning your spine, head and neck naturally optimizes energy flow
Another practice for balancing the throat chakra is simple: align your head and neck as you move about daily life. With modern living, we are constantly pushing our heads forward, straining the neck and throwing off our natural spinal alignment. Our heads are heavy and the highly mobile and delicate vertebra of the neck were not designed to carry it forward. As often as possible, especially if you work at a computer, remind yourself to adjust your posture: align your shoulders with your ears, gently draw your chin back towards the throat and lift your ears towards the sky. Observe how all sides of your neck are long and soft and your head rests effortlessly on top of your spine. You cannot overdo practicing this natural spinal alignment. You’ll appreciated how it optimizes vishuddhi energy flow.
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.