This pandemic year; this election week; this seemingly endless season of waiting and wondering: Any or all of it may have caused your mind to muddle and your head to hurt. Attempts to express anger, fear, existential dread, hope, gratitude, or support may have felt thwarted, or been delivered awkwardly. The ability to detach from the minutiae of each day’s news in favor of accepting the timing of societal and spiritual unfolding may be limited.
Each of the above “maybes” fall under the auspices of the top three chakras, or the Upper Triangle. The Fifth, or Throat Chakra (Vishuddha), guides how we express ourselves and our ability to communicate clearly. The Sixth Chakra, aka the Spiritual or Third Eye (Ajana), is the seat of intuition; when this energy center is strong, illusory circumstances diffuse, and one connects to the Truth of a situation. And finally, the Seventh, or Crown Chakra (Sahasrara), resonates with the surrounding Aura and Magnetic Field, opening each of us to the vibration of the Universe.
While feelings of security and certainty may have been threatened for many of us this year, strong faith (in whatever anchors you during tumultuous times) and disciplined adherence to spiritual practices assuaged those who gravitate toward that path. Yet, as is the case in Life, even the most devoted of devotees doubts and despairs from time to time: Such moments require attention to the Upper Triangle.
Special note reminder: As noted in Part I, the Fourth, or Heart Chakra, will be addressed in this coming “Silent Sundays” piece.
The following routine for Chakras Five, Six, and Seven will be practiced slightly differently than those for the Lower Triangle. Instead of three separate practices, the pranayama and movements for the Upper Chakras will flow as would a full-body vinyasa. The moves and positions are not complicated, so focused pranayama can be performed deeply..
To begin, come standing with feet under the hip points, ensuring that the knees align over the second toes. Imagine a wall behind you, and that the back of your head, shoulder blades, and bottom touch the wall. Connect to and deepen your breath; allow each inhale to lift through the armpits as the ribcage expands, and slide the shoulder blades down as the exhale retracts the ribs. Empower your stance with about 1 minute of this deep, aligning breath work.
Now, still standing, place your middle fingers just in front of their respective ear openings: Test the spot by slightly opening and closing the jaw; your fingers should dip into the little groove as the jaw opens, and be pushed out as the jaw closes. With eyes closed, inhale through the mouth as you slowly open the jaw wide and tip the head back; closed eyes are focused on the Third Eye. As you exhale through the mouth, slowly bring the head back to neutral; time the breath and head movement, so that the jaw is closed when your head returns to the start. Repeat this head tipping with open-mouth breath for 1 minute.
After your final head move, immediately bring Prayer Mudra to rest on the Third Eye: The base thumb knuckles fit directly onto the Sixth Chakra. With eyes remaining closed and focused on the Spiritual Eye, inhale as the head turns to the left: Chant, “Sat Nam.” As you exhale and turn the head to the right, chant, “Wahe [wah-hay] Guru.” Repeat this mantra in a whisper for 1 minute.
Now, without pausing, extend the arms overhead as you inhale through the nose; bend back slightly. Exhale through the mouth with a long whooshing sound as you tip the torso forward about 30 degrees; as you tip, swipe the arms down and out to the sides, as if clearing the auric field around you. Inhale body and arms back up, and then exhale slightly forward as the arms come down and out. With each inhale and arm raise, the hands do not touch; the arms remain alongside the ears when fully extended upward. Continue this movement for 1 minute.
From the final inhale up in the previous move, exhale into a forward fold, then down onto all fours. Shift back into Baby Pose, and interlace the hands behind your back; extend the arms long. As you inhale, lift the hips as you roll forward onto the crown of the head; exhale back down. As you inhale and lift, the arms lift away from the back; allow them to settle back down as the hips sit back on the exhale. Continue for 1 minute.
If this practice appeals to your personal needs, you may extend the times to 3 minutes; or, stay with the shorter times, but repeat the entire flow up to 3 times without a pause. Regardless, end with a prone Svasana: Come onto the belly, and bring the hands under the head; form a diamond shape with the thumbs and index fingers of each hand, and rest your forehead in the geometric space. Consciously release through the shoulders, elbows, belly, and bottom; check in with the toes, and ease up through the soles of the feet. Remain here, breathing deeply, for a few minutes.
Next time: Conclusion—The Heart Center