|mandala courtesy Sacred Centers, Anodea Judith|
The first energy centre located outside the physical body – the crown chakra – is associated with awareness and consciousness. Though it takes being aware of the physical body to reach this level, the 7th chakra is not as concerned with the physical. In numerology, the number 7 is the number of trust, devotion and a deeper connection to ourselves and to the life force . . . . all qualities of the crown chakra. Working with this energy centre is about trusting what you know, searching for truth, both about yourself and about existence in general, and becoming aware that reality is often hidden behind illusions. Getting past these illusions is often the key.
“Sahasrara” is the Sanskrit term assigned to this energy centre, and it refers to the one thousand petal lotus flower. This flower is a spiritual symbol in many traditions and often represents spiritual potential. The lotus flower grows through dirty, muddy water and experiences much of its growth before it rises out of the muck to become a magnificent flower. Likewise on our path to awareness, we go through heavy, dark times in order to become fully conscious of our light and magnificence. This week in class, we'll draw our attention to this space that sits just above our head, and the potential that we hold physically through inversions. For more information and work with the crown chakra, continue reading below.
The best way to work with Sahasrara is to go beyond the physical through meditation. Drawing and colouring mandalas is one form of meditation, as is sitting with any of the mandalas you have previously worked on and using them as your focal point in a seated meditation.
When working with mandalas, ways to focus your colouring or drawing on the 7th chakra is:
- include lotus flowers or the om symbol throughout the drawing as these are the symbols of this chakra
- use the colours violet, white or gold (colours for the crown chakra)
- include the seed sound of om (sound of sahasrara) while you are working either physically or mentally
- direct your mind to the 7th chakra by asking questions and paying attention to what images, or thoughts show up in your mind as you work
- Do I know what and who I am?
- What do I believe about the universe?
- What do I believe simply based on knowing?
- How is everything connected?
- What are my spiritual practices?
Meditation is the main way to activate this energy centre, so any poses that can be used for meditation, or poses that help us to be still are useful when working to balance the crown chakra. As well, postures that bring awareness to the space at the top of the head can be helpful to bring harmony to Sahasrara. We’ll focus on Sirsasana (headstand) and Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (dolphin pose). Headstand is often referred to as the king of all poses, and dolphin is a good introduction to headstand. Both poses are inversions, which situate the heart over the head, and both involve bringing awareness to the crown of the head.
Ardha Pincha Mayurasana
Start in tabletop position and grab onto your elbows to determine what distance to keep the upper arms. Keep the elbows at this length, then clasp the hands and place the clasped hands on the floor, pinky side down (having both pinkies on the floor and not stacked). Tuck your toes and on an inhale lift the hips up. You should be in a downward dog position with dolphin arms. Press into the forearms to help lift the hips up. If this is enough stay here, otherwise start to walk the toes towards the elbows until hips are stacked over shoulders. Legs can stay straight, or they can bend to help keep the upper back straight.
Set up the same way you did in dolphin pose – finding distance of elbows, clasping hands and placing them on the floor. From here, place the crown of your head on the floor in front of the palms of your hands. You can even cradle your head with your hands. Tuck your toes and start to lift your hips up. Slowly walk your feet closer to your elbows. When you feel ready, start to lift the feet away from the floor, by either lifting up one at a time, or drawing them up together. Try to get the hips stacked over the shoulders and the feet stacked over the hips. There should not be a lot of weight in the head, as it should be mainly in the forearms which are rooting down.
Stay in whatever pose you choose for 5-10 breaths, then slowly lower down and relax in child’s pose for 5-10 breaths. You can repeat as many times as you like.
For more information about the crown chakra, check out earlier posts labeled 7th chakra or contact me for more details. Hope you’ve enjoyed your journey through the chakra system. If you felt unbalanced in a certain area, or didn’t quite understand a step along the way, feel free to go back and focus on that centre some more. The wonderful thing about the chakra system, and yoga in general, is there is always something new to be learned and discovered. Enjoy your journey!
See you on our mats