How do you see yourself? How do you see your life? These are questions that are asked when working with the 6th chakra energy center aka the third eye chakra aka Ajna. Ajna, however, is not concerned with what you see on the outside with your physical eyes. How do you see yourself and how do you see your life when you turn inward? When there are no outer distractions, when there is no one or no outside influence to plant ideas of how you SHOULD look, feel, act or behave, how do you see your life? How do you feel about yourself?
As we move up along the energy system, the physical becomes less important. The third eye is associated with the mind. We’ve learned how to use one hemisphere of our brain (the left, analytical, thinking side), but we’ve failed to be educated on how to work with the other side (the right, imaginative, feeling side). We’ve become well versed on how to think logically, but logical thinking without the balance of intuition can lead to common thinking errors such as unfair comparisons or unreal ideals. Intuition and feeling are just as important as logical thinking. This is where the third eye comes in. A lot of work with this 6th chakra is associated with inner work, most likely because it’s this right brain inner work that is lacking in our society. So, take some time over the course of the week to close your eyes, turn inward and truly notice and acknowledge what you see on the inside. Without any type of third party confirmation and without validation, what do you know or feel to be true about you, your life and existence in general? You may surprise yourself to find out what you see!
Garudasana (eagle) to support and open the Third Eye Chakra
We’ll start in a standing position at the top of our mats. Working with our arms first, we’re going to straighten both arms in front of us, so they are parallel to the floor. We’ll bring our right arm under our left arm, and then bend at the elbows and allow the backs of the palms or fronts of the palms to touch (whatever is available for you). Next, we’ll lift our elbows up in line with our shoulders as our shoulder blades move down our back and towards our waist, and our hands draw away from our face. The upper arms should still be close to parallel to the floor, while the forearms are perpendicular to the ground. This may be enough of a stretch, so feel free to stay here.
Bringing attention to our lower body, we’re going to sink our hips down into chair pose, and then ground into our left foot. Our right leg is going to lift up as we cross our right thigh over our left thigh (the right foot may or may not hook onto the left shin). As we begin to feel more comfortable and confident in this pose, we’ll focus on squaring the hips and chest to the front of the mat, and allow the body to sink from the waist down and lengthen from the waist up. The more we squeeze the thighs and arms, the more stability we will get.
Notice how this posture requires us to work with the mind. In order to be balanced and stable in the posture, we need to develop focus and concentration. The minute we think about something besides what we are doing is the minute we will fall out of this pose. This is the domain of the third eye chakra – one pointed focus and total concentration of mind.
Manas Mandala Pranayama for the Third Eye Chakra
*** this breath technique comes from the Gitananda yoga tradition.
This technique involves a simple in and out of the breath done to a count:
- inhale for a count of 6
- exhale for a count of 6
As you focus on the space between the eyebrows and the color indigo, continue this pattern for at least 9 rounds. The count can be decreased to 5 or 4, or increased to 7, 8, or 9. Focus on how the inhale and the exhale are balanced with the same count. The inhale flows into the exhale, and the exhale flows into the inhale. Both are needed equally and both have equal value.
The audio recording below includes a visualization technique for the third eye chakra that can be used along with this breath technique.