Dear Beautiful Yogi,
We've reached the top! The last of the seven energy centers is call the sahasrara chakra and it means a thousand-petaled lotus. The lotus represents awakening. 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 subtlest of the seven centers and like chakra six has no associated element. The color is described as either white or violet and has no seed sound. It’s pure silence.
Why is it so significant? Because reaching this seventh center means one has created a degree of access to all the other centers before it, first. This 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.
Seated at the top of the head, Shiva holds location here and is the deity of the crown chakra. Shiva is described as stillness, supreme consciousness and the founder of yoga. He is said to teach the interconnection of the individual self to the greater universal self. He teaches in silence and therefore presides over yoga and meditation. This chakra is the link between the physical world and the spiritual world.
There are two recommended poses to help access this last chakra: Prasarita Padotanasana A and Sirsasana (headstand).
The most important tool to help us access the knowledge of the seventh chakra is meditation. This practice truly builds our ability to enter and sustain silence. Try this simple meditation:
- Prasarita Padotanasana A is a wide stance, straight leg, forward bend. Practicing this pose with a block and the head placed on the block give one the sensation of headstand without the same weight or risk to the neck. Step the feet wide apart, approximately 3-4 feet and make the feet parallel. Firm both legs, place the hands at the hips and lengthen the spine up with inhalation and fold forward with an exhalation. Bring both hands down to the floor shoulder’s width and 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 and hold here for 5-10 breaths, feeling the connection of the top of the head and the block. Do not round the upper back, continuously move the upper back in towards the chest as if trying to back-bend. This will help you keep the spine elongated and the pressure on the top of the head.
- For more advanced students, headstand is the go-to pose to directly stimulate the crown chakra. Be sure to warm up first and seek the guidance of a qualified teacher to help you build up to the strength and proper alignment of this pose. Begin on all fours and place the very top of the head on the floor. Take your time and make sure you are on the top of the head, not more towards 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 your hands interlaced. Lift the shoulders away from the floor as you press the forearms down. Walk the feet in towards the head and using abdominal support lift the feet up and extend the legs straight up over your head. 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. This posture should be practiced within the context of a skillful sequence and not in isolation.
- Find a comfortable seat, either on the floor or in a chair. If sitting on the floor, use stacked blankets or a bolster high enough to eliminate knee, hip or back pain. It’s important to align the spine which starts with the pelvis. Think of the pelvis like a water bowl. Most of us tilt backward, removing the inward curve of the lower back and “spilling water out of the back of the bowl”. Instead, make the water bowl level and move the lower back slightly forward/in to create its natural curve. Then, lift up tall, stacking the vertebrae all the way up to the top of the head. Relax without slouching and let breathing be normal. Bring your attention to the spine. This is the focus of the meditation. Whether you experience your physical spine, or the energy spine (sushumna), hold your attention there. If you lose the 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.
Slowly, and with years of practice, we begin to awaken to our own unique and beautiful inner self. Deep self-knowledge flowers and we feel connected to everything around us.
Only Love & Yoga,