Month: December 2008
Hatha Yoga – Muladhara
Most people in the West consider Hatha Yoga to be yoga, this is what they refer to when they speak about yoga and it is also the most popular form of the whole yoga system. Hatha Yoga consists of physical asanas and movements designed to stimulate and rejuvenate the physical cells of our being.
Hatha Yoga involves a detailed knowledge of the physical form. This form of yoga forces the individual to consider the body and its chemistry and as such an understanding of how the body, glands and organs function and sometimes malfunction. As Hatha Yoga is the first step we take towards purification of the physical body in the West, it teaches us ways to influence our bodies, organs and glands in a positive way. We learn what to and how to correctly feed the body to strenghten, detox and stimulate it in a positive way. All of this and more is part of the first phase of yoga and as such connects us to our Muladhara Chakra or the root of all our future yogas.
Hatha Yoga empowers the Muladhara. The element of the Earth is that which is solid and resistant in you and as such Muladhara literally means the root support system, it is the energy that helps you to function in this world as a divine being moving around in a physical form. It is the Chakra where you are connected to the earth, it grounds you and provides the basis for your future support. In your energy system it represents the gravitational pull of the Earth which holds all together. At the molecular level it is the power that holds the atom together. At the planetary level it is the more obvious gravitational field. Obvious to us intellectually, yet invisible. Mentally this Chakra root our feelings as well as our perception of our physical being, right down to the cellular level.
Many asanas directly connect us to this Chakra point. For example Vishwamitrasana, Kashyapasana, Moolabandhasana, Gorakshasana, Merudandasana and a host of other asanas. These asanas are designed to put pressure on the Muldhara Chakra point and in doing so cultivate awareness of the energies and their flow in the physical body.
Muscles are an integral part of our organism and are directly linked to our Hatha Yoga practice as they contract or relax while we perform our asanas. This contraction or relaxation of the muscles bring awareness of the flow of energy in our bodies. Our muscles are the first aspect of our body to experience the purification of the physical body as they are the ones we most feel the next day after a class. Our muscles remind us of our connectedness to the Earth and to the Mother aspect. We talk of Mother Earth and through the Muladhara Charka we harness this Mother energy and use it to rejuvenate and balance our energy system.
Red is the colour associated with this chakra. Its energy is solid like a rock and forms the main illusion of this energy. Psychologically this Chakra deals with the Self and its attachments and desires. It deals with aspects such as how you are connected to and concerned with your thoughts and feelings. It is also the centre where your own survival comes first. Your fight or flight response is activated in this Chakra when you need it. From this perspective you see the world as a solid reality to be conquered and accumulated and not for what it really is: illusion or Maya.
Jnana Yoga – Swadhistana
Jnana Yoga has to do with achieving wisdom through the path of self-analysis and the right application of this gained knowledge which forms the basis of Jnana Yoga. In essence Jnana Yoga leads us to understand the emotional aspect of our being and its controling effect on our mind.
As a practice, it is the application of different relaxation techniques, along with introspective methods for studying the emotional motives for our actions and reactions in the social world. The practice of pratyahara, which is the withdrawal of the senses from the outer world of distractions and drama, refocuses the awareness of the yogi on the inner workings of the mind itself. It brings us Within and allow us to study how we are led around by our senses and desires, in other words not being in the Now. This becomes an in depth study of the psychology of the mind and how it entraps us into false beliefs or Maya. The philosophical principles of Samkhya are then realized followed by the application of yoga techniques for changing that situation around until consciousness leads, directs and transforms the mind into true understanding and wareness. This is when greater wisdom in the individual start to manifest as realising the thruth of our existence as Maya.
Jnana Yoga allows the second Chakra or Swadhistana to bloom into full realisation of Truth Divine. The element is water and as such connects us to the Great Ocean of divine Wisdom, but also dissolution. Water also represents that which is fluid in your physical being and flowing through your mind as well as your emotions. In the water molecule you have the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen joined together to form a unique substance, the human body. So is the energy of Swaidhistana Chakra also the union of two souls on a physical, mental and emotional level. It is the fluid aspect of water that makes organic life possible in that nothing could move at all without its fluidity.
There is also an element of instability at the core of this aspect in the sense that water is constantly in flux and change from one moment to the next. This characteristic is one which many yogis strive to attain while in incarnation, to be like water to just flow with things, neither to be stirred or troubled too much by obstacles in its path. If there is a rock or branch in the path of water, it just flows around this obstacle joining again on the other side without much effect on the fluidity of the water. So should be the aspiration of the yogi, to flow through life without getting emotionally too involved with what is happening around us. This is also the prakriti or nature of water, it is changeable from rockhard like ice to extremely fluid like water to be completely invisible like steam. In nature we find that the material components are continually re-arranged in the process of creation. For the yogi then union between knowlegde and wisdom becomes the right application, undertsanding and awareness that is connected to the powers of this Chakra.
The glands connected to this energy are the adrenal glands, while the organs are the kidneys. Other parts related are the bladder and the whole lymphatic system. One of the other major organs ruled by this power is the liver, though it is also influenced by the third chakra, many of the liver’s functions are in the re-arrangement of atoms into different molecular patterns. In this organ amino acids are arranged into vitamins, or combined into various proteins.
Orange is the colour of its energy in the world of sight and if you can feel it directly it has a strong emotional and even sexual flavour to it. Psychologically it has everything to do with our relations and the wisdom we gain from our interaction with tose we are in relation to. Just as the water molecule is the coming together of two particles, in the social world it signifies the coming together of or union of two people. That attraction you feel for another person when it is emotionally exciting is the feeling of this energy. At its strongest point this energy is perceived when building up to a sexual orgasm.
Mentally this Chakra is about the realisation of how many of our thoughts come from other people, we are like sponges, we absorb as far we travel along our path. Even the language you speak came from people who raised you. Much of what you learned came through teachers. Add to this the emotional side of all our relations and it makes quite a large realm of the mind that is governed by the energy of the second chakra. All the thoughts you have about or in relation to others come under this domain.
According to the Samkhya school, all knowledge is possible through the three pramanas (means of valid knowledge) – 1. Pratyaksha or Drishtam – direct sense perception, 2. Anumana – logical inference and 3. Sabda or Aptavacana – verbal testimony. Samkhya cites out two types of perceptions, a. Indeterminate (nirvikalpa) perceptions and b. determinate (savikalpa) perceptions.
(This article continues in Part 3)
This article is the first of a few parts as the topics are too long to post in one continuous post and I feel publishing it in parts makes digestion by the reader easier.
For many yogis the connection between the Chakras and yoga is an aspect that is a bit fuzzy. Some yogis are not exactly sure what yoga has to do with chakras or what chakras for that matter has to do with yoga.
When I first encountered the chakras system through yoga I always had the feeling that somehow the two must be more closely related as opposed to what most books and teachers described.
In this article I shall explore the rejuvenation and awakening aspects that exist as a connection between these vortexes of energy known as chakras and yoga and how they are all utilise to lead the individual soul to deeper understanding and awareness of “who am I”.
Mind is connected to the body through breath and it is the breath that carries this energy via our nervous system to the different energy points situated on our subtle body called the chakras and nadis. By learning how to work with these energies and how to operate and move in the limitation of the body and energy system, the mind is brought under control of the Atma and freed from the entrapment of the forced thinking process. The result is a consciousness that is free to embrace its own spiritual nature, a mind that is mindful and centred within and a body that maintains optimum health.
Bhakti Yoga is the umbrella
The overall umbrella under which all the other yogas and chakras operate is that of Bhakti. Bhakti yoga refers to the practise of devotion. Not only devotion to the Divine and the Self, but also devotion and commitment to one’s own ideals, goals and principles. Bhakti is the glue that hold it all together. Bhakti is also the inspiration and motivation for the individual soul to seek deeper and to discover “who am I”.
Without Bhakti very little can happen. Bhakti teaches the individual the persist no matter what, it cultivates endurance and allow the soul to flourish in the face of devotion and commitment. You need Bhakti to realise the other yogas and to effect their powers in the chakras they are associated with. Seen as such bhakti becomes the activator for all the other yogas.
If there is a sufficient orientation towards Bhakti in the yogi, he or she will have the necessary endurance to complete their sadhana or practice in life with great efficacy and success. Connected to Bhakti are the Yamas and Niyamas. By practicing the Yamas and Niyamas, the yogi reinforces his/her commitment and devotion to his or her path. Bhakti cultivates persistence through right observances and actions, which will lead the yogi to greater integration in his or her life.
(Article continues in part 2)