Nepali traditional Bells over the sun at sunset

Seek Your Source: Sahasrara (Crown Chakra)

Beth Gibbs, MA, E-YRT 500, C-IAYT
Updated: 
July 28, 2021

This is part 8 in my series on the chakras. The last post focused on Ajna (Third Eye) Chakra and how we journey toward wisdom. This post will explore Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra.

Sahasrara translates as “union” and is often referred to as a stepping stone between heaven and earth, a connection to the fabric of existence, and the source of spiritual awakening. Energetically this chakra is said to be located at or above the crown of the head. Physically, it is associated with the pineal gland, located in the middle of the brain between the two hemispheres. The main function of this gland is to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our circadian rhythms, determining when we sleep, wake up, and feel tired or alert.

The element related to the Crown Chakra depends on the source you consult. Some say thought, while others say ether or light. Joseph Le Page says it’s the source of all the elements.

There are important life lessons connected to this chakra. Here are several to consider:

  • Recognize and realize our spiritual nature

  • Transcend the power that our illusions have over our lives and experience

  • Learn to live in the present moment

  • Know the presence of grace

In working with this chakra (or any of the chakras), keep in mind these words from Joseph Le Page:

“The great wisdom of the chakras and their seven levels is that each level must be explored, accepted, realized, and integrated. No aspect of our lives, including our deepest core issues, our most painful emotional traumas, or our darkest shadow aspects, can be overlooked or bypassed.”

This is an important point. In the search for spiritual connection, we may encounter within ourselves a tendency to deny the body, repress our difficult issues, and ignore our shadow aspects. 

The challenge then becomes: how do we work with the Crown Chakra safely while addressing what we may deny or wish to ignore? It helps to start with the body because that aspect of being is up close and personal. Then, with variations when needed, asana can be a first step, followed by energy practices and meditation when you are ready.

How to Practice Yoga to Support Sahasrara Chakra

Yoga student practicing Natarajasana or Dancer's Pose with a chair as a prop

Several asanas are recommended for working with the Crown Chakra. They are:

  • Dancer Pose (Natarajasana)

  • Headstand Pose (Sirsasana)

  • Upward Bow Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

  • Rabbit Pose (Shashangasana)

  • Symbol or Seal of Yoga (Yogendra Yogamudra)

  • Relaxation Pose (Savasana)

Yoga student practicing Dhanurasana or Wheel Pose at the wall with blocks

Concerning Dancer, Headstand, and Upward Bow poses, in the words of my colleague and friend Marsha Banks Harold, “my body doesn’t bend that way.” However, I can enjoy the sensation of being upside down in my aerial yoga hammock while doing Hip-Hang or Back Straddle. Of the last three on the list, my body is most content in Yoga Mudra and Savasana. Yoga Mudra is traditionally practiced sitting with legs crossed in Easy Pose (Sukhasana). However, it can also be performed in a chair.

Although we may think of Savasana as the easiest on the list, it may actually be the most difficult for many people due to various physical or emotional reasons. Nina shares several ways to practice this posture 8 Creative Ways to Practice Savasana.

Young woman working out, doing yoga exercise on wooden floor, lying in Savasana or Corpse Posture

Energy Practice: Yoga’s Ananta and Mandala Mudras 

When you are ready for an energy practice, try either the Ananta or Mandala Mudras from Joseph and Lilian Le Page’s Mudras for Healing and Transformation. Note that Ananta Mudra is contraindicated for hypertension, headache, and stroke. You can practice Mandala Mudra, for which there are no cautions, instead.

Ananta Mudra (Gesture of Infinity)

Image illustrating how to practice the Ananta MudraThis mudra is said to unfold the Crown Chakra, harmonize the entire chakra system, and support optimal balance in all body systems.

  1. Join the hands in Prayer Pose (Anjali Mudra) in front of your heart.

  2. Keep the base of your palms together and spread all the fingers and thumbs wide apart like an unfolding lotus.

  3. Relax your shoulders back and down, with your spine aligned in its natural curves.

  4. Hold the mudra for 5 to 10 breaths, working up to five minutes if and only when you are completely comfortable.

Mandala Mudra (Gesture of the Circle)

Image depicting the Mandala MudraThis mudra helps us glimpse deeper states of meditation beyond the personality and supporting all physical body systems for optimal functioning.

  1. Rest your left hand in your lap, with the palm facing upward.

  2. Rest the back of your right hand onto the palm of your left hand.

  3. Touch the tips of your thumbs gently together, forming a wide-open circle shape.

  4. Relax your shoulders back and down, with your elbows held slightly away from your body and your spine aligned in its natural curves.

  5. Hold the mudra for 5 to 10 breaths working up to five minutes if and only when you are completely comfortable.

How to Practice Meditation for the Crown Chakra

Of course, the jewel in the Crown Chakra is meditation. The two basic paths of meditation practice are mindfulness and concentration. Both offer many techniques to choose from.

Concentration meditation techniques work by channeling your mind’s full attention into a single focus, such as a sound, music, breath, picture, an object, or a physical position. The goal is to keep bringing your attention back to the selected focus when your mind wanders. And your mind will wander. In concentration meditation, you can think of the mind as a puppy on a short leash.

On the other hand, as Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program and author of Full Catastrophe Living, says, “Mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness. It is a systematic approach to developing new kinds of control and wisdom in our lives, based on our inner capacities for relaxation, paying attention, awareness, and insight.” In mindfulness meditation, you can think of the mind as a puppy on a longer leash, which allows it to move freely but with full awareness of what it is experiencing, including wandering. 

If you are a beginning meditator, try starting with 3 to 5 minutes and slowly work your way up to a comfortable length of time for you and that you can commit to. For example, I started with 3 minutes and have worked my way up to 25 minutes. My ultimate goal is 30 minutes 6 days a week.

If you encounter difficult material that you’ve been denying, repressing, or resisting, you can imagine or visualize a thick glass wall between you and what is making you uncomfortable. This creates distance between you and what is floating up. If the glass wall does not lessen your discomfort, it may be time to seek professional help.

The Crown Chakra can be thought of as a stepping stone between heaven and earth. Therefore, let each of us step with care, clarity, and confidence as we seek our source.

 

Reprinted with permission from Yoga for Healthy Aging.

 

Beth Gibbs, MA, E-RYT 500, Yoga therapist, writer, YFHA

Beth Gibbs, MA, is a certified yoga therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists and a faculty member at the Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy. She holds a masters’ degree in Yoga Therapy and Mind/Body Health from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She is the author of Enlighten Up! Finding Clarity, Contentment and Resilience in a Complicated World and Ogi Bogi, The Elephant Yogi, a therapeutic yoga book for children. Beth is an experienced workshop leader and public speaker. She blogs at bethgibbs.com