Yoga is everywhere these days. When yoga came to the west it became more of a health fad than what it was developed for—a consciousness raising practice. The word yoga means yoke. The practice of yoga was developed to “yoke” you to your higher consciousness.
To feel good we have to move our bodies. The sedentary lifestyle many of us experience will easily lead to depression, lethargy, and anxiety. I always screen people for how much they exercise / move if they are depressed or anxious. The cure could include yoga (or any other exercise). Today there is a multitude of yoga disciplines to choose from: Hatha, Bikram, Kundalini, Kriya, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Kirpalu, Anusara, and Jivamukti.
Yoga was designed to balance the chakras, raise the kundalini, and elevate our consciousness. The seven chakras in the body are energy systems that correspond to differing levels of consciousness. The chakras run along the spine and up through the top of the skull. The kundalini is an energy that sits like a “coiled serpent” at the base of the spine. For most of us this energy rarely raises past the first three chakras. The goal of yoga is to raise it, and keep it raised, through all seven. Saints and great humanitarian leaders are people who demonstrate consciousness from a place of fully balanced chakras and awakened, raised kundalini energy (Mandela, Mother Theresa, MLK, Paramahansa Yogananda, Christ, Buddha, religious figures of all kinds). When this occurs the emotional and psychological systems are said to be in full alignment, balance, and capacity. We also feel good.
The first chakra or “root” chakra is at the base of the spine. It corresponds to survival instincts and being grounded in life. If the root chakra is out of balance we may have ongoing fear surrounding basic survival needs with money and food. We could develop addictions, phobias, obsessions, or just feeling ungrounded. The root chakra has the color red. Eating root vegetables can aid in balancing this chakra. Other healing foods are: apples, beets, cayenne peppers, tobacco, meat, eggs. Also, just stomp your bare feet on the ground. (indigenous tribes did a lot of stomping during full moons, which can be very un-grounding)
The second chakra is behind the navel area and is related to the sexual instincts, creativity, and the emotions. This chakra tends to be out of balance in the west due to the rampant use of pornography, casual sexuality, and lack of creativity in the work place. Imbalances result in emotional problems, compulsivity, dependency issues, creative blocks, and sexual guilt. When the second chakra is balanced the results are pleasure, abundance, sense of well-being, and creative fulfillment. The color is orange. Healing foods include oranges, carrots, melon and nuts.
The third chakra is at the solar plexus and is related to self-worth, power, ability to achieve, sensitivity, and ambition. When balanced this chakra harnesses our personal power, direction, and authority in life. Blockages can result in frustration, anger, lack of direction, extreme anxiety, sense of victimization, sugar addictions, insomnia, and excessive fear. Color is yellow. Healing foods: corn, yellow lentils, yellow curry, whole grains, and chamomile or peppermint tea.
Let’s pause here. From a yogic perspective, the world is locked in the unbalanced, lower three, animalistic chakras. The main concerns are survival, sex, and power (survival of the fittest in the animal kingdom). For instance, on a planet with plenty for everyone millions are left without basic survival needs while others hoard millions and billions of dollars beyond what they could possibly need. Sex is often seen more as a way to medicate anxiety, express anger, or as something to be bought. Power is regularly exercised to keep most of society in a slave like condition. Until these three are balanced in our lives it is rare if ever that we move into the fourth charkra— the first fully human center of the conscious human being from a yogic perspective.
The fourth chakra is at the level of the heart, center of the chest. The color is green. It is the place of love, compassion, harmony, and peace. Blockages result in inhumanity, lack of compassion, depression, reckless aggression, being detached, distrustful, hopeless. When people say, “I feel so good in nature”, “I love you”, or “I love playing volleyball”, they usually mean their heart chakra is wide open. Healing foods: leafy green vegetables, green tea. Mother Theresa was famous for expressing this chakra for all of humanity.
The fifth chakra is the throat chakra. Balanced it is experienced as clear communication of feelings and truth to self and others, synthesis of ideas. Unbalanced it can be experienced as problems communicating needs, attention deficit, isolation, dishonesty. For balancing try: Tree fruits – apples, peaches, plums, etc., singing, and chanting can help clear the throat chakra. Color is blue.
The sixth chakra is located at the center of the forehead. This is the place of knowing, intuition, decision making, and wisdom. Blockages result in lack of foresight, depression, mental rigidity, nightmares, and hallucinations. Color is indigo. Healing foods: chocolate, grapes, blueberries.
The seventh chakra is located at the top of the head. It is concerned with understanding, bliss, and acceptance. It is the “crown” chakra” connecting us to life mission, personal destiny, and spiritual reality. Blockages result in feelings of isolation, disconnection from life, confusion, and depression. Balancing “foods”: clean air, sunshine.
When we practice yoga we aid in aligning, balancing, and awakening all seven chakras. We are then well positioned for deep meditation. Yoga has captured an enormous following in the U.S. You can practice at your local yoga center, gym, or follow it on line. It is important that yoga is not a cure all. Many people still need to seek help for addictions, relationship issues, etc. to fully take advantage of yoga’s benefits.
Below Guru Singh teaches Kundalini Yoga in L.A.