Asanas for the Chakra System
Ajna Chakra (Third Eye)
Can you recall last night's dream? Can you imagine how you would like your body to feel tomorrow? These imaginative abilities—visualizing the past, creating positive pictures of the future, and fantasizing—are all aspects of Ajna Chakra, whose Sanskrit name means both "the perception center" and "the command center." Associated with the element light and the color indigo blue, the sixth chakra is located between and just above the physical eyes, creating the spiritual third eye. While our two eyes see the material world, our sixth chakra sees beyond the physical. This vision includes clairvoyance, telepathy, intuition, dreaming, imagination, and visualization.
The sixth chakra is involved in both the creation and perception of art and in the recognition that what we see has a powerful impact on us. Even when we're not aware of it, we're all sensitive to the images we find in our environment. I remember growing up in Los Angeles as a teen and seeing hoards of billboards advertising liquor and cigarettes. Looking at them didn't make me feel healthy or happy; instead, it gave me the message that I needed drugs to feel complete. Then I went to Thailand as a high school foreign-exchange student. I saw Buddha statues on the streets instead of billboards, and those serene, majestic figures awakened my connection to inner peace.
When the third eye is excessively abuzz with energy, we experience headaches, hallucinations, nightmares, and difficulty concentrating. When this chakra is deficient, we have a poor memory, experience eye problems, have difficulty recognizing patterns, and can't visualize well.
As a yoga teacher, I occasionally like to work with this chakra by having my students wear blindfolds during an entire class. Temporarily deprived of sight, which provides such a huge percentage of our sensory input, students have a very fresh experience of yoga. They can't be distracted by the room, by other students, or by looking critically at their own bodies. Instead, they experience pratyahara, the drawing inward of the senses. After these classes, students have shared with me profound insights about their bodies and lives that came up because their vision was directed more deeply inside themselves.
Another yogic approach to supporting the health of the Ajna Chakra is to do supported forward bends, adding an extra bolster or blanket to press upon and stimulate the third eye area. Also, creating positive images and visualizations is a practice that helps create a healthy sixth chakra. Such affirmative visions act as natural magnets, drawing the imagined situation into your life.