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RETURN TO Chakra Tune-Up
Open your visuddha chakra by creating spaciousness around the throat and neck through which profound spiritual truths can flow.
One of the easiest ways to connect with the visuddha energy is to chant. Take a comfortable seat. Softly close your eyes and lips. Relax your face and jaw. Begin to make the sound “mmmmmmmm” at whatever resonant tone is natural for you. Feel the vibration all around the tongue, lips, cheeks, jaw, ears, and throat. Imagine this sound vibrating loose any tension in the throat neck and jaw region. Letting go of the times you have had to bite your tongue or have had a lump in your throat from the fear of speaking up. Feel the vibration purifying and freeing your visuddha energy.
Set Your Visuddha Intention
Now set your intention for this practice. To grease the wheels, here are some themes that relate to the fifth chakra: Communicating clearly, honestly, and with compassion; releasing fear of speaking up for yourself or for others; being a good listener; learning not to overtalk or dominate conversations; refraining from gossip. Feel free to use any of these or choose your own. As long as your intention feels true for you it has value.
You may practice this sequence with or without vinyasa.
CONTRAINDICATION This practice is not appropriate for neck injuries.
START WITH Intro to the Throat Chakra (Visuddha)
From a comfortable seated position, extend your spine long and root down into your foundation. Reach your right arm out to the right. Gently begin to release your head and let it hang to the right. Drag your right shoulder and shoulder blade down to create a stable foundation. Now extend your left arm out about 6 inches above the floor and reach out and down to create some traction and a big stretch on the left side of the neck. Spend 5–10 breaths here. Be patient. It takes time for the blood to move through and heal tight and stiff muscle tissue, so try to hold for as long as you can without pain. Make sure your breath is deep and slow and your eyes and jaw remain relaxed. Gently return to center, pause for a moment, and notice the difference, then switch sides.
See also A Beginner’s Guide to the Chakras
In cross-legged seated position, bring your hands to your knees for leverage. As you inhale, arch your spine forward and gaze up, creating a backbend shape in the spine in a seated variation of Cow Pose (Bitliasana). As you exhale, pull the navel back toward the spine, hollowing front body in a seated variation of Cat Pose (Marjaryasana). As you inhale, head and tail move back and as you exhale, head and tail curl forward and in. This is a complete undulation of the spine that creates a compression and release action in the throat. Go slowly and let each movement span an entire inhalation or exhalation. Find a rhythm that feels good—fluid but not fast. Continue for 5–10 rounds.
See also Chakra-Balancing Yoga Sequence
In this pose there are eight points of contact, which are meant to represent the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra. The eight points are feet, hands, knees, chest, and chin. From hands and knees, begin to dip the heart toward the floor. Keeping your buttocks up high, let your chest and chin touch down. You may need to scoot your knees back a bit depending on your flexibility. The front of the throat is extremely open in this pose. Go slowly and consciously. These days we spend so much time using devices that keep our chin stuck to our chest that this pose can be very intense. Spend 3 breaths here and then rest.
To come into Fish Pose, begin lying flat on your back. Walk your hands under your sitting bones with palms face down. Squeeze the arms as close together as you can. Draw shoulder blades toward each other underneath you and pause. Notice how wide open the chest is already here. Moving from the back of the heart, begin to press into your elbows and lift the chest. Rest the top of your head lightly on the floor. Avoid both hanging and putting too much weight on the head. Press down through legs, hands, and elbows to keep your neck supported. Let your heart and throat open. Hold this pose for 5 breaths and then rest.
See also Yoga Poses for the Chakra System
Plow Pose compresses the throat and opens the back of the neck. Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Press your arms into the floor with palms face down. Draw your knees into your chest, as you press down through your arms to lift the hips over the shoulders. Extend the legs overhead, reaching your feet to touch the floor behind you (use a block or stack of blankets if needed). Keep the legs active and the hips reaching up to avoid collapsing in the low back. If you have any pain in the neck here, come down. Keep the gaze at the naval or nose. Never ever turn your head in this pose. Stay here for 3–5 breaths depending on your comfort and then release by rolling with control out of the pose the same way you came into it. As you exit the pose, keep the back of the head on the floor. Rest for a breath or two and then move on to your final pose Viparita Karani.
See also Chakra 101
Viparita Karani is a restorative pose to ease you out of this very strong throat-centered practice. Place a block about 6 inches from the wall. Bring your sacrum to the block with your tailbone hanging off the edge of the block—this will encourage the natural lumbar curve of the spine to remain intact. Let the rest of the spine drape onto the floor. Rest the head back. Close your eyes and release deeply here. Bring your intention to mind, as you offer 10 slow deep breaths in this sweet pose. To come out, remove the block, bend your knees, roll to one side, and ease your way off the wall.
Throat Chakra Chant + Meditation
Now that you have spent some time connecting with the fifth chakra through asana breath, and intention, please have a comfortable cross-legged seat. Keeping your eyes closed, begin to chant the bija mantra for visuddha chakra which is HAM. You may either chant it out loud or silently to yourself. Think of this mantra as a code. As you chant, the code begins to unpack itself and reveal to you the sacred intelligence of the fifth chakra energy center. As you chant this word HAM, try to sense the vibration of the sound all around the throat and neck. Feel free to experiment with pace and volume and chant in a way that resonates with you. Spend at least 2 minutes with your chant, more if you like.
See also 5-Minute Chakra-Balancing Flow Video
When you finish chanting, lie back in Savasana and consciously soften around the throat and neck. Release all thoughts and relax into the earth as you drift into a quiet and restful repose.
See also Chakra-Aligning Soundtrack
About Stephanie Snyder
Stephanie Snyder is a San Francisco-based vinyasa yoga teacher. She’s written, modeled, and created DVDs for Yoga Journal in addition to presenting at Yoga Journal LIVE! Don’t miss Stephanie’s class within our chakra path coming up in San Diego June 24-27.