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Jul 2012

Learning new things is cool. Also is noticing what remains part of our practice over the years.

The vowel sounds of the seven chakras is one of those resonant joys which has stuck for me. Both simple and yet powerful.

I first heard these sung during a workshop with Bob Smith and Ki McGraw, and loved their reverberating tone. I was delighted to read more details of them as an ancient sanskrit practice, named Bija Mantra, or seed sounds, designed to awaken and strengthen each circle of energy in our body. Over time, the invitation to feel the energy rise upward with the chant has brought length to my posture and space to my practice.

This direction seems so important that I made a poster of the sounds to hang on the studio wall which, at first glance, has the order upside down. I chose this visual to match the actual order of the human spine, but you have to read them from the bottom to the top, from 1 at the base of pelvis to 7 at the crown of the head, following the direction energy moves - upward through our central channel.

7 - Om
6 - Aum
5 - Ham
4 - Yam
3 - Ram
2 - Vam
1 - Lam

You can hear me chant the sounds on an mp3 file here

Why should we encourage this movement of energy upward?

My teacher Aadil gave this reasoning. The lower chakras are associated with our more base and instinctual energies - survival, procreation, personal power. There is nothing immoral about these parts of our being, nothing to be ashamed of. But if we let our energy linger here, then we become 'stuck' in an earlier evolutionary stage. Instead, we want to take these energies and let them move up - toward love, toward self-expression, toward consciousness. This transformation of our energies is part of the intention of our yoga practice.

To me, this is the faith of hatha yoga. That the physical body, and our active practice, is part of our spiritual transformation. Can we transform the primal drive for survival into a compassion for the suffering of others? Can we transform raw lust into a more open-hearted love? Can we transform our search for personal power into a sense of our intimate relationship with the divine?

As we chant in class, I encourage this connection of the body to the elements of the chakras. 

7 - Crown of head - Divine
6 - Third eye - Consciousness
5 - Throat - Space
4 - Heart - Air
3 - Solar Plexus - Fire
2 - Pelvis - Water
1 - Root - Earth

Just by following the intention of the chant, I find that we experience a rising of energy up the yoga-spine, or Sushumna, in the same way that plants are lifting upward toward the light and warmth of our summer sun.