The sixth chakra is connected to magnetic energy, a guiding force that puts everything on its path and preserves the natural order. The sixth chakra is also connected to the element of the mind, which creates the magnetic grid lines around which the energies of our lower chakras are guided and conducted.
The expression of this magnetic energy and this mental element in the body is in the ruling power of the systems that Ajna chakra controls, the endocrine system and the mind.
Ajna chakra rules the pituitary gland, often called the master gland, as it affects all other glands in the endocrine system through the release of regulating hormones and neuropepetides.
One of these hormones stimulates the thyroid gland, which controls metabolism and oxygen utilization at the cellular level. Another hormone regulates the adrenal glands and the kidneys. Certain neuropeptides released by the pituitary gland control the release of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone by the reproductive organ. The pituitary gland even produces an insulin regulating hormone.
This master gland also produces a growth hormone, which affects the growth rate and development of the skeletal system and the major organs of the body. Yet another hormone produced by the pituitary gland causes the contraction of smooth muscle throughout the body, controlling such functions as respiration, elimination, and childbirth.
There are many other regulating functions of the piuitary gland, perhaps some that are yet to be discovered by modern science.
The pituitary gland lies at the base of the brain, linking the activities of the mind to our body chemistry. The thought patterns of the mind have a direct effect on the production and release of neuropeptides throughout the endocrine system, affecting our body chemistry and physical health. Likewise, our body chemistry and well-being directly affect our mental state. This constant feedback loop in the mind-body connection is complemented by holistic approaches to health such as yoga that nurture the total spiritual-mental-physical fitness of the individual.
Physiologically, Ajna chakra is connected to the cerebrum, the frontal section of the brain, where the cavernous plexus of the nervous system lies. Here, the conscious and the subconcious mind reside, the awareness that gives rise to decision-making, judgement, and action, and also the storehouse of our memories and impressions of our past-experiences.
In this chakra center, the Jnanendriya (organ of perception) and Karmendriya (organ of action) are instantaneous functions of the mind, perceiving and thinking, respectively. The constant actions of processing incoming sensory information and applying the framework of our past experiences and world view continually shape our perception of reality.
In the science of yoga, there are 18 senses that contribute to our perceptive abilties. Of those 18, 11 are external, while seven of them are psychic or inner senses. Rather than discussing them at length here, the point can simply be made that much of our ability to perceive is masked by modern life. The overstimulation of our external environment has simply overwhelmed our senses and made us numb to the sensitive perceptions of our inner being.
Our inner thoughts are just as sensitive to modern life. In terms of health, positive and negative thinking is the most significant dichotomy. The negative messages of modern media often pollute the mind on a conscious and subconsious level with negative thoughts, contributing to the fear, paranoia, and mistrust that disrupt our mental and physical well-being.
Yoga for the Sixth Chakra
Cultivating positive thinking can have a dramatic impact on both one’s perception of reality and overall well-being. The practices of medition and affirmative thinking through mantra, chanting, and yoga nidra are good steps toward this end.
The other aspect of the sixth chakra is energy and balance. It is at Ajna chakra, the third eye, that the feminine and masculine energies of the body meet, the spiraling energies of Ida and Pingala respectively. We often refer to these energies as passive and active, or yin and yang. Both are necessary for true physical, mental, and emotinal well-being; balance between the two brings calmness to the mind and body.
In hatha yoga, balancing exercises help cultivate the discipline of balancing these energies. Standing poses such as tree pose and dancer pose as well inversions such as the headstand and shoulderstand stimulate the sixth chakra. Balancing postures quiet the mind and bring the energies of the body into the central line of the Sushumna, around which Ida and Pingala spiral.
In pranayama yoga, the science of breathing, several alternate breathing techniques bring balance to the feminine and masculine energies as well as the activities of the brain. The classic alternate-nostril breath, Paryayanasarandhra Pranayama, uses the Vishnu mudra to block the breath from entering or exiting one nostril at a time.
Holding the thumb over the right nostril, breathe in through the left for eight counts, then block off both nostrils, closing the left nostril with the pinky finger (the three middle fingers are folded in towards the palm) and hold the breath in for four counts. Release the pinky finger and exhale for eight counts though the left nostril for eight counts, then close it off and hold the breath out for four counts. Begin the next cycle by inhaling through the left nostril and repeat the breath cycle of 8-4-8-4. Continue for up to 20 minutes.
Practice this exercise only after cleansing the nervous system through relaxation and a regular yoga practice to avoid overstimulation of the chakras. If done correctly, it will have a balancing effect on the chakras, calm the mind, and empower the spirit.
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