Cosmic Chakras Part 1: Self-Awareness, Sensitivity, and the Stars
Full Moon and Ashtanga Yoga
For Ashtanga yoga practitioners, the new and full moons are frequently a cause for celebration. Abstaining from yoga practice on these astrologically significant days, many Ashtanga practitioners relish a much-needed break. As time goes on, however, the anticipation of these days goes beyond the enjoyment of a rare morning spent sleeping in. Simultaneously honoring the moon’s rhythms and purifying the body through yoga, we become increasingly sensitive to the affects of the lunar cycles. The new moon brings with it both a grounding affect and, frequently, a decrease in energy. The full moon, on the other hand, increases energy, often creating an almost frenetic feeling in mind and body. Both are welcome causes for a break from yoga practice.
Taking notice from the outside…
While it’s often the first we notice, the lunar cycle is not the only rhythm we grow attuned to through the yoga practice. Through continued practice of Ashtanga yoga, we grow increasingly sensitive to energies and cycles, both internal and external. We start to feel prana moving on the energetic level of the body, picking up the subtler effects of the yoga practice. We also start to feel more strongly the effects of external stimuli. This can be the food we eat, our environment, or even the movements of the stars.
Perhaps this is effect most obvious in terms in terms of the food we eat. With regular yoga practice, you may begin to notice how your practice changes according to what you had for dinner the night before, or what you’ve been eating throughout the week. Later, you may notice your body become more sensitive to alcohol, intoxicants, or even sugar. Maybe you feel increasingly attuned to shifts in the weather, feeling a rainfall resonating energetically. Perhaps you’ll notice your body and mind cycle with the seasons, syncing with the Earth’s cycles with instinctive intuition. The sensations you experience will be diverse, ever-growing, and completely individual. One thing, however, is certain. The longer you practice Ashtanga, the more you’ll pick up on the effects external stimuli have on your prana, your energetic system.
…while growing conscious of what’s within…
Internally, yoga practice continually deepens our self-awareness and, with it, our sensitivity. Think back to when you were first beginning yoga practice. Every movement probably felt foreign and revolutionary. The basic action of moving your body through space and into postures required concentration and new consciousness. After you’ve been practicing yoga for some time, however, the asana practice becomes more and more subtle. Awareness of bandhas, which evolves throughout our practice lives, invites a nuanced approach to postures. Perhaps you develop a delicate awareness of the hands and feet, or the intricacies of movement in the hips. Because it happens gradually, we don’t necessarily notice this awareness as it develops. Compared to your first experiences of Ashtanga yoga, however, you probably experience your body in asana today on an incredibly subtle level.
Eventually, this subtle awareness deepens into the energetic body. We start to feel the energetic lines of the asanas as we tap into them through the physical body. Think about the psychosomatic experience of asana as it relates to the chakras, for example. You may start to feel the psycho-energetic effects of asanas that open the heart, unblocking anahata chakra. Or perhaps you feel an energetic sensation related to strengthening your base, building the security and grounding of a strong muladhara chakra. Your energetic experience of yoga practice will, again, be your own, relating to your history and your life at the moment. It will also evolve over time, as your yoga practice grows and your situation changes. Whatever your experience, the longer you practice Ashtanga yoga, the more sensitive you will become to your energetic body.
…and then tying it all together.
This combined external and internal sensitivity makes the parallels between planets and chakras a particularly interesting framework to explore, especially for those practicing Ashtanga Yoga. Under this framework, each chakra has a corresponding planet. Just like the moon, the planets affect us energetically, depending on their movements and positioning. Understanding them in terms of the chakras can help us become more sensitive to these effects, just as abstaining from practice on the new and full moon can help us become more sensitive to lunar cycles. In the next entry, we’ll explore the ways awareness of the planets and chakras can help us navigate our energetic lives.
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If you like this and want to deepen your understanding of the subtle energies of the body you might want to participate in a immersive yoga teacher training in Nicaragua. Next available program: 200 hour, February 2016