As most yoga practitioners are aware, we are more than just our physical bodies.
We also have energy bodies with seven chakra points which roughly correspond to regions of our physical bodies. When we interact with another person, particularly when we have sex, we are commingling our energies with that person.
When it comes to ‘getting together’, our culture tends to favor a bottom up approach. I know not all people in our culture follow this line, but certainly our popular culture promotes the ‘sex as ice-breaker’ attitude to relationships.
If sex is what brings two people together first, they are coming together at the level of their lower chakras—the muladhara (the root) chakra which rules our primal energies (such as sex) and the svadhisthana, which rules our creative (and procreative) energies. (If we think of mula bandha, the root energy lock, we are essentially using our pelvic floor muscles, which are the muscles most used during intercourse.)
Maybe at this point, the couple finds their energies to be incompatible and things end there. If they feel they are well-matched sexually, they may decide to try a relationship. At this point, they will move up to the manipura (the solar plexus), our seat of ego and personal power. This is where people often get stuck in power struggles. If we are using the bottom up approach, we have to get through the manipura chakra to reach the hridaya/anahata chakra (the heart).
Now, if two people practice sexual restraint (brahmacharya) when they first meet, they use a top down approach. They may feel a spiritual connection through the sahasrara chakra, like they were brought together on purpose. Next they move through the ajna (third eye/mind) chakra, establishing a mental/intellectual connection. Then, if they establish an open flow of communication through vishuddha (the throat) chakra, they can move on to the anahata.
In the bottom up approach, the gateway to the heart is the manipura (the ego). In the top down approach, the gateway to the heart is the vishuddha (communication). We can still reach the heart with the bottom up approach, but unfortunately, sometimes (though not necessarily) it is because one person has accepted the other’s ‘dominance’ in the power dynamic.
Once reaching the heart, the feeling of love enters the picture. But at this point, the couple still needs to establish open communication, and a mental and spiritual connection, traveling through vishuddha, ajna, and sahasrara respectively. At any of these points, the couple may still find themselves incompatible. How many couples do you know who love each other, but still find it difficult to communicate? Or find that they do not share the same perspective or beliefs? That is not to say that such relationships cannot work out, but they will always fall back to the power struggles of the manipura, unless the love of the anahata is strong enough to smooth out those other issues.
Or perhaps they get through all of that, but they still find that it is not meant to be. The universe has other plans in mind for them. Or perhaps not, and it all works out in the end. There is no guarantee that a couple will make it to the top, but if they do, it is usually a climb, involving dedication and hard work.
In the top down approach, the couple has already established a spiritual and mental connection and open communication before they begin to feel love. Once love is established, they move on to the manipura. Not that they will not experience any ego clashes at this point, but with love in place, these struggles are more easily smoothed out. If they cannot get past the manipura, then they may never reach the lower chakras of sexual union. But if they do make it, it was probably worth the wait.
Does all this sound hopelessly old-fashioned, or maybe, just hopelessly romantic? As a modern mother, I will not tell my children that they have to wait until marriage to have sex. They need not get married at all, if they do not want to. But my sincerest hope for them is that they have a spiritual, mental, and heart connection first before making the body connection.
Lakshmi Nair is a yoga teacher, educator, artist, mother and seeker who is living, loving and learning in Denver, CO.
Prepared by Soumyajeet Chattaraj/Edited by Tanya L. Markul
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