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March 18, 2014

Vishudda: The Chakra That Made Sense. ~ Jessie Blackledge

 

7_Chakras

The chakras are energy points throughout the subtle body; they are the meeting points of the subtle energy channels, called nadhisNadhis are the channels through which the vital life force—prana—moves.

If that’s all sounding a bit ethereal and I’ve lost you already, don’t fret.

When I first began learning about the subtle body and the chakras, I was, as many find themselves, a skeptic. I was very much of the attitude, “Well I can’t see it, touch, taste, hear or smell it, therefore it doesn’t exist.” Then someone said, “So, does happiness not exist?”

That temporarily shut me up.

Anyway, it wasn’t that I wasn’t buying the chakra thing—in fact, I really wanted to know more. I just couldn’t quite grasp the concept when I had never experienced it for myself.

In this post, I will focus primarily on one particular chakra because it’s the first chakra with which I had a clear connection. I have physically, mentally, emotionally, and yes, dare I say it, spiritually, experienced a strong opening (and sometimes closing) of this chakra.  I feel I have enough proficient experience to say a word or two about it.

The Vishudda (also known as vishuddhi) chakra is the fifth chakra, located at the neck/throat.

Each chakra has a symbol, and this one has 16 petals which are said to take care of the ears, nose, throat, neck, tongue and teeth. It is often linked with the thyroid gland (in the endocrine system) which is essential for growth and maturation through the production of hormones. The Vishudda chakra is associated with communication, creativity and self-expression, which all inevitably feed into each other. It also links into the diplomacy of our relationships and gives us a kind and compassionate voice. We usually communicate through our eyes, nose, speech, and hands, and the stability of our self-expression depends on the efficiency of the Vishudda chakra at the time.

It should be said that our chakras are not always in balance.

In fact, for most of us, they are always out of balance. In life we are always striving for something, and that’s often why we question stuff.  If we apply this striving and searching to the chakras, that “thing” everyone strives for is having all our chakras in balance. Sometimes, each chakra is deficient and sometimes they are in excess, but occasionally, if we’re fortunate, they will be balanced.

Let’s take a look at the Vishudda chakra in an imbalanced state.

If it all still seems a little intangible, this part to me seems to be basic common sense. The throat chakra is associated primarily with communication, so if we are deficient in this chakra, it suggests we are inconsistent, scared, timid, suppress feelings, and are unable to express ourselves. Excessive energy in this chakra suggests arrogance, dogmatic energy, and self-righteousness, or basically we are one of those people we wish would occasionally shut up.

In fact, if we think of it this way, it’s a lot easier to live harmoniously and practice forgiveness. Rather than:

Jeez, I just met this guy and he hasn’t let me get a word in edgeways,

try instead:

 Ah, I see what’s happened here, this guy’s throat chakra is all out of whack. Poor guy, I’ll let him ramble on a little longer.

See? What a nicer life we could live.

When the chakra is closed, it represents decay, and when it is open, it’s strongly allied with wisdom or learning. In everyday life, the Vishudda chakra is vital, and we can see from an individual’s behavior whether they are excessive, deficient, or balanced. We all know, or know of, those people who are very wise and creative, and have many ideas and innovative thoughts to share. When they do share, it seems so eloquently put. That’s the Vishudda talking.

The colour associated with this chakra is blue.

When I first became interested in the Vishudda chakra, I studied meditations on the Vishudda chakra. There are various meditative practices for this chakra, one of which is the focus on blue, a colour related to healing and cleansing. While using this colour focus, we can also bring a mantra into play. Each chakra has its own mantra, and the throat chakra’s is “HAM.” It might seem bizarre (particularly to vegetarians) to  chant “ham” over and over, but I think we passed bizarre a while back.

Other meditative techniques associated with this chakra are associated with sound, communication, and expression of noise.

Music is a vital part of opening or balancing this chakra. Now, many of us love music, but do you ever have those days/weeks where you are drawn to music a lot more than other times? Perhaps this is your Vishudda chakra letting you know you need to open your energy centre more. Music opens both our creative expression (by allowing the brain to work in different way) and our emotional expression (music opens our emotions in a way that nothing else can). Singing or playing a musical instrument also opens up this chakra, and creating the music for yourself allows your expressive and creative side to develop. The rhythm of music, creativity of dance, vibration of singing, and our expressions through writing and speaking all help develop this chakra.

How else can we balance this chakra? Yes folks, it’s yoga.

Various asana (poses) allow the chakra to open, and they can aid various ailments. If your Vishudda is deficient, it can lead to speech impediments, neck stiffness, shoulder tension, teeth grinding, jaw disorders, throat issues and even an underactive thyroid. If excessive, there may be an inability to listen, easily distracted, hearing difficulties or an overactive thyroid. Asana we can use are:

1. Ustrasana (camel)

2. Setu Bandhasana (bridge)

3. Sarvangasana (shoulder stand)

4. Halasana (plough)

5. Purvottonasana (upward plank)

These poses all focus on the neck, throat and shoulders, and help bring the Vishudda into balance.

Looking a little further into the Vishudda chakra (yep, this is where it gets a bit deeper), we can see even more uses/needs for the balance.

In life we have an innate need for harmony and collective living, and this chakra is sometimes seen as representative of the cohesive nature of the human race. It also represents the unity of humanity because in the end, what is humanity without communication and expression?

Part of balancing your throat chakra is “rising above stuff.” You know, that thing that is really hard to do but we all pretend we do it anyway. When we nourish this chakra, feelings of guilt, remorse, superiority, inferiority, and jealousy diminish. We also detach from everyday problems in the modern world. When this chakra is imbalanced, we experience simple events or coincidences in everyday life to which we may overreact. At the time, we think we are behaving perfectly rationally and our complaining, kicking, and screaming feel totally justified. When this chakra is balanced, we have a sense of perspective when it comes to overwhelming emotional situations.

So, in the end, what is Vishudda all about? And why did it happen to make sense to me?

Well, some say it makes sense following purification. Through yoga, meditation, exercise and, some say, smoking less, drinking less and eating less dairy, we can aid our voice, shoulders and neck. If you are someone who, like me, strives for purification as part of everyday life, the Vishudda chakra will no doubt start to make sense to you.

Notice how you feel after a kirtan or even when singing along to your favourite song or reading poetry aloud; the vibrations and rhythms positively affect your body through your throat chakra. So, the next time you’re belting out your favourite ballad in the shower, have no shame (not that any of us did anyway, but still…)! Sing loud and proud and think of the good it’s doing for the Vishudda.

 

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Jessie Blackledge

Jessie Blackledge is a 200HR Yoga-alliance credited yoga teacher, currently residing in South Korea. Previously she taught yoga in the UK for various charities and organisations, working with the homeless and vulnerable as well as those living with dementia and other life-limiting illnesses. She regularly writes articles about all-things-yoga. Recently returned from a 3-month stint as a yoga teacher in India, she is hoping to throw any knowledge gained along the way into some sort of readable text.