Every time you bring your folded hands to your forehead at the close of a yoga practice, you’re getting in touch with Ajna (or Agnya), your Sixth Chakra. Also known as the Brow Chakra, Ajna is located at a point between and just above your physical eyes—which is why it’s called the Third Eye. Its Sanskrit name means “perception center” or “command center” and, in that role, it is considered “the seat of the soul.” So, while your physical eyes see the material world, Ajna helps you look into deeper realms: intuition, clairvoyance, imagination, creativity and visualization.
As with all things yogic, the Sixth Chakra’s energy is not focused just on observing. All of the information and experiences you bring in through your Third Eye influences your thinking and understanding—whether you are open-minded or prejudiced; positive or negative, hyper-aware of all that’s around you or unobservant.
Clearing this energy vortex helps you to stop relying on only what you can see with your eyes. It invites you to become more sensitive to other ways of looking at things. That might mean taking some time to assess the meaning of a vivid dream or paying attention to that inner voice that tells you to call a friend you haven’t spoken with for a while. It opens the gateway of creativity. So, maybe you’ll finally pick up that guitar and sing, take your easel to the park or write the novel that’s been churning in your mind for years. Balancing the Sixth Chakra also leads you into the higher realms, allowing you to connect with universal truths.
Working with yogic asanas and lifestyle changes that enhance Ajna’s functioning has benefits on every level. Learning to focus on clear, positive thoughts makes it easier to concentrate. You see what’s important, so the clutter goes off of your to-do list. Working at being more intuitive also heightens your awareness of what other people are experiencing. It’s hard to be angry at the mother or father who cuts you off in the grocery line when you take the time to really look at their situation—whether it’s that their child has runny nose or whether the parent is still dressed in office wear at 10 p.m. Starting to use your Third Eye also gives you vital self-knowledge. Meditating on the Sixth Chakra can guide you through important decisions on your direction in life or direct your perception to a higher plane.
Opening Ajna takes time, but few journeys have as many exciting twists and turns. Here are a few pointers for starting on the path.
The basics: Ajna, the Sixth Chakra, is located in the forehead or “third eye” area. It controls creativity, vision, intuition and imagination. Self-perception and identity are also affected by the balance of this Chakra.
Its presiding deities: Shakti Hakini, Krishna
Its element: Light
Its colors: Indigo or blue/violet
Its symbol: Inverted Triangle
Its sense: Intuition
Its aromas: Mint, vanilla and jasmine
Its gemstones: Quartz, lapis lazuli, sapphire, and sodalites
Its sounds: Musical note: A; Bija sound: Om; Mantra/sound: Ksham/So
Its metal: Silver
Number of petals: Two
Physical associations: Carotids, eyes and temples
Imbalances: Physical: blindness, brain tumors, deafness, depression, headaches, eye problems, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, learning disabilities, panic, seizures, spinal dysfunctions and strokes. Emotional: discipline, emotional intelligence, fear of truth, flightiness, judgment, passive aggression, concept of reality, and confusion.
Bālāsana (Child’s Pose)
Benefits: Focusing into your body in this pose can help rebalance a sixth chakra that’s overwhelmed by too much sensory input.
How to do it: Begin on your hands and knees. Slowly lower your tailbone toward your feet (use a blanket or folded mat if your buttocks don’t touch your heels) and lay your torso on your thighs, arms extended in front of you. Remain in the pose for one minute or longer.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
Benefits: This pose opens the Sixth Chakra.
How to do it: Lie on your back. Lift both legs at once until you feel your hips come off the floor. Place your hands close together on the back of your hips. Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly place your hands by your sides and release your back to the floor.
Ardha Uttanasana (Standing Half Forward Bend)
Benefits: Bending forward puts pressure on the third eye area, which stimulates the Sixth Chakra.
How to do it: Begin in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). Place your palms on the floor or blocks to the side of your feet. On an inhale, press into your palms to lift your torso. Lift your chest forward and up, arching your back. Remain in the pose for a few breaths.
Meditation. The color of the Sixth Chakra is indigo, so you can visualize that as you meditate. Begin sitting in a quiet place (or even walking if you prefer moving meditation). Focus on indigo light filtering through your body. If you wish, you can repeat the chakra’s seed mantra, Om.
Nourish it. Because of its associations with indigo, dark foods like blueberries and grapes or red wine will stimulate the Sixth Chakra.
Keeping this Chakra in harmony helps you connect with the world around you as well as inside of you. In addition to controlling what you see, it also helps you filter out preconceived notions and judgments about yourself and others.
So focus on learning to look at what’s in front of you, without unneeded context.