Balance Poses In Yoga

Balance Poses In Yoga

YOGA AWAKENS THE CHAKRAS

The practice of yoga automatically invigorates the six chakras or centers of energy, located in the spinal column. A yogi does not need to separately meditate on these chakras; only in kundalini-yoga there is a separate endeavor to concentrate on these chakras. Kundalini is not recommended in the modern age as attempting to awaken the dormant power of the chakras by mechanical means can lead to many serious health problems such as sudden spasms of pain in the spinal column and excruciating headaches etc. The Bhagavad-gita does not mention the chakras, as there awakening is concomitant with advancement in the yoga practice. In ashtanga-yoga, the life air is automatically directed upwards through the six chakras located in the spinal column, starting with the muladhara-chakra. The six chakras are: muladhara, swadhisthana, manipura (nabhi), anahata, vishuddha and agjna, the final chakra being located between the eyes, referred to as the third eye, the eye of physic vision. In kundalini meditation there is recognition of a seventh chakra called the sahasrara chakra located at the crown of the head. In the present age of Kali-yuga, neither asatanga-yoga or kundalini-yoga are recommended, as it is practically impossible to achieve any degree of success in realizing the self or the Superself, Paramatma. Therefore the Bhagavad-gita directs the serious yogis to the path of bhakti-yoga as being the most practical and sublime process of yoga for people in this age. For the paramahansas or swan-like Vaishnavas, bhakti-yoga has always been the only acceptable yoga system as it is the direct path to realize the Supreme Brahman, Lord Shri Krishna.

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In ashtanga-yoga, as soon as the muladhara-chakra is invigorated by asana and pranayama, the yogi can achieve the state of weightlessness, and the body automatically enters a state of suspended animation, while only the mind is conscious. This is the stage where levitation can be achieved. One also achieves realization of Brahman, or pure spiritual existence, which also induces a state of complete timelessness. This is the platform where the yogi realizes everything is spirit, that the self is pure spiritual nature called Brahman. This is also termed as the state of ‘complete oneness’, or in other words ‘everything is Brahma’. Without the body being situated in animated suspension, with the breath in equilibrium and mind focused in single-pointed concentration, the ability to achieve perfect samadhi is not possible. Through the practice of ashtanga-yoga, the yogi can eventually achieve the trance-like state needed to achieve perfect samadhi and begin meditation on the Supreme Brahman, localized within the heart as Paramatma. The yogi can then begin to visualize the lotus flower within the core of the heart, the sitting place of Paramatma.

Regarding the practice and meditation on Paramtma, the Shrimad Bhagavatam says. “Beginning from the muladhara-cakra, one should move the life air continuously upward like the fibers in the lotus stalk until one reaches the heart, where the sacred syllable om is situated like the sound of a bell. One should thus continue raising the sacred syllable upward the distance of twelve angulas, and there the omkara should be joined together with the fifteen vibrations produced with anusvara. Being fixed in the omkara, one should carefully practice the pranayama system ten times at each sunrise, noon and sunset. Thus, after one month one will have conquered the life air.” (Bg.4.34-35) “When the mind is perfectly purified by this practice of yoga, one should concentrate on the tip of the nose with half-closed eyes and see the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who has a cheerful, lotus-like countenance with ruddy eyes like the interior of a lotus and a swarthy body like the petals of a blue lotus. He bears a conch, discus and mace in three of His hands.” (SB.3.38.12-13) In the age of Kali-yuga, no yogi has ever been able to achieve the level of meditation mentioned in this verse from the Bhagavatam, through the ashtanga-yoga process, or any other process, however, realization and communion with Parmatma has been achieved through bhakti-yoga and there have been many such examples of liberated siddha-yogis that have achieved perfection in the bhakti tradition.

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