One of the many gifts of a consistent yoga practice is the gradual harmonizing of the body’s endocrine system. As the production, flow, and interaction of hormones, glands, and key energy centers began to come into balance, one feels steady, receptive, and inspired. I wonder if this is partially what is meant by the “wisdom” of yoga which yokes not only mind and body, but also eastern and western perspectives – enlightened reason and luminous intuition.
The etymology of the word “hormone” can be traced back to its orgins in a sense of impulse, impetus, or stimulus for movement; through the practice of yoga, our movement becomes more and more subtle until we are aware of the flow of breath, life force, and sweet knowing. In this cultivation of subtlety, we also learn the embodiment of love, the organic depth of life’s teachings, and the transformation from total identification with the body to a spacious and compassionate witness consciousness.
The map for the journey is embedded in the chakra system. Chakra is Sanskrit for a ‘wheel of energy,’ and I often think of it as a center from which to observe a particular constellation of associations and emotions around a universal theme. There are seven chakras, situated along the center line of the body, from the perineum at the root to the pituitary gland at the crown. There are many different ways to interpret them, and as an evolving art, not only are they full of burgeoning connections and discoveries, but their revelation also depends heavily on the questions, concerns, motives, and needs of the observer, seeker, or student.
Today, I was considering the relationship between desire and ego – the link and power between, “Who am I?” and “What do I want?” when I began to sense the potential in each chakra, or energy center, to initiate me into a more profound and vibrant understanding of the nature of reality.
The first three chakras became mirrors and teachers of impermanence, illusion, and emptiness, and the unique way in which the three came together gave birth to the fourth chakra’s rhythm or confluence between expression and identity – so that our face became the recognition of our oneness. In this exquisite ground, the fifth chakra, at the throat, emerged as the Self – not only as inner child, but as an incarnation of spirit. Following in turn, the sixth chakra yielded a conceptual and contemplative bridge between image and god, while the final and seventh center radiated a soulfulness that celebrated all the joys of life – from the smell of coffee to the kindness of strangers to the bloom of flowers to the bliss of being.
What I want to emphasize here is that though the chakras can be compared to different physical systems, they are psycho-spiritual in essence; however, as we work with them as an interface between the mind and body, we can effect dramatic change…and healing… in our worlds at all levels.