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THE THROAT CHAKRA
(Part 6 of a Free Online Chakra Course for Beginners)
Greetings dear reader. I hope you have been enjoying this chakra series for beginners. I have been learning a lot as well. If you have not taken the time to read the previous posts in this series, I would like to encourage you to do so. I believe you will find many gems in each one. In previous posts we have defined many Sanskrit terms that come with the territory of chakras and yogic practices. Because we are so far in, I will assume that if you are reading this, you are already familiar with the terminology here. Any new terminology will be identified by bold italics like this. In the Resources section below, you can find a link to definitions for terms you are not familiar with.
As mentioned in the last post, I will be focusing primarily on a brief overview of the chakra as well as it’s associated: kosha, vayu (prana), endocrine gland and hormone. In previous posts I have offered a Tool Kit section. These sections offer links that direct you to information which help you to distinguish imbalances in each chakra and whether the particular chakra is overactive or underactive. These are very helpful resources which offer many ways to balance the associated chakra. This can be done in many ways including: yoga poses, sounds, colors, mudras, foods, meditations, essential oils, stones and more.
It is my intention to bring to your awareness aspects of the chakras which you may not know about. I bridge the physical and spiritual aspects of each chakra by offering practical information concerning physiology. This is a way of demonstrating how the energy centers, mind, body and spirit are interdependent and have an effect on eachother. Many people poo poo spirituality and write it off as “woo woo”. I see spirituality as bridging the physical and non physical worlds and using that as a vehicle for our personal evolution.
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Thousands of Years of Listening
It is only woo woo if it has no backbone. The backbone here is strong. The Vedas (East Indian sciences) of which chakras are a part; are rooted in thousands of years of knowledge, wisdom, spiritual science and practical application. In a way you could say that the predecessors of this knowledge merged with, communed with and connected to a non-physical body of energy and information and brought that information into the physical using their mind, body and spirit.
As you read this, I would like you to imagine a time before all this information was even available. Then imagine how exactly all of this information made it from the world of no form, into the physical world. If you stop to contemplate this even briefly, you will glean something powerful. I first began to contemplate this while studying Chinese herbs while on my way to becoming an acupuncturist.
The Chinese materia medica is vast. There are thousands of herbs. Some herbs are classified as hot, others as cold, some as moving upward, some as moving downward, some herbs harmonize other herbs, some herbs treat one part of the body and some herbs treat another. Some herbs help retain fluid, some help build fluid, some herbs purge and so forth. It is a beautifully intricate system. As I began to study these herbs my question was, “ How did someone get all this information? ". And then it dawned on me - they were communicating with the plants.
I had my own experience of communicating with a plant a few years ago. I had a plant that was not looking well. I wondered what I could do. I thought maybe I should Google it but I refrained. Something told me to ask the plant. So I held a leaf as if we were holding hands. When I asked it what it needed, I heard “sulphur”. I also intuited that epsom salt would be helpful. After I got my own answer, I then used Google and the information was confirmed. I used sulphur and epsom salt to treat the plant and it went on to thrive.
My reason for sharing this is two-fold. It is first to say that everything we know about subtle body channels, chakras , koshas, pranas/vayus and all the things we have been discussing in this series came from tuning into the body and seeing the invisible and hearing the inaudible. Now thousands of years laternscience is saying “Hey, there is something to all of this”. This system does not need validation from modern western science. It has been valid for thousands of years. What the acknowledgement means to me is that maybe, just maybe, western science is starting to open its mind a little.
I believe there are many good examples of this and Heartmath Institute is one such example. The second reason I bring this up is because the throat chakra is just as much about listening as it is about speaking. You may have heard the saying, “ There is a reason we were born with two ears and only one mouth”.
I have a dear friend of over thirty years who has been living, breathing and teaching yoga for most of her adult life. She recently recommended a book to me called Kundalini Yoga for the West by Swami Sivananda Radha. As I was reading the chapter on Vishuddhi chakra, I came across something that pairs well with what I was just discussing above. I offer it to you as a contemplation. I feel that returning to this frequently can really assist in opening the mind. We live in a culture that is heavily imbalanced in reason, logic and linear thinking. In out culture the intellect is placed on a pedestal like a God. But the intellect is not afterall omnipotent. “As a matter of fact, it is said that the intellect is one of the greatest obstacles to overcome on the path to enlightenment. In honor of that, I offer you Swami Radha’s words.
Limitations of Speech: “Perceptions come by thought, but these are not the highest experience. ‘Perception beyond’ words has to be clarified. Does ‘beyond words’ mean mental speech, or beyond mental speech? If we say ‘beyond mind’, we must ask, ‘If it is beyond mind, then how can it be known?” (Swami Sivananda Radha - Kundalini Yoga for the West)
This is the illness of society today. We are caught in a trap of facts and fact checkers and the control of information and perception. Intuition is all too quickly dismissed by those who deem themselves an authority of this or that. This was demonstrated on a global scale with the advent of Covid. Yet what we have witnessed is that people’s intuitions were correct, and people admonishing them have been proved to be incorrect in their own perceptions. This is most likely due to being cut off from their own intuition, which is of little or no value to establishments in our culture.
Consciousness then, is pure energy and beyond conceptualization. It is the refinement of such energy that we are working with here in the throat chakra. We must remember that we speak with our eyes, with a touch, with body language and even through our actions. Speech from our heart is energetically and tangibly different than speech from our mind.
There is something called right speech. Rather than define it, I will describe it by paraphrasing Swami Radha. When the voice is a magnet that attracts others, and a chord resounds in the heart of the listener, this is a sign that the aspirant is practicing right speech. When one person, group, entity, establishment, organization or authority asks the public to ignore their intuition, this is a misuse of speech. As you can see this is rampant on a global scale. But we can not change that, we can only change ourselves.
So we might ask ourselves, “ Am I practicing Right Speech?”. How do your words affect others? Are you using words to manipulate, protect, sugarcoat or diminish? Or are you using words to speak truth, uplift, inspire and create safe spaces for solutions and understanding? Behind words are intentions. I have a friend who frequently says, “ Before you say something, ask yourself these three questions: Is it true?, Is it kind?, Is it necessary?”. This includes self-talk! How do you talk to yourself?
Vishuddhi Chakra (fifth chakra, throat chakra)
Visha means impurity or poison. Shuddhi means purification. So then the throat chakra is an energy center that serves to purify impurities.
“The Vishuddhi Chakra is a place of purification and balancing. The breath that flows through the throat, and therefore through this Chakra, plays a big role in this. The Yoga technique of Prānāyāma (conscious guidance and regulation of the breath) exerts a strong influence on the Vishuddhi Chakra, at both the physical and astral levels. Through the power of the breath (Prāna Shakti) in the Vishuddhi Chakra, harmful residues are removed from the body on a physical level. In the mental sphere the thoughts, emotions, consciousness and subconscious are purified and harmonised. It is not just the external world that is extremely polluted, but also the psyche and consciousness of many people. For as long as the pernicious, toxic qualities of discord, rivalry, envy and resentment eat away at our mind, the light of God consciousness cannot shine through.” (Source)
Overview Part One
Vishuddhi chakra is the centre of purification and longevity, also known as “the fountain of youth.” The ancient yogic scriptures state the awakening of Vishuddhi reverses diseases.
A purified and activated Vishuddhi chakra, greatly sharpens and intensifies the sense of hearing.
Vishuddhi is located in the spine, behind the throat pit and is associated to the thyroid gland. Its Kshetra is the pit of the throat.
Vishuddhi is predominantly influenced by sattva – purity, luminosity and serenity.
Kosha & Element
Vishuddhi chakra is associated with Vijnanamaya Kosha (the psychic body – which relates to the subconscious and unconscious mind). It is a centre of higher mental faculties and its element is ether.
At the level of Vishuddhi, negative experiences can be transformed into a state of bliss. The level of consciousness rises to a point in which external happenings no longer affect inner peace.
Sense & Organs
Hearing is the sense of perception associated with vishuddhi chakra , while the ears are the organs of perception, and it’s organ of action is the vocal cord.
Overview Part Two
This chakra acts as the passage of the energy between the lower parts of the body and the head, and is mainly driven by the principle of expression and communication. It is associated with both hearing and listening & is the purification point of the body and the center of wisdom, willpower, truth.
The Throat chakra is associated with the pharyngeal and brachial plexus and is connected to the body organs mouth, jaws, tongue, pharynx, and palate. It’s is also linked to the shoulders and the neck.
Gland: Thyroid, which regulates the processing of energy in the body through temperature, growth, and metabolism.
Color: Blue or Turquoise
In our color spectrum, blue is the first of the three primary colors, connecting us with the Divine and it is also the color associated with Heaven.
Blue energy is pure, soothing, healing and is also at the cooler end of the spectrum, allowing us to take time to be still.
On a physical anatomical level blue relates to the throat, esophagus, thyroid gland, neck, cervical spine, mouth, teeth, and jaw.
The throat chakra is positioned between the head and heart, linking feeling and thought. The throat chakra symbol is often depicted as shades of radiant blue - the color of wisdom, faith, purification.
The Sixteen petalled lotus: The lotus flower symbolizes the development of human consciousness. This chakra has 16 petals, each linked with one of the Sanskrit vowels and also a stage of development.
White Circle/Silver Crescent: The central chakra region is white, transparent, sky-blue in the color, symbolizing the cosmic sound i.e. nadam, which represents purity. It represents the full moon pointing towards our psychic powers.
Downward-Pointing Triangle: It represents the akasamandala which represents shakti and pure substance. The downward-pointing triangle of the throat chakra is symbolic of spiritual growth and is affiliated with the gathering of information, while the wide upward sides represent the knowledge leading to Enlightenment.
The Seed Syllable
The sacred frequency of throat chakra acts as a vessel of a self-generating power of expression and higher communication.
Bija or seed mantra: HAM (pronounced hum)
Ham is the mantra to unblock the Throat Chakra defining our physical and spiritual voice via the means of communicating “who you are” and “what you need and want” from yourself and the universe.
The element associated with the Throat Chakra is Ether/Spirit/Life and Sound which represents the psychological aspect of mind and is associated with transformation, unification, power and time.
Through the throat, the sound is propagated into the air and its vibration can be felt not just in our ears, but also in our whole body.
The Throat chakra is associated with psychological and behavioral characteristics:
Expression as an inability to express & to speak out.
Connection with the etheric realm.
Realizing your purpose in life
Good sense of timing and connectivity. (Source for "Overview Part Two)
Essential oils and Hydrosols
Jasmine essential oil works wonders on the throat chakra, encouraging you to speak your truth and express your creativity. Turquoise is a great stone for the throat chakra. If you want to ground yourself before speaking you can put vetiver essential on the pubic symphysis (first chakra region) and jasmine on your throat, or place vetiver and jasmine together on the throat. Only a small amount is needed as both of these are very strong. Some people like to use carrier oils such as coconut or another preferred oil on the skin prior to application. I do not find this to be necessary (everyone’s body has different reactions). You can also use jasmine essential oil as a hydrosol or in a diffuser. To make a hydrosol use 50:50 water and witch hazel. The witch hazel will help it linger in the air longer. Any hydrosol can be made this way. All you need is a small spray bottle (as many ounces as you like), water, witch hazel and your essential oil or oil blend of preference.
In previous posts I have discussed pranayama. Prana means vital life force, and yama means to gain control. Pranayama is the regulation of breath through certain techniques and exercises. It is well established that breath has the power to regulate our mind state as well as our physiology. There are many forms of pranayama and ujjayi (pronounced ooh - jai - ee) breathing is a form of breathing that has a strong effect on the throat chakra. Ujjayi also known as “victorious breath” (meaning victory over the mind), is simultaneously energizing and relaxing. The breath plays a large role in self mastery, so spending a little time with it every day is a worthy cause.
How to Do Ujjayi Breathing
“Concentrate on the throat. Inhale and exhale deeply through the nose for 5-10 minutes. At the same time slightly contract the throat so that the breath sounds like that in deep sleep. Direct your attention completely to the sound of the breath in the throat. This way of breathing quiets the mind and balances the emotions.”
Ujjāyī Prānāyāma detoxifies the body and helps with problems of the digestive tract (e.g. gastritis). It can also be used as first aid with food poisoning. With regular practice of Ujjāyī Prānāyāma and through its effect on the Thyroid Gland, a person becomes healthy and is noticeably rejuvenated. This breathing exercise is also very helpful for depression.” (Source)
If you would like guided instruction, you can find a 7 minute video here.
Udana Vayu (a.k.a. udana prana)
In previous lessons we have discussed the five vayus or five pranas. Udana Vayu is housed in the throat chakra and helps us move beyond the limitations of the five senses. “Udana is the upward-moving breath, which directs the flow of prana from the lower to the higher planes of consciousness. An ascending and radiant force, udana vayu is responsible for taking the mind from waking to sleep and to deep sleep, as well as to higher planes of existence after death. It is active primarily in the region between the heart and the head, bringing prana to the energy centers deep in the brain. As the vayu moving through sushumna nadi (the central channel of the subtle body), udana is associated with kundalini shakti, the creative, blissful consciousness of enlightenment.” (Source)
“Udana rules the throat center, manifesting as speech and other refined expressions, and governing growth and metabolism through the thyroid and parathyroid glands. When udana is balanced and strong, we stand tall and are joyous, enthusiastic, alert, articulate, and strong-willed. Deranged udana, on the other hand, may prod us to negative, inappropriate, or excessive speech—or render us unable to express ourselves at all. Since the throat center controls reception, deranged udana may hamper the intake of physical nourishment, while on a mental level, new ideas or experiences can seem “hard to swallow,” leaving us obstinate, arrogant, and inflexible—in a word, stiff-necked.” (Source)
Udana vayu affects the following:
Communication, expression and language
Metabolism through the thyroid and parathyroid glands
The nervous and endocrine systems (this is monumental!)
When udana vayu is balanced, the yogi is articulate, focused, intuitive, assertive and confident. (Source)
Hormones & Neurotransmitters
As we have discussed, each chakra has an associated endocrine gland or glands. Endocrine glands are responsible for hormone production. As was mentioned above, the udana vayu affects the nervous and endocrine systems. This is important because both neurotransmitters and hormones are made in the nervous systems and endocrine glands respectively. Hormones and neurotransmitters are chemically the same thing, but physiologically different.
Neurotransmitters and hormones are two different types of chemicals that carry signals from one part of the body to another. Both chemicals play an important part in the body’s physiology. They control a variety of physical and psychological functions, including our mood, our eating patterns, our ability to learn, and our sleep cycles.
Hormones and neurotransmitters are different chemical messengers, the former produced by the endocrine glands and the latter by the nervous system.
Hormones are usually secreted from the endocrine system and released into the bloodstream, but they act on distant target cells. Some hormones, like melatonin and cortisol, are actually produced in the brain, released in the blood, and affect other parts of the body.
On the other hand, neurotransmitters are released from the presynaptic nerve terminal in the brain. They move across the synaptic cleft, a small space between two adjacent neurons, and move to the next neuron (known as a postsynaptic neuron). There they bind to specific receptors, causing changes in the electrical properties of target cells, which can cause various postsynaptic effects. Neurotransmitters work locally and their actions are very fast.
Both hormones and neurotransmitters influence our thoughts and motivations, as well as our ability to learn and concentrate. However, neurotransmitters’ actions are short-lived while hormones act for longer periods of time. Furthermore, neurotransmitters can affect both voluntary actions (eating, bathing, walking) and involuntary actions (breathing, blinking). Hormones in the endocrine system always work involuntarily. (Source)
Thyroid and Serotonin
“Serotonin helps stimulate thyroid cells or thyrocytes to work. It activates thyroid cell survival and apoptosis or cell death in the thyroid. Imbalances of serotonin in the brain affect thyroid hormones and can be a hidden cause of thyroid symptoms. The serotonin-thyroid connection lies behind the depression that often occurs with dysfunctional thyroid function. The problem is not the thyroid gland or lack of essential thyroid nutrients, rather the lack of serotonin signals causes the thyroid symptoms.”(Source)
Also, it should be noted that 90% of serotonin production happens in the digestive tract giving manipura chakra (third chakra/solar plexus) an important connection to serotonin as well. I find this interesting as my mentor correlates the Divine Mother and Divine Father to the third and fifth chakras respectively. As you are about to find out, serotonin plays a role in connection to the divine.
I mention the connection between thyroid and serotonin, because serotonin is the hormonal bridge to connection with spirit. Dopamine is about connection to self, while oxytocin is about connection to people. When I finish this series, I will be writing on hormones and the endocrine system, and I will go into greater detail then.
“Surrender, not to people or situations, but to Source, is what helps us to have more serotonin. I encourage you to repeat the phrase, "I surrender" twenty one times twice a day. I usually say it in the morning when I wake up and right before I go to bed. This will help you to feel more connected and have more passion and purpose in your life” - Kevin Snow
We have discussed that we have five sheaths also referred to as bodies, or layers and levels of consciousness. The first and second chakras correspond to the physical body, while the third chakra corresponds to the energy body and the heart to the mental body. As my yoga teacher friend says, “ The koshas are the key to frequency and capacity”. Nikola Tesla that says “ If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” A frequency is a rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave. This occurs in the material world as sound waves, or in an electromagnetic field (your toroidal field) as light.
You are made of energy and light and you have a unique vibration and frequency. Yogic practices are aimed at activating the light body, and increasing your vibratory rate and hence your frequency. In a sense, dedicated yogic practitioners are quantum physicists. I will not elaborate here, but if you wish to learn more I have provided a link in the resources section below.
Yogic practices are a path to enlightenment - literally, to light up. It is well documented that many yoga masters have attained rainbow body. Some masters leave the world as rainbow light, leaving no trace of a physical body behind. Could it be that they vibrate right out of this dimension? Remember the third dimension is very dense. It is the realm of matter, the material realm.
As we refine our energies and work with our breath and our various vital life forces, we change, we have more and more access to our subtle bodies - we literally become less dense and we have the capacity to hold more light. That is quite literally how it works - granted this is an oversimplified explanation. I am trying to keep this as simple as possible so as to make it relatable to anyone new to these concepts.
So, back to Vijnamaya Kosha. “Vijnanamaya kosha is the intellect/wisdom/knowledge sheath - also known as the psychic body. It is said to be composed of a combination of intellect and the five sensory organs. It is also considered to be the part of one's being that is responsible for will, discernment and determination. Vijnanamaya kosha is responsible for all inner growth and personal development.”
“This includes the presence and evolution of morals and ethics. It goes beyond simple perception and into more subtle knowledge, discernment and wisdom. Vijnanamaya kosha is what seeks to draw awareness from what is happening in front of the senses to a deeper mental space.”
“Vijnanamaya kosha, like all the koshas, is interactive and dependent upon the other layers of the body. Both asana and meditation practice help the yogi to connect with their deeper intuition, wisdom and knowledge by accessing vijnanamaya kosha.”
“It is also in vijnanamaya kosha that the deeper sense of oneness, as opposed to a sense of separation from other beings, emerges. Within vijnanamaya kosha lies the beginnings of understanding that separation and ego are just an illusion. This recognition is said to bring greater compassion, love and happiness.” (Source)
Putting The Pieces Together
The throat chakra is our center of communication and creative self expression. It is connected not only to speech but to listening as well. Not merely listening to sounds, but also to spirit, to source, and to our own inner workings and inner knowing - to that which is inaudible. Naturally there is more to be said about this as the more we refine, the more subtleties and nuance play a larger role.
When the throat chakra is imbalanced, it can become either underactive or overactive. We can become timid or hesitant in speech, or we may even talk too much. Speaking our truth contributes to our well being and to the well being of this energy center. That is why courage is associated with the throat chakra, the courage to speak our truth and to give voice to our creative expressions.
To go deeper into this chakra we can work with the vijnanamaya kosha which is responsible for our inner growth and development. We can also use breathing techniques such as ujjayi in order to cultivate the udana vayu to help us move beyond the limitations of the five senses. Working with udana vayu also serves to open us up to new ideas and experiences and to strengthen our will.
The thyroid gland located in this region regulates our mood, sleep and wake cycles as well as metabolism. It also has a connection to serotonin. Serotonin regulates your mood, It’s often called your body’s feel good chemical. When serotonin is at normal levels you feel more focused, emotionally stable, happier and calmer. Serotonin is like a hormonal bridge between our self and the Divine. Repeating, “I surrender" (to Source) 21 times upon waking and 21 times before sleeping can serve to raise your serotonin levels.
Jasmine essential oil is beneficial for the throat chakra and can be used directly on the throat area , in a diffuser or as a hydrosol. Links in the Tool Kit section will help you to discover tools and techniques you can use to explore, balance and refine the throat chakra energy center. May what you have read here today be of benefit to you and if so, please share it with others. Thank you for reading and for taking interest in yourself, your body and all its inherent gifts - just waiting to be utilized so that you can live the best life possible. And so it is!
All Things Throat Chakra This link provides you with an explanation of the fifth chakra yantra or symbol, as well as ways to tell if your throat chakra is blocked and how to unblock it.
Balanced or Imbalanced: How to tell if your throat chakra is underactive or overactive and what you can do to harmonize it. I appreciate this author very much. She has a guide to balancing each of the seven chakras. Here I will give you the link specifically to the heart chakra. However, when you get there you will see links to each of the other chakras as well. You will find it is very comprehensive, and it is geared toward beginners. Enjoy! You can find it here.
Here is another great website offering myriad ways to balance the chakras as well as articles on each chakra and information on mudras, yoga poses and breathwork (pranayama) - great for working with the vayus. This link will direct you to some information on balancing the throat chakra. You can view it here.
Throat Chakra Video (by yours truly and my mentor): This is a rich video. Kevin Snow is always so generous with his wisdom. Next time you have a hankering to watch Netflix, try this instead. You will be grateful you did. Here is the link. This is part of a series on the seven chakras.
Shadow Work Prompts for the Throat Chakra - right here and also below.