By Yoga Journal
Integrate your entire being from head to toe to experience a vast connection between your innermost self and all things.
Working toward enlightenment may seem daunting, unrealistic, or completely beyond the scope of your radar. But regardless of whether you practice yoga to stay fit and healthy or to work toward complete liberation, do not miss the opportunity to notice those enlightened moments that can come through a regular practice of insight and positive action. An enlightened moment can spring forth at any time, let this practice open you to the possibility and prime you to witness those moments of grace sprinkled throughout your day.
This practice is meant to integrate right and left, masculine and feminine, surya and chandra, ida and pingala (energetic channels that link into and through the main channel called sushumna), and your entire being from head to toe. Use this integration to experience a vast connection between your innermost self and all things.
Crown Chakra Visualization Meditation
Begin your practice seated and bring your hands into prayer (Anjali Mudra) at your heart. Bring your awareness to your pelvic floor and let it rest there until you feel grounded, supported, and relaxed. Then begin to glide your awareness up the front of your spine slowly checking in and resting for a moment on each chakra as you go. (Head back to the Chakra Tune-Up page for a review.) Imagine the spine as a stalk or reed and draw your awareness up through the reed. Once you reach to the crown of your head, imagine there at the top of that stalk of energy a luminous white lotus flower. One by one begin to open each petal of the thousand-petaled lotus. Imagine as you open the lotus that your innermost self is merging more and more with the universe. Let this happen in the most natural and beautiful manner. Spend as much time in this visualization meditation as you like.
Set Your Sahasrara Intention
Now set your intention for this practice. Here are some themes related to the sahasrara chakra that you may want to integrate into your intention: vastness; limitlessness; unity; seeing yourself in all beings to cultivate compassion; accepting your place and your part in the universe; awakening of consciousness; opening to spiritual realizations. Feel free to use any of these or choose your own. As long as your intention feels true for you it has value.
Standing Prayer Backbend
Begin standing with hands in Anjali Mudra. Close your eyes and take at least five big breaths, very long and slow. As you inhale, feel the energy ascend from your feet up through the crown of your head. As you exhale, feel the energy descend from the crown of the head down into your feet. Remember that this flow between earth and spirit is always intact.
With your feet firmly planted and your legs engaged, begin to lift from the pelvic floor as you lengthen your spine upward. Lift and broaden your chest while drawing your shoulder blades into your ribs for a gentle heart opener. Now gracefully bring your prayer hands to the mid forehead. Feel the back body lift the front body. Energetically open up to all of the potential that the universe has in store for you. Let this progression last 3-4 breaths total holding the fullest expression of this gentle backbend for only one full cycle of breath. Return the hands back to the heart to finish.
Warrior I + Eagle Arms
Virabhadrasana I + Garudasana Arms
From Tadasana step your left foot back about 3-4 feet, turning it out to a 45-degree angle. If you have any pain in the back knee, lift the back heel for a High Lunge instead. Keep your hips square toward the front of your mat as you bend your right knee to 90 degrees or less. Inhale reaching your arms up for Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I). Spend a breath or two here letting the hips open. Now bring your arms in front of you and stack the left arm on top of the right. Snake the arms around each other for Garudasana (Eagle) arms variation. Keeping a deep bend in the right knee begin to lift the heart, arms, and gaze into a mild backbend. Keep your feet firmly planted and grounded but feeling vast, open, and alive! Spend 4-5 breaths here and then release.
Revolved Bound Half Moon Pose
Parivrtta Baddha Ardha Chandrasana
This is a challenging but beautiful pose that enhances the cross-lateral balance mechanism, integrates total-body awareness, and provides opportunity for opening only by softening up.
From Warrior I with right foot forward, rock your weight into your right leg and touch the floor with your left hand. Extend your left leg back and your right arm up into Revolved Half Moon Pose. You are welcome to stay there and work up to the bind over time. To continue, bend your left knee and catch the left foot with your right hand. Find a steady gaze as you kick the left foot up to lift the chest and open through the heart and right shoulder. Spend five breaths here. Once you have the bind, soften up a little bit -- become receptive to the universal download and the pose will become easier, I promise!
Continue the Crown Chakra Tune Up by practicing the full sequence.
About Stephanie Snyder
Stephanie Snyder is a San Francisco-based vinyasa yoga teacher. She's written, modeled, and created DVDs for Yoga Journal in addition to presenting at Yoga Journal LIVE!