It is common, and commendable, to be curious about how others see you in general, or in specific situations. The more insight you have in this area, the less time you are apt to lie awake at night, wondering. And even when you may have acted differently in a specific situation, upon review, this insight generally provides the best answer for moving forward.
It is quite possible to see yourself exactly as other people see you; however, this takes courage, and the development of some insight. So, if you dare, have a peek in the mirror…
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
A simple concept, yet one that many people are either unwilling, or unable, to grasp.Summed up, it is simply that other people reflect you. Your emotions, your traits, and your feelings are reflected back at you from other people either through in-kind responses or through predictable reactions to the emotions or feelings that you’re issuing.
Perhaps even more surprising is the reality that the reflection is perfect, even if the “reflector” is almost invariably not. For example, you might feel condescension, irritability, or dismissiveness toward another person, which lowers your estimation of them and causes you to treat them less seriously; yet in doing so, you ignore the fact that they reflect your negative appraisal of them.
This mirror-gazing skill is more developed of necessity in people of diminished means who need to learn quickly how to read people well in order to survive; however, just because you have never been hungry, left alone, or impoverished, does not mean you have to be clueless about yourself.
See that a big part of seeing yourself is recognizing that some little behavior of someone else, witnessed by you, is in fact exactly what you look like when exhibiting that same behavior, and that your rationalization of it as “different from yourself” is what is incorrect about your interpretation.
While it can be easy (in fact it’s human nature) to dismiss anything not felt to be relevant, or not seen to be complimentary, and to see it rather as a reflection of the person saying or commenting about things you’re not comfortable with (to an extent it’s about them but that’s not the whole story), for the most part it probably has a grain of truth in it for you. Even if it is painful and your ego tempts you to reject it out of hand, be alert to this probability. It is less important that you identify with what may have been actually said here; rather, what matters is connecting it with the times that you say the same thing to another. It is perilously easy to con yourself into believing that “those times were different.” They invariably aren’t, or weren’t.
Just as people say things to or about you for various, possibly obscure but knowable reasons, recognize when you do the same thing. Examine why you may have said a certain thing; usually, this self-examination will occur after the fact.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone you trust to help you work through the reasoning; for example, if your best friend heard you, they almost surely already know why you said something and what personal motivations, quirks, and needs lie behind it. Asking your friend with open honesty and a willingness to reflect together can take a friendship to a whole new level. Asking another how our words and demeanor come across to another is not something we stop and do much, but it can get you started in more effective self examination.
While this may seem strange or even offensive to you, experience often bears it out. The reason is that we invariably overlook behaviors in ourselves that we can’t tolerate in another. By allowing the other person to carry the burden of our own disliked inner quirks or weaknesses, we shield ourselves from having to meet our less likable aspects head on and choose instead to view the unlikable traits as the fault of the other person. Often we see this as insurmountable because we choose to believe that the other person is the one generating the unwanted behavior. However, this blinds us to realizing that we’re just locking horns with traits we haven’t yet learned to deal with well inside of ourselves.
While you may never learn to like each other, opportunities exist here for personal behavioral modification. Indeed, often the most rewarding of outcomes can result when you push yourself to cope with people whom you find challenge you in this respect because you ultimately learn to manage, if not learn to tolerate, a part of yourself that you didn’t even want to face before.
Experience dictates that even if you initially do not communicate any of your intentions to modify your own behavior to your mirror, being that they invariably feel the same about you as you do about them, they will eventually (usually, pretty quickly) notice that they aren’t able to push your buttons.
If you are using this experience for self-improvement (instead of what you’ve been using it for?), it will be clear that you aren’t taking advantage of opportunities to push theirs. This is going to be noticed (and not just by your mirror), and credited to you as maturity; bonus points for having the courage to come clean with your mirror, and tell them about your insight into this matter, leading to future mutual progression. And even more kudos to you if you do this personal development in the public sphere; as it’s no easy task, it impresses people to see such maturity and rest assured that anyone within earshot will be enthralled.
This isn’t a one-off exercise. It’s something that will benefit you and your relationships for all time, and as such, it’s essential that you continue to remain alert and willing to see yourself reflected in others around you. Once you have refined seeing yourself, exactly as others see you, by witnessing the reflections in and from others, you will find yourself more forgiving of others, more willing to reach out and pull people through awkward moments and difficult times because you see not only your own struggles but theirs too, all intertwined as one. And all this takes is constant self-examination, self-honesty, and a willingness to step outside yourself regularly.
A man noticed that his axe was missing. Then he saw the neighbor’s son pass by. The boy looked like a thief, walked like a thief, behaved like a thief. Later that day, the man found his axe where he had left it the day before. The next time he saw his neighbor’s son, the boy looked, walked, and behaved like an honest, ordinary boy.
See the original article at our friends site Mind, Body, Soul, Spirit.
In the 1800s, reports began to surface of the discovery of very large skeletal remains in the burial mounds of North America. These skeletons were described as reaching seven to eight feet (2.4 meters) in length, with a lower frequency of discoveries spanning nine to 11 feet (3.3 meters) in length, and having very large skulls and gigantic lower jawbones.
Historians often detailed these remains in early local historical records, such as the following from Cass County, Michigan:
“It was a mound about thirteen feet high…. the diameter of its base was about fifty feet…Portions of the skeletons were in a good state of preservation. The femur, or thigh bone, of one of the males, which Dr Bonine has now in his possession, is of great size and indicates that its owner must have been at least seven feet in height”
–Alfred Matthews, History of Cass County, Michigan 1882
The Criel Mound in South Charleston West Virginia, photo courtesy of authors © Jason Jarrell and Sarah Farmer. The 35-foot (11 m) high and 175-foot (53 m)-diameter conical mound, is the second largest of its type in West Virginia.
Antiquarians also wrote about the anthropology of the tall ones in prehistoric mounds. The following is an account from Chillicothe, Ill. from American Antiquarian, Vol 2 No 1 (1879):
“A recent exploration of a mound near this place resulted in some interesting discoveries…The form was large, the jaws massive, and the teeth perfect.”
As is well known, 19th and early 20th century newspapers frequently ran stories of gigantic skeletons found throughout the country. The following report from Portsmouth, Ohio was run by the News Herald on January 3, 1895:
“Bridge Carpenters on the N. & W. R. R. found a gigantic skeleton while excavating, three miles east of Portsmouth, a few days ago. The skeleton measured, 7 feet, 4 inches…”
In the 1880s, the Eastern Mound Division of the Smithsonian discovered a number of gigantic skeletons in their wanton destruction of North American tumuli. The 12th Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology documents numerous gigantic skeletons found by Smithsonian agents:
“Near the original surface (of the mound)… lying at full length upon its back, was one of the largest skeletons discovered by the Bureau agents, the length as proved by actual measurement being between 7 and 8 feet.”
“In the center (of mound 11), 3 feet below the surface, was a vault 8 feet long and 3 feet wide. In the bottom of this…lay a skeleton fully 7 feet long…”
“The length from the base of the skull to the bones of the toes was found to be 7 feet 3 inches. It is probable, therefore, that this individual when living was 7.5 feet high.”
Pre-excavation view of the Adena Mound, located in Chillicothe, Ohio, United States, northwest of downtown. The type site for the Adena culture, the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, even though the mound was removed decades ago. It was excavated in 1901. (Public Domain)
The twentieth century saw the rediscovery of the ancient giants by mainstream archeologists. Working with Charles Snow, William S Webb (University of Kentucky) positively identified the unique skeletal features noted by the early sources with the people of the Adena Mound Building Culture. Webb and Snow’s analysis of the anthropology of Adena was described in The Adena People Number 1 (1945) and number 2 (co-written with Raymond S Baby, 1957):
“The forehead is typically a prominent one, bordered below by fairly prominent brow ridges….The characteristic bulge of the upper and lower jaws (alveolar prognathism) is moderate in projection…Usually the cheek bones are not only of large size in themselves but they have a forward and lateral prominence…” (Webb Snow and Baby, 1957)
In addition to these strong features, Webb Snow and Baby (1957) remarked upon the “great width of the bony chin, formed by bilateral eminences”.
The typical Adena crania were extremely high vaulted (brachycephalic):
“Approximately 89% of the adult males, 92% of the adult females are brachycephalic.” (Webb and Snow 1945)
In their report on the Dover mound in Kentucky, Webb and Snow noted that the Adena crania to represent the “highest skull vaults reported anywhere in the world” (Webb and Snow, The Dover Mound. 1959) Cephalic indices measured for Adena range from 89 to 100. (Webb, Snow and Baby 1957)
The Adena People practiced artificial flattening of the occipital region, which added height to the cranial vault. This practice merely enhanced congenital features:
“…those skulls with slight or no deformation (undeformed) present similar proportions”.(Webb and Snow, 1945)
“It is likely that many, if not most, of the skull characteristics so typical of Adena are of genetic nature…” (Webb, Snow and Baby 1957)
The “Wolf Plains Group”, aA Late Adena group of 30 earthworks including 22 conical mounds and nine circular enclosures. Located a few miles to the northwest of Athens, Ohio, USA. (Public Domain)
At the Dover Mound, Webb encountered a seven foot (two meters) tall skeleton with these notable Adena features (burial 40):
“…the remains of burial 40 is one of the largest known to Adena; the skull-foot field measurement is 84 inches (7 feet).” ( Webb and Snow, 1959)
In1958, Don Dragoo of the Carnegie Museum uncovered the remains of an individual “of large proportions” in a subsurface tomb at the lowest strata of the Cresap Mound in West Virginia. Burial 54 as described by Dragoo in Mounds for the Dead (1963):
“When measured in the tomb his length was approximately 7.04 feet. All the long bones were heavy and possessed marked eminences for the attachment of muscles.”
Dragoo described the unique traits of Adena, including the “protruding and massive chin” with “prominent bilateral protrusions”, as well as “individuals approaching seven feet in height”. (Dragoo, 1963)
It is important to note that in considering this information from Webb, Snow, and Dragoo, regularly occurring gigantic members are not the only unique features of the Adena People:
“Not only were these Adena People tall but also the massiveness of the bones indicates powerfully built individuals. The head was generally big with a large cranial capacity.” (Dragoo, 1963)
Working in the 20th century, Webb, Snow and Dragoo essentially corroborated the findings of the earlier antiquarians and linked the gigantic skeletal types with a specific culture. Following this, the pioneering research of Ross Hamilton and the late Vine Deloria set a scholarly standard for giantology, synchronizing the Native and archeological records in Hamilton’s unsurpassed work, A Tradition of Giants.
And yet, in spite of this tradition of rediscovery, no satisfactory reconstruction of an Adena giant has ever been undertaken. While we are routinely reminded of the dimensions of the giants in volumes reprinting multiple hundreds of accounts of their discovery, we have been denied imagery representing their living form. While numerous other anomalies (such as the Paracas and “Starchild” crania) have received due attention, the gigantic Adena have remained shrouded in mystery. In May of 2015, the authors undertook a joint venture with the legendary Marcia K Moore to remedy this situation.
Marcia is best known as the premier artist recreating the living images of the elongated crania of Peru, associated with the Paracas People. Her work has appeared in the books of Brien Foerster and L.A. Marzulli and has been featured on the Ancient Aliens TV series, with Marcia herself occasionally appearing on the show. (Ancient Aliens: Alien Evolution)
The skull used for the Adena recreation was that of burial 16 from the Wright Mounds in Kentucky, photographed in figure 25 of The Adena People No1, where it is described as showing “pronounced” deformation. In Skeletal Material from the Wright Site, Montgomery County, Kentucky (1940) H.T.E. Hertzberg noted that the crania of the Wright site featured the large, prognathic lower mandibles (or protruding lower jaw) typical of Adena, and although artificially deformed, the series demonstrated the large congenital features detailed by Webb, Snow and Dragoo:
“…deformed as they are, these crania display a pronounced brachycrany…it may be noticed that four skulls…displaying submedium deformation, also give an average cranial index of over 90%. Thus the inference is that these people would have shown pronounced brachycrany even without deformation…”
Artist’s representation of North American giant. Credit: Marcia K Moore / Ciamar Studio. Visit http://www.marciakmoore.com/giants.html
The dimensions of the Adena giant were derived from several sources with corroborating details. Among these, the authors referenced the hand written field notebook of P. W. Norris, the agent of the Bureau of Ethnology who excavated the Adena mounds at Charleston, West Virginia in 1883 and 1884 (Smithsonian Manuscript, Norris Mound Excavations). Several mounds at Charleston yielded skeletons seven feet (two meters) long. At the Great Smith Mound, Norris encountered a house-like timber structure 12 by 13 feet broad (3.6 by 4 meters) and 6 feet (1.8 meters) high, reaching 10 feet (three meters) at the ridged top.
Within this structure was a “gigantic and prominent personage, surrounded by 5 of his (probably volunteer) warriors…” Norris measured the central burial in situ and described it as “a gigantic human skeleton 7 feet 6 inches in length and 19 inches between the shoulders…”
Elsewhere in the manuscript, this skeleton is regularly referred to as “the giant” or “gigantic”. Significantly, this particular burial was wrapped in bark and covered with a dry clay. This certainly suggests that the in-situ measurements would have been accurate, rather than the product of some type of disarticulation due to the weight of the mound mass, as mainstream sources often claim.
The measurements provided by Norris are similar to those from several other sources, including this account of a gigantic specimen unearthed by Warren K Moorehead in Ohio, documented in his Primitive Man in Ohio (1892):
“Six feet above these remains was found the partial skeleton of a man almost a giant in size….The breadth across the shoulders, with the bones correctly placed, was nineteen inches…”
The anthropological details of Adena recorded by Webb, Snow and Dragoo and the early historians and antiquarians corroborate Norris’ account and indicate individuals approaching eight feet (2.4 meters) tall. Since a high frequency of reports describe skeletons reaching this height, the data was used by Marcia to formulate the likely dimensions and appearance of an eight-foot-tall Adena in the flesh.
Marcia has done more than merely provide a visual for a tall member of a prehistoric population. The Adena giant represents a truly unique form of humankind, which until now has only been suggested by the multitude of newspaper and historical accounts regularly reprinted in the giantology market place. The recreation of a very large member of Webb, Snow and Dragoo’s “unique group of honored dead” provides a glimpse into the distant past, a snapshot from beyond the veil pulled over history by the establishment a century ago.
Marcia is currently working with the authors on a book to be published in 2016 that will feature an extensive set of her recreations of Adena and Adena-like individuals from the burial mounds of North America and around the world. This important visual work will accompany the presentation of 7000 years of obfuscated world history.
Featured image: Artist’s representation of the “Adena Giant”, Prehistoric Mound Builders. Credit: Marcia K Moore / Ciamar Studio. Visit www.marciakmoore.com
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Read more: http://www.ancient-origins.net/unexplained-phenomena/adena-giant-revealed-profile-prehistoric-mound-builders-004876#ixzz3tlbjcZZ9
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Nothing is more amazing than the highly improbable fact that we exist. We often ignore this fact, oblivious to the reality that instead of something there could be nothing at all, i.e. why is there a universe (poignantly aware of itself through us) and not some void completely unconscious of itself?
Consider that from light, air, water, basic minerals within the crust of the earth, and the at least 3 billion year old information contained within the nucleus of one diploid zygote cell, the human body is formed, and within that body a soul capable of at least trying to comprehend its bodily and spiritual origins.
Given the sheer insanity of our existential condition, and bodily incarnation as a whole, and considering that our earthly existence is partially formed from sunlight and requires the continual consumption of condensed sunlight in the form of food, it may not sound so farfetched that our body emits light.
Indeed, the human body emits biophotons, also known as ultraweak photon emissions (UPE), with a visibility 1,000 times lower than the sensitivity of our naked eye. While not visible to us, these particles of light (or waves, depending on how you are measuring them) are part of the visible electromagnetic spectrum (380-780 nm) and are detectable via sophisticated modern instrumentation. 
The eye itself, which is continually exposed to ambient powerful photons that pass through various ocular tissues, emit spontaneous and visible light-induced ultraweak photon emissions. It has even been hypothesized that visible light induces delayed bioluminescence within the exposed eye tissue, providing an explanation for the origin of the negative afterimage.
These light emissions have also been correlated with cerebral energy metabolism and oxidative stress within the mammalian brain.  And yet, biophoton emissions are not necessarily epiphenomenal. Bókkon’s hypothesis suggests that photons released from chemical processes within the brain produce biophysical pictures during visual imagery, and a recent study found that when subjects actively imagined light in a very dark environment their intention produced significant increases in ultraweak photo emissions. This is consistent with an emerging view that biophotons are not solely cellular metabolic by-products, but rather, because biophoton intensity can be considerably higher inside cells than outside, it is possible for the mind to access this energy gradient to create intrinsic biophysical pictures during visual perception and imagery.
Apparently biophotons are used by the cells of many living organisms to communicate, which facilitates energy/information transfer that is several orders of magnitude faster than chemical diffusion. According to a 2010 study, “Cell to cell communication by biophotons have been demonstrated in plants, bacteria, animal neutriophil granulocytes and kidney cells.” Researchers were able to demonstrate that “…different spectral light stimulation (infrared, red, yellow, blue, green and white) at one end of the spinal sensory or motor nerve roots resulted in a significant increase in the biophotonic activity at the other end.” Researchers interpreted their finding to suggest that “…light stimulation can generate biophotons that conduct along the neural fibers, probably as neural communication signals.”
Even when we go down to the molecular level of our genome, DNA can be identified to be a source of biophoton emissions as well. One author proposes that DNA is so biophoton dependent that is has excimer laser-like properties, enabling it to exist in a stable state far from thermal equilibrium at threshold.
Technically speaking a biophoton is an elementary particle or quantum of light of non-thermal origin in the visible and ultraviolet spectrum emitted from a biological system. They are generally believed to be produced as a result of energy metabolism within our cells, or more formally as a “…by-product of biochemical reactions in which excited molecules are produced from bioenergetic processes that involves active oxygen species,” 
Because the metabolism of the body changes in a circadian fashion, biophoton emissions also variate along the axis of diurnal time.  Research has mapped out distinct anatomical locations within the body where biophoton emissions are stronger and weaker, depending on the time of the day:
Generally, the fluctuation in photon counts over the body was lower in the morning than in the afternoon. The thorax-abdomen region emitted lowest and most constantly. The upper extremities and the head region emitted most and increasingly over the day. Spectral analysis of low, intermediate and high emission from the superior frontal part of the right leg, the forehead and the palms in the sensitivity range of the photomultiplier showed the major spontaneous emission at 470-570 nm. The central palm area of hand emission showed a larger contribution of the 420-470 nm range in the spectrum of spontaneous emission from the hand in autumn/winter. The spectrum of delayed luminescence from the hand showed major emission in the same range as spontaneous emission.
The researchers concluded that “The spectral data suggest that measurements might well provide quantitative data on the individual pattern of peroxidative and anti-oxidative processes in vivo.”
Research has found an oxidative stress-mediated difference in biophoton emission among mediators versus non-meditators. Those who meditate regularly tend to have lower ultra-weak photon emission (UPE, biophoton emission), which is believed to result from the lower level of free radical reactions occurring in their bodies. In one clinical study involving practitioners of transcendental meditation (TM) researchers found:
The lowest UPE intensities were observed in two subjects who regularly meditate. Spectral analysis of human UPE has suggested that ultra-weak emission is probably, at least in part, a reflection of free radical reactions in a living system. It has been documented that various physiologic and biochemical shifts follow the long-term practice of meditation and it is inferred that meditation may impact free radical activity.
Interestingly, an herb well-known for its use in stress reduction (including inducing measurable declines in cortisol), and associated heightened oxidative stress, has been tested clinically in reducing the level of biophotons emitted in human subjects. Known as rhodiola, a study published in 2009 in the journal Phytotherapeutic Research found that those who took the herb for 1 week has a significant decrease in photon emission in comparison with the placebo group.
Perhaps most extraordinary of all is the possibility that our bodily surface contains cells capable of efficiently trapping the energy and information from ultraviolet radiation. A study published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology in 1993, titled, “Artificial sunlight irradiation induces ultraweak photon emission in human skin fibroblasts,” discovered that when light from an artificial sunlight source was applied to fibroblasts from either normal subjects or with the condition xeroderma pigmentosum, characterized by deficient DNA repair mechanisms, it induced far higher emissions of ultraweak photons (10-20 times) in the xeroderma pigmentosum group. The researchers concluded from this experiment that “These data suggest that xeroderma pigmentosum cells tend to lose the capacity of efficient storage of ultraweak photons, indicating the existence of an efficient intracellular photon trapping system within human cells.“ More recent research has also identified measurable differences in biophoton emission between normal and melanoma cells.
In a previous article, Does Skin Pigment Act Like A Natural Solar-Panel, we explored the role of melanin in converting ultraviolet light into metabolic energy:
Melanin is capable of transforming ultraviolet light energy into heat in a process known as “ultrafast internal conversion”; more than 99.9% of the absorbed UV radiation is transformed from potentially genotoxic (DNA-damaging) ultraviolet light into harmless heat.
If melanin can convert light into heat, could it not also transform UV radiation into other biologically/metabolically useful forms of energy? This may not seem so farfetched when one considers that even gamma radiation, which is highly toxic to most forms of life, is a source of sustenance for certain types of fungi and bacteria.
It appears that modern science is only now coming to recognize the ability of the human body to receive and emit energy and information directly from the light given off from the Sun. 
There is also a growing realization that the Sun and Moon affect biophoton emissions through gravitational influences. Recently, biophoton emissions from wheat seedlings in Germany and Brazil were found to be synchronized transcontinentally according to rhythms associated with the lunisolar tide. In fact, the lunisolar tidal force, to which the Sun contributes 30% and the Moon 60% of the combined gravitational acceleration, has been found to regulate a number of features of plant growth upon Earth.
Even human intention itself, the so-called ghost in the machine, may have an empirical basis in biophotons.
A recent commentary published in the journal Investigacion clinica titled “Evidence about the power of intention” addressed this connection:
Intention is defined as a directed thought to perform a determined action. Thoughts targeted to an end can affect inanimate objects and practically all living things from unicellular organisms to human beings. The emission of light particles (biophotons) seems to be the mechanism through which an intention produces its effects. All living organisms emit a constant current of photons as a mean to direct instantaneous nonlocal signals from one part of the body to another and to the outside world. Biophotons are stored in the intracellular DNA. When the organism is sick changes in biophotons emissions are produced. Direct intention manifests itself as an electric and magnetic energy producing an ordered flux of photons. Our intentions seem to operate as highly coherent frequencies capable of changing the molecular structure of matter. For the intention to be effective it is necessary to choose the appropriate time. In fact, living beings are mutually synchronized and to the earth and its constant changes of magnetic energy. It has been shown that the energy of thought can also alter the environment. Hypnosis, stigmata phenomena and the placebo effect can also be considered as types of intention, as instructions to the brain during a particular state of consciousness. Cases of spontaneous cures or of remote healing of extremely ill patients represent instances of an exceedingly great intention to control diseases menacing our lives. The intention to heal as well as the beliefs of the sick person on the efficacy of the healing influences promote his healing. In conclusion, studies on thought and consciousness are emerging as fundamental aspects and not as mere epiphenomena that are rapidly leading to a profound change in the paradigms of Biology and Medicine.
So there you have it. Science increasingly agrees with direct human experience: we are more than the atoms and molecules of which we are composed, but beings that emit, communicate with, and are formed from light.
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If you practice this limb of yoga, you know that your asana practice allows for physical openness and, overall, invites more balance and harmony within your body, mind and spirit.
Interestingly, when we look more closely at our energetic Chakra system and physical yoga poses together, we can gain even more insight into our personal matters and issues that may require our attention and correction.
Let us initiate this journey of self-exploration and expression by first examining each of our Chakras and their qualities, as illustrated in these Chakra 101 descriptions. By understanding each Chakra’s characteristics and behaviors, we can utilize the techniques that lie within our physical yoga practice to unlock, unblock, revitalize and re-balance our Chakras, which, on occasion, can each become underactive, overactive, or blocked. And, much like the sequential path of the Chakra energy system, that stretches from the base of the spine to the crown of our heads, a yoga pose series or sequence is also interrelated because each pose affects one another and, ultimately, is designed to work together.
Beginning at the base of the spine, our first Chakra, Muladhara, translates from Sanskrit as “Root” or “Foundation”. This critical arrangement is necessary as the translation suggests, because without a firm foundation, or “Root”, one can feel unstable and unsafe.
The Root Chakra’s element is Earth and yoga poses that express groundedness will energize this Chakra. Poses such as Tadasana [Mountain Pose], Uttanasana [Standing Forward Bend], Janu Sirsasana [Seated Head to Knee Forward Bend], along with other poses that focus specifically on the feet and legs, will provide grounding and stability to benefit the Root Chakra.
Next, we move up to our Second Chakra, Svadhisthana, which translates to “One’s Own Space, Place, and Base”. This Sacral Chakra, linked to the element water, helps us to acknowledge and feel our sensory experiences.
Hip openers, in particular, are connected to this Chakra. Practicing Eka Pada Rajakapotasana [One Legged Pigeon Pose], Virabhadrasana II [Warrior II], Lunges, or Baddha Konasana [Seated Bound Angle Pose] will provide more freedom in your pelvic area and enliven your Sacral Chakra.
Rising above our Second Chakra lies our Manipura Chakra, which translates to “Lustrous Gem”. This Third Chakra is tied to the fire element and our own sense of identity, confidence and ego.
Located at the Solar Plexus, any abdominal poses such as Navasana [Boat Pose], Dhanurasana [Bow Pose], Urdva Dhanurasana [Wheel Pose], and twists such as Ardha Matsyendrasana [Half Lord of the Fishes Pose] will stoke and stimulate this fiery Chakra, allowing for you to maintain and develop your own clear and confident life path.
Our Fourth Chakra, Anahata, is the bridge point between what is considered the lower three, physically associated Chakras, and the upper three spiritually associated Chakras. Translated from Sanskrit, it means “Unstruck” and its element is air.
The Heart Chakra is the core of our spirit. Poses that open our chest and draw in heart energy will benefit this location. Ustrasana [Camel Pose], Bhujangasana [Cobra Pose], Urdhva Dhanurasana [Wheel], Gomukhasana Arms, and any other heart opener [backbend] will energize the fourth Chakra with self-love as you will release what you can often create in your everyday life: unnecessary protection or habitual holding, both physical and emotional.
Above the Heart Chakra is our Throat Chakra, Visuddha, which means “Pure” or “Purification” in Sanskrit. This Fifth Chakra aids our voice, our ability to speak, and is related to the element of sound with its location assigned at our throat.
Along with chanting mantras, asanas such as Halasana [Plow], Salamba Sarvangasana [Shoulder Stand], and Matsyasana [Fish], all relate to this Chakra and can encourage an energetic balance, which allows one to feel that you can effectively communicate your own individual voice and opinions.
The Anja Chakra, our Sixth Chakra, translates to “The Command and Perception Center”, and is where our intuition and inner voice resides. Represented by the element of light and tied to our power of perception, poses can directly stimulate its physical location, which is centered just above and between the eyes.
Balasana [Child’s Pose] and other seated forward folds, with a block placed under the forehead just above the eyebrows, as well as gaze focused balancing poses such as Gauradasana [Eagle Pose] allow you to hone your concentration and ultimately begin to manifest and trust in your own guidance and vision.
Our final destination is our Seventh Chakra, Sahasrara, which means “Thousandfold”. Represented as the element of space, it is our higher connection to the Divine and the location at the crown of the head that defines this Chakra.
Seated meditation in Padmasana [Lotus Pose] or Savasana [Corpse Pose] along with Salamba Sirsasana [Supported Headstand] will stimulate this Chakra location. Ultimately, through meditation, you will nurture your path towards trusting and believing in your own wisdom.
When working with the Chakra energy system and our own physical yoga practices, it is important that we create and maintain a firm foundation in our lower three Chakras in order for them to connect and bridge to our upper Chakras. This is because the lower three Chakras deal with home, family, surroundings—specific details of our lives, and the upper Chakras can be considered a larger embodiment of wisdom and our own understanding of the higher power and order of things.
A balanced asana practice, sequenced with proper opening poses, mid and closing poses along with a meditation practice, also reflects this same journey and can help us achieve a higher vision and form for ourselves, both on and off our mats.
And, while there are many more pose approaches associated with each Chakra, there is also overlap, as one pose can correlate to two or more Chakras. For example, Urdhva Dhanurasana [Wheel] can be connected to our Heart and Throat Chakras.
For the better part of three decades, Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa—an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital—has been studying the effects of yoga on health. A life-long practitioner of Kundalini and the author of Your Brain On Yoga, Khalsa believes—and has proven repeatedly—that focusing on the mind/body connection can have measurably positive results on insomnia, chronic stress, PTSD, and anxiety disorders. And preemptively treating these conditions can have a profound effect on the development of disease. As he explains, “We are facing an epidemic of non-communicable lifestyle diseases—obesity, cancer, depression, type II diabetes—modern humans just cannot currently function. It stems from an inability to deal with stress, and an inability to be aware of our minds and bodies.” While Khalsa believes that yoga is an effective treatment, he believes its true power is in the preventative, and so most of his research in recent years has been on the effect of yoga and meditation on school kids—after all, according to Khalsa, studies indicate that 80% of kids will have some sort of mental health issue. Yep, 80%. He’s run a series of studies on students where half of the kids do traditional P.E., while the other half do yoga—the children track and report on their mood and other key factors throughout. The results have been pretty staggeringly pro-yoga: Almost all kids reported feeling increasingly resilient, focused, and better able to emotionally handle and deal with stress—a toolset that might have a profound affect on their ability to handle the complexities of life in an ongoing way. He explains more below. (Meanwhile, his studies need funding—if you’re so inclined, there are some links at the bottom of the piece to help support.)
Let’s start with the predominance of mental health issues for teens—is that not a staggering statistic?
A vast majority of kids experience some sort of psychiatric condition by age 19. One national survey showed that over the course of a kid’s life to age 19, the cumulative risk of developing a clinically significant mental health condition is 80%. For kids who are more at-risk, i.e., living in the inner city and/or subsisting at poverty levels, the potential for mental health problems are greater. However, these statistics also apply to the average kid, who no longer fits the pristine image of the healthy kid from the ’50s. The stresses of modern society are huge. The near-epidemic proportion of non-communicable lifestyle diseases often have their start in childhood and adolescence.
You’ve done many studies on yoga in the classroom. It seems like across the board, the kids who swapped in yoga claim to feel more focused and in control of their emotions. Does this align with what you’ve observed?
We have some data from both self-reported questionnaires and qualitative interviews with the students supporting improved attention and stress and emotion regulation. In two semester-long studies, we saw statistically significant differences in the changes in scores on standardized scales measuring anger control, resilience to stress, anxiety, and negative mood favoring the yoga group, and trends in scores on confusion and mindfulness. Interestingly, a pattern that we are starting to see is that the differences are mostly due to the fact that the students who do not practice yoga get worse, whereas those in the yoga group do not. For example, the anxiety score in the yoga group improved marginally with a decrease from 6.4 to 5.1, whereas the control group deteriorated notably with an increase from 6.7 to 9.3. This is a testament to the strength of yoga serving as prevention for the decline in mental health occurring in our youth. In a qualitative interview study, students that practiced yoga reported improved mind-body awareness, stress management, and emotion regulation.
I like to think that the benefits come from three major angles. The first is the improvement in focus and control of ATTENTION: whether it’s on the body in terms of perceiving sensations, or on the flow of thoughts and emotions. The meditative component of yoga helps engage the mind through practicing attention control, and thereby reduces excessive ruminating and mind wandering. Over time, this leads to an improvement in the ability to hold the attention, an improvement in mind/body awareness and mindfulness, and ultimately, concentration, cognition, and executive functioning.
Second is improvement in SELF-REGULATION, particularly when it comes to stress and emotion. The practice of yoga—specifically around meditation, breathing techniques, postures, exercises, and deep relaxation—helps kids learn strategies to cope more effectively with stress and emotion. They become more stress-hardy and resilient. They also become more emotionally stable and less reactive, which is important for kids, particularly teens who are going through enormous changes. Improving their stress response prevents them from developing chronic stress, which is a major factor for psychological conditions—depression, anxiety, substance abuse—these are all major problems for kids. It’s essential that they learn how to calm down and self-regulate their internal state.
The third area is just improvement in overall PHYSICAL FITNESS. Learning how to hold and move their bodies with more flexibility and balance. Yoga also improves breath regulation and breathing patterns as well as the ability to physically relax.
None of these three components is fully independent—they all interact with each other. For example, when you focus your attention and engage the brain’s attention networks, you’re actually also inhibiting the emotional brain in the limbic system, which facilitates emotional self-regulation. Similarly, the improvement in the physical practices enhances physical self-efficacy, which contributes to psychological self-efficacy and confidence. With yoga practice, kids develop a comprehensive set of behavioral skills, which help them cope and perform better on many levels.
Can you give an example of this in practice?
An important example is how yoga improves mind/body awareness, which helps them to be more aware of the consequences of certain behaviors. So if they eat junk food or engage in an unrestrained outburst of anger after having practiced yoga for a while, they become more acutely aware of the subsequent negative internal sensations and consequences. Consequently, they slowly choose to shy away from behaviors that lead to negative experiences. Instead, they begin to gravitate toward activities that make them feel better.
This change in behavior is very important for avoiding the chronic lifestyle diseases that are becoming so common—type 2 diabetes, obesity—this kind of reduction in risk factors for these kids is critical. Furthermore, the reduction in stress, which is a major precipitating factor for mental health issues, is also very important. Ultimately, this enables kids to become more evolved and higher-functioning human beings. These enhanced behavioral skills go beyond personal changes and expand to cut across interactions with peers, parents and society—it can have a positive affect globally.
Have you found that yoga in the classroom is universally beneficial? Typically, how long do these studies run?
We haven’t had the funding to conduct a long-term study—I would love to be able to do this over a few years to really see the changes as they manifest into adulthood. At most we’ve been able to do a full year, though often just 34 classes over 12 weeks, with 2-3 yoga classes per week. In fact, we’re having difficulty getting funding to continue this line of research. We’ve written a dozen grants to the National Institute of Health, but aside from a pilot grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our yoga in schools work is coming to a grinding halt. We have had generous support for our research work through private donors contributing to the Kripalu Yoga Center (see below)—it is from people who practice and know the benefits of yoga.
Is this taking hold in schools on its own?
Absolutely. There’s a grassroots movement of implementation of yoga in public school settings that’s growing. We published a paper reviewing all of the formalized yoga in schools programs—there are currently about three dozen of them. The website K-12YOGA.org is a useful online resource for this movement providing information and locations of these programs. Most of these yoga in school programs provide training curricula for yoga instructors and even school teachers: What to teach and how to teach it, when it’s not possible to bring a yoga teacher into the school. These programs are certifying thousands of teachers across the country. In addition, there are a number of school systems that have instituted yoga district-wide. Initial examples include Encinitas, California, and Houston, Texas, and there are many programs in schools in Newark and New York City. By and large, this is all grassroots implementation, i.e. not initiated by school districts or government agencies.
Ideally, where should it be placed in the schedule? As a P.E. substitute?
This is a good question. Should yoga be implemented as an after-school program, or do you put it in the curriculum, and if you do, where do you fit it in? Do you put it in as a wellness class, or in lieu of P.E.? That kind of translational issue still needs to be worked out.
It’s currently a mixed bag in practice. Some teachers are slotting it in by doing 15 minutes at the beginning of the day, 5 minutes at the end of the day, and some breathing, stretching, focus and meditation scattered throughout. Some schools are also bringing in yoga teachers who have some specific expertise and training, which is possible if the school has funding.
The question of dose, or frequency and duration of practice sufficient to achieve yoga’s benefits is also an important issue. For a short-term research study, ideally, it would be done 2-3 times per week with some homework: for example, to do a little bit at home, while sitting on the bus, or during other opportune times for meditation or slow breathing practices.
In terms of how this could look in the future, I would like to see universal implementation of yoga practices. If I had to make an analogy it would be to liken this to dental hygiene, which began to be implemented into schools and society a century ago. We now have the universal implementation of dental hygiene in modern society. I think it is time we moved towards implementation of mind-body hygiene. i.e. yoga.
Are there parents who believe that yoga is too New Age to be part of a school curriculum?
A 2012 national survey by the CDC revealed that about 10 percent of the population is now practicing yoga—it’s become a significant part of American culture and a way of life. Parents are practicing it themselves. From our experience in Massachusetts, only 1-2% of parents said that they didn’t want their children involved with yoga. For the most part it’s been overwhelmingly positive and we’ve been greeted with open arms. They know from yoga’s popular reputation that it’s very helpful.
Furthermore, there is also the field of yoga therapy, and the principles and practices of yoga as part of healthcare is exploding. Yoga therapy research studies are showing that there has been some degree of symptom reduction for virtually every disease studied. In fact, yoga can actually be a cure for a number of diseases, especially those that are caused and dominated by uncontrolled chronic stress and poor lifestyle behaviors.
We are currently running a five-year NIH study of yoga for generalized anxiety disorder. And while yoga has a clear utility for therapy, I believe its biggest strength is in prevention. We are facing a near-epidemic of non-communicable lifestyle diseases—obesity, cancer, depression, type 2 diabetes. I believe that major risk factors for these diseases include an inability to deal with stress, and an inability to be fully aware of our minds and bodies. Yoga addresses these.
How can people learn more and show support?
There are many ways to support.
I do my research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is a great place to make a non-profit charitable donation. There are also additional non-profit charitable organizations (like Kripalu) that can funnel funds to support my yoga in schools research.
The Institute for Extraordinary Living with the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (I’m the research director) holds a yoga in schools symposium, which brings together many professionals implementing and researching yoga in schools in both the U.S. and internationally.
The International Association of Yoga Therapists is one of the most useful, engaged, and intelligent organizations with respect to yoga in the West. They hold an annual conference for those who are interested in learning more, including the Symposium on Yoga Research, which I help coordinate.
The International Association for School Yoga & Mindfulness databaselists all the programs and summarizes all the areas of movement in this field—it’s a very good resource. However, most of the formal yoga in schools programs have their own websites that can be easily found with an internet search. If I were a parent looking for a program, I would start there. You could also look for a trained graduate or certified person from some of the existing yoga in schools programs to bring them into your school setting.
The relatively recent discovery of the microbiome is not only completely redefining what it means to be human, to have a body, to live on this earth, but is overturning belief systems and institutions that have enjoyed global penetrance for centuries.
A paradigm shift has occurred, so immense in implication, that the entire frame of reference for our species’ self-definition, as well as how we relate fundamentally to concepts like “germs,” have been transformed beyond recognition. This shift is underway and yet, despite popular interest in our gut ecology, the true implications remain unacknowledged.
It started with the discovery of the microbiome, a deceptively diminutive term, referring to an unfathomably complex array of microscopic microorganisms together weighing only 3-4 lbs. in the average human, represents a Copernican revolution when it comes to forming the new center, genetically and epigenetically, of what it means in biological terms to be human.
Considering the sheer density of genetic information contained within these commensals, as well as their immense contribution towards sustaining basic functions like digestion, immunity, and brain function, the “microbiome” could just as well be relabeled the “macrobiome”; that is, if we are focusing on the size of its importance rather than physical dimensionality.
For instance, if you take away the trillions of viruses, bacteria and fungi that coexist with our human cells (the so-called holobiont), only 1% of the genetic material that keeps us ticking, and has for hundreds of millions of years, remains. One percent isn’t that much for the ego to work with, especially considering it now has to thank what were formerly believed to be mostly “infectious agents” for the fact that it exists. Even more perplexing, the remaining 1% of our contributed DNA to the collective gene pool of the holobiont is at least 8% retroviral (yes, the same category as HIV) in origin!
Once the object of modern medicine’s fundamental responsibility – the human body – is redefined and/or perceived with greater veracity, and “germs” become less other and more self, a challenge for germ theory which seeks to differentiate between the “good” germs we are versus the “bad” ones out there that we must fight with antibiotics and vaccines.
As many readers are already poignantly aware, today’s political climate and agenda is unilaterally pro-vaccination on both sides of the aisle (conveniently funded by the same industry lobbyists), with a tidal wave of bills across the U.S. set to eliminate exemptions against mandatory vaccination. The rationale, of course, is that deadly germs can only be prevented from killing the presumably germ-free host through injecting dead, weakened or genetically modified germ components to “prevent” theoretical future exposures and infection. This concept is of course intellectually infantile, and if you do some investigating you’ll find it was never quite grounded in compelling evidence or science.
But the intellectual implications of the microbiome go even deeper than undermining germ theory, vaccine policy, and the culture of medical monotheism that upholds these constructs…
Deep within the substratum of humanity’s largely unquestioned assumptions of what it means to be human, the microbiome has also fundamentally displaced a latent patriarchal prejudice concerning the relative importance and contribution of the man and woman towards the health and ultimately the continuation of our species.
It has been known for some time that only women pass down mitochondrial DNA, already tipping the scales in favor of her dominant position in contributing genetic information (the seat of our humanity or species identity, no?) to offspring. The microbiome, however, changes everything in favor of amplifying this asymmetry of hereditary influence. Since we are all designed to gestate in the womb and come through the birth canal, and since the neonate’s microbiome is therein derived and established thereof, it follows that most of our genetic information as holobionts is maternal in origin. Even when the original colonization eventually changes and is displaced through environmentally-acquired microbial strains as the infant, child, adolescent, and then adult, develops, the original terrain and subsequent trajectory of changes was established through the mother (unless of course we were C-sectioned into the world).
Put in simpler terms: if 99% of what it means to be human is microbiome-based, and if the mother contributes most, if not all, of the original starting material, or at least the baseline and trajectory of future changes in the inner terrain, then her contribution becomes vastly more important than that of the father.
Moreover, the conditions surrounding gestation (important because of maternal-to-fetal microbiome trafficking in utero), her general health, and the way in which she gives birth (home, birth center, or hospital) now take on vastly greater importance than previously imagined. In other words, being born in a hospital via C-section and vaccination, will produce, genetically and epigenetically, a human that is so different – qualitatively – from one born at home, naturally, that they could almost be classified as different species, despite sharing nearly identical eukaryotic DNA (remember, only 1% of the holobiont’s total).
Given this perspective, obstetric interventions are the archetypal expression of a male-dominated paradigm that seeks to manage a woman’s birth experience with largely unacknowledged consequences for the health of our species. Protecting health and preventing disease has now been traced back to the origins of the microbiome, best expressed through natural birth in the home, which has been estimated to be as much as 1,000 times safer than a hospital birth despitepropaganda to the contrary.
In light of the new, microbiome-based view, the male role in protecting the health of women and children will be irrevocably downgraded in importance, not just professionally and medically, but biologically. First, it is interesting to look at the ancient roots of the biology-based psychospiritual disparities that exist between men and women, and which still influence today’s practice of medicine.
It would appear that men have from the beginning of time envied the creative role of women in conception, pregnancy, birth and caretaking. Erich Fromm also described the pyschospiritual implications for men of this biologically-based existential disparity in terms of the phenomena of womb-envy, exemplified by the biblical passage where God takes a rib from Adam to “create” Eve – an obvious reversal of the natural order of things, reflecting the inherent impotence men feel knowing their creative potency is secondary importance. It has been said, rightly, that the most powerful thing in the universe is to create life (is this not why we attribute this to “God”), and the second most powerful thing to take it. It is no coincidence that history, since it’s inception as recorded, is largely a documentation of the history of wars, of men “creating meaning” by killing men, and establishing symbol systems intended to capture by proxy the creative power latent within every woman’s body and experience. And so, 10,000 years later, the world ruled by monotheistic, male-principled religious and cultural systems, both in secular and religious form, it seems that the facts of our biology are now intervening to shake up these largely subconscious belief systems in favor of an ancient truth: women are superior to men, fundamentally. (Though it is not a type of superiority to be used against the “weaker sex”: men, rather but to denote a higher responsibility, and perhaps greater need to be supported by men to get the job done, together, as inscribed in the natural order of things and its inherent design.)
The birth process, also, has been described as the closest thing to death without dying (it is ironic that anesthesiology, which could also be described in the same way, makes obstetrical interventions like C-section and epidural possible, at the same moment that it negates the spiritual experience of natural birth/women’s empowerment we are describing), offering women a window into the ‘in between’ and a direct experience of Source that men, less likely to experience it naturally would later emulate and access through the various technologies of shamanism.
Clearly, protecting the microbiome is of utmost importance if we are making the health of our future generations a priority. Indeed, ensuring the health of our offspring is perhaps the most fundamental evolutionary imperative we have. How do we accomplish this? What is the microbiome but ultimately a selective array of commensal microorganisms that ultimately originated from the environment: in the air we breath, the soil we interact with, and the water and food, of course, we ingest. This means we can’t simply live in a hermetically sealed bubble of shopping for organic, non-GMO certified foods at Whole Foods, while the entire planet continues to go to post-industrial hell in a hand basket. Our responsibility becomes distributed across everything in the world, and every impactful choice then becomes relevant to the fundamental issue and imperative at hand. With the microbial biodiversity in Big Ag, GM-based agricultural zones fire-bombed with biocides, by the very same corporations that either own or distribute the “organic brands” we all love to think will save our bodies, if not the planet, we need to step deeper into our activism by stepping out of the diversions and palliative measures that don’t result in lasting change.
When we work with the natural world, when we honor and acknowledge what is unknown about the complex web that we all share, we will bring back a vital health that now seems so far out of reach. When we engage technologies positioned in the war against germs and organisms, however, we are doomed to fail and to cripple not only our species but our home.