8-Shiva Neelakanta, the Blue-Throated One

October Focus: Blue Throat

This month at Satya Yoga Center we will bring our awareness to the throat and neck. As you start to focus on this area, layers and layers of information reveal themselves, from the physical to the emotional. There are even mythological stories centered on the throat.

Structurally, there is a big change in the skeleton from the large cylinder of the torso to the comparatively narrow neck where the cervical spine leads up into the head and through which large amounts of blood and numerous nerves are channeled. The neck is vulnerable to musculoskeletal strain and stress, and the interior passageway of the throat is a location for congestion. In addition, both the neck and the throat are places in the body where psychological stressors can be expressed. For example, fear and/or anxiety can cause the throat to constrict, threatening our experience of breathing.

Let’s take a broad view of the throat and imagine it from the roof of the mouth to the diaphragm. The upper realm of the throat cavity includes the palate, nasal septum, and opening to the auditory tubes. The lower realm is the respiratory diaphragm.

We can consider that the neck bridges the heart and the mind, and can be prone to ‘bottleneck’. If we can find ways to un-bottle the neck, it can help us find easier travel for our subtle body prana (energy, life force) between thought and feeling. In the chakra system, the throat is the home of the vishuddha chakra, the seat of vocalization and self-expression, and the gateway to the interior channel, the susumna nadi.

We will focus on different throat purifications, including breathing practices such as ujjayi, nadi śodhana, and kapalabhati, and also through employing Jalandhara bandha (throat seal). Yoga poses that can impact this area include Setu Bandha (bridge) and Sarvanghasana (shoulderstand). We can use visualization to soften the throat and meditation with Jihva Mudra (tongue seal) to broaden the palate, releasing strain at the back of the throat, in order to balance mind and heart. Nada yoga, the yoga of sound, will play an important role this month; using sound to help to release constriction in the throat.

Hopefully you’ll come to class and get to hear the story of Shiva, the Blue-Throated One. It’s a beautiful tale of pranayama and compassion.

“Siva, Supreme above all, yours is the beginning, yours is the first fruit of everything. Only you can drink Kalakuta, the poison of the world…Only one who assimilates the poison of the world will have the strength of compassion.”
-Roberto Calasso, Ka: Stories of the Mind and Gods of India