By Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa
The goal of yoga is to have all chakras working and balanced. When you have access to the energy of each chakra, you are prepared for anything, and you can succeed in life from a state of elevated consciousness. And that includes all the chakras, not just the higher, spiritual ones. That workhorse, the first chakra is important, too. Sure, it takes care of some pretty mundane issues, like bowel movements, but have you ever had a good yoga sadhana when you were constipated?
The large intestine is the seat of the air tattva, and that wily tattva, while responsible for creativity and artistic pursuits, also causes big problems with bowel functions if it is not reigned in and kept in balance. Too much air tattva? You guessed it, constipation. And add to the mix anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain, too.
To keep the first chakra humming along, so that you can concentrate on raising your kundalini through the higher triangle, yoga offers some key herbs.
Haritaki fruit comes from a medium to large-sized tree found growing wild in the forests of tropical and sub-tropical Northern India. Ripe haritaki fruits are harvested during the autumn season, to assure the strongest medicinal and laxative effect. Named after the Hindu god, Hara (Shiva), this herbal medicine brings fearlessness in the face of death and disease, and purifies the mind of its attachments.
Haritaki contains every taste except salty, and has a warming energy. With its gentle laxative qualities, haritaki is the best single herb for managing the air tattva, and is considered by some to be the single most important Ayurvedic herb, since it balances all five elements, making it an excellent choice as a laxative in weak or elderly patients. Haritaki nourishes the brain and nerves, which are high in air tattva, and it sharpens the senses.
Haritaki’s astringent and antimicrobial properties also make it an effective tooth powder or mouthwash in periodontal disease, or even for daily use. To keep your first chakra in tip-top shape, use 500 mg per day as powder or capsules.
Rhubarb root is a cold, bitter laxative. Rhubarb is a bile-promoter that drains damp heat, and these qualities make it suitable for jaundice. It is well suited to geriatric constipation. Use it with warming carminatives, such as fennel or cinnamon, to avoid cramping. This herb is milder than senna leaf or cascara bark and one to two grams per day, as powder or capsules, would be appropriate. Widely well-tolerated, rhubarb root can be used for a broad range of people and conditions.
The evergreen castor plant is native to tropical Africa and India, where it may grow to a 40-foot tree. The beans contain an extremely valuable pungent and sweet healing oil with heating energy. Castor oil is a wonderful panacea for a large number of health concerns, and is a superior treatment for the air tattva. Taken internally, it treats “udavarta” conditions, in which the downward moving energy in the digestive tract has become reversed. Bowel loosening castor oil will normalize the energy of the large intestine. Use 1-2 tablespoons per day as a laxative when necessary.
Now, got your first chakra cooking? A solid and strong first chakra gives you security and stability in life, and a base from which to grow and excel. On to chakra number two and a lifetime of growth and prosperity!
Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Yogaraj, DN-C, RH, is the president of the American Herbalists Guild. He mentored in Ayurveda with Yogi Bhajan for 32 years. The Healing Cures of Yogi Bhajan is his homage to Yogi Bhajan and the wealth of information he had the blessing to learn from his master. He has presented over 150 times at professional conferences, has written over 3,000 articles on health topics and is the author or editor of 30 books on health, including his latest, The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs. He is curriculum director and lead instructor in the Portland Community College Nutritional Therapy Program and heads the herbal education department of the Northwest Institute of Ayurveda. [email protected]