What Is the Third Eye (Ajna Chakra)?

Woman meditating with hands to the third eye
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The Ajna chakra, known commonly as the third eye, is part of what is called "the subtle body," which means that while it can't be seen, it's considered an important force in governing how prana (energy) moves within the body. It is one of the seven chakras in Hindu tradition.

What Is the Third Eye?

The third eye is located in the center of the forehead between the brow. It is the site of the Ajna chakra, which is associated with light, perception, and intuition.

Ajna Chakra

The chakras are ancient traditions that are closely intertwined with spiritual beliefs and practices. As such, they typically don't have scientific research to substantiate them.

Ajna means "to perceive" and "to command" in Sanskrit. Intuition is a central function of the sixth chakra—it requires surrender, without which it becomes difficult to understand something in its entirety or embrace the mystery of it.

The Ajna chakra is considered beneficial for treating conditions related to perception. When the sixth chakra is balanced, it is believed that you can see things as they are without the shadow of the ego. If the third eye is misaligned, tradition holds that there may be symptoms such as headaches or migraines, dizziness, anxiety, or problems with vision or hearing.

Chakras can become unbalanced when they are blocked, which may cause a person to feel like the areas influenced by that chakra are not working properly. Meditation and yoga are among the treatments prescribed to remove the blockage in a chakra.

Practices for the Ajna Chakra

There are multiple ways to heal, balance, and stimulate the Ajna chakra.

Yoga Poses for the Third Eye

Yoga poses that stimulate the forehead can be useful. Child's pose, in which you spread your knees wide, keep your toes together, and rest your belly between your thighs, is a good choice because it is done with your forehead on the floor. It's also a resting position, so you can stay in it for several minutes if you desire.

The forward bending variation of pigeon is another pose you can linger in for a while. To do this pose, bring one knee forward on the floor and extend the other leg straight back. Then, bend over your front knee until your forehead touches or comes close to the ground. If your forehead doesn't come to the floor, give it a place to rest with a block or stacked fists.

In a seated forward bend (known as paschimottanasana), stretch your legs straight in front of you and fold forward. Try putting the block on your legs if your forehead doesn't reach. You can also use this method with hip opening poses, such as upavistha konasana and baddha konasana.

For standing poses, try eagle, in which you balance on one leg with your other wrapped around and sink into a chair position with your arms crossed and palms together. Then, bring your thumb to your third eye as you forward bend. You can bring the arm position from eagle into a number of other poses that allow you to make contact with the third eye, like warrior IIIhumble warrior, and cow face pose.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga is a more spiritual practice compared to other types of yoga like Hatha and vinyasa, which place a heavy emphasis on the physical. This type of yoga combines movement, meditation, chanting, and breathwork with the goal of increasing your body's strength, energy, self-awareness, and consciousness. It is meant to open your chakras, which allows your energy to easily move through your body.

There are a host of benefits associated with kundalini yoga. It may help reduce stress and anxiety, improve age-related cognitive decline, and strengthen spiritual connections.

Meditation

The third eye can be a focal point, or Drishti, during your meditation. To focus on it, turn your eyeballs toward the center of your brow with your eyes open or closed. You can also concentrate on the center of the forehead while repeating the mantra "om" (the seed syllable associated with the Ajna chakra) either in your mind or out loud.

Meditation often also focuses on breathwork. One breathing technique thought to stimulate the Ajna chakra is Kumbhaka breathing. To practice Kumbhaka breathing, inhale, hold, and exhale the breath in a 1-1-2 ratio. For example, you might breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and breath out for 10 seconds.

How to Open the Third Eye

It is believed that opening the third eye allows you to see the bigger picture and find a deeper meaning in things. It takes time, practice, and patience to achieve. Some practitioners suggest that it's best to start with the first chakras and work your way toward the sixth.

Once you are ready, you can work to open your third eye in a number of ways according to tradition:

  • Eat more purple foods (such as grapes, blueberries, and purple sweet potatoes)
  • Practice Kumbhaka breathing techniques
  • Practice Kundalini yoga
  • Meditate
  • Use essential oils
  • Work with healers

A Word From Verywell

Some choose to embrace the spiritual concept of the third chakra and find that it helps them stay balanced, healthy, and happy in their life and yoga practice. Others, particularly those unfamiliar with Hindu spiritual practice, may find the tradition less relatable. That's OK. Not every yoga practitioner will have the same thoughts on the third eye chakra, but if you wish to expand your physical practice, you might try practicing Kundalini yoga with your chakras in mind.

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Article Sources
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