Since the beginning of recorded time, it has been known that light and certain colours can energize and calm down, make happy and sad, heal and irritate. Historically, every culture have used colour for different customary rituals. But the powerful impact of light and colours on the human body have turned these into a form of healing art and alternative medicine modality of Color Therapy only recently. Today, Colour Therapy is used as a very practical tool in daily living, and can a beautiful addition to enhance your Yoga practice.
Roots of Color Energy
The medicinal properties of Colour Therapy were uncovered by historians and anthropologists from age-old treasures and brought to new horizons of modern awareness and understanding. Ancient Egyptians looked at nature and reflected its vibrant colors in all aspects of their lives. The floors of temples were green and blue as the grass and the river. They believed that red, yellow, and blue corresponded to the body, soul, and spirit, respectively and used colored gels, cloth filters, gems and crystals as remedies for many diseases. The cure was believed to come from the reflection of shining sunlight that was conveyed into vibrating energy of color.
The Atlantans are said to have used light and colour to treat physical and emotional ailments, strengthen relationships and assist in childbirth, reconnect with inner self and help the dying in their transition from earthly to spiritual life. They built circular temples with a domed roof from interlocking crystals. The magnificent interplay of colours coming from sunlight and crystal reflection filled the temple with the spectacular energy which was used in special rooms for healing.
Indian Ayurveda to this day refers to colors as sources of subtle energy when describing the Seven main Chakras of the body. They represent nexus of metaphysical forces of the entire body and go from the base of the spine to the top of the head physically corresponding to different organs and glands. Also referred to as ‘auras’, they vibrate around the body at certain frequencies projecting electromagnetic fields which can be translated into colours of the rainbow.
Greeks built healing temples of light and color. A common practice amongst the Romans was to treatment by sunlight, known as heliotherapy. In Europe, a German Acupuncturist Dr. Peter Mandel integrated color into his practice and developed a system where different acupuncture points on the body correspond to certain color vibrations.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), each organ is associated with a colour. In Qigong, healing sounds are also associated with a colours, which in turn correspond to a specific organs and emotions. Chromotherapy in the East is also applied in practice of Feng Shui which believes that placement and arrangement of objects depending on their source, shape and colour may guide to harmony or balance.
The first major breakthrough into the therapeutic use of colour were carried out in Europe during the early 20th century. Rudolph Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, related colour to form, shape, and sound suggesting that the vibrational quality of certain objects is amplified by some hues, and that certain combinations of colour and shape have either destructive or regenerative effects on living organisms. In the schools inspired by Steiner’s work, classrooms are painted and textured to correspond to the “mood” of children at various stages of their development.
Rudolph Steiner’s work was continued by numerous researchers all finding evidence that colour preferences demonstrate states of mind and glandular balance and have measurable and predictable effects on the autonomic nervous system.
After all, the complexities of all studies all bring to the uniform explanation – color is the giving vital force of all beings. How does it work?
The Power Of Colour
You know that everything has energy. Life itself is pure energy. If you have ever felt the vital force of color vibrating from the environment, you have come one step closer to being connected not only with your spirit, by with your physical senses as well.
Each light and colour consists of many electromagnetic waves which vibrate at different frequencies. The reason you see colour is that these vibrations are received by the sensitive photoreceptors in the retina of the eye, called cones which able to translate the vibrating energy of each object into colours sending messages to our utmost powerful control centre – the brain.
In turn, the brain generates the release of certain hormones and neurochemicals depending on the messages it gets. For example, by looking at a particular colour you may stimulate or suppress pituitary and pineal glands located in the centre of the cranium. These glands regulate the function of hormones governing metabolism and growth of the body, sleep patterns and blood pressure functions, appetite and thirst sensations.
When the energy in one part of the body gets out of balance, the chain reaction will begin to happen leading to changes in all systems and organs. Hormonal disturbances, mood fluctuations, impaired digestion and other illnesses may all be caused by many different events, so correcting them all may need to be done through a variety of approaches. And something as simple as being exposed to the correct colour has a wonderful ability to help in treatment and prevention of unwanted existing and potential conditions related to different functions in the system.
Today, natural therapists use Colour Therapy as an alternative completely non-invasive method to restore energy and boost the natural immunity bringing vitality to one’s life. Therapists believe that as light and colour is received and absorbed through the skin, it works on the entire body conveying equilibrium to growth and sleep patters, nervous and immune function, sexual behavior and mood, digestion and appetite.
Medical Evidence of Colour Therapy
While more research needs to be done in this area to prove the therapy’s effectiveness, some early studies show promise. In a preliminary study in the Journal Headache, 98 percent of patients (49 out of 50) with migraine headaches reported big improvements after being treated with goggles that alternately illuminated the right and left eyes with red light.
In another study, red light was emitted onto the knees of 50 patients with osteoarthritis. Those who received the red light therapy reported that their pain was significantly reduced as compared to the group that had no light emission.
The most clinically supported use of Colour and Light Therapy includes the use of light boxes in the treatment of for stress-related ailments, mood disorders, sleep problems, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition induced by lack of sun light exposure.
Colour Therapy in Daily Life
Colour Therapy may involve exposure to coloured lights, massages using color-saturated oils, visualizing and meditating with colours. By using filtered floodlights or small beams of light to bathe the skin in different shades, practitioners use this modality for both both physical and emotional problems, treating the body as a unit, as one whole and complete self.
Depending on what’s being treated, a variety of colors are applied to corresponding body parts. This technique may restore disrupted energy within each organ and bring it to the genuine natural state of poise.
Colour Therapy for Yoga Practice
Using Colour Therapy is a wonderful technique you can use in your Yoga practice. Since each colour has a different meaning, try to match these with your current state of being and what you want to achieve from the session of asanas. For example, if you are on the down side, feeling dull and lack the energy to get you going, try to surround yourself in Red and Violet. These colours will envigorate your spirit, re-energize the body and shift your mood in the positive direction. If you feel anxious, restless and can’t seem to find concentration, Blue, Green and Indigo colours will calm your rushing mind, ease form tension in the muscles and joints and bring awareness and focus. Match your Yoga poses, breathing and meditation with any particular colour or combination as complete healing comes from all these attributes.
Be creative. Decorate your Yoga room with coloured lights, mats, other Yoga props, crystals, gems, candles, paintings, plants, table cloths, basically, everything available.
Using Colour Therapy for meditation certainly deserves your contemplation and consideration. Colour Therapy Meditation is based on the theory that each pigment has its own individual vibration which impacts your brain in different ways, just like different sounds and breathing patters used in meditation. Colour Meditation is something you can practice yourself in quiet moments of deliberation for personal healing.
One technique involves sitting quietly while focusing on a single colour, whether on a small crystal, a picture, a flower or vase, a pained card, or a coloured light. Use your imagination and see what captures your eyes at the moment. Using colours in your daily meditation practices can certainly help you achieve deeper relaxation and healing.
Colours for Chakra Healing
According to the Yogic tradition, there are seven Chakras (meaning “wheels”), or energy centers, which concentrate and distribute life-force energy throughout the body. Located along the spine, each Chakra is not only associated with particular functions within the body, but with specific life issues and the way we handle them, both inside ourselves and in our interactions with the world. At different points of our being, our energies may come out of balance and become either deficient or excessive spinning the “wheels” of energy out of sync. Specific Yoga asanas used for particular Chakras are splendid in bringing the homeostasis back and reconnecting body, mind and spirit.
It is believed that each Chakra has a particular colour. The base or Root Chakra is red, it makes you more alert, increases circulation to all tissues, warms and awakens. The second Chakra above, the Sacral Chakra, is orange, the color of joy and wisdom, energy and internal connection. By applying orange to you sacrum and choosing Yoga poses for this region may balance your digestion.
The next above is the Solar Plexus Chakra and it is yellow corresponding to self worth, personality and ego. Green is for the Heart chakra, it is healing and loving by nature, making you grateful for giving and receiving. The colour of the Throat Chakra is blue used for matters relating to speech and communication. The Brow (sometimes known as the 3rd eye) Chakra and it is Indigo. Concentrating on the “3rd eye” point during Yoga practice and Meditation will help enhance self responsibility and intuition. The last is the Crown Chakra and it is bright white, although colors of violet and gold are also seen in this area. Violet energy brings about increased feelings of spiritual connection, intuition and mental clarity, often helpful in emotional problems.
Combining Colour and Chakra Therapy during Yoga practice may help to refine the experience and even outshine the results after each Yoga session. If you do poses specifically for a certain Chakra, you may put on clothes or decorate the room with that particular hue for the most effective practice to bring the needed balance to the mental, emotional and spiritual body simultaneously.
Meaning of Colors
RED stimulates brain wave activity, increases heart rate, respirations and blood pressure, excites sexual glands. It warms us and awakens us physically and energizes our blood. It is a good color to wear when we have colds and poor circulation. Too much red can over stimulate and make some illnesses worse.
ORANGE is the color of joy and wisdom, energy and internal connection. It stimulates appetite and it is a good color for illnesses of the colon and digestion.
YELLOW is the color of wisdom and emotions. It energizes, relieves depression, improves memory, stimulates appetite and helps in digestive problems.
GREEN has a calming and balances effect on the nervous system. Soothing and relaxing, green color ease from depression, anxiety, nervousness. Since green stimulates growth, it should be avoided in cancers and other tumors.
BLUE is calming and cooling to our system and hence, a good color to counteract hypertension. Spiritually it is the color of health and connects us to holistic thought.
INDIGO is the color for healing. It stimulates immunity and enhances intuition connecting us to our unconscious self.
VIOLET is cleansing, strengthening, and awakening. It has the power to suppress appetite restoring the peaceful environment. It affects the skeletal system of the body and is a good color for improving immunity, cancerous conditions, and arthritis. It also purifies the system and is an excellent color for headaches and migraines.