2016 has begun. I’m finding there are two different starts to the year out there as I talk to family and friends…
There is the “Oh-my-goodness-this-is-going-to-be-the-greatest-year-ever!” camp. January was inspired, creative, fired up, connected, and full of goals accomplished and intentions set. That is awesome and I am giving you all virtual hugs and high-fives for rocking it out and being a source of inspiration to me (no joke, you all are the ones that keep me going)!
There is also the “Oh-my-goodness-I-can’t-believe-January-took-that-long-why-do-I-feel-so-unsure-and-unsteady-and-what-direction-do-I-turn?” camp. January for this group was filled with sadness, anxiety, confusion, shakiness, and, most of all, uncertainty for what this year will hold.
To those in the second camp…I HEAR YOU. You are not alone.
Uncertainty can be one of the hardest places to sit. When I looked at the words associated with uncertainty, this is what came back: doubt, qualm, misgiving, apprehension, quandary, reservation, scruple, second thought, query, question, question mark, and suspicion. For those of you feeling uncertain out there – myself included – these words might ring true…in fact, you might have some additional words of your own you’d like to add to the list. No wonder we don’t like being in this space.
I mean…really. don’t. like. it.
Uncertainty is exhausting and when it feels chronic, it can be hard to push through and see the silver lining. From what I’ve seen and experienced, uncertainty can be felt in the root of our energetic system. That place where we feel grounded, stable, and secure. I’ve noticed when that sense of stability is missing (especially when it pertains to our basic needs – food, shelter, etc.), the rest of our energetic system can be affected, thus impacting our ability to be creative, feel empowered, give love and attention, voice our fears and opinions, and see what options are ahead of us. When uncertainty is present, our entire body can feel out of alignment – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
There are some methods to deal with this uncertainty and I thought I would share two of my favourites with you.
The first is a simple grounding meditation that gets us connected to our Root Chakra (Muladhara). Our Root Chakra is located in the very base of the reproductive organs and, when properly engaged and aligned, can enable us to feel strong, stable, and connected. When we are disconnected from our Root Chakra, it can cause alignment issues through the rest of the main seven Chakras as they travel up the mid-line of the body. This in turn can affect our emotional, physical, and mental states. To tap into your Root and feel more grounded, I invite you to practice this short and sweet meditation…
The second is to identify, name, and write down those feelings you want to invite into your being. By mindfully thinking about this and writing a list of what you want to feel, it can help ground you in your desired feeling state. Do you want to feel Joy? Empowered? Secure? Loved? Heard? Visible? Whatever feeling you desire, put it on paper and take some time to think of ways you can invite that feeling into your life. I recommend doing this practice at least once at the start of the week and then revisiting your feelings as often as you wish (I tend to look at mine in the morning and the evening each day).
I hope these little practices help!
Sending you lots of love and light, Brave Souls!
When we work with our energetic alignment, oftentimes, we are working with the seven main chakras in the body. Think of these as points of energy from which we can set intentions and bring our focus when working with movement, our breath, and meditation.
I created this quick guide for those who are interested in a reference for the chakras (just click on the image below for a PDF). I’ve also blogged in the past around my experience with the chakras here, here, and here.
This little piece is in no way comprehensive, and gives just the very highest of overviews. There are a variety of places to find out more and I encourage every practitioner to explore their energetic body! It can deepen and enhance your practice – both on (and off!) the mat!
My husband and I moved to a new city this past weekend. Moving is nothing new for me…I’ve moved more times than I can count over my 30-something years on this beautiful planet. This latest venture got me thinking about my connection to roots, family, stability and security.
The Root Chakra, or Muladhara, is located at the base of your spine. This chakra is related to safety, tribal/family ancestry, grounding, instinct and survival. When we take time to ground ourselves and really look at our origins, we connect ourselves to our past. By connecting to our past, we can better understand decisions and choices we make in the present moment and how those choices will impact us in the future. In addition, we better understand that we are where we are as a result of our upbringing, our history and our source.
Most asana practices, particularly in the West, begin with this notion of “rooting down into the earth.” We connect to where we are through Muladhara to better situate ourselves for our practice. In addition, we also “root down” when beginning our meditation practice as it can help us feel safe, secure and more willing to let go of any thoughts, behaviours or habits that do not serve us. By becoming more familiar with our roots, we become more familiar with the truth of who we really are.
For many years, I felt very nomadic and unstable. The constant moving and uprooting of family, friends and home was quite intense. As a young child, I didn’t necessary have the tools at my disposal to be able to cope with that amount of constant change. However, in examining this, I’ve also discovered my ability to adapt and flow with ease in new situations. I am much more willing to go on new adventures and try new things. As I explore my root chakra further, I begin to better comprehend my connection to family, friends and space and how I can participate in ways that serve me, rather than ways that do not.
This chakra can become unbalanced quickly if there are minor or major changes in life including travel, moving, loss of friends and family, loss of home or financial security. Anything that is a perceived threat to our safety and security can cause an imbalance in this area…therefore, it is important to pay close attention to Muladhara when experiencing major life changes.
In order to further explore balance, and open Muladhara, one can practice Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I), and Bridge Pose. One can also practice opening the hamstrings and calf muscles via Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold) and Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Fold). A restorative pose to open Muladhara is Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose). You can meditate on the colour red (it is the colour of this chakra) or use red crystals and gems to enhance the energy in that chakra.
Last week, I wrote about finding your voice through a focus on the Throat Chakra or Vishuddhi. Today, we’ll look at the third chakra, Manipura.
Manipura is located in the space around the navel and solar plexus. It governs our power centre. When we utilize power from a place of love, intention and respect, our movements in life and on our mat become much more controlled and focused. When we tune in to this space of power, we can become much more grounded and secure in our relationships and in our true self.
When we are more connected to our true self, it can help us better tune into and vocalize our hopes, dreams and fears in productive and beneficial ways. Thus, I contend that while all chakras are connected, there is a special connection that exists between Vishuddhi and Manipura. When we are aware of and can use our inner power effectively, our voice becomes clearer and we are better able to understand ourselves and others.
All this being said, the word “power” carries a complex nature about it. It suggests that someone has control over another person, thing or situation, thus creating a dynamic where there is someone or something weaker. We fight for power and the powerful in our cultures hold a particular status. In addition, we have many examples where power has been abused. Thus, it is especially important to take care when cultivating this space.
For those with deficiencies in the third chakra, you might find eating disorders, martyrdom or trouble expressing emotions in healthy ways. For those with an excessive third chakra, you might see anger and overemphasis on control and power over others.
For those with deficiencies, particular asanas can help, including Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations), Virabhandrasana I, II and III (Warrior Poses I, II and III), and Navasana (Boat Pose). For those with excessive Manipura, restorative supported backbends can be helpful. One can also focus and meditate on the colour yellow (Manipura is also called “the lustrous gem” and is associated with the colour yellow).
Finding balance in the third chakra can only benefit us as we continue our journeys to the truth of who we really are.
Image source here.
Have you ever met a person who just speaks their mind? Not in a mean or confrontational way, but in a way that is compassionate and true to who they really are? They come across as grounded, confident and sure of themselves…fully aware of their needs and with an ability to express those needs in clear and concise ways.
These individuals have a fully realized Throat Chakra, or Vishuddhi. The energy that resides there isn’t blocked and, as a result, clear communication and expression of self can occur. In addition, when this energy flows freely, we have the ability to listen and process what is happening both around us and inside of us…at our core.
Individuals who experience energy blockages in their Vishuddhi will often find it hard to speak openly about their thoughts and feelings; will typically say what they think others want them to say; may find it hard to process and listen to others; and may have throat, mouth, and metabolic issues.
When I was in Bali, I had the opportunity to meet with a life coach who gently smiled at me, put her hand on my arm and said, “your Throat Chakra is completely blocked!” I was at a point of transition in my life and was finding it very difficult to put voice to the changes that were occurring. I knew major shifts were happening and there were things I needed to express in order to fully move onto my new path. Not only was I unable to express myself through this change, I also wasn’t listening to my core self…the one that was emerging in this time of transition.
However, the things I needed to say included “no” and “goodbye.” It was a “no” to a life I had been living that wasn’t serving me in the best way and “goodbye” to a job and city that had defined me for a better part of my life. I knew that in order to fully invest in myself and the new direction my life was going, I needed to be able to speak these words aloud…and with love and compassion for myself.
As I continue on this path, I realize just how amazing speaking from my true self is. I am able to communicate clearly, I am much more creative, and I connect with others on deeper levels. I am by no means a pro at it, but I continue to work on my voice, allowing it to guide me and truly listening to what it has to say.
If you are ever feeling as though you are unable to express yourself fully, yoga can help. A few asanas that can help release energy blockages in the Vishuddhi include Halasana (Plow), Ustrasana (Camel) and Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand). Chanting can help, including the repetition of a guttural sound in the throat. You can also work with Jalandhara Bhanda (Net-Bearer Bond) or meditate on the colour blue (blue is the colour of this Chakra). I find that when I integrate these poses, sounds and bonds into my practice, I engage Vishuddhi in different ways, igniting energy and freeing up my ability to create and articulate.
I encourage you to play with this idea of connection to true self through the Throat Chakra…see what your true self has to say!
Image via Chakra Lover.