Chakra

Favorite Yoga/Healing/Self-development/Spiritual Books

It has been a long time since I found and made time to write/post/blog. Today after teaching my yoga class, one of my students reminded me of my website and the books I recommended to her, which I could make available to all. This has been on my mind for a while too, hence this post.

I have always loved reading! I remembered receiving an award in the last class of primary school for having read the most books. I would often read in bed and our babysitter would reminded me to sleep instead of read in bed till late. In high school, I lost the love of reading for a while after having to read ‘literature books’ and analyzing them into detail. I lost my love and joy for reading only temporarily luckily.

The last decade, I have been drawn mainly to books about yoga, healing, self-development, spirituality etc I know very boring, right? I am a bit of nerd. Before becoming a mum I would read lots of maternity, pregnancy and baby books, I will keep that list for another time. Inspiring books remind me what is really important in life, I use them to prepare my yoga sessions and they are a great way for me to relax and not to waste time on social media.

So here is my (longish) list. I have organised them into two main groups, yoga and self-development/healing, although some of them fit in both the groups. Thank you for everyone who has been recommending books to me and I would love to hear about your favourite books!

Yoga Books

The Yamas & Niyamas, Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, by Deborah Adele

Bringing Yoga to life, the everyday practice of enlightened living, by Donna Farhi

Fierce Medicine, Breakthrough practices to heal the body and ignite the spirit, by Ana T. Forrest

Perfectly Imperfect, The art and soul of yoga practice, by Baron Baptiste

The Path of the Yoga Sutras; a Practical Guide to the core of Yoga, by Nicolair Bachman

Wheel of Life, The Classic Guide to the Chakra System, by Anodea Judith PhD

The Four Desires : creating a life of purpose, happiness, prosperity and freedom, by Rod Stryker

 

Self-development/Healing Books

The Dance of Connection, How to talk to someone when you’re mad, hurt, scared, frustrated, insulted, betrayed or desperate by Harriet Goldhor Lerner

The gifts of imperfection, Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are, by Brene Brown

Daring Greatly, How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead, by Brene Brown

Anatomy of the spirit, The Seven Stages of Power and Healing, by Caroline Myss, Ph.D

The surrender experiment: My journey into life’s perfection, by Michael Singer

The untethered soul, The journey beyond yourself, by Michael Singer

Wild Feminine, Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body by Tami Lynn Kent

The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Ekhart Tolle

 

 

 

Categories: books, Chakra, Happiness, healing, Inspiration, spirituality, Yoga | 4 Comments

Afro Flow Yoga

Have you heard of the latest dance-yoga combo yet? Nope? Neither did I, till yesterday. This combination is especially close to my heart, since I am deeply in love with yoga and have a strong connection with Africa and its culture as well. African dancing is an energetic, fun, powerful work-out and I always felt so much better after having danced and connected with my fellow dancers. As if I left all my worries behind and arrived back in the moment.

Leslie Salmon Jones, a professional dancer, holistic personal trainer, yoga instructor, wellness coach and public speaker founded Afro Flow Yoga in 2008. Her inspiration was her connection with African spirituality, yogic principals, the intrinsic expression of movement through nature’s elements and a transformational journey throughout Africa and the Caribbean.

Her Afro Flow Yoga classes usually start with meditation and breathing like many yoga classes. After that Afro Flow Yoga takes a different unique approach, you begin to dance in ‘moving meditation’ to the beat of African drums. Your focus is on your breath and mindfulness as in a vinyasa yoga class or a walking meditation. The use of African drums represents the heartbeat; and African dance enhances the feeling of being rooted to the earth. Leslie Salmon Jones:

“We’re all different, and Afro Flow Yoga celebrates those differences. We’re not separate either. We’re all here on this earth together.”

The good news is you don’t have to have a dancing background to be able to participate in a Afro Flow Yoga session. It is about being comfortable in your own skin and letting go of judgment about yourself and others.

“It is about find liberation and freedom, and then moving it off the mat”.

I am so excited to learn about this new movement! 🙂 I hope you are enthusiastic too to deeply connect with the soulful rhythmic drums, energize your chakras, gain strength and flexibility and rejoice in the bliss of feeling renewed, grounded an peaceful! For now, I will do a happy dance in my living room and realize that the world is an interesting place, ever-evolving, ever changing.

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To the right or the left?

Left-or-Right

Often during a yoga class, the instructor tells you to roll to your right-hand side after relaxation or savasana. Most asanas are also performed from the right to the left and not the other way around. Have you ever wondered why?

Symbolic

First of all, rolling to the right or the right side has a symbolic reason. In India, it is considered more auspicious to enter a holy place with the right foot and in many parts of the world we extend our right hand in greeting. The right side also represents the east or the rising sun. Therefore rolling toward the east can symbolize asking for blessings, grace and bliss.

Energetic

The right side rolling can also be explained by using the yogic subtle anatomy teachings. According to yoga teachings you also have a subtle or energy body, besides the physical body. This energy body comprises of chakras and nadis, making up many thousands of energy lines or channels. The main energy line runs along the length of your spine and is called shusumna. Spiralling either side of shusumna are pingala and ida, which end at the tip of the right and left nostrils respectively. Pingala on the right side represents the masculine forces of heat, activity and alertness or the sympathetic nervous system. Ida on the left is more feminine, cooling, passive and restful, referring to the parasympathetic nervous system. Rolling to the right side after savasana can help us to wake up by stimulating pingala nadi. In this way, we prepare ourselves to become more active again after a deep relaxation state.

Physiological

There is also a physical explanation (from the perspective of the Western anatomical model) to roll to the right side rather than the left. Since the heart is on the left, rolling to the right brings the heart on top and therefore puts less pressure on the heart and helps allow the blood pressure reach homeostasis.

So right?!

So right it is? It depends really. For example, pregnant women should lie on their left because it makes the heart’s job easier as it keeps the baby’s weight from applying pressure to the large vein (inferior vena cava) that carries blood from the lower part of the body back to the heart. Lying on the left improves circulation to the heart and allows for the best blood flow to the fetus, uterus and kidneys. Since the liver is on the right side of your abdomen, lying on the left side, will keep the uterus off that large organ.

A state of ease

Personally, I don’t think it matters so much to which side you roll from relaxation. If you do a strong yoga practice in the evening rolling to the left side, could for example assist with preparing you for a good night sleep. It is good to know the reasoning behind right or left rolling, so you can make an informed decision yourself based on your personal constitution and your plans after your yoga practice. Most importantly, take your time to come out of savasana, since your nervous system has ideally shifted to a state of ease (lower heart rate and blood pressure, stimulation of digestive processes, lower body temperature and release of endorphins). Therefore savasana can be considered as the most important pose of your practice. And above all, don’t overthink, but feel. Good luck!

keep-calm-and-take-your-time-9

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A – U – M………..

Do you end your yoga class or practice with the ‘Aum’ now and then? How do you feel about it? Do you feel awkward and inhibited while chanting the sacred sound Aum? Or is it part of your standard yoga practice and do you feel incomplete without it?

Either way, it is interesting to know more about the Aum. Personally, I quite like chanting and I don’t have any problems with inhibition or awkwardness. As a teenager while in my mother’s yoga class, I was always curious how long I could make my ‘Aums’. For some reason, the chanting brought me in contact with something deeper, something steady, still and strong.

Aum is the most sacred of holy words, the supreme mantra and symbolizes and embodies Brahman, the Absolute Reality. According to the Hindu and yoga philosophy, Aum is the primordial sound from which the whole universe was created. Another word for Aum is pranava, which means ‘the best praise or the best prayer’. The Aum mantra is constantly repeated in unison with the breath and the purpose is to become free from suffering and limitation. The symbol AUM is composed of four elements: the first three are vocal sounds: A, U, and M. The fourth sound, unheard, is the silence which begins and ends the audible sound, the silence which surrounds it.

  • The letter ‘A’ resonates in the center of the mouth and symbolizes the conscious or waking state. This is the level of mechanics, science, logical reason and the lower three chakras.
  • The letter ‘U’ transfers the sense of vibration to the back of the mouth and symbolizes the dream state. This is the realm of dreams, divinities, imagination and the inner world.
  • The letter ‘M’ is created while humming with lips gently closed and resonates forward in the mouth and buzzes throughout the head. This sound represents the dreamless sleep state of the mind and spirit. Only pure consciousness exists.
  • The entire symbol stands for the fourth state, which combines all these states and transcends them. This is the state of Samādhi.

The three letters A, U and M also symbolize the absence of desire, fear and anger, while the whole symbol stands for the perfect man, one whose wisdom is firmly established in the divine. They represent the three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter and the three tenses – past, present and future – while the entire symbol represents all creation together with the Creator.

The symbol AUM

The symbol AUM

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The Sahasrara Chakra

The seventh and last chakra is the Sahasrara chakra or the ‘crown chakra’. This chakra resides at the crown of the head and connects you to higher consciousness and pure awareness. The Sanskrit word Sahasrara means ‘thousand fold’ and therefore this chakra is also known as ‘Thousand Petaled Lotus’. This lotus burst open when you remember your true nature and experience enlightenment. The crown chakra is the foundation of your spiritual body and links you to the highest spiritual consciousness. This chakra relates to spiritual will, inspiration, idealism and intuitive knowing. It is about integrating your consciousness and subconsciousness and living in the NOW. The associated glands and body parts are the pineal gland, brain and central nervous system. The element of the seventh chakra is thought or cosmic consciousness. This cosmic consciousness can feel like an ultimate intelligence and a sense of all knowing. The associated colour can be violet or white, a combination of all colours. This is in line with the chakra as an integration center of all the other chakras.

A white lotus, the symbol of the crown chakra

A white lotus, the symbol of the crown chakra

A blocked Sahasrara chakra

A blocked crown chakra can result in the following physical and mental problems: diseases of the muscular system, skeletal system and the skin, depression, chronic exhaustion, headaches, coordination difficulties, poor balance and clumsiness, sensitivity to light, sound or the environment. Emotional issues related to an out of balance seventh chakra can be; lack of purpose, loss of meaning or identity, trust, selflessness, lack of devotion, inspiration, values or ethics. If you have a closed crown chakra, it is highly likely that you are unable to live in the present and unable to gain closure on unfinished business. You always seem to be either revisiting your past or looking ahead to the future. You are normally confused and have no purpose in life. You may live on poor quality food, exhaust yourself and are probably ignoring your bodily needs. Fear of religion or spirituality and frustration can also be experienced. There is little joy in your life and you are afraid of things that cannot be understood with the physical senses. It can lead to unwise decisions, unhappiness and a sense of indecision. You can feel alone and separate and feel cut off from spirituality. An excessiveness in the seventh chakra can appear as being overly intellectual and feeling superior to other human beings. It can be described as ‘being in your head’ and you may possibly show some hysterical, psychotic and/or manic-depressive behaviour.

In the Here and Now

In the Here and Now

Yoga and other stimulants

There are different ways to balance your crown chakra for example through prayer, (chakra) meditation or colour and sound therapy. The Tibetan Bowl creates sounds that can help you to achieve a balanced seventh chakra. In terms of nature, viewing mountain tops can be helpful. Supporting yoga poses to balance this chakra are Padmasana (Lotus Pose), Salamba Sirsasana (Supported headstand) and all meditation poses. Since meditation is the yogic practice for this chakra, it clears and quiets the mind and connects you with the higher self. A daily head massage is also a good method towards balance of the crown chakra. In addition, you could focus on your dreams and write down your visions. You could also consume violet foods and drinks, wear violet clothing and use violet oils such as lavender or jasmine essential oils. Foods that can help to open up the seventh chakra are foods that generate space, for example raw green veggie juices. Moderate fasting can also activate the seventh chakra. One of the most important elements of physical, emotional and spiritual health is being inspired by your own life and live in the present moment.

Tibetan Singing bowls

Tibetan singing bowls

Balanced crown chakra

If your crown chakra is balanced, you are released from ego driven desires and you are able to trust in your highest guidance. Your sense of empathy and unity expands and your consciousness raises. You can experience another person, place or object as if you are inside of them or as if you are ‘being’ them. You will have wisdom, trust, selflessness, humanitarianism and the ability to see the bigger picture in a spiritual life. You feel calm, deeply at ease and fully aware with a gentle and compassion nature, free of worry. You show the ultimate goal of every human being: inner peace and satisfaction. You are truly in the present moment, living in the ‘Here and Now’. You reach a state of ‘being’, rather than a state of ‘doing’. There is no longer a sense of division, the macrocosm becomes the microcosm and all is in unity and you are in optimum balance. Compassion is the main sense that develops if you crown chakra opens. This ‘crown compassion’ is more about perception and communication, compared to ‘heart compassion’ which is more about emotions and empathy.

Union or Yoga

If all your energy centers are open and balanced, all selfish desires disappear. You are grounded, grateful, peaceful and visionary. By opening your crown chakra, you have reached the highest state of consciousness. Through firm grounding into the earth (first chakra), opening up your creative energy (second chakra), manifesting your dreams in the world (third chakra), opening your heart (fourth chakra), expressing your true voice (fifth chakra) and connecting with your inner knowing (sixth chakra), you are finally experiencing total unification or yoga by activating the seventh chakra.

Compassionate communication with lightness

Compassionate communication from the heart and with lightness

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The Ajna Chakra

The sixth chakra is the Ajna chakra, but is also known as the ‘brow chakra’ or the ‘third eye’ and is located between the eyebrows. The Sanskrit meaning of Ajna is ‘command, knowledge or monitoring center’. It is the center of insight and also called ‘the eye of intuition’ and it is the place where you integrate all the information and intuition in your life. The qualities of the brow chakra are inspiration, intuition and inner vision. In the Indian philosophy the third eye is the symbol for enlightenment and also referred to as the ‘eye of wisdom’ or the ‘eye of knowledge’. The Ajna chakra has control over seeing, not only in the physical sense, but also in terms of intuitive seeing, clairvoyance and other paranormal forms of knowing. The symbolic representation and the mantra of the Ajna chakra is the syllable Ohm which represents the beginning and end of all things. The associated colour is the indigo which represents self-mastery, spiritual realization and the attainment of wisdom. Light is the element most associated with the sixth chakra, but some say it is time. The gland associated with this chakra is the pituitary and pineal gland. The pituitary gland is often referred to as the ‘master gland’, because it secretes a hormone that controls the activities of the other glands of the body. For example the pituitary gland controls your growth, skin coloring and the contraction of a woman’s uterus during childbirth.

Ajna Chakra

Ajna Chakra

Balance

When it’s open and clear, you feel deeply connected to your inner wisdom, trust and intuition and it guides you in your choices. You’re able to see yourself and others as energetic and spiritual beings and you can create your own reality by using your imagination, freedom of choice and enhanced insight. You can rely on your self-reflection, perception, interpretation, telepathy and past life experiences. An open Ajna chakra results in compassion and forgiveness. This energy center is directly related to mind. If you awaken this chakra, your mind is able to gain information by subtle means, rather than by the experiences felt by the sense organs. In general, you gain knowledge through the information that senses conducts to the brain. Though, the Ajna chakra has the power to gain knowledge directly without the help of sense organs and thereby the mind becomes purified and evolved. This requires discipline, firm belief and persistent effort. It is about understanding how training can change your behaviour to always be open and loving to everyone, not just close friends and family. There is no ego involved, instead our conditioning, habits, false ideas and misidentifications are dissolved as a result of a healthy active Ajna chakra. Notice really extraordinary people and become aware of their humble character. A great way to open and balance the third chakra is through meditation and visualisation. The sixth chakra is all about reconnecting to the wisdom that is available to all of us from within.

Cherish the humble things in life

Cherish the humble things in life

Blocked Ajna chakra

However in most of us, this ‘inner eye’ remains closed. You have a sense of self-doubt and you don’t trust your inner voice. You are convinced that there is not something like a non-material world, since this is beyond your capacity to reach. A blocked Ajna chakra can result in the following physical symptoms; migraine headaches, eye strain, blindness, brain tumors, strokes, learning disabilities, spinal dysfunctions, nightmares, panic attacks, deafness, insomnia, high blood pressure and seizures. Difficulty concentrating, memory problems, fear of truth, confusion, judgment issues, lack of concentration or discipline are also connected to a sixth chakra imbalance. If the energy in your sixth chakra is not flowing freely, you can become quite superstitious and afraid of your own thoughts and everything you can’t explain with logic. You have difficulties making decisions, procrastinate a lot about any plans made and you don’t know what you want. You strive for routine and are vulnerable to developing depression. If you third eye chakra is overactive, you may be unable to be practical in your daily life and irresponsible. You’re not connected or aware of the world and yourself, everything seems to be external and not part of you. There can be a victim mentality; you will blame everything that happens of a negative nature on someone or something outside yourself. Just as the pituitary gland is the ‘master gland’, the Ajna chakra governs all other energy centres. If the sixth chakra is out of balance, all others chakra won’t be perfectly aligned either.

The power of intuition

The power of intuition

Yoga

Postures that support the opening and balancing of the sixth chakra are Balasana (Child’s Pose) or any other posture in which the forehead touches the ground. Other helpful postures are those in which the gazing point or drishti calls for movement of the eyes such as Marichyasana (Sage Twist). Alternate nostril breathing is a supporting pranayama exercise to activate the Ajna chakra. If you are practicing your asana, pranayama or meditation, notice when your mind becomes quiet. This quiet, clear and peaceful space will allow you to experience a glimpse of the possibilities of the Ajna chakra. This chakra can shine an insightful light on your life that you were previously not aware of. You can concentrate and focus and imagine something and bring that idea into reality.

Turn inwards for stillness, peace and clarity

Turn inwards for stillness, peace and clarity

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The Vishuddha Chakra

The Vishuddha Chakra is the fifth energy center and is referred to as the throat chakra. The fifth chakra is located in the throat region and communication, truth and self-expression are associated with this chakra. Vishuddha means ‘purifier’ and forms the gateway to the chakras devoted to spirituality. It governs your ability to discriminate between right and wrong, speak the truth and give your dreams ‘a voice’. This chakra also deals with creativity, learning to take responsibility for your own needs, confession, faith, self-knowledge and intuition. The associated colour is blue and the element is the space or ether. The sense related to the fifth chakra is hearing. The glands, organs or body parts associated with the Vishuddha chakra are the throat, (para)thyroid gland, trachea, cervical vertebrae, vocal cords, neck, shoulder, arms, hands, esophagus, mouth, teeth, eyes, ears and sinuses.

Throat chakra symbol

Throat chakra symbol

Blocked fifth Chakra

If your fifth energy center is blocked, you can feel anxious about how other people will react to your views and therefore it is difficult to speak your truth. You may also be unable to listen to others and to your own higher self. This can result in a lack of personal expression, creativity and faith, difficulties in decisions making, and addictions. If your throat chakra is obstructed, you can develop several communication difficulties such as lack of tact, timing and expression and finding it difficult to maintain a balance between speaking and listening. Excessive talking, inability to listen, hearing difficulties, stuttering and a fear of speaking may all be signs of an out of balance throat chakra. Physical problems which may be associated with a blocked fifth chakra are thyroid dysfunctions, throat ailments, stiff neck, shoulder tension, teeth grinding, jaw disorders, mouth ulcers, gum or tooth problems, scoliosis and swollen glands. There could be lumps or tumors on the vocal chords and you may experience trouble swallowing. A person who talks very softly and a person who talks loud and boisterous can both indicate an out of balance fifth chakra. This energy center can be damaged by all that passes through the throat including, lying, gossip, alcohol, smoking, drugs and overeating.

Do you live your truth?

Do you live your truth?

Balanced Vishuddha chakra

If your Vishuddha chakra is balanced, you are easily able to communicate with others and you are able to express the truth without worrying about what others may think. A healthy throat chakra allows you to connect with your inner guidance and to live your truth in daily life through creative and positive self expression. You are able to give and receive the truth and are in touch with your playfulness, joy and innocence. Through constructive communication, contentment, centeredness, wisdom and conscious listening you are able to reach the peak of your creativity and inspiration. So what to do to balance this chakra? Purification is a key word in terms of opening the throat chakra with the aim of achieving sensitivity needed for the subtler upper chakras. You can attain purification through a healthy diet, yoga, meditation and exercise among others. Other ways towards an open and healthy fifth chakra are literally opening up to your thoughts and emotions (including releasing past emotions), speak and live the truth, stimulate your creativity and deep breathing exercises. Become aware of all the thoughts you don’t express and the moments you don’t speak the truth. Breath in some courage to express your innermost beliefs and speak words that come directly from your heart. A healthy Vishuddha chakra will result in a fulfilling life and a true connection with yourself. You will be an excellent listener, speaker and/or writer and often able to inspire others.

Yoga

Yoga is a perfect way to purify the body and mind and thereby opening up the fifth chakra. Postures that are balancing this chakra are neck stretches and shoulder openers like Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand), Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose), Halasana (Plow Pose), Ustrasana (Camel Pose) and Matysasana (Fish Pose). The sounds of the Ujayii breath (Victory Breath), chanting and Simhasana (Lion Pose) can also be helpful to balance the Vishuddha chakra.

Shoulderstand

Shoulderstand

Towards balance

So besides speaking the truth and expressing yourself clearly and honestly what else can you do to clear your throat chakra? You could for example write in a journal to express your feelings and thoughts. The challenge is to start writing at a deeper level: ‘What really needs to be said or heard?’ Singing, humming or chanting with your true voice can also be helpful to open up your fifth chakra. Another challenge: try to listen to someone with your whole being and complete presence for at least five minutes and then change roles. Try not to interrupt each others or provide feedback through facial expression, just be and listen. And at last, read and say this wonderful healing blessing:

“May you hear and speak truth. May your life and your creations express the fullness of who you are. May you know ever deeper levels of truth.”

Express yourself through singing

Express yourself through singing


For more inspiration go the following website about two people who follow their dreams and the dreams of others:

I Believe That Dreams Can Come True

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The Anahata Chakra

The fourth chakra is called the Anahata chakra and is sometimes referred to as the ‘heart chakra’, because it resonates in the heart and relates to compassion and love. Anahata means ‘stillness’ or ‘unhurt’ in Sanskrit. This name implies that deep beneath our personal stories of brokenness and the pain in our heart, wholeness, boundless love and compassion reside. When the fourth chakra is flowing and open, you feel deeply connected to everyone in your life and feelings of compassion arise. This fourth energy center governs intuition and love. Glands, organs or body parts associated with this chakra are the heart, thymus, lungs, chest, arms, circulatory system, shoulders, upper back and breasts. The primary colour is green and the element for the fourth chakra is air. The sense for this chakra is touch and the emotion is compassion and joy.

Anahata Chakra

Anahata Chakra

Center of the Seven

The Anahata chakra is a powerful chakra and is referred to as the center of the seven, since there are three chakras above and three below. The fourth chakra lies in the core of our spirit, the center of the body and is directly connected to the third eye and the crown chakra. This chakra is the balance point, integrating the world of matter (the lower three chakras) with the world of spirit (the upper three chakras). Through the heart chakra you open to and connect with harmony and peace. The health status of this center represents the quality and power of love in your life and it is the seat of balance within the body.

Living in your head

If your heart chakra is obstructed, you can experience feelings of loneliness and a sense of alienation. Other signs if you fourth chakra is out of balance can be; feeling sorry for yourself, paranoid, indecisive, afraid of letting go, afraid of getting hurt or unworthy of love. You may live your life mainly in and with your head and not with the heart, with the result of being overly focused on thought and the tendency to cut yourself off from emotions and your body. Physical illnesses related to a blocked fourth chakra are heart attack, high blood pressure, insomnia, asthma, difficulty in breathing and other lung diseases. If the heart chakra is deficient, you may experience feelings of shyness and loneliness. Since the heart chakra is the center of the being, blocks in this center can throw your entire system out of alignment. It can cause emotional detachment, inability to love or show affection or self hatred and loathing. You are not able to connect with other humans, experience self-love or true happiness and intimacy. A blocked heart chakra can lead to despair, jealousy, hate, unrealistic fear and rage. Our lives and intimate relationships will suffer unless you can find a way to connect with the heart center and achieve healing and harmony. Yoga is a perfect method to achieve this.

Opening backbend

Opening backbend

Yoga

For an excessive heart chakra, forward bends are recommended, because they are grounding and foster introspection. Asanas that enliven the heart chakra include passive chest openers in which you arch gently over a blanket or bolster, shoulder stretches such as Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) and Garudasana (Eagle Pose) and backbends or basically any pose that opens the chest. By practicing backbends you develop trust and surrender and you heart opens fully. If you feel fearful, then there will be no room for love and your body will contract. Love can melt away fear and bring joy to your practice. In addition, in many back bending poses the heart is positioned higher than the head which is wonderful to let the mind drop away from the top position and instead lead with the heart.

Bring joy to your practice

Bring joy to your practice

Pranayama

The element for the fourth chakra is air. This air is essential for life as the breath brings oxygen to your cells via the lungs and the heart muscle then pumps the blood throughout the body and thereby giving and sustaining life. Like the element water, air assumes the shape of whatever it fills, yet it is less subject to gravity than water. Air permeates breath and therefore pranayama practice can help to balance and tone this chakra. Basically all forms of pranayama can assist you to use more air, more prana and thereby increasing your vitality and enthusiasm for life.

Love

The challenge of the heart chakra is to remain open and balanced in a world which can be emotionally painful. This center is the place of unconditional love, forgiveness and utter devotion. The most effective and powerful way to open, energize and balance not just the heart chakra but all of your chakras is to love yourself and others. It sounds so easy: allow yourself to love and show compassion towards others, since love is the greatest healer. Though, it is a challenge and obstacle for most of us. Besides love; heartbreak, grief, pain and fear are all emotions that are felt intensely within this energy center. All of us have to deal with disappointment, greed, conditional love of others and loss from an early age onwards. Therefore a deficient or excessive heart chakra is so common. Definitely, learning self-love is an amazing tool to develop and maintain a healthy heart chakra. Remember, that there is a never-ending supply of love in the universe and there to be used in any moment. You can first start with opening yourself up to love by giving your love to others. Slowly, you can learn to treat yourself with love, patience, compassion and kindness and replace judgments with acceptance. Unconditional love can be a creative and powerful energy that may guide and help you through the most difficult times in your life and you can use it to free yourself from your limits and fears. In addition, if you keep yourself in a loving space, you will have a positive and healing effect on your environment.

The true gifts of life

The true gifts of life

Relationships

The first three chakras are the chakras of the self. The fourth chakra is the energy center of relationships and refers to giving and to receiving. To keep this chakra healthy you need to maintain a balance between giving and receiving and in your relationships. It is good to remind yourself that life without other beings would be empty, dull and worthless. It is the love for your family, friends and other people in your life that keeps you here and keeps you going. You could see life as a celebration and a celebration without your loved ones is not complete, but fruitless and aimless. Also, it is just as important to give as it’s to allow yourself to receive. In order to give love fully, you must allow yourself to receive love fully. You can use this beautiful affirmation:

“I am loved.
There is an infinite supply of love.
I love myself and others.
I love everyone.
I invite love into my life.”

Put your heart into it

The third chakra represents fire, passion and personal power. Though, without air, a fire will burn out. In the same way, without heart, you cannot have true will power. Without this passion supplied by the heart chakra, true transformation is difficult. The saying “put your heart into it”, illustrate this beautifully. As said before, the heart chakra is a powerful energy center, since it is the center of all energies and unifies our being as a whole. An imbalance in the heart chakra will adversely effect all the other centers. Therefore a clearing of the heart chakra will improve the interaction of all other chakras. The more balanced the chakras are, the more balanced you will be in all walks of life. With a healthy heart chakra you will approach all situations with wisdom, love and equanimity and you feel compassionate, empathetic and see the good in everyone. Sounds worthwhile to balance your Anahata chakra, isn’t?

Love in the air

Love in the air

Categories: Chakra, Happiness, Inspiration, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Manipura Chakra

The third or navel chakra is the energy centre of the life force and is located behind the navel in the area of the solar plexus and digestive system. The manipura chakra is associated with the element fire and it represents personal power, self-esteem, vitality, digestion and assertiveness. This chakra can give you the sense of complete satisfaction and contentment and is the seat of the intellect. It is associated with the colour yellow and it corresponds with the fire element in the body. Fire is required in the body for digestion and assimilation, both on a physical and mental level. Glands and organs associated with the third chakra are the pancreas, liver, spleen and the organs of digestion (small intestine). The emotion associated with this chakra is anger. The sense for this energy centre is sight and cognitive thinking, sometimes referred to as a ‘gut feeling’ when you try to figure something out.

Manipura Chakra

Manipura Chakra

Blocks in the navel chakra

If your third chakra is blocked, you feel powerless and frustrated. It can lead to low levels of energy, motivation, low self-esteem and difficulty making decisions. You are unable to move forward in your life and you may be unhappy in a current relationship or career or struggle with addictions. Fear is an emotion that will block this energy centre, for example you are afraid to make changes in your life. If you allow yourself to feel this fear and visualize the worst possible situation you are able to diffuse it. Your confidence is often diminished when there is criticism of fear of being criticized, fear of rejection or fear of making a fool of one self. Individual personal strength allows you to make decisions in your life that are not governed by your fears; instead it gives you the ability to act without always worrying what others may think. A weak third chakra can also result in feelings of anger and aggression or holding of guilt and self-doubt within. You may find yourself looking outward for validation and feeling deprived of the sweet things in life. This imbalance directly affects your ability to project your will into manifestation. On the other hand, over-confidence, pride and being too assertive indicates imbalance as well and could be the result of an excessive third chakra. Over-confidence and showing off can be a cover-up from your lack of personal power. Perfectionism, anger, hatred and too much emphasis on power, status and recognition are all signs of an excessive third chakra. An excessive third chakra could lead to too much heat in the body. With too much fire in your body, it is highly likely that you develop digestive problems.

Fire in your belly

Fire in your belly

Balance the third chakra

A balanced third chakra results in a healthy level of confidence and the ability to manifest your intentions and desires. In order to open the third chakra, you must utilize your personal will power and take personal responsibility for you life and your current situation. So stop blaming other people or external circumstances, since playing the victim, will certainly keep your third chakra closed. If you stimulate your personal ability to complete tasks and make choices that are not a reaction to your fears, then you strengthen your confidence and will power. If you have a balanced third chakra you have unlimited energy, excellent health, strong will power, the ability to make commitments and a solid inner balance. Practice acts of personal courage and doing things you are good at and love to do can nourish this chakra. If you do what makes you happy and not what makes everyone else happy, others will recognize your individuality and they will know what your limits are. They will respect you more and this allows you to be an exemplary leader and to be fully aware of the effects of your actions have on others. This leads to a strong sense of self-worth, self esteem which in turn increases our ability to help others.

And enjoy!

And enjoy!

Yoga and balance

Nowadays, people tend to pay little attention to their body’s natural energy levels. It seems like we have become masters in ignoring our longing for rest and manipulate our bodies with caffeine, sugar and other stimulants to create a false sense of energy. Yoga can offer you a different choice: to listen to your body and to truly nourish yourself, using appropriate asanas and pranayama practices to create more energy or relaxation. This way of nurturing and taking care of yourself can create a taste of your true personal power. In terms of asanas, strengthening the abdominal muscles is a great place to start to balance the third chakra. Restorative poses and passive backbends cool off the belly’s fire and therefore act as calming agents for third chakra excess. If the third chakra needs stimulation, you can work with Kapalabhati breath (breath of fire) or Bhastrika Pranayama (bellows breath). These breath exercises isolate the abdominal muscle and thereby bringing fire and heat there, which in turn radiates into the body as a whole. Practicing Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutation), abdominal strengtheners like Navasana (Boat Pose), Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose) and Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Leg Lifts), Warrior Poses and twists all energize the third energy center. I practice quite a lot of Vinyasa Yoga flow which seems to be a perfect yoga style to turn on the heat and energizes the body, because of the combination of flow and breath. Practicing arm balances and inversion can also really stimulate your third charka.

The seat of the intellect

The navel chakra has been called the ‘fire in the belly’ and represents transformation. This fire or personal power provides you with the energy to change, grow and act in your life. The first chakra can be represented as a form or a vehicle (our body), the ability to move and change is represented by the second chakra. The third chakra gives you the intelligence, spark and power to move our body into action and makes you peaceful and generous.

Generosity

Generosity

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The Svadhisthana Chakra

The second chakra is the Svadhisthana or sacral/pelvic chakra. ‘Swa’ means vital force or soul and ‘adhisthana’ means seat or abode. This chakra is located at the tailbone, about two finger widths above the root or first chakra and about an inch below the navel. This chakra is associated with the emotion, passion and it represents desire, pleasure, sexuality and procreation. The element for the pelvic chakra is water, referring to change, fluctuation and movement. The location in the body can be related to movement as well, since the sacral plexus is a collection of nerves located in the lower spine which control movement in the legs and pelvis. The colour for the second chakra is orange and the sense is taste, especially a sweet taste. The organs, glands and body parts associated with this chakra are the reproductive organs, all liquids in the body (blood, urine, menstruation, tears), hips, sacrum, low back, adrenal glands, kidneys, spleen and lower bowel. The symbol for the sacral chakra is a six petal lotus flower.

Six petal lotus flower

Six petal lotus flower

A blocked second chakra

This chakra is primarily associated with creativity and sexuality. When energy is not flowing freely from this chakra it can lead to loss of creativity, low sexual energy, a feeling of dullness, loss of emotion, low negotiation skills and depression. You can be stuck in routine and sameness and you don’t feel good about who you are. On the other hand, signs of an excessive second chakra could be overly emotional behavior, sexual addiction or poor boundaries. It may be the result from a family environment where there’s a constant need for pleasurable stimulation, such as entertaining or partying or frequent emotional drama. Besides overindulging in pleasurable things such as food, drugs, alcohol or sex, you could also denying yourself pleasurable activities resulting in blockages in the second chakra. If you grew up in an environment where emotions were repressed or denied, you are susceptible to have deficiencies in this chakra, resulting in signs such as fear of pleasure, being out of touch with one’s feelings and resistance to change. Suppressing your emotions is another way to create blockages in the pelvic chakra. When this energy center is weak you are susceptible to lower back and hip pain and prostate, emotional and sexual problems. If this chakra is blocked, you can become over-sensitive, develop feelings of guilt (for no apparent reason), become extremely hard on yourself and ultimately become sexually frigid or impotent.

The seat of life

A key to open up the second chakra is to maintain balance when it comes to pleasurable, worldly things. This means don’t deny it, but do not overindulge either. In addition, feed your creative side and take care of your body. You could for example find a hobby or activity that provides you with pleasure; paint, draw, sing, act, dance or exercise to express yourself. If you are not sure what you could do, then go back to your childhood. What did you love doing and what made you happy and fulfilled? Our passions take birth in our second chakra – in fact any kind of birth takes place in this chakra: whether the physical conception of a baby, the birth of a new idea or the birth for a new song or book. Since the Svadhisthana is such a life giving chakra, some refer to it as the seat of life.

Relationships and the pelvic chakra

Relationships and the pelvic chakra

Relationships, boundaries and responsibility

This chakra is also the place where you connect and respond to others and build relationships. It includes reproduction and self-indulgence and relates to issues such as blame, guilt, money, sex, power, control, creativity and morality. It is the place where you can experience your sexual energy. If this chakra is balanced you will experience an enormous capacity for creativity and partnerships with others. If you have a strong second chakra, you have no problem saying no, since you are aware of and listen to your boundaries. You can balance this chakra by developing support systems and taking responsibility for what is happening in your life. Optimism, self-confidence, enthusiasm and courage are qualities which can arise from a balanced second chakra.

Ever changing water

Ever changing water

Constant Change

This second energy center is the chakra of emotion, sexuality, pleasure and nurture and all of these things are fluid and ever-changing, like water. This constant change is both the source of pleasure and the source of pain. A lot of people fear change – including myself – and therefore try to grip the present moment. Though, without change there is no pleasure, since if nothing ever change what would you have to be excited for? Meditation can be a perfect method to work through emotions and allow them to rise to the surface and go again. This chakra encourages us to open to life just as it is and if you allow yourself to accept what is, you taste the sweetness of life. If you let go of your resistance to life, your hips will let go, you reproductive organs become less tense and you’re open to experience your sensuality and sexuality.

Towards freedom, passion and growth

Foods associated with these chakra are orange foods, sweet foods (such as carrots, oranges and squash) and liquids. Drinking lots of liquid and using herbs as cinnamon and ginger can help to balance this energy center. The practice of pranayama can also be very helpful in creating balance in this chakra, especially alternate nostril breathing. Ideally, this should be done in quiet space and twice a day. In terms of yoga asanas, backward and forward bends and squatting strengthen this chakra. As well as any hip and groin openers, since they provide freedom of movement in the pelvis, such as Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose), Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose), Pavistha Konasana (Open Angle Pose) or Dhanurasana (Bow Pose). These hip and groin openers should never be forced, since they require the subtle feminine tough of sensitivity and surrender. This second chakra helps you to let go of control as it guides you to see life from a different perspective. From your first primary grounding chakra, you have the possibility to move forward into a world of freedom, passion and growth through a balanced second chakra.

Bow pose

Bow pose

 

Categories: Chakra, Food, Freedom, Inspiration, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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