Spell Out Your Truth

The fifth chakra Vissuddha focuses on the area of the throat – the place for communicating your truth.

To look further at communication, we can consider the ethical quality of the yama known as truthfulness. The yamas (and niyamas) are the first step in the 8-fold path that is yoga.  As a moral principle, truthfulness or satya, as it is called in Sanskrit, asks us to convey truth responsibly.  Like the other yamas, we should consider truthfulness in thought, speech and action.  That includes the manner in which we listen. To be true and clear in communication is to really hear what someone is saying.

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To draw out your truthfulness or balance your throat chakra, try some of the following techniques:

  • Sing, dance or read poetry out loud – express yourself with one of these creative methods
  • Write – although it’s not the spoken word, it is an act of communication
  • Try Chamomile tea or essential oil – a natural remedy for sore throats, its relaxing effects release tension
  • Meditate or marinate under the clear blue sky – blue is the color of this chakra
  • Ask for what you want

…we should progressively embrace what is real for us, so that we may find health and harmony. As you go deeper into yoga, remember that you are doing this study in order to remember yourself, to come home to all of you…  – Rolf Gates

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YOLY Challenge #21: Find Your True Voice

bird-287109__180Unwavering in its pronouncements, the songbird vocalizes in clarity and honesty. Like the songbird in the sky, we should feel free to sing out and fill our surroundings with positive vibrations.

The 5th Chakra is located in the area of the throat and is your communication center – figuratively and spiritually.  The Sanskrit name, Vissuddha means pure.  When your throat chakra is balanced your self-expression is clear, virtuous, and free of pollutants.

The challenge this week is to incorporate a “Vissuddha” yoga posture into your practice each day. The following poses and practices will target the areas of expression – your neck and throat.

Ujjayi Breathing – a superb pranayama practice for honing your larynx, nasopharynx and all parts related to the breath and speech.  Look back to our YOLY Challenge #5 for directions on this method.

Lion PoseSimhasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelA focus for the mouth, jaw and neck, this posture is especially good for stimulating the platysma muscle – unattractively known as the “turkey neck.”

Upward Facing Dog – Correctly performed, imagesthe shoulders should be aligned above the wrists so that the neck can comfortably balance the head.  Through this pose, all the structures surrounding the neck and throat are learning to support and stabilize.

Shoulderstand (variation with a chair)images  Targets the thyroid to balance the blood flow in this area.  A boon for the entire neck and shoulder areas if supported correctly.  This posture should be initiated under the guidance of an instructor.

Chanting – Find a recording that speaks to you and learn it.  Silently follow along until you are comfortable reciting the words clearly and with purpose.

One of my favorites is this Gayatri Mantra recording.

Here are the words and definition for your reference:

Om bhur bhuvaha svaha
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yonah prachodayat

Praise to the source of
all things.
It is due to you that we attain
true happiness on the planes
of earth, astral, causal.
It is due to your transcendent
nature that you are worthy of
being worshiped and adored.
Ignite us with your all
pervading light.

The Gayatri Mantra is a prayer that allows me to express gratitude to the universal spirit.  I see it as an all-embracing chant that transcends religion and speaks to my intention. The vibration of its sounds is known to be a healing source for our subtle bodies.

Photos credited to Yoga Journal & LA Times

Make Your Heart Beat!

love-313417__180This week’s challenge was to use the heart opening postures of yoga to balance the anahata chakra. Anahata literally means  “unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten”. I equate this to having a fire within your heart.

If the heart pathway is made clear and energy is allowed to flow freely,  you become a more passionate person. Once you feed yourself, you find it easier to instill the qualities of harmony, peace and love in others. Remember, deep within we are all inherently seeking love.  Love is all you need, love cures all, love is the answer.

Here are some ways that you can nourish your anahata chakra:

  • Connect with nature – get outside and find a source of inspiration
  • Hug more
  • Do a good deed
  • Spend time with animals
  • Use the essential oil Rose – smelling it actually brings a smile to your face
  • Surround yourself with what makes you happiest – flowers, music and photos can trigger positive emotions
  • Live by this quote from the poet Rumi, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love”

If you would like more insight into my heart’s desires, click on my pinterest link . Feel free to like, repin, or build your own boards.  It’s a fun way to discover your passions and find new sources of inspiration.

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YOLY Challenge #19: Turn On Your Heart Light

heart-1616504__180After skipping a week for the first time since beginning this blog, I admit I feel slightly freer. Not guilty like I thought I would. But happy that I can drive this caravan when and where I’d like to. Within limits – I don’t want to get stuck in the desert from whence I may never return. What I’m trying to say is it feels good to honor myself and make the choice to do what brings me joy.

Accordingly, this week we will lead with our hearts as we return to our Monday challenge. Through the anahata chakra we will energize our love of self and others by opening our hearts and letting our brilliance shine.

Here are some heart-warming poses to ignite your flame. Begin today’s practice with the first pose and add-on a new pose from the list each day. That way by Saturday you are doing the whole group of postures.

  1. Bhujanasana (Cobra) or Sphinx
  2. Supported Matsyasana (Fish)
  3. Virahbadrasana I (Warrior I)
  4. Parsvottanasana (Pyramid)
  5. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge)
  6. Ustrasana (Camel) – put blocks or a chair behind you for support.

As always, use your judgement and proceed within your comfort zone.

Full Steam Ahead!

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After skirting around a bit this last week, we are finally back on track with Chakra Three – the Manipura Chakra.

The seat of our power, this chakra is responsible for giving us our drive – our strength.  Consider what makes you feel strong and move ahead full steam.

If you are on the timid side, flexing your Manipura muscles is a good idea.  However, if you tend toward perfectionism or the need for status and recognition, drop back into a more restorative backbend and let the chakra cool off.

Here are some tips for keeping your Manipura chakra on course:

  • Deep Breathing
  • Use lemongrass to become that focused warrior
  • Sit on a sunny rock and meditate
  • Try your hand at painting, drawing or another visual art
  • Set goals or intentions & write a list of steps that get you there
  • Choose a mantra and repeat it a few times each day

 

 

 

YOLY Challenge #17: Catch the Energy from Your Solar Plexus

Our chakra journey continues today with the third level, the Manipura chakra.  It is anatomically connected with the solar plexus. This is a region that covers the mid-body and can be associated with the stomach or gut yet is literally a ganglia of nerves located behind the abdominal region at the level of the first lumbar vertebra.

The third chakra is related to our power, our intention and desires. The balanced movement of prana through this area gives us self-confidence, motivation and direction.

It’s an auspicious time to catch a solar wave as we move toward the Autumnal Equinox – the phase when our days in the sun become diminished as longer nights trump longer days.

So, soak up the sun while you can and harness its energy with yoga.

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Try one pose each day this week:

1.) Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutation

2.) Virabhadrasana I – 1st Warrior Pose

3.) Virahbadrasana II – 2nd Warrior Pose

4.) Virabhadrasana III – 3rd Warrior Pose

5.) Supta Hasta Padangusthasana – Reclining Hand to Foot Pose

6.) Trikonsana – Triangle Pose

7.) Vasisthasana – Side Plank

Use your belly brain to discover your hidden power.

“The technique a teacher passes on are petals on the flower, but the stem is inside you. No one can show you what that looks and feels like. They can help you learn and show you what they have found useful but the inner teachings are going on all the time – the little discoveries that can only be made from within as you compare the you that was with the you that is awakening.”

 

 

Are You At Home in the Muddy Water?

lotus-883508_960_720When I first heard the Zen proverb, “May you learn to live like the lotus, at home in the muddy water”, I equated it to being content with where you are planted, facing your challenges and endeavoring to ascend.

Since my revisit to the land of the chakras and, specifically, the muladhara or root chakra, I can bring additional meaning to this phrase.

Although each chakra is symbolized as a lotus flower, I like to visualize the entire spine as a lotus plant. Anchored deep in the nutrient-filled waters, with its base at the root or pelvis, the flexible stem runs upwards, providing nourishment all along the way until it terminates with its glorious flower – the crown at the top of the head.

We have looked at the properties of the first two chakras (the root and the pelvis) and discovered how important it is to balance at these grounding levels for a healthy body, mind and spirit. In other words, we have found that we must learn to live in the mud – receiving and emitting prana at the deepest level – in order for our lotus flower to thrive.

So, are you at home in the muddy water?

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The Feminine and the Masculine Chakras

As we continue to explore the individual characteristics of the chakras and what they represent, we should be aware that every energy center can be classified as either feminine or masculine in nature.

Chakras 2,4 & 6 are connected to the more feminine qualities of female-1421510__180feeling, loving, and seeing. The feminine tendencies of the even numbered chakras are about opening and receiving the energy within.

 

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While the masculine traits of knowing, willfulness and speaking are associated with the 1,3, 5 & 7 chakras. In general, these odd numbered chakras involve moving the energy and pushing it outward.

 

Typically, our lives are overflowing with action and intensity.  Therefore, we need to tune into the feminine chakras that provide more devotion and acceptance in order to feel balanced and complete.

This week our focus was on the Svadhisthana or Pelvic chakra.  Since it has primarily feminine qualities, we should all be feeling nourished and fulfilled.  But, if you need a bit more contentment in your life, here are some additional methods for self gratification:

  • Use the essential oil Neroli – extracted from the bitter orange tree, it has a calming effect on your senses.  Use as directed.
  • Swim – the ultimate way to go with the flow!
  • Focus on your belly breath
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Get a massage

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YOLY Challlenge #15: Taste the Sweetness of Life

The second chakra is bright orange, and like the fruit of an orange, it is fluid and nourishing. orange-214872__180.jpg Its sanskrit name is certainly a mouthful, Svadhisthana.  Otherwise known as the pelvic chakra, its focus areas are the hips, sacrum, genitals and kidneys. It is responsible for balancing our creativity and harmonizing our expressions and emotions. With characteristics of the water element, this chakra relishes fluid motion. If you feel emotionally repressed or have trouble going with the flow, grab your board and catch a wave!

Here are your poses for the week.  Try one each day:

  1. Cat/Cow
  2. Spinal Rolls
  3. Bhujangasana (Cobra)
  4. Navasana (Boat)
  5. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle)
  6. Lunges
  7. Setu Bandha as a vinyasa (Bridge as a flow)

 

“Yield to the flow.  It’s the most intelligent fulfilling thing to do. Surrender your best sense of what to do or not to do and trust in the flow of being.”  -Erich Schiffmann

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The Whirling Dervishes of the Subtle Body

dubai-728130__180This week begins our focus on the Chakras – the vortexes of energy that vibrate within our subtle bodies. For those of us that live in Sedona, a vortex is commonplace.  Energy swirls around us everywhere we go!  The subtle or pranic body, however, has its own system of vortexes to contend with.  As yogis, we strive to balance these internal energies by doing yoga, meditation and pranayama.

Prana flows as oxygen does, fueling our bodies with essential energy.  The esoteric pathways of prana are called nadis.  Nadis are the channels that direct the energy throughout the body. There are believed to be some 70,000 nadis located throughout the subtle body. Although they are not anatomically viewed, it is understood  that the nadis join to form three prominent passageways; the ida, pingala and sushumna nadis which are visualized as running from the left, right and center of the spine.5544f8e2c3960ea00ec8214db59ab5e9

The chakras are the whirling centers that collect and direct the energies that flow through the nadis.  There are seven chakras. They begin at the base of the spine and stack up to the crown of the head.

This week, I introduced the Muladhara or Root Chakra through a few key postures.  Hopefully, by now, you are feeling nicely grounded and firmly planted. Here are some other ways to balance your Root Chakra:

  • Use the essential oil Cedarwood – apply it as directed to the soles of your feet
  • Walk barefoot – a tough one to do in the desert!
  • Try gardening
  • Focus on your exhalations
  • Move more slowly – think about how you are connected to gravity

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