In classes at the moment, we’re thinking about the energy centres (chakras), and how yoga postures can help to balance them to give us optimal health and well-being. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s a stressful time of year at the University with exams, assignments and deadlines. Postures and sequences that balance the sacral energy centre (swadhistana) help to give us emotional stability. If panic sets in or you can’t sleep at night with thoughts whizzing round your head, then doing some forward bends or the moon sequence can have a calming effect.
The next energy centre up the spine is the solar centre, or the manipura centre. When this is balanced, it gives us the qualities of confidence and dynamism and helps us to thrive on pressure, rather than collapsing under it. All really good for enhancing your performance in exams and presentations. Surya Namaskara, salutation to the sun, is an excellent sequence for energising and balancing the solar centre, as is the sitting twist. So, if you’re feeling a bit sluggish, can’t be bothered, or can’t get motivated then the sun sequence just might get you going!
And if you can’t even summon up the enthusiasm to move, try a breath with visualisation. Breathe in and out of your solar centre (located just above the navel), visualising a golden light glowing there, like the light from the sun becoming brighter and brighter. Imagine yourself filled with warmth and vitality from that glowing light, and feel that light spreading out around you, surrounding you with a bubble of golden light that fills you with confidence and energy.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be thinking about the chakras, and working with postures that help to balance each of these energy centres. At the University, where I teach yoga, a stressful few weeks are approaching as students prepare for final assessments, and staff are busy too. Each of the chakras is associated with different qualities, such as confidence, all of which can help to get us through stressful, busy or difficult times in our lives.
We’re beginning with the root chakra, Mooladhara, which is located at the very base of the spine. When in balance, this gives you a sense of security, of being grounded and having the courage to face life’s challenges. The warrior postures (Virabhadrasana) work on this energy centre at the base of the spine, inspiring us to be strong in body and mind. Good postures to practice if you need to boost your confidence before an exam or presentation, and done regularly will make you stronger, more resilient and less fearful.
“Fear would have you never leave the house, or turn on a lamp, or be in love or have a pet, or go for a drive in the country… Fear would seal you away and demand that you listen all the time or something terrible will happen. Fears lie. …. Your fears are not larger than you are…” ~ SARK – Living Juicy.
F – False
E – Evidence
A – Appearing
R – Real
Just before Easter, we did a chocolate meditation in one of my classes. It went down quite well, even though I got one or two strange looks when I suggested it. If you’ve got any Easter chocolate left 🙂 there’s a version of it on the website: Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Try it with some fruit if you don’t eat chocolate.
Why practice it?
Well, it slows you down and helps you to appreciate what you eat, rather than wolfing it down at 100mph. If you eat more slowly generally, it aids your digestion too. It helps to focus your mind by giving it something to do, so you are fully aware in this present moment. (And it makes the chocolate last longer too!)
One of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga is Dharana, variously translated as focus, attention or concentration, and is the step that precedes meditation. Whatever we can do to help the mind to focus rather than jumping off in all directions is good for our equilibrium.
“By shining the light of awareness where there was murkiness and darkness before, you start to see what is inside and around you”.
~ from The Spirit of Yoga by Cat de Rham and Michele Gill