Ajna Chakra

The Chakra Energy System

new-chakras

The Chakra Energy system is a concept used by many different modalities and disciplines. These energetic portals or vortices are often thought of as access points to life energy in the body. Working with the Chakras is found in healing work around the world including, but certainly not limited to; Reiki (Japanese Energy Healing), Ayurveda (Yogic Life Science), Chinese Acupuncture, and others.

The general theory of the Chakra Energy System is about how its balance or imbalance can affect your life. Rediscovering the powerful jewels within will give you an opportunity to learn about and experience each of these energy centres on a much deeper level. For example, we can explore one chakra at a time, moving from the root of the body all the way up to the crown.

Muladhara Chakra (“Moo-laah-daah-rah”)

I am.
I am grounded. I am safe.

This chakra implies strongly rooted connections and the satisfaction of our survival needs. In fact, the translation of the Sanskrit word, Muladhara, means “root support”. Where would we be without the support of our tribe, our roots? Sometimes this is family, sometimes it is a group of like-minded people to whom you feel a great connection. Where in your life do you feel supported? Where in your life would you enjoy a little more support?

Svadhistana Chakra (“Ss-vaahd-eee-staah-naah”)

I feel.
I am happy. I am creative.

Your second chakra is located at the area of your sacrum at the back of your pelvis or lower belly beneath the belly button. In Sanskrit, Svadhistana means “dwelling place of the Self” or “one’s own abode”. This is the sweet spot for dreams, desires and creativity. When you are deeply immersed in an activity that resonates with your true Self, you often find yourself in that “zone” or “sweet spot” where nothing else exists. Where in your life would you like to add a little sweetness?

Manipura Chakra (“Mah-knee-poo-rah”)

I do.
I am connected to my emotions. I am confident.

Manipura in Sanskrit means “City of Jewels” or “Lustrous Gem”. This chakra relates to your ability to step forward in your life, committing with confidence to your path. This area provides fire for the body and supplies you with energy, vitality and strength. Is there an area of your life where you feel smaller or less adequate? Where do you feel strong and full of confidence? What is it that you need to step forward in all areas of your life with a greater sense of power and strength?

Anahata Chakra (“Ahh-naah-haa-taa”)

I love.
I feel love. I am open to giving and receiving love.

The Heart Chakra, Anahata, means “Unstuck Sound” or “Deep Inner Listening” in Sanskrit. This chakra has a lot to do with balance and harmony in your body and mind. It is the mediator between the lower three (earthly-oriented) chakras and the upper three (spiritually-oriented) chakras. This is where we feel love and compassion for ourselves and for others. What language do you use when you speak to yourself and when you speak about yourself? Is it compassionate and kind or is it hurtful and derogatory? How would you like to change the way you treat yourself?

Vishuddhi Chakra (“Vih-shoe-dhee”)

I speak.
I trust my inner voice. I express myself freely.

This chakra is connected to self-expression and the language we use. Vishuddhi in Sanskrit means “Purification” or “Extremely Pure”. It refers to the subtle obstructions that get in the way of us being able to understand our feelings and dreams and express those deeper truths. How easy is it for you to share your truth? Are you able to express your inner most thoughts and feelings, and can you do this with kindness as well as honesty?

Ajna Chakra (“Aahd-ja-naah”)

I see.
My mind, body and spirit are connected.

The Brow Centre is an area that often receives a lot of attention. This sixth chakra is connected to your intuition and wisdom, to the beginning of the understanding that you are not alone. Ajna in Sanskrit means “Beyond Wisdom” and our instinctual activities related to the “third eye” correspond. How willing are you to see the truth behind a given situation? Perception is everything – how wide is your lens and does that change with the natural fluctuations of your internal connection to body, mind and spirit?

Sahasrara Chakra (“Sah-Hass-rah-rah”)

I understand.
I am connected to spirit.

The Sanskrit translation for Sahasrara is “thousand-petaled” which implies a vast significance of this chakra. This is where you begin to feel that you are completely supported by your source, that you have a connection to the Divine that works for you and that this connection helps you to trust more than ever before. Is there anywhere in your life where you feel alone or unsupported? What does trust look like or feel like to you? How do you know when you are connected to something greater than yourself?

Heather 2 croppedHeather Thomas, E-RYT500, is a past lead trainer for SOYA yoga teacher training in Ft McMurray, AB. We will always be appreciative of her dedication to sharing the teachings of SOYA.

Pranayama

The Conscious Breath

The conscious breath – by Carla Wainwright, E-RYT500, SOYA

Did you know that the breath is the only function of the body that can be done both consciously and unconsciously? When we bring awareness to our breathing, we are really practicing taking something unconscious, or automatic, and making it conscious. This is a powerful practice whose benefits extend far beyond simple breathing. When we become more and more conscious of our breath we amplify the movement of prana within ourselves, life force energy contained within the breath. Each breath has the ability to create sacred space within ourselves. It can harness our innate capacity to increase our awareness of our senses and the capacity to be present in each and every moment.

This then can translate into the things that we do in our lives automatically, those habits, patterns and thoughts, so we can actually learn to slow down a little bit and make these things conscious. Imagine if our words, our actions and our thoughts were all conscious.

Our yoga practice is a powerful way to create the space for this transformation from unconscious to conscious. When we are on the mat and we make more room for breath, more room for prana, more awareness, then we can use what we learn in the physical practice and turn it into something that influences the rest of our life. Conscious breath, conscious life.

So where do we start? Always one breath at a time. So right now, pause. Close your eyes. Relax. Breathe in and sigh out. Then take a few conscious breaths – breathe slowly and fill the body. Take your time and notice what you feel. And then consider your next action – whether it contains words or actions and see what happens. The more we can connect our breath into our lives, the greater our capacity to fully awaken into ourselves.

carla-wainwrightCarla Wainwright is a lead trainer for SOYA at the 200 hour teacher training in Mexico and the 300 hour upgrade to RYT500. She will be leading a yoga retreat in Mexico in February, and in Italy this May. For more information visit www.carlawainwright.com

Shoulder stretch

Yoga for the Shoulders

Submitted by Helen Mikuska, E-RYT500, IYTA, SOYA, WAYT, YACEP, in Calgary, AB

With the shoulder joint’s high mobility, there is a decrease in stability.  Primary shoulder injuries are rotator cuff injury, over-use syndrome & tendonitis.  The shoulder girdle acts as a stabilizer to help us carry weight in our arms and also with the support of your spine.  Alignment of the shoulder girdle is vital not only for the health of your shoulder joints, but also for the health of your spine.  Your shoulders are open when the shoulder girdle supports the natural curve of your spine.  The shoulder muscles are conditioned for great mobility and these muscles must be balanced on all sides of the shoulder joint for optimum stability.  Every time we lift our arms, many shoulder muscles are activated and because of the structure of the shoulder girdle, misalignment of the shoulders leads to misuse and abuse of our shoulders.  It is beneficial to learn specific asanas or exercises to improve strength & range of motion. Here is a sample of one of the exercises to help prevent shoulder injury. 

position-1Standing Wooden Dowel Shoulder Warm-up [Internal Rotation]Note:  Great for those who work on the computer or who use their hands for fine mechanical work.

Stand with feet hip-width apart.  Hold a dowel behind back with a wide grip, with palms facing forward.  Inhale & raise the dowel overhead, behind you.

position-2Exhale & bring the dowel down the front body, in front of thighs. The wrists are still internally rotated – notice a profound stretch in the forearms.  The shoulders here are internally rotated and the forearms get a really intense twist which they don’t normally get to experience.  Grip very firmly with the pinky fingers on the dowel.

modification-1Modification #1:  If you cannot lift the dowel overhead from behind you, then prepare as if coming into the 90 degree forward fold in hands-to-feet pose (Padahastasana / Uttanasana), with feet wider apart. Raise the dowel overhead from behind you, then allowing gravity to take the arms forward towards the floor. Feel the stretch in forearms.  Then come back up to a standing position.

modification-2

 

 

Modification #2: If first modification is still not possible, remain standing & hold the dowel in front of you. You will perform the exercise twice, with each hand individually. Grip the dowel with your right hand in the overhand grip position (palm facing towards the floor). With your left hand, internally rotate the left shoulder so the left palm faces upwards towards the ceiling. Now slide the left palm under the dowel to grip from the underside of it. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Release, switch position of the hands and repeat on the other side. 

Interested in more? Helen is leading a “Yoga for Shoulders” workshop on Sunday, November 27th, 1:00-5:00 p.m at Harmony Yoga Pilates Studio in Calgary.  $50.00 (incl. gst). To register please contact info@harmonyyogapilatesstudio.ca or phone (403) 809-1402.