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Chakras, Health + Wellness, My Favorite Things

Getting To Know Your Chakras

Chakras are energy centers in the body.

It’s important to consider our chakras, or energy system, as an integral part of our total picture of wellness. It’s a part that often gets overlooked in the western world with so much focus on physical and mental health.

The truth is, everything is energy. We are in an energetic exchange with everything, all day long: people, places, and food, for example. Our chakras are constantly receiving, assimilating, and transmitting life force energy so that we can make sense of the world around us.

You can think of chakras like portals connecting our inner and outer worlds.

chakrasThere are seven main chakras in the human body, from root (base of the spine) to crown (top of the head). Each chakra has a corresponding color, element, symbol, vibrational sound, and relates to a specific part of the body. For a more in depth explanation of what a chakra is and where the system came from, read my post titled “What is a chakra?

Here is a simple guide to your chakras.

Know that the system works as a whole, so we can break down each one to understand its qualities, but ultimately everything works together, like the parts of a car.

Root

chakrasChakra one is about our health, our survival, and our grounding. It is located at the base of the spine and its element is earth. It has to do with our basic needs – shelter, food, water. Think self care. Exercise. Eating habits. Allowing yourself to slow down and relax. Feeling at home in your body. Because it is the foundation of the entire chakra system, it represents stability, which is also reflected in our financial situation. Fear, anxiety, eating disorders, and financial problems are some examples of root chakra imbalance. For ideas on how to balance this chakra, read my post titled “Six Ways to Balance Your Root Chakra.”

Sacral

chakrasChakra two is about pleasure, sensuality and sexuality. Its element is water. Water moves and flows, just as a healthy second chakra allows us to move and flow with life… not resisting change, not being rigid. This chakra is all about our emotions. We have to let them move and flow. When considering the health of this chakra, look at your emotional stability, your attitude toward sex, toward self pleasure, and the health of your hips and sexual organs. Self love practices of any kind (taking a warm bubble bath, buying yourself flowers or treating yourself in some way – doesn’t have to be sexual pleasure) will bring balance to this chakra. It’s important for our health to allow ourselves to feel pleasure. We are sensual, sexual beings. The fact that we have skin proves that we were meant to feel, and when we deny ourselves this basic human need, we get closed off energetically to enjoying life in general. Sexual problems and pain in the hips and low back are common signs of sacral chakra imbalance. Read more about this chakra including ways to balance it in my post titled “All About the Sacral Chakra.”

Solar Plexus

chakrasHere lies your personal power. Your will, your fire, your energy. No surprise that it correlates to the sun, its element being fire. Imagine rubbing two sticks together to create a spark. The sticks represent the first chakra, the movement needed to create the spark represents the second chakra. The fire of chakra three is born. The first three chakras provide the basis for the entire chakra system above to flourish. With this fire and energy deep in our core, we now have the power to choose how we want to direct it. This shows up in our career choices, ways we are of service to others, and what we choose to do in our lives in general. It has everything to do with our self esteem and confidence. Chakra three governs our belly and digestive system, so any issues with these parts of the body can point to imbalance. Low energy, low self esteem, indecisiveness, and lack of motivation in life are all signs of imbalance. Running or cardio exercise, laughter, and setting healthy boundaries (learning to say “no”) are all ways to balance this chakra.

Heart

chakrasRepresenting the center of the chakra system is the fourth chakra, the heart. Its element is air and it deals with love, relationships, connection, compassion, balance, and forgiveness. With three chakras below and three above, the heart chakra represents balance in its purest form with the grounding energies of the first three chakras below and the ethereal qualities of the upper three chakras above. This chakra governs the heart, lungs and respiratory system, so any health issues with these body parts can point to imbalance. Depression lives here, as sadness is often a matter of the heart. Breathwork is a wonderful tool for balancing this chakra. Pay attention to the posture of your shoulders. Notice if you are often hunching over, protecting your heart. As the center of the system, it is paramount that we pay close attention to this chakra every day, and attempt to keep it healthy and open.

Throat

chakrasWe now move into the upper chakras starting at the throat, which is all about communication, creativity, and self expression. How do you speak your truth? How do you create? We are all creative, some of us are just more tapped in than others. Notice your attitude toward creativity. Creative expression can come out in song, written word, or art. This is also about how comfortable we are speaking and listening. The element of this chakra is ether, or sound. Vibration. As we move upward through the chakras, they become less dense. The throat chakra deals with sound and vibration, so singing, chanting or repeating mantras is a great way to balance this chakra. Again, we have to look at all the parts as a whole. We have to be grounded (chakra one), emotionally stable (chakra two), confident (chakra three), and open-hearted (chakra four) in order to express our truth and creativity in a healthy way. If there are major imbalances happening in the lower four chakras, creative expression and communication may be challenging.

Third Eye

chakrasThe brow chakra is the seat of your intuition. “Trust your gut” is the perfect phrase to describe it. The sixth chakra’s element is light and it has to do with truly seeing the world around us. Think vision, visualizing life, not just seeing what’s in front of you but actually seeing with clarity and making connections about what you see in a greater sense… seeing the way all the parts work together as a whole. Those gut feelings you get… that you shouldn’t go to that party or you just know you need to see that person but you’re not sure why… that is your intuition. The world we live in is a disempowering society telling us how to live, how to eat, how to dress, how to be, and everything in between. We are at a constant struggle to listen to our own wisdom within, which resides in our bodies… our skin, our bones, our hearts, our bellies… this is our intuition. It is a voice we can hear if we listen close enough. In order to get more connected to your intuition, you need to connect to your body and breath. Yoga and meditation are wonderful tools. This chakra has to do with the eyes so vision problems correlate with it, as well as headaches. Lavender is a wonderful essential oil to help balance this chakra and invite in a sense of calm clarity.

Crown

chakrasFinally, we reach the crown at the top of the head, symbolized by a thousand petaled lotus. This chakra represents higher consciousness, connection with divine spirit, and with our higher self. The best “element” to describe it is thought. The crown chakra is primarily associated with the pituitary gland, and secondarily to the pineal and the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland work together to regulate the endocrine system. Because of its location, the crown chakra is closely associated with the brain and the whole nervous system. The crown chakra is associated with the transcendence of our limitations, whether personal or bound to space and time. The quality of awareness that comes with the crown chakra is universal, transcendent. Being immersed in the energy of the crown chakra feels like bliss… a state of union with all that is. Signs of imbalance include being disconnected from spirit, living in your head (disconnected from your body), and closed-mindedness. The best way to balance this chakra is to meditate. Check out my post titled “Meditation 101” and “Guided Meditation – 10 Minutes” to get started with meditation!

Eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies will help balance your chakras. Foods correspond to the chakras based on their color. Check out this Rainbow Buddha Bowl recipe for some serious chakra balancing deliciousness!

chakra
Chakras, Health + Wellness

What is a chakra?

A chakra is a spinning wheel, or vortex, of energy.

Chakras are centers in the body through which life force energy flows. Blocked energy can often lead to illness, so it’s important to understand what each chakra represents and what we can do to keep this energy flowing freely.

chakra

Where did the chakra system come from?

The chakra system originated in India at the same time as yoga. It’s first mention was in the Vedas, a series of hymns that are the oldest written tradition in India. The chakra system actually came from tantric tradition. Tantra is largely associated with sexual practices in the West, though the sexuality aspect is actually only a small portion of what it’s all about. It does involve sexual practices as it considers the body a sacred temple that houses the inner consciousness and spirit, viewing sexual energy as life force energy that propels us into the higher states of consciousness and growth that we desire as humans. But this is only a sliver of what it’s all about. Hatha and Kundalini yoga are big parts of tantric tradition as well as the worshiping of Hindu deities (especially Hindu goddesses), and the merging of universal forces within (chiefly the interplay of dualistic forces such as dark and light, Heaven and Earth, birth and death, etc).

chakra

There are seven main chakras in the human body. This “Rainbow Bridge” connects our outer and inner worlds – our bodies to our inner temple, the house of our consciousness.

The chakras are vortexes of energy existing in the subtle body that overlays our physical body. They are not actually in our body. You can think of them like gateways, or portals to our inner world, that receive, assimilate and transmit life force energy. We are constantly in energy exchange all day long with everything: food, people, our environment, and ourselves.

Yoga and the chakras go hand in hand, so understanding where the chakras come into play within each yoga pose is vital in bringing a new layer of depth and awareness to your yoga practice.

chakra

How to bring balance and opening to your first two chakras using yoga:

Root Chakra (survival and groundedness): The base of every pose. Grounding, stability, foundation. Feeling your feet in the ground. Rooted and connected to the Earth at all times. Feeling the strength of your legs that carry you confidently through life. Being courageous enough to slow down and be at home in your body.

Other ways to balance and open your root: Spending time outside in nature, walking barefoot in the grass, resting, eating slowly and mindfully, cooking and cleaning in the home.

Sacral Chakra (emotions, sexuality and creativity): Creative movement and playfulness within your practice. Pleasure and enjoyment of feeling your breath and body move and flow together. Practice embracing all feelings that arise on your mat. Dance with them. Let them flow through you. Hip openers.

Other ways to balance and open your sacral: Dancing, self pleasure, being in or near water (shower, bath, swimming, ocean), drinking plenty of water, practicing emotional release.

Remember, anything you do with INTENTION shifts the energy of your action. When you DIRECT your energy with INTENTION you invite things to MANIFEST in your life. Dance with the INTENTION to relax your hips and feel your emotions flow through you. Walk barefoot outside with the INTENTION to connect deeper to the Earth and bring more grounding into your life.

Read my post titled “Getting To Know Your Chakras” for an overview of the whole chakra system.

Handstand, Alki Beach, Seattle
Chakras, Health + Wellness, Yoga

All About The Sacral Chakra

The Second Chakra: Opening to Creativity

Seems like every time I do a lot of hip opening postures on my mat, I experience a burst of creativity afterward. Also, an overall sense of openness, sensuality, & self love. This is no coincidence.

Svadhisthana (Sanskrit), the Sacral Chakra

The sacral chakra is a spinning vortex of energy located in the lower abdomen. Turns out, it is considered the “Seat of our Emotions,” it is the second of seven major chakras along the central core axis. Chakra two allows for emotional and sensual movement in life.

  • opening to pleasure
  • embracing change & creativity
  • connecting to others
  • learning how to “go with the flow”
  • Color: orange
  • Element: water
  • Associated Body Parts: hips, sacrum, lower back, genitals, womb, bladder & kidneys

Imbalance & Deficiency Signs

As a result, when this chakra is out of balance we may experience sexual problems, low back issues, hips & reproductive organs, bladder infections, kidney problems, overly emotional behavior, sexual guilt or addictions, or excesses in food, sex and drugs. Circumstances that cause deficiency in this chakra include being raised in an environment where emotions were repressed, pleasure denied, or one where constant need for pleasurable stimulation (entertainment, partying) or frequent emotional drama were present. Any issue regarding fear of pleasure, being out of touch with feelings, or resisting change.

Find Balance

When this chakra is in balance we feel healthy, open, friendly, imaginative, intuitive, energized, creative & successful. We are able to focus on our objectives and react more positively to all people and situations in our path. We have healthy concern, tolerance, & patience for others.

What can you do? Wear orange. Eat orange – carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges. Use essential oils like bergamont, cardamom, clary sage, neroli, orange, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, and ylang ylang. Meditate using this chakra’s vibrational sound, “VAM,” as your mantra. But of course, my favorite way to balance this chakra is to practice the following poses:

YOGA FOR THE SACRAL CHAKRA

When we relax our hips, we relax our resistance to life. We release tension in and restore our reproductive organs. We become open to our creativity, sensuality, & sexuality.

Physically root your pelvic floor and base of your spine into the Earth. As a result, you plug yourself into the vibrational current of the Universe. All hip & groin openers provide freedom of movement in the pelvis. Don’t force it. Ease into these postures and invite creativity to arise as you play with different modifications. Find what works for you.

РEKA PADA RAJAKAPOTASANA  (half pigeon pose)

– AGNISTAMBHASANA (double pigeon pose, pictured above)

– TARASANA (star pose)

– MANDUKASANA (frog pose)

You can heal yourself with yoga, meditation & healthy eating. Believe it! Try some of the above suggestions and see if you can tap into the energy of your sacral chakra.

Namaste.

Learn about the first chakra in my post titled “Six Ways to Balance your Root Chakra.”

Read “Getting To Know Your Chakras” for an overview of the whole chakra system.

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Warrior One
Chakras, Health + Wellness, Yoga

Six Ways to Balance Your Root Chakra

What is a chakra?

Chakra is Sanskrit for “wheel.” A chakra is a spinning vortex of energy that is part of the subtle body. This energetic body, which overlays the physical body, is the first thing to process energy we come into contact with… people, places, and things. It is then distributed through the body in the form of feelings, thoughts, and sensations. Though there are many chakras in the human body, there are seven main ones located along the central core axis.

Muladhara, the Root Chakra

The first, or root chakra, is where it all begins. Located at the base of your spine, it is your body’s intake point for Universal energy. Just like a house must be built on a strong foundation, so a human Life in balance must be built on the foundation of a healthy root chakra. It is the foundation of our physical body, dealing with our sense of grounding, security, how we take care of ourselves, & how we purge wastes from our body. It deals with our immune system and all things pertaining to it.

Root Chakra, Muladhara

Muladhara (Sanskrit), the Root Chakra

When this chakra is in balance, we feel safe, secure, patient, willing to slow down & stay in one place, and an overall sense of calm. We feel healthy, confident, alive, centered, optimistic, steady & full of vitality.

When out of balance, we may experience issues with weight, lower back pain, chronic fatigue, low energy, clumsiness, insecurity, low self esteem, recklessness, constipation, diarrhea, sleep disorders, eating disorders, greed, poverty, arthritis, & a poor sense of smell.

Circumstances that pull up our roots & cause deficiency in the root chakra include traveling, relocation, feeling fearful; big changes in our body, family, finances, business; feelings of anxiety, unworthiness, or a lack of confidence.

The color of this chakra is red & its element is Earth. Associated body parts are the base of the spine, legs, feet, large intestine, adrenal glands, colon, kidneys & bones. Any types of disorders with these organs are directly related to an imbalance in the root chakra.

Six Ways Balance Your Root Chakra

1. Go outside… Spend more time in nature. WALK BAREFOOT. Breathe it in! You are of this Earth… bring yourself back to your ROOTS, literally.

2. Wear the color RED.

3. Eat your GINGER! Cook with it, throw it in your morning smoothie (my fave)… however you like it best!

4. Meditate! The root chakra’s vibrational sound is LAM. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, visualize a beautiful spinning RED vortex of energy at the base of your spine inviting positive Life energy into your body. Breathe deeply. You can chant “LAM” with each exhale, or use a mantra with each inhale, like “I am Enough,” and just release whatever comes up on the exhale. These are just some suggestions! There are countless ways to meditate.

5. Use essential oils. 10-12 drops in the bath tub, or a few drops directly on the skin (mixing with coconut oil is a great way to diffuse essential oil & make it last longer on the skin)… cedar, clove, patchouli, palo santo, frankincense, myrrh.

6. Practice these YOGA postures:

– UTTANASANA (standing forward fold), stretches the backs of the legs & creates a sense of calm

– PACHIMOTTANASANA (seated forward fold with legs extended), stretches back of the legs

– ARDHA HANUMANASANA or HANUMANASANA (half or full splits), stretches groin, hamstrings, & calves

-UTKATASANA (chair pose) & WARRIOR POSTURES, strengthen legs & feet

– SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA (reclined bound angle)/BALASANA (child’s pose)/SAVASANA (corpse pose), peaceful restorative poses to calm the mind, surrender to gravity, & be at HOME in your body!

Root Chakra Yoga

Start by focusing on your feet. Spread your toes, roll your ankles, flex & point your feet, feel all four corners of your feet ROOT down into the earth. In strengthening postures like chair pose & the warrior postures, root down through your feet and build strong muscles in the legs to boost self-confidence & build a strong foundation for your life. When hamstrings are tight, the contraction creates a sense of constantly being prepared to run away… an immediate sign that it’s time to give your root chakra some love. Lengthen and relax all the muscles in your legs through deep stretches like standing or seated forward folds.

Happy practicing!

Have fun with these ideas, try some of your own, figure out what works for you. Getting into a rhythm of what works for you is key. Listen to your body & learn to LOVE healing yourself!

Namaste.

Feed your root and boost your immune system with this Chakra Balancing Rainbow Buddha Bowl.

Read “Getting To Know Your Chakras” for an overview of the whole chakra system.

 

 

Warrior Two
Chakras, Health + Wellness, Travel

The Colors of Your Practice

I co-taught my first workshop as a yoga instructor in Costa Rica with a Reiki Master who I also lived with at the time.

She welcomed me warmly into her home for three of the most magical months of my life. She taught me all about the chakras, or energy centers in the body, and suddenly my own yoga practice and teaching took on a whole new form & meaning. Teaching this workshop of three beautiful students was a turning point in my life, one of the most powerful & rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

I came up with the name “The Colors of Your Practice” because we devoted the workshop to education about the chakras, how they are related to the physical practice of yoga (asana), and how to incorporate the two to live a more balanced life. I designed the flyer! Check it out…

Event Flyer, Aurora Yoga / Jaco, Costa Rica

Event Flyer, Aurora Yoga / Jaco, Costa Rica

Prior to my experience living in Costa Rica, I had always felt like there was something missing in my own understanding of yoga, which in turn made me feel the same about my teaching.

Sure, power yoga is a great way to stay in shape, but what is it about practicing yoga that brings such euphoria, such joy – on the mental/emotional/spiritual level… that element that makes yoga so different from all other forms of physical exercise? For me, knowledge & understanding of the chakra system was that missing piece of the puzzle. There is actually a reason why practicing yoga feels so damn good! And this knowledge is ancient, Eastern philosophy. Each yoga asana has a specific intention designed to stimulate & awaken energy in the chakras… to balance them, & in turn, create a more balanced you… a healthy body whose vibration is in greater harmony with the Universal energy it is made of.

Practicing yoga is like peeling away the layers of an onion, like coming home to our true self… it’s easy to get buried under a busy work schedule, taking care of family, nurturing friendships, meeting deadlines, going here, going there, doing this, doing that. Putting myself first has never been the easiest thing for me. But, like yoga, it’s a practice, and awareness is always the first step. How can we expect to love & take care of anyone else if we do not fully understand and practice self love? Consider this a lesson in loving yourself… by understanding your chakras, you will begin to understand why you feel out of wack at times and content, or even blissful, at others. You can literally heal yourself from the inside out.

Our bodies speak to us everyday…

Tight hamstrings, the common cold, a sore neck, digestion issues, poor posture… in the Western world, these things are often seen as problems that some type of pill can correct, and we go on with our day. But is this actually curing the problem? No. It’s just a quick fix. A numbing agent. We need to get to the root of the problem if we want true healing. Physical pain and ailments are our body’s way of talking to us. They are a response to buried feelings that we need to deal with… issues at our core that we can access through our chakras. We have the ability to identify what triggers an imbalance in a given chakra and apply this knowledge to balance ourselves naturally using yoga postures & meditation. You can heal your life. YOU are your own best doctor!

Chakras are wheel shaped, spinning vortexes of energy.

There are many chakras in the human body, but the main seven are stacked along the spine, starting at the base of the spine with the root chakra, leading up to the crown chakra at the top of the head. The colors of the rainbow will never be the same for me. I literally think of the following every time I see a color…

7 ChakrasRed represents the 1st, or root chakra. Our sense of grounding, survival, security. “I Am.”

Orange represents the 2nd, or sacral chakra. The center of our emotions… sensuality, sexuality, & creativity. “I Feel.”

Yellow… 3rd, the solar plexus chakra. Our confidence, sense of identity, & personal power. “I Do.”

Green… 4th, the heart chakra. Love, relationships, compassion. “I Love.”

Blue… 5th, the throat chakra. Communication. All of the ways we express ourselves & speak our truth… our voice. “I Speak.”

Purple… 6th, the third eye chakra. The seat of our intuition. Our center of perception. Our ability to manifest & visualize the life we want. “I See.”

White, or pink… the 7th, or crown chakra. Our connection to the Divine & to our Highest Self, our source of inspiration. “I Understand.”

As human beings we have the ability to manifest anything we desire. All we have to do is tap into the infinite energy that already resides within us. The chakra system is not part of our physical body, but of the softer, subtle energy body that is just as much a part of our being as as our arms and legs.

Learn more about the chakra system here.