Breathing is an essential aspect of yoga and ayurveda that takes into account the body as well as the mind and spirit. As we learn to deepen and slow down our breathing habits, our lung capacity extends, oxygen levels increase and all of our systems benefit. Through the breath, we take in what we need and release what no longer serves us. But this nourishment doesn’t just exist on a physical level. The unseen energy of the breath flows into, out of and within the body and is transmitted to every molecule to align and balance us physically, mentally and spiritually.Continue reading “May the (Life) Force Be with You￼”
Last May, I began my monthly zoom class series called Yoga & the Chakras. I invited my dear friend Kayo Malik (Chinese doctor/acupuncturist) to join me and for the past six months we have been blending our healing systems to achieve one synergistic presentation of the chakra energy model.
It has been very educational to discover that, although the system of Yoga was practiced a continent away from China, each culture developed a subtle body concept that was identical at its core. Just goes to show you that when something is authentic, it is eventually known by all.
I have enjoyed our journey immensely. And, now that we will be culminating with the crown chakra this month, I have decided to give a synopsis of the progression we’ve made through the energetic body – highlighting our two perspectives.Continue reading “The Chakras in a Nutshell”
Lately I have been enjoying the benefits of essential oils in dozens of ways for my health and well-being. It seems only natural that I would start to incorporate the oils into my yoga routine. Today, I continue a series I started back in October based on the use of essential oils for yoga practice. I have connected this usage to the more subtle aspect of yoga, the chakras or energy complex.
In the past, I have posted frequently on the concept of the chakric system. Many books and articles explain how each chakra can be balanced or pacified. There are seven chakra centers that follow the body from its base to its crown. If you are interested in learning more about the general chakra system, click here.
We will continue this series with the svadhisthana or pelvic chakra. It’s the second chakra and is located at the level of the hips, sacrum, genitals and kidneys. This chakra balances our creativity and harmonizes our expressions and emotions. With characteristics of the water element, it relishes fluid motion.
Within yoga there are many poses that can help an individual to focus on the energizing quality of this chakra like Lunges, Cat/Cow pose, Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Navasana (boat pose), Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose) or Supta Baddha Konasana (supported bound angle pose).
Along with the postures, chakras can be influenced by the use of essential oils. When combined, the benefit for this subtle energy system can be incredible. As I discuss the particular oils associated with a specific chakra, I will refer to the Young Living essential oils that are found in the Premium Starter Kit (see below).
For the purposes of balancing the energy of our second chakra, I suggest the blend Citrus Fresh.
When I received this oil, I felt compelled to use it daily. It provides such renewal and aliveness. Citrus Fresh is one of those multipurpose oils; good for the body and household use (as a cleaner). Citrus Fresh is known to help with the appearance of healthier looking skin. I’ve also heard stories of how worthwhile it is for those who need to balance emotions, addictions and desires.
Since the second chakra is so closely associated with fluidity and taste, Citrus Fresh is the perfect complement. The blend is composed of a mixture of lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine and mandarin – literally all of the juicy citrus fruits! In addition, it contains spearmint oil to add minty coolness. Citrus Fresh can promote feelings of inspiration and encourage creativity – qualities that are definitely needed if you want to feel more energized and free-flowing. It has the capability to banish stagnation and remediate traumas associated with sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
I would begin by using this oil in a diffuser during your yoga practice. Inhaling its aroma is most effective and immediately uplifts. You can also apply the oil in a 1:1 dilution (using a carrier oil such as Jojoba) to the bottoms of your feet, ring finger or navel area. One word of caution, however, if you are applying any citrus oils to skin which will be exposed to the sun – they are photosensitive and contain compounds known as furanocoumarins which greatly increase UV sensitivity.
Once applied, try a few energizing poses like those mentioned in my post, Zest Things Up!
If you are new to essential oils and want to get started incorporating them into your yoga practice, you can register with Young Living here and get your Premium Starter Kit (which includes Citrus Fresh and all the other oils we will be discussing). Once you are enrolled, I will be connecting with you directly to provide reference sources and helpful advice.
Flow with Feeling my friends!
“Just being low down in a room tends to clear the mind. Maybe it’s because being on the floor is so foreign to us that it breaks up our habitual neurological patterning and invites us to enter into this moment through a sudden opening in what we might call the body door.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
This week, we will begin to explore the individual poses of yoga or the asanas. This is the 3rd limb of the yogic system. Although it is self-evident that a steady yoga practice will involve the postures themselves, in the vast scope of yoga the asanas have a specific role to play. The intention of asana is to bring attunement (or greater awareness) to our instinctual responses. For that reason, many of the poses derive from animals who, by nature, are strongly instinctive.
The other main purpose of the asana limb is to balance the energy or prana within our bodies. Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Hold Your Ground”
This quote from Aristotle is as appropriate today as it ever was. When I came across the phrase recently, I saw it as an ideal way to explain the body’s synergistic design. More and more through yoga I am coming to realize that the individual components of our bodies were designed to work in collaboration to give us the greatest results. And, I’m not just talking about the way that our muscles move our bones.
At a gross level, each yoga posture was created to be accomplished by nearly every part of the body. And, when joined, these individual parts are most definitely greater than their total sum. Amazing feats of strength, flexibility and awareness are generated when single elements are able to affect each other. For instance, in Purvottanasana (reverse plank), it is imperative that the action in the legs, torso and arms contribute to the posture. However, it is when the inner body, the action of the bandhas and the principles of alignment are added that the most effective form of the pose develops.
As students of yoga, we receive a wide perspective. Not only do we view ourselves as the body, mind and spirit but we also have access to something called the subtle body. This is the level where the deepest connections wind within ourselves. I feel that these unseen bonds are the true glue that unites our many physical parts.
The chakras are a good place to begin to understand the subtle plane and its tremendous effect on the entire body. If you have been following along with the posts these last few weeks, you know we have been exploring the inner workings and how they connect to the full picture that is our authentic body. The “whole” is definitely greatest when all the parts are identified, provided for and able to function as full contributors.
In fact, B.K.S Iyengar said it best: “Yoga is more than physical. It is cellular, mental, intellectual and spiritual – it involves man in his entire being.”
Aristotle & Iyengar. Now that’s an interesting combination…
After 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.
- Bhujanasana (Cobra) or Sphinx
- Supported Matsyasana (Fish)
- Virahbadrasana I (Warrior I)
- Parsvottanasana (Pyramid)
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge)
- Ustrasana (Camel) – put blocks or a chair behind you for support.
As always, use your judgement and proceed within your comfort zone.
This 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.
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
This week we will begin a series of “Chakra Challenges”.
Chakras are wheels or rings of energy connected to specific areas of the body. Although they are usually depicted as colored circles that line up along an image of the spine, chakras are not physiologically evident. Instead, they are part of a complex known as the subtle body. Along with the nadis (which we will revisit later in the week), chakras are pathways for the pranic energy that is carried within the body.
Specific yoga postures, sounds, colors, smells and emotions are attributed to each chakra. Our challenges will focus on the postures and how they can regulate the chakras.
As we explore, it will be our intention to balance the energy at a specific chakra level. Certain chakras can be tight or closed off, restricting the flow of prana. On the contrary, some chakras may be too open, emitting too much energy.
We begin with the first chakra, the Muladhara Chakra or Root Chakra.
Associated with the earth, this chakra is what grounds us. If you are feeling insecure, unsure or fearful, you need to root. This condition happens to all of us at one time or another. Transitions, major changes or traveling have the potential to uproot us.
Here are seven postures for getting to your root. Do one pose daily this week:
- Supported Savasana (Corpse)
- Virasana (Hero)
- Balasana (Child’s)
- Malasana (Squat)
- Utkatasana (Chair)
- Tadasana (Mountain)
- Uttanasana (Full Forward Bend)
“You are not separate from the earth, you are of the earth. As you go about your day, let the natural expression of the earth rise up through your body. And then, from that groundedness, extend.” -Rodney Yee