Thursday, September 20, 2007
What are energetic and emotional blocks? They are obstacles that prevent the natural flow of energy and prana or life force in the body, affecting both one’s physical and one’s mental health. They may prevent one going deeper into a yoga pose, or deeper into life’s experiences. They are barriers that stop the flow of our journey forward.
The obstacles we face may be born out of our desires. Desire is like a seed. Impressions and experiences are drawn in through the five senses and then planted within our first and second chakras. As the seeds of desire begin to grow, quite unconsciously, we experience them as a gut emotion – a feeling and willing state, an emotion of “I want it now.” We have all experienced that anxious feeling in the belly, when your desire becomes an urgent need.
Desire is then fed by the fire of our mind’s meditation, as one contemplates how to achieve satisfaction. As the hunger of desire grows from our solar plexus, it slowly enters the heart, where it is stored. We tend to nurture and protect what is within the heart. We safeguard ourselves from others who may intrude into our space, or threaten our heart’s desire. The heart becomes the home of desire.
Although residing in the heart chakra, desire defuses into the throat area and manifests itself in sound, becoming vocal. When our heart’s desire is threatened then we become defensive, beginning with our words. Sound reflexes our state of mind and heart, as we interact with others and the world around, our vocals are a pivot to achieving our goals.
The third eye or sixth charka becomes blocked. Instead of the intelligence being the power to discriminate between good and bad for the purpose of self-discovery, it is used to manipulate material nature (praktri) in order to fulfill what is residing in the heart chakra. Fear and anxiety may overcome the consciousness due to our deep-rooted attachments, and our words and actions permeate our prana maya kosa or energetic and emotional body. In this way, our deeply rooted attachments in the heart, and our personal motives to fulfill our desires, cause blocked and stagnant energy within the body.
Desire is a natural function of the self. It is not that we can become desire-less, or free from feelings and emotion. Unfortunately in many cases we have become self-centered and selfish, not self-less. In any activities we do or any interactions we have, the mind thinks “what’s in it for me” or “what can I get out of this”. Thus the false ego becomes a driving force in our actions.
If the pivot of our desire were to change to “ what can I give” or ‘how can I serve and help others”, then the heart opens up to feel what another is feeling, and to experience life from not just your limited vision, which is often clouded over with personal motives, but from a broader perspective.
Friday, August 17, 2007
How you move on your matt, how you position yourself on your matt reflects how you move, interact and position your self in your daily life.
Moving with the flow of prana or energy in the body, allowing the prana (life force) to reveal and unravel the yoga pose, will result in the yoga posture being “sukha, stira, asana” (yoga sutra). 'Sukha' means with ease, comfort and happiness, and stira means with a fixed, attentive mind. The prana will bring lightness, space and freedom into the mind and body while in a yoga pose.
When moving into life’s situations one has to allow the larger Prana force to be the guide, this means allowing ones life to flow according to a Higher and Greater life force, Divine power, without pushing ones personal agenda. Then the opportunities and situations that unravel, and the doors that open, will allow one to experience greater happiness (sukha), space and freedom.
The transitioning from one yoga pose to another is equally as important as the pose itself. In our western culture we are so goal originated, the result is the only thing that matters, this state of mind is often reflected in ones yoga practice. We push our bodies with strain and stress into a pose that looks like yoga but is devoid of life and of the vitality of prana, thus we cut ourselves of, both physically and mentally from one of the greatest sources of power that reside within ourselves. While practicing yoga one should allow the pose to unfold organically through the prana or breathe, letting go of the attachment to the pose.
Similarly moving from one life situation to another, if done with attachment to the results, we again push our lives into an un-natural flow that only create dis-eas in the mind and body. Moving against the natural flow is like trying to swim upstream, we move away from our inherent nature. Instead our actions should be in harmony with the nature of the self, so that our journey of self-discovery is unraveled gradually with ease. learning to move with the sequence of life, and allowing that sequence of life to organically unfold is a challenge, it means the ego needs to let go of endeavoring to be the controller. Trusting in Divine will, empowers one with the vision to see the opportunities arise, and allows transformation to take place. The flow of life may not unfold the way we desire, but learning to observe and to accept with out being attachment, but remaining peaceful, will reveal a greater lesson to the individual.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Everything that has life, will have a pulse, where there is a pulse there is movement. Nothing living is stagnant. Connecting with life force or spirit means ones becomes dynamic. In our western culture everything is put into boxes. Red labeled. Creating boxes creates rigidity and stiffness. That is the cause of so much stress and anxiety. The muscles in our body have become tight and stiff, our minds in flexible, our intelligence can no longer think outside the box. This stagnant energy that consumes our body and minds are often the cause for physical and mental illness. Our natural creativity has unfortunately become blocked.
Yoga in the west has unfortunately in some cases become like this. Being put in a box our yoga practice also carries labels. Yoga is meant to break the walls of ours boxes that we build, but so many times while holding a pose we are holding and creating tension and stress around the neck and shoulder area, or by trying to twist our bodies into some unnatural way to fit into the ‘yoga box’, we cause our bodies injuries. The motives to lose weight look sexy or tone the body again only traps us into this rigid western mindset.
We have become so external and absorbed only in the physical that we have disconnected ourselves from the inner dynamic pulse of life that yoga has to offer. If we can come back to what our essence is, connecting with that empowering energy within, our yoga practice on and off the matt will become dynamic and full of life.
In your personal flow of life, there are so many do’s and do not’s. Both in ones life and in ones yoga practice. Don’t just follow rules because it the “right thing to do” it the “norm” or a tradition. If you do that, your yoga practice and your life’s journey will become rigid, stagnant, and dry. There will be no sweetness, no Rasa (taste) or pleasure. This does not mean you throw tradition away, or rules and regulations and follow what the mind dictates. Understand the meaning of the rule or tradition, learn to go deeper to relish the inner meaning, as if it is not a rules but a key to freedom. Feel the moment, become conscious of the moment and infuse it with bhakti (devotion) and relish the action that you carry out. Make it a self-less offering. That is yoga.
The Yoga Bhakti Flow
Moving from a sacred place, where spirit moves you not the mind. Feeling the pulse is feeling the connection with your pure essence. That pure essence or pure self is pure love. Tap into the source and allow your movement be an expression of love (bhakti). Do not move from an ego-centered motive or create a flow of sensuality. Let bhakti or love transform your movement. Let it come from within, not from the thinking mind or driven body. Take that bhakti flow not just on your matt but of the matt also, how you move in the world, how you interact with others.
Many of our acts of the matt are driven by personal selfish motive, “what’s in it for me”, what am I getting from my actions. We do not come to our matt or life with the mindset of what can I give, how can I serve and give to others. Unfortunately we are driven by our attachments, our ego and bodily desires. Constant external projection and distraction of mind and senses, draws us away from our inner sacredness and purity.
Ones actions are an expression of what is in the heart. Many times our heart is full of resentment or bad feelings that we have been holding onto for years. Our challenge is to be able to truly let go. Know that what you hold on to does not hurt the person who may have hurt you, but that emotion only hurts you, both physically and emotionally. Forgiveness is an act of love, it take humility and compassion. Compassion takes detachment from your personal gain and motives, and means empathizing with another. Feeling another’s pain and hurt, this can allow you to let go of your pain and hurt.
Tapping into sacred, pure love, is a dimension and experience that is foreign to most of us; it means stepping away from acts that are centered on oneself. Through offering service to others as well as connecting with the Divine higher power within, that Divine source of love may then radiate through you to others, in a way that does not make one feel depleted, but fully satisfied and only increases ones potency to give. Example of this is spiritual personalities like the Buddha, the Dialama, Saint Francis, and many more in within all traditions.
When the heart is filled with this pure sacred love, then whatever action one does will be infused with Bhakti (love). One will see and react to life’s challenges, not out of defense or driven by selfish motives, but those challenges will be the pathway to experience an ocean of love. Those challenges will be an opportunity to let go, to forgive, to open up to a Divine arrangement and to ultimately surrender
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Function: Grounding and rooting.
Instinctual impulse towards survival.
Fear of abandonment and insecurity.
If we look at the word mula it means root in Sanskrit. Muladhara chakra, the first energy center in the body symbolizes our roots. If you think about the word ‘root’, it means grounding, supporting and nurturing, if there are roots there is an anchor, a sense of security, roots also nurture. This plays such a big part in ones life and how one lives and interacts. As a mother I see my child form his impressions not from what I say but from what I do. He is 24 hours a day learning and taking in things, forming his identity. Children as they grow up look for that sense of identity. Principles that are taught, do’ and don’ts, and creating boundaries give a sense of security and rooting. Culture also impacts a child, from what food one is brought up with, to what religion is practiced. In many traditions, there is a support from an extended family. It is not that a mother is left alone to bring up her child, or that a child is put in day care all day as both parent have to work just to survive. Someone once said to me where are our grandmothers and great aunts. We may not have close ties with extended family but a community can play the same role. We learn tradition and moral principles from our extended family, immediate family and our community, when there is disruption in one family then one can get support and strength from community and friends.
Community and family nurture our growth and allow us to connect with our roots and traditions. Having a functional family forms a network that it gives support in times of need, allowing one to feel safe. A sense of safety allows individuals to grow into mature responsible adults, exemplifying loyalty. If ones roots are broken, as in broken up families, then our feeling safe and secure waives, our strength weakens to the degree of group support we have. Imagine a stick on its own, it is easy to break with two hands, but imagine a big bundle of sticks, if you try to break a bundle it will be much more difficult, similarly our strength comes from our confidence in our group identity. It is that group identity either it coming from immediate family or community that often forms our beliefs and the principles that we decide to live by. In some cases this may be positive or in other cases negative. Our beliefs and principles that we have decided to hold onto can either empower us to grow and flourish, allowing us to make decisions in a way that is healing and liberating, or they can cripple our vision and outlook in the world. Instead of being broadminded, open hearted, our cultural upbringing, and disruptive childhood can cause us to be irrational, self centered and unstable. When one’s root chakra is strong, one is connected to the earth with confidence, being able to hold ones ground, responsible and loyalty is a result. From a rooted safe place we are able to give and extend out to others selflessly.
Ones fear of survival, fear of abandonment, and feeling insecure are all first chakra emotions that are stored in the body. Our emotions leave deep impression within our body often causing illness. By targeting the muscles where these emotions are stored, through specific yoga poses, that isolate that area we begin to unblock our emotional toxics that are trapped, this letting becomes empowering in ones journey of transformation.
Target specific areas for the first chakra.
Piriformis muscle in the hip and buttocks and the adductor muscles in the inner thighs. (Tightness in the piriformis is the main cause of sciatica). Tightness in hips, groin, and hamstrings are also first chakra conflict zones. Unlocking our fears and insecurities, means going deep into yoga poses that isolate the buttocks (piriformis), and inner thigh (adductors). It is good to observe what emotions may arise when in yoga pose such as pigeon, ankle to knee, lizard pose and head to ankle pose. It is often a sense of sink or swim, fear of survival surfaces. Our screaming butt is almost saying ‘who am I’. As we begin to dig up our childhood, we discover the stuff that has been swept under the rug for many years, silently and unconsciously festering, it turns to frustration and anger. The anger and frustration that arises is often from having to conform to a tribe or group that has not necessary enhanced our growth. We have to learn to dig deep, we are gardeners removing the deep-rooted weeds that continue to stunt our growth.
It is also important to focus on the grounding force in poses. Initiate activating mula bhanda beginning with active feet, drawing the energy from the earth into the inner thighs and lifting the pelvic floor. Standing poses strengthen ones root chakra, as it connect one with their root lock (mula bhanda). If one is not able to stand firmly, then we are like a tree without roots. If there is a storm then the tree is easily uprooted, similar when there is a storm in our lives we fall apart, we are uprooted. There must be rooting before rising. Just as a plant grows, there are roots anchored before it rises and grows towards the sun. Similarly if we are not rooted then our growth is stunted and our sense of direction instable, our moving forward is not secure. Yoga gives us a sense of stability; it helps one cultivate balance not just on the matt but also in life’s challenges.
*Pigeon folding forward (stenches piriformis), reclined included
*Ankle to knee with variations (stenches piriformis)
Straddle forward bend (adductors)
*Seated wide leg forward bend (adductors)
*head to ankle pose
*head to ankle prep
*Frog and Baddhokon asana (adductors)
(All standing poses, can be focused on 1st chakra when mula chakra is active, creating a grounding force)
Extended hand to big toe pose (ham)
*Reclined half tortoise
*Seated head to knee (ham and inner thigh)
Seated forward bend (ham)
*Hanuman asana (ham)
Childs pose with wide legs (groin and inner thighs)
*Primary yoga poses that isolate high charge points for first chakra.
Chanting mantras while in a yoga pose, immediately grounds a person, it channels energy in the right direction, helping to stabilize the flickering mind and brings one into the physical body. From the physical we then go deeper into stabilizing the mind and emotions. Sound vibration can break through energetic blocks and allow one to uncover their true self-identity that is not depended on ones up bringing. The power of spiritual sound removes our many layers of conditioning and replaces the mind with positive impressions; it is a means to uncover the pure atma (self). When we come to a point in our lives when we question ‘who am I’ that is the first quest of self-identity. To be free
from all of ones labels and masks and to find our true essence and identity is the key to opening our muladhara chakra.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Union, ability to relate to others.
Stored emotions, guilt, resentment and blame.
Second chakra is literally and symbolically the birth canal, it is where new ideas, life and creativity are birthed. It resonates union and connection, our relationships with others and the world around us. It corresponds with the water element in the body.
The second chakra is the source of our creativity. Some people may think that they are not very creative, but creativity is within all of us, from how we decide to dress in the morning, to what kinds of food we like to eat. Our free will and choice is birthed from our second chakra. Free will is an expression of one’s creativity. When we pursue our creative desires, our inner passions, then we feel we have a sense of control. But when one is unable to express their will, or make something happen, or if out of fear one’s desires are crushed, then this may results in one feeling they have lost control.
New ideas and creativity are important to express, it is not that one has to fulfill their desire. Attachment to the fulfillment of desire is not the goal. It is more the expression or act to release that energy within. In some cases it means channeling that energy or desire, especially if it is harmful to oneself or another. It is not possible to fulfill or completely satisfy all of one’s desires. To make the endeavor or effort can be enough, or to except and recognize ones urges may be satisfactory.
The second chakra is located in the hips, pelvic region, the lower back and lower abdominals. It covers our sexual organs, which resonates union. On a physical level male and female come together to unite to create life, on a more subtle plain and energetic level this area symbolizes our union with everything and everyone around us. It is the heart of relationships. How we reciprocate with others and how we react in a given situation forms our relationship with individuals and the world around us. From stable and deep relationships we grow and flourish as individuals, our creative power is alive and our ability to flow with life’s challenges is unobstructed.
We seek fulfilling relationships, whether from our parents, friends or spouse, but in many cases we are let down, hurt and disappointed. It is easy to hold guilt or blame another or oneself. If we do not face our emotions and experiences, or if we are unable to process them, then they are stored and held in the hip and pelvic region of the body. In many cases causing illness, tightness and pain in those area.
Fear often prevents that natural flow of our creative energy, and it obstructs us functioning in healthy relationships. Due to bad experiences we build up fears and unconscious negative behavioral patters. These impressions shape our lives and how we react and relate to people and circumstances. Out of fear we cover up, it may be our inner desires that we are unable to birth, or our trapped emotions.
Resentment, blame and guilt are the emotions that relate to the second chakra. The ability to forgive and to except is the heart to letting go.
The hips are the key to flexibility in body and mind. It mirrors our flexibility in our relationships, not getting stuck with our own agenda, it mirrors our creative power and our flexibility to be able to let go of control.
Teaching yoga, I see how individuals are sometimes cut off from the mobility of the hips and pelvic region. It is not a matter of being physically flexible, but of being conscious and aware of the healing energy that can be generated into the pelvis. Through drawing the prana (life) force into the body by activating the Mula bandha lock, this will brings the first and second chakra alive, I often see it in my students when they turn on the energetic power of mula bhanda. There is movement and power (shakti) in the pelvic region.
target specific area that are charged with second chakra issues:
Hip Flexors (tensor fascia latta TFL), quad and upper thigh (psoas), lower abdominals, lower back, sacrum, kidneys and adrenal.
When TFL, hip flexors and psoas, quads are tight they distort the relationship of the pelvis to the spine and the overall relationship of the skeleton to gravity, causing a sway of the back syndrome or hyper-lordosis. This causes the shoulders and head to pitch forward, the tailbone tip up and back, the waist and hip joints are then compressed. (Julian walker, yoga and the charkas)
Opening these specific areas, help bring blood into the sexual organs, preventing and aiding recovery for illnesses related to those areas, e.g.: endometriosis, fibroids, infertility, and for men prostrate related issues.
Out of fear, numbness and bad experiences we become unconscious of our own body and how to move it, how to breathe into it, and how to connect with the life forces within our very being. Yoga ignites that fire of conscious awareness through the breath. In deep hip-openers, the breath is the key to open and tap into our creative power that is beyond our imagination and minds thoughts. The breath is the key to free our hips and pelvis from our trapped emotions of guilt, blame and resentment. These emotions are hidden deep, stuff from many lives may be stored there. We don’t even know what is coming up, that is not important. The release is important, you do not have to analyze it, just let it go, and feel freer, and lighter.
*Hero’s pose/reclined/ half heroes pose with variations. (Stenches psoas)
*Lunges (quad stench)
Camel against the wall. Strengthens and stenches frontal thigh.
*Half frog reclined on belly version (frontal thigh, Psoas)
*King pigeon, 1,2,3.
Standing goddesses pose
*Cobra (lower back)
Half or full lotus
Hanuman asana in an upright position
*Seated parigasana, seated gate shutting pose (hip flexors)
*Twisting side angle (hip flexor)
*Poses that isolate high charge points for 2nd chakra.
The power of mantra will again take one to a different dimension. Deeper than the breath is spiritual sound vibration. Chanting mantra in a tight hip-opener can empower one to tap into divine power, why struggle alone, when you have access to a power greater than yourself. Mantra immediately connects you to that power. Just like material sounds establishes our relationship with the material forces, for example the sound of the washing machine or the cars outside, these external sounds brings our consciousness to the external world, but when chanting spiritual sound we begin to establish our relationship with the spiritual power in our lives.
For more information on the charkas look at:
Monday, February 26, 2007
Function: confidence, strength, responsibility, courage and empowerment.
The third chakra is the energy source of one's individual power, a person’s self-esteem and level of confidence. This energy channel is situated in the solar plexus. It corresponds with the fire element in the body, similar to ayurveda’s (Indian holistic medicine), pita or fire constitution. Fire is needed in the body for digestion and assimilation, both on a physical and mental level. Fire increases one's sense of personal power bringing clarity and confidence into individuals and burns away dullness and stagnation. The third chakra stimulates a sense of individual identity, separated from one's group identity, and allows one to come into their ego.
From the strength of being rooted and grounded in group identity, and from the security of one's relationship and ability to express emotions and creative desires, one comes into their being as a separate person. If there are weaknesses in our first and second charka then this may form a domino effect, due to feeling insecure in relationships and in one's identity then we lose our self-esteem and confidence. When we fan our strengths, our personal ability to complete tasks, take on responsibility and make choices that are not a reaction to our fears and block, then we strengthen our confidence and will power. This in turn may strengthen our roots and relationships.
Over-confidence, pride, and being too assertive indicates imbalance, and does not necessary represent strength. Humility is the key to strength, as strength comes from a sense of honesty. Over-confidence and showing off is a cover-up from our lack of personal power. Individual personal strength allows us to make decisions in our life that are not governed by our fears, but gives one the ability to act without always worrying what others may think. One's confidence is often diminished when there is criticism or fear of being criticized, when there is fear of rejection and making a fool of one self.
When the body energy is stagnant and dull, our mind loses clarity and motivation to act; this often results in depression and a lack of will power. Yoga stimulates ones whole energy system, burning up physical and mental stagnant energy. The prana vayu is the in-breath that brings life force into the body and mind. To fan a fire one need air, then a fire will blaze burning away-unwanted wastes. The prana (in-breath) when it is brought into the body in a sufficient way, will begin to fan our internal fire, that will expel stagnant waste energy, this will be taken away from the body through the out breath which is call the apana vayu (the life air that is responsible for all elimination in the body).
High charge points
Diaphragm, the bell shaped muscle right under the ribcage, and the erectors, the long muscles along the spine. As we grow up from childhood and adolescents our attempt to find our individual self’s, separated from our parents and authorities, are often confronted with disagreements, criticisms, and are compromised. This stunts our individual growth, and the negativity we experience damages our self-confidence. The frustrations and tension ones experiences is stored in the body. When the diaphragm is tight we cannot take a deep invigorating breath, preventing personal growth and expression, nor is one able to exhale and let go. When the erector muscles are tight, this limits the flexibility in the spine, compresses the vertebrae and restricts ones ability to twist side to side. Activating uddiyana bhanda, and practicing nauli targets the diaphragm and deep twists isolates release in the erectors. Other third chakra organs are the liver and spleen, which are also cleansed through twisting poses.
To further stimulate the third chakra in yoga, one can work with kapalabhati breath (breath of fire), which isolates the abdominal muscle, bringing fire and heat there, which in turn radiates into the body as a whole. The practice of Ha (heating) Kriyas are also very effective in cleansing the body from stagnant energy, they empower individuals to connect to one's core as a powerhouse. Moving from the core is the key in vinyasa flow, it is like plugging into a power-socket, when combined with the breath it turns on the heat and energy in the body. As a yoga practitioner and teacher, I have experience practicing arm balances and inversion can really stimulate ones third chakra, the lightness, control and power that ones connect to gives the ego a boost, it infuses the whole body and mind with shakti (power) that enable one to come into the body and into one's personal identity. It definitely fans the solar energy (pingal nadi) in the body.
Twisting half moon
Through the chanting of mantra in yoga, ones taps into divine power. A strength that is greater then oneself. This infuses one with the ability, confidence and strength to take of many task out of ones normal range, but at the same time it keep one humble.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Function and character: un-conditional love, compassion, trust and faith in a higher power, forgiveness, and kindness.
Envy, hate, and hurt, selfishness and grief.
Open heart means there is a level of transparency within a person. It means you have nothing to hide, no hidden agenda, no personal motives, no deep dark secrets or negative feelings stored within. The heart is the sitting place of emotions, both positive and negative, what we experience in life is transformed into emotions, and is stored in the heart center. When we experience positive emotions, trust and love develops, that results in the body being able to let go and relax. When we have good healing thoughts empathy and compassion grows, but when there is attachment and personal motives then one is unable to empathize or forgive.
High charge points
Pectoralis minor, located top outer chest muscle. Rhomboids located between the shoulder blades. When we experience negative emotions like envy, dislike, and resentment, we don’t want to show what’s within, so the body closes of. The pectoralis (chest muscles) tighten and shorten causing the shoulders to hunch. Deep hurt is stored within the heart; pectoralis minor is like the hinge that closes the door to our heart.
Many times I observe students in a yoga class, especially when focusing on back bends, students often stop breathing or the breath becomes very short. Jaws clench and shoulder muscles tighten. Opening the heart in yoga and in life makes one vulnerable. Due to bad experiences we as individuals do not want to be put in a state of feeling vulnerable out of fear of being exploited or hurt again. There is also a fear of facing what is within, a fear of the truth. Our fear can only be concerned with faith. Faith in the Divine.
*Wheel (variations included)
Eka pada vasistasana (variation with back bend)
*Warrior one with chest opener against the wall
*Reclined side anahata
*Standing back bend
Bound side angel (open shoulders)
Chest openers by the wall
*Shoulder shrugs (warrior one or two)
*Bird wing variation in warrior 1 or 2
Lunge with interlaced arms
Using the power of the breath in a heart opening yoga class, one has to allow the breath to rise into the upper rib cadge, into the front and back of the heart region. The breath is the key to unblock your trapped emotions. The breath is the infused with spiritual energy, it is not ordinary air, so use the breath to cleanse the heart. When tension arises in the body due to fear, release the fear with the power of prana. Move with faith to open the heart. Sometimes going deep stimulates an emotional response, welcome what is arising within, many times we are not even aware what we are holding onto, let it go. You will feel lighter and freer.
Sometimes as much as one may endeavor to breathe, it is still a struggle. That is why I use mantra, spiritual sound vibration. By chanting a mantra while in a yoga pose using the exhale of the breath, the sacred vibration joined with the breath, can penetrate deep into areas that are resistant. Mantra enables one to insistently tap into sacred and divine energy that will give you the spiritual strength to break through both body and mind obstacles.
Opening the heart will allow you to experience genuine compassion and empathy for others. From that compassion develops real love. Love that is not motivated, but that is about giving instead if taking. Love is about letting go of distinctions of friends and enemy, giving form a self-less place.
To be self-less one has to have faith in a higher power, in a divine arrangement. Letting go of ones agenda takes courage; it takes spiritual strength and trust. One has to be able to tap into sacred divine energy, into Gods power to be infused with spiritual strength. So much of our inability to trust the divine, to let go or to have faith is due to a sense of holding on to the ego, a concept of “I” am the doer. We think we have control in our lives, but that control is minimal. We do not recognize that we are forced to move and act according to the waves of time, according to circumstances and providence (karma). Moving and embracing the flow of life, means accepting our limitations with humility, letting go of expectations and opening ones heart to what ever comes in life with gratitude.
Fifth Chakra (vishuddha)
The fifth chakra resonates ones power of choice, and ability to express ones will. Every moment in life we are confronted to make decisions and choose what our next steps may be. The decisions we make in life are expressions of our desires and of our willpower. Although one may acknowledge their inner desires, strengths and emotions, to express what is within, and to make appropriate decisions in life that will nurture and empower growth is a challenge for many. What may be stored in the heart and gut emotions often gets stuck in the throat region, crippling individuals to express their will.
If you think about what expression is & the way people express themselves. It is controlled through the power on voice and sound, facial expressions and body language. Sound is the most penetrating and powerful form of expression; through our vocals we have an ability to express ourselves in a positive or negative way. Our emotions are expressed through sound, when one might be angry then it comes out through the tone in their voice as well as the language they may choose to get their message across in. When there is an emotion of love or compassion then softness prevails in the voice. Our voice, how and what we say mirrors our inner thoughts, desires and emotions. How we express ourselves verbally determines the conscious and unconscious choices we make. It is also easy to make decisions based of our fears, thus our fears may dictate our power on choice. Fears may be overcome by faith.
The jaw also governs expression, there is so much tension held in the jaw. Our control issues are held there, not willing to let go, being stubborn and holding on to a sense of righteousness. For many we are unconscious of what we are holding onto in the jaw. To think that one is in total control is an illusion. So many times we try and control our situation using the power on our voice, in turn the jaw holds onto this concept and locks out. To let go of always trying to control a situation or persons in ones life, takes faith in a higher power and trusting in divine will.
The region surrounding the throat is the midway point from the line of energy that is formed from head to heart. Person who may have blocks in the 5th chakra often cut off their head to the heart, and or head to the rest of the body. To be aware what the body and heart feels, to consciously connect with the body and its needs & takes openness in the 5th chakra. So many times we bottle up our emotions, not allowing them out of our hearts. When one may be upset, the lump that forms in the throat literally stops us from communicating with the rest of our body as well as the situation we may be trying to express ourselves in. The 5th chakra is in essence in communication, not just with others and but with oneself also. Communication means coming together with a conscious connection. How is it possible to really communicate with others and to express ones will if ones is cut off from there own bodies and hearts.
I also like to say that the 5th chakra is the lid to the heart. Opening that lid frees one from all the stored emotions, attachments and desires that may be trapping an individual in their body, as well as their concepts and beliefs. The key to opening that lid is faith.
Having Faith in divine will, and letting go of trying to control. Trusting a greater power in ones life is empowering. We can be constantly on the mental level when making decisions, did I do the right thing or not, but if one is able to open up to divine will then ones choice has no label of right or wrong. It is easy to act and make decisions based on ones personal agenda, “what’s in it for me”, when one is empowered by divine will then one becomes selfless.
One of the most common observations I see while teaching yoga is how students lock out the jaw, especially when faced with an intense stretch or pose. Instead of breathing, the jaw takes control; also most subtlety saying, “I am in control, I will not surrender”. The face is the index to the inner self. The constant holding on to tension around the neck and shoulders stops individuals going deeper in their yoga practice. Also into understanding that life’s challenges are gifts and opportunities to change old reactive behavioral patterns.
Releasing the tension around the neck and shoulders is like flipping the lid open to allow Gods will to come into the body and mind. When faced with jaws clenching, it is good to release with a lion’s breath. This immediately brings oxygen to the head and face and releases the stress that is held in the face and jaw. Then to infuse mantra, power of sound, clears the throat chakra for divinity to enter into the body. The 5th chakra not only blocks what we may need to release from the body, but also prevent what we may need to bring into the body to heal. People are often self conscious at first to chant vocally, but once there is a letting go and they express themselves with full power then one can hear the vibration go deep down, as if it goes into the throat chakra, then the heart, then into the core the belly, the pelvic floor and finally into ones roots and legs.
Another great way to work yoga into the 5th chakra is to do neck releases. This can be done not just sitting, but also in poses like extended side angel, and triangle. Instead of having the arm up over by the ear, allow the arm and hand to float a few inches above the side waist and ribs. Allow the head to draw downwards, instead of looking up; drop the ear toward the shoulder, while at the same time extending down through the fingertips along the side body. Great counter forces are put into play that stretches the neck and releases tension there. Why always look up in poses if that creates tension. Actively look down; play with ways to release that tightness. It is not that you need to fit in what yoga is supposed to look like, yoga fits around the individual persons body and needs.