Balancing the Chakras : A Simple Guide

Meditations, Mantras and Movement to Keep Your Chakras In Balance

What sets Yoga apart from other calisthenic routines?

The ancient yogis knew of something beyond the outer shell of movement- something deeper than muscles and bones- yet something just as important to shaping our physical health.

What they looked at and sought to keep healthy through their physical routine was the Chakra System.

So, what’s a… Chakra??

A Chakra (literally Wheel in Sanskrit) is an energy center or wheel of energetic movement in the body. It is part of the body’s subtle anatomy; and though subtle, has major effects on the gross, physical body and mind.

There are 7 major Chakras, which run along and align the spinal column, ranging from the base of the pelvic floor to the crown of the head.

Each of these 7 Chakras has a specific energetic and emotional quality, associated color, sound, and deeper meaning.

Often when we feel out of balance- angry, saddened, over-whelmed, exhausted- it is a sign that our deeper, more subtle self is in need of some serious restoration. Therefore, a great way to target the root of our imbalances is to look at the Chakras, and bring them back into balance first.

Below, you’ll find a simple guide to the Chakras, and how to bring them back into balance:

MULADHARA (ROOT CHAKRA):

Location: At the base of the spinal column, centered in the Pelvic Floor / Energetic Qualities: Stability, Security, Safety, Fear & Fearlessness / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unsafe and fear-laden

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Lying on your back, with your hands on your low belly, imagine red light charging through your spine down to the base, igniting new life and energy with each breath.

Mantra: “I fearlessly take on the challenges of life. Trusting my inner-guide, I face the unknown with love.”

Movement: Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose). This posture requires strength, poise, and confidence. Open your heart wide and feel the power of your lower body. Breathe deeply all the way into the Pelvic Floor.

 

SVADISTHANA (SACRAL CHAKRA):

Location: Just above the pubic bone, below the naval / Energetic Qualities: Creativity, Sexual Energy, Personal Expression / When you’re out of balance: You may feel “stuck” or uninspired

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice simple seated meditation, follow your breath and soothe your mind into stillness. Creativity is the product of a clear mind. Sometimes just finding some peace and quiet is all you need.

Mantra: “I am available for creativity to flow through me with abundance and ease. I reflect the creation of all life, and recognize the gift of creation within me.”

Movement: Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose). This posture requires strength and ease, and challenges the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdomen to maintain a long, supple spine. It sparks awareness and stillness. Root firmly, and maintain a soft gaze.

 

MANIPURA (SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA):

Location: At the Solar Plexus, between the naval and the breast bone / Energetic Qualities: Personal Power, Will, Decision Making / When you’re out of balance: You may feel uncertain, weary, uneasy about a decision

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice Kapalabhati Breath (Skull Shining Breath). Breathe in deeply through the nose into the belly, let out quick exhalations through the nose, as the navel “snaps” back toward the spine. Before trying this on your own, ask a teacher for proper instruction and safety guides!

Mantra: Simply state, “I am” with each inhalation. With each exhalation, bring your awareness to your physical presence, stating “here”.

Movement: Plank Pose. Yes, a simple posture to refine your core muscles and define the strength of your abdomen. Gently draw your navel toward the spine, reaching through your crown, broadening across your chest, and pressing out through your heels.

 

ANAHATA (HEART CHAKRA):

Location: At the heart center / Energetic Qualities: Loving-Kindess, Acceptance of Self and Others, Compassion / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unloved or unloving, disconnected, impatient

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Simple sitting, with hands on your heart. Breathe into your heart space, filling it up with air and letting it flow out. Practice until you feel your chest and shoulders softened and available to move freely.

Mantra: Loving-Kindness “May my heart be filled with loving kindness, may I be well, may I be peaceful and at ease, may I be happy”

Movement: Ustrasana (Camel Pose). This backbend opens the heart, strengthens the back muscles and invites you to breathe into the chest and ribs. Keep the neck and throat soft, and use the stability and strength of your legs to ground.

 

VISHUDDHA (THROAT CHAKRA):

Location: In the throat / Energetic Qualities: Verbal Expression, Speaking our Highest Truth, Communication / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unable to say what you need to, afraid to share your truth

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Recite “AUM” with clarity, taking equal time to pronounce each sound “A-U-M”. Don’t be afraid to make noise! The point is to hear yourself, and to get past the discomfort of opening up.

Mantra: “I speak my truth with confidence and clarity. I listen deeply to myself and to others, and communicate with ease.”

Movement: Matsyasana (Fish Pose). Try this assisted with two blocks, one underneath the scapula, and one supporting the head. Lengthen through your toes, and allow your throat space to open as you relax the face and breathe.

 

AJNA (THIRD EYE CHAKRA): 

Location: Just at the Pineal Gland (Third Eye), set between the brow bones / Energetic Qualities: Insight and Intuition / When you’re out of balance: You may feel lost or untrusting of yourself

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: With eyes closed, bring your inner awareness to the place between your brow. Keep your inner gaze alive and bright, as practice maintaining focus on this area.

Mantra: “I am connected, at peace, and present.”

Movement: Balasana (Child’s Pose). Allow your head to rest fully, either on the floor, or on a bolster or block. Soften the muscles of the face, and allow the gently pressure of the position bring your awareness to your third eye.

 

SAHASWARA (CROWN CHAKRA):

Location: At the crown of the head, rising up like a “Thousand Petal Lotus Flower” / Energetic Qualities: Trust in your Highest Self, Connection to Self, to all things, and ultimately to the Essence of your True Nature / When you’re out of balance: You may feel lonely, unsupported or irrelevant

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice inhaling and exhaling bright white light in through your crown. Inhale, white light filters in the body all the way down the spine. Exhale, white light leaves through the crown, shooting back out and creating a field around you.

Mantra: “AUM. I am one with all that is.”

Movement: Sirsasana (Headstand). Please consult a yoga instructor before attempting this posture. Grow through the spine, reach the tail and the toes upward. Use your foundation wisely, planting the forearms/hands firmly into the earth. Breathe deeply into the body, and keep a soft gaze.

 

 

Happy Balancing, Yogis!

With Love + Namaste,

Stacy

 

 

Take 5 Deep Breaths

Recently I was at Costco struggling to pull one of the super-sized carts from the other 20 carts crammed together in a row, when I faintly heard, “take five deep breaths”. I thought I was hearing things and yanked the cart out and started walking into the store. “Hey, Stacy McCarthy, I know you heard that…” I turned around and it was a yoga student I hadn’t seen in a very long time, but he remembered my common breath cue stemming from my roots in Ashtanga Yoga. It was a sweet reminder of taking the power of our breath off the mat and out into our day. Breathing is massively practical. It’s meditation for people who think they can’t meditate.
Yogis use a wide variety of breath control techniques called pranayama, to promote concentration and improve vitality. As a way to reach enlightenment, Buddha advocated breath- meditation. Science is just beginning to provide evidence to what yogis have known for centuries, that the benefits of a breathing practice are real. Studies have found, for example, that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and attention deficit disorder.
How controlled breathing promotes healing remains a source of scientific study. Dr. Richard Brown, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University wrote the following in his book, ‘ The Healing Power of the Breath’.
“One theory is that controlled breathing can change the response of the body’s autonomic nervous system, which controls unconscious processes such as heart rate and digestion as well as the body’s stress response.”
“Consciously changing the way you breathe appears to send a signal to the brain to adjust the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which can slow heart rate and digestion and promote feelings of calm as well as the sympathetic system, which controls the release of stress hormones like cortisol.”
Try it yourself. Take a 4 count breath in, hold four counts, exhale four counts and hold four counts. Repeat five times. This practice is so simple and yet so profound.
Next time you feel yourself anxious or stressed, just like I remind my students, who catch me off my mat and in return remind me, Take Five Deep Breaths.
Namaste ~ Stacy
The main objective of Sirsasana (headstand) and Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) are not merely to arrange for a copious supply of blood to the head and upper body but also to slow down the respiratory rate. When Sirsasana has been sufficiently mastered, the breathing rate which normally is about 15-18 a minute, automatically comes down to four a minute. The aim should be to reduce it to, two per minute. Thus at this rate, 24 rounds of breathing in Sirsasana will take 12 minutes”. Krishnamacharya 

Sticky: What is Yoga?

To the beginning student of yoga in America it usually starts with getting out of pain in the body, creating strength where the body is weak & flexibility where the body is tight.
There is much more to yoga than twisting your body into a pretzel. Yoga also stretches your mind by asking you to challenge your beliefs about yourself, your body & your consciousness. In doing so yoga creates real and lasting change in the lives of its many practitioners. An added side effect the physical postures produce is shedding unwanted pounds, healing old injuries, detoxifying the body and creating muscular balance. But make no mistake yoga is not an exercise. It is a body awareness technique aimed at liberating your consciousness from old, habitual was of thinking, being and acting. The lean, strong, flexible yoga body is merely a seductive by-product of the work of awakening your consciousness.

Yogi’s have pursued their practice with commitment & devotion for centuries. It’s not a fad or the latest fitness craze. Those who commit themselves to this ancient technique purposefully, intentionally & with passionate devotion know that yoga’s secret & it’s real power doesn’t lie in the youthful vitality & a body free from fear, but in it’s ability to connect to the deepest part of ourselves and create lasting peace.

Is Yoga A Religion?

Is Yoga A Religion?


Every so often, I will be at a social event and someone will introduce me to his or her friends as their yoga teacher and the friend will ask, “So do you study Hinduism or Buddhism?” There is an assumption that because of the use of Sanskrit words, chanting, or the study of ancient yogic texts such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra that yoga has a religious affiliation.

According to T.K.V. Desikachar, a prominent yogi credited with being a driving force behind the resurgence of Hatha yoga in recent decades, “Yoga is not a religion and should not affiliate with any religion”. Yoga has no religious obligations, no singular creed and it has no rituals that profess a faith such as baptism or confirmation.

So, if yoga is not a “religion” is it a hobby, a sport, an exercise routine, or a discipline such as the study of medicine or martial arts? In some ways, yoga represents all these things and more.

Many students come initially to yoga for the many health benefits. Eventually with regular practice, many find the meditative effects on the mind and emotions can become a spiritual experience.

So then, what is spirituality?

Some equate spirituality with praying, meditating or even reading enlightening literature. In its basic form, it’s your level of consciousness. It’s the way you get in synch with yourself, connecting with who you are on a deeper level. It’s the connection to our inner self. If religion could be referred to as the external frame or organizational structure for it’s congregations, then spirituality would be the internal connection and understanding of one’s self and their place in the universe.

Yoga puts us in touch with this inner self, no matter our outer beliefs.