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

 

 

How To Start : Living Your Purpose

What does it really take to find your purpose?

You can’t force your purpose… What you’re meant to do will flow through you with ease, grace and abundance. And it absolutely will, if only you allow it to.

It will take deep work, inner-looking, and patience with yourself. It will take pushing through your fears and self-imposed boundaries.

And it will take letting yourself go freely into the flowing process of self-discovery.

You can think of it like this:

Your body and mind are channels which conduct energy. When these channels are clear, embodied energy can flow through you with ease- i.e.: whatever you’re desiring to become or create will manifest naturally.

Creating a clear channel through which energy can flow is the first step to honoring your ability to shine, to do what you love, and to live for your unique purpose. 

But…. how??

By doing your practice. Every. Single. Day.

The bottom line: Do your self-work. Practice loving your body, respecting your mind, and taking time to rest. Practice pushing through discomfort- in asana, in meditation, during your work day. Practice loving fully, practice compassion, practice peace and ease of mind.

It may sound silly, but being there for yourself will allow you to truly listen to what your soul desires.

And from there, you will begin to live for your purpose.

Maybe what you’ll discover isn’t what you thought you wanted when you were younger. Maybe it’s not being a CEO, or an astronaut, or the president.

Maybe you’ll find that your unique purpose is being a supportive spouse, a loving and attentive mother, a team player at work, an inspired entrepreneur, or a better steward of the earth.

No matter your end goal, you can only start from where you are right Here and Now. So, breathe, be here, and trust that you’ll discover your purpose as it unfolds.

How one yogi began living for her purpose…

Betsy’s Story:

Betsy is a dear friend and an alumni of my seasonal day retreat series, A Day of Namaste. After attending the last ADON, Betsy was inspired to ditch her limiting self-view and begin living for the purpose of her higher self! Her story is truly inspiring. In her second trimester of pregnancy, she was let-go from a company which was going through bankruptcy. Some fear, and a bit of an identity crisis took over, but then… something magical happened. In going with the flow, in listening to her soul’s desire, she realized that the job she thought would always support her was actually holding her back. And so she created her own lifestyle blog for Mamas and Mama-To-Be’s, called Beautiful With Baby. Read her story below, and check out her beautiful site!!

Betsy and I recently led a Mamaste Meditation Hike at Beaming Cafe Del Mar. We shared our favorite superfood concoctions for Mamas, and talked about what inspires us to live fully aligned with our purpose. I even shared the McCarthy family creed, which begins with our Family’s Purpose.

Here it is: McCarthy Family Purpose

The purpose of our family is to love and support each family member in achieving the fulfillment that comes from doing their best to fulfill their life purpose. maintaining high levels of integrity, and working to improve themselves each day.

And our: McCarthy Family Creed

  1. Today I give thanks for all that I am and all that I have.
  2. Today I treat everyone I see with love and respect.
  3. Today I focus on staying the paphto fulfilling my life purpose.
  4. Today I do my best in everything I do.
  5. Today I do my best to improve my knowledge, skills, health and attitude.
  6. Today I create abundance for myself and all those around me.

 

Photo courtesy of Beautiful with Baby

“I am so fortunate to have been able to attend one of Stacy’s A Day of Namaste retreats. The minute you are welcomed through the doors at A Day of Namaste, you can automatically sense that by the end of the retreat your mindset and daily routine will be shifted for a greater good. Going into my last retreat I was in a state of uncertainty in my career. At 5 months pregnant I was seeking to grow a side business that would allow my creative side to shine and be compensated for. During the retreat I was given the guidance, tools, and shift in mindset that has now led me to be going full throttle with my lifestyle blog, Beautiful With Baby. I am now being sought out by major beauty and apparel brands for partnership. A year ago I never would’ve put myself out there to welcome this kind abundance with the fear of rejection. This change was directly influenced from attending ADON. The education you receive at A Day of Namaste is full circle. Everything from a healthy diet, movement, and mindset are crucial to living your best life and reaching your goals. I also learned how to karate chop a piece of plywood in half at the last retreat. So cool. Hiiii-ya!” – Betsy B.

SMOGIs We Admire : Re-Blog from YOGASMOGA

Re:Blog from YOGASMOGA

STACY MCCARTHY

Stacy McCarthy has been at the forefront of the yoga, fitness and health industries for more than 25 years. Through her business, Yoga Namastacy she’s developed a collection of best-selling DVDs, books, and trainings, and has contributed her expertise on yoga and health to countless media outlets and conferences.

BELIEF:

“I believe in promoting a lifestyle of long-term health. Health is not defined by the number of hours you workout or the amount of calories you eat, but by the joy and fullness of your life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.” 

TEACHING:

Stacy’s current teaching is in the lineage of T. Krishnamacharya combining the alignment of B.K.S.Iyengar with the breath, focus and flow of Ashtanga. Her cutting edge classes are unique, as she uses a variety of techniques and tools for accessing and sustaining mental, emotional and physical well-being.

INSPIRATION:

“My mission is to inspire people to take charge of their health and happiness by moving intelligently, adopting a plant-passionate diet, improving lifestyle practices, and learning to live and love like you really mean it.”

YOGASMOGA:

“It’s hard for me to believe that well into my fifties, I am asked to model and represent yoga clothes. Yogasmoga is so authentic and has a new paradigm on how the apparel industry operates. It’s made in the USA, so no potential of child labor, no synthetic dye, no photoshop of their models and so much more. They walk their talk, models of all ages, cultural diversity, size and shape.”

 

Thank you YOGASMOGA  for making me your first featured SMOGI!! It is truly an honor to be recognized as a valuable community member, and a representative of a company which I admire and love to wear!!

With Love + Namaste,

Stacy

Eating for Anti-Inflammation

Every wonder why your skin’s not glowing? Why your joints are achy? Why you can’t recover after a high intensity workout? The reason, more than likely, is that you’re inflamed.

Why Fight Inflammation?

Inflammation is a positive and natural part of a healthy immune system. When you get a bug bite and your skin shows localized redness- that’s inflammation helping to rid of the toxins from the bite.

But, it has its time and place… Researchers have shown us that low-grade, chronic inflammation is a major contributor to a compromised immune system, and a resulting slew of health problems.

Inflammation has been linked to: pre-mature aging, various digestive problems, various cancers, chronic fatigue, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, overall irritability in body and mind, and more. It has even been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers!

Eek! So, what can I do about it? 

There’s a lot to be done to live a life that promotes Anti-Inflammation (Contributors to inflammation can include lack of sleep, lack of exercise, diets low on Omega 3 fatty acids and high in Omega 6 fatty acids, chronic stress, poor gut health, lack of time outdoors, low-grade food allergies and sensitivities, and environmental toxins). Health is complex and typically requires addressing habits in all areas of our lives, but we can start in the area we can most control… our diets.

Here are my rudimentary rules to Eating For Anti-Inflammation:

Stick to Water Based Foods!

Eat what Alkalizes!

Get Plenty of Anti-Oxidants!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

 

 

It’s that simple?! 

Yes! Can you believe it? In print, the path to a body free from excessive inflammation is accessible and simple. But, in practice it can be challenging- not because these foods aren’t delicious or easy to prepare, but because we’re fighting against old habits and cravings…

“Joint pain, bloating and foggy thoughts are not imagined symptoms, They’re the result of improper diet. Make eliminations. Start with wheat, then dairy, then sugar. These are the most inflammatory foods.”  ― Nancy S. Mure

Eliminating these addicting foods is the first step. But instead of going cold-turkey, try reducing the amount you consume and pairing them with seriously hydrating, alkalizing foods at first. Don’t get stuck on “getting rid” of the old, just “add in” supportive, nutrient dense foods and notice the difference you feel. Once you notice how good it feels to fuel your body with what it really wants, it’s hard to go back to your old way of eating.

What should I eat? 

Let’s go back to our list:

Stick to Water Based Foods!

Eat what Alkalizes!

Get Plenty of Anti-Oxidants!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Water Based Foods are typically plants, typically green and typically raw. Try eating a big salad every day, juicy fruits (minimally), and vegetables like cucumber, tomato, radishes, lettuce, kale, carrots, spinach, zucchini, broccoli and sprouts. It is ok to eat cooked food, but do your best to cook slowly, on low heat (under 140′) and without excessive oil or butter. It is also ok to eat your favorite proteins, but try limiting the portion- just a small fist size – paired with a giant salad.

Alkalizing Foods are foods that stabilize your pH level and create a vibrant environment in which longterm health thrives. Disease loves an acidic environment- so does inflammation. Try beginning each day with a big cup of warm water with lemon. Even though lemon is on its own acidic, when metabolized it becomes alkaline. Some of the most alkalizing foods are lemon, Himalayan Pink Salt, grasses and greens, kelp, ginger, radish, chia, cucumber, beans, cauliflower, avocado, and coconut oil. Neutral pH foods include oatmeal, and dates.

Anti-Oxidants help to protect your cells from the effects of free radicals in the body. Try including foods in your diet that are rich in anti-oxidants like beets, blueberries, flax seeds, onion, sea weed, garlic and turmeric. Taking a walk next to the ocean or sitting with a purring kitty can also help to manage free radicals by providing the body with negative ions!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! And I’m not kidding! Your body is made up of up to 60% water. Your brain and heart alone are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. When you wake up, make sure water is the first thing that enters your body. And keep your glass full throughout the day. Not only does proper hydration help you to metabolize your food, it will help to keep your bowels functioning optimally, and will help keep your mind happy. Often when you’re feeling “foggy, lethargic, and warn out” you are just dehydrated.

Try waking up with this ANTI-INFLAMMATORY TURMERIC TONIC:

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups coconut water (or filtered water)

2 tbsp grated fresh turmeric (or ½ to 1 tsp dried turmeric powder)

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

juice from 1 lemon or orange

1 tbsp raw honey or real maple syrup

pinch of black pepper

Optional: a pinch of cayenne or cinnamon

DIRECTIONS: Place all ingredients into high speed blender and blend until smooth. Drink as is or strain before serving.

Don’t forget the pepper!

Turmeric gets its anti-inflammatory properties from its Curcumin, which is an anti-oxidant therefore reducing free radicals, helps to regulate digestion by regulating the gallbladder and bile production, promotes healthy heart function, and may even help to prevent viral and bacterial diseases in the body! But make sure you add in some black pepper. Curcumin doesn’t easily release into the bloodstream until this spice is added.

And next time you’re at Beaming Cafe, try starting your meal with a Vitality Shot. This little shot packs a kick, but it’s worth it! It also kicks inflammation out of the body with a heavy dose of lemon, ginger and turmeric!

Here’s to a healthy, beaming YOU!!

With Love + Namaste,

Stacy