This last week in our June Yoga Pop Up we worked on our Chakras. Before you switch off at the mention of Yoga and Chakras ( if you're not an MBY Yogi !), take a second to answer this simple question, "How is your energy today?" Feeling lethargic or maybe wired? 'On a High' or feeling low? We all already recognise the energies within us. Usually this relates to a positive or negative impact they are having on our daily routines. The words we choose every day to describe our physical, emotional, intellectual or sexual energies prove this awareness of the changes and fluctuations in the energetic states of our bodies and minds.
That's just the way it is and we have to go with it, right? Wrong! Take a look at this photo below representing energies within you. Wouldn't it be great to harness them and be able to live the best life you can? If you had a machine, let's say a car, where the fuel used to make the engine run smoothly was either blocked or flowing too much, you'd fix it rather than let it affect everything else and possibly cause a breakdown, wouldn't you? So why not your Self and the energetic flow within that makes you tick?
These are the Chakras - a map of the 7 main energetic centres within our bodies. Each one, moving from the bottom of our body to the Crown of our head, affects us in different ways and together they govern our state of being. Not quite tapped into them yet? Ever felt butterflies in your tummy? The swelling of your heart with happiness? An inability to speak and words 'caught' in your throat? A 6th sense or intuition maybe? You see, you do know these energy centres from having experienced them. Having said this, the odd thing is that physically they don't exist. If you opened your body up, you wouldn't find the 7 lotus symbols of the Chakras or for that matter anything visible to the eye embedded into your spine at the specific points. The Chakras are metaphysical. Yet even modern science has caught up in recognising a specific energetic presence at each of their mapped locations. Too much to believe? If we can be sure of the existence of a black hole 2,000 light years away (the nearest star FYI is 4.2 light years away!), without any chance of us ever experiencing it, why would we not believe in the existence of energy within us that we feel every day?
I write this Blog mainly as a memory aid (!) for our MBY Yogis, but I hope it can be a starting point for others, who may want to find out a little more about themselves. Here are the 7 Chakras in order, coloured in their associated colour. The physical and emotional energetic connection of each and the affect of imbalances on our health and personality are briefly listed - see how many you relate to!
1.Root/Muladhara Chakra - literally at the centre of the bottom of your body or torso and your tailbone or coccyx.
Physically linked to your Adrenal Glands, your Hormones, Metabolism and specifically Adrenalin, so all about physical survival. This is where we find our stability and security. It connects us to the Earth through our bones and skeletal system (think grounding, supporting) and when balanced and fluid the Root energy brings physical health and a comforting sense of emotional belonging.
Imbalances are seen physically with problems with our bones and lower organs and mentally in lethargy and disconnection, causing anxiety.
The associated element is, of course, Earth!
TREE/VRKASANA EASY SEATED/SUKHASANA MOUNTAIN /TADASANA.
2. Sacral / Svadisthana Chakra - lower abdomen below the navel.
Physically linked to your Sex Organs, therefore giving us the energy to literally sustain life! This transforms into enthusiasm to find pleasure from life in general and brings out our creativity. It can be a very focussed energy physically and emotionally and when balanced allows an acceptance of enjoying life and embracing it.
Imbalances are seen physically with problems with our bladder, prostate and reproductive organs and mentally in body focussed issues, inability to establish boundaries and emotional instability or lack of maturity.
The associated element is Water.
GARLAND / MALASANA TRIANGLE/TRIKONASANA
EXT. SIDEANGLE/ UTT. PARSVOKANASANA
3.Solar Plexus / Manipura Chakra ( colour Yellow!) - between the sternum and the belly button.
Physically linked to your Digestive System and in particular the Pancreas. This is where we find our willpower and self control. It gives the ability to 'know' your own personality and by doing so, be confident in your relationship with the world. Sometimes called the Warrior Chakra!
Imbalances are physically often linked to digestive issues causing ulcers, allergies and fatigue amongst many others. Also being attached to the Pancreas, Diabetes can be a sign of imbalance in this energetic centre. Mentally and emotionally an imbalance on one hand from too little energy or a blockage is displayed as low self esteem and addictiveness can result. On the other hand, too much energy moving in this Chakra is seen in over assertion and controlling behaviour.
The associated element is Fire.
CAMEL/UTSTRASANA SAGE'S POSE/ MARICHYASANA.
....OR ANY TWIST!
4.Heart/Anahata Chakra - we all know where this one is!
Not just physically linked to the obvious, this Chakra is tied to your Thymus Gland, which sits just above your heart. It produces the hormones that stimulate general growth. It also produces Lymphocytes, which are a major player in our Immune system. This Chakra again pretty obviously is linked to that powerful energy we all know as Love, seen in not just love for others, but our relationship with everything in nature. Here we find compassion for others, self assurance and continual emotional development. Interestingly, it is the central Chakra, being a connection between the more physical related lower Chakras to the emotional and spiritual above.
Physical imbalances appear in respiratory and circulatory problems and heart disease. Possessiveness, jealousy and cruel behaviour are signs of the Chakra being 'too open'. Blockages and low energy brings feelings of isolation, clinginess and fear of rejection.
The associated element is Air.
'UP' DOG/ URDHVA MUKHA SVANASANA. LOW LUNGE/ANJANEYASANA
5.Throat/Vishudda Chakra - again, it's in the name!This also, however, governs our Ears.
Physically linked to our Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands, which control Metabolism, Physical Growth and Mental Development. The latter also controls our levels of Calcium in the blood. This is about our Communication, understanding and being understood, listening and being heard. When balanced we are able to express ourselves clearly and truthfully and are willing to listen and consider.
Imbalances physically affect the neck, ear and throat area. Emotionally, low energy or blockages show as uncertainty in voicing opinions, shyness, embarrassment or confusion. Alternatively, signs of too much energy are gossiping, verbal aggression and lying.
The associated element is Ether.
Mod. MERMAID/EKA PADA RAJAPOTANASANA. FISH/ MATSEYENDRASANA
CRESCENT HIGH LUNGE/ ASHTA CHANDRASANA
6. Now we arrive at our 6th Chakra, Brow/ Ajna Chakra, often called the 3rd Eye. This is just above the centre of your eyebrows and is linked physically to the Pituitary Gland, a vital Gland controlling much of our general body chemistry. It is very connected to Birth and Mothers, hormonally looking after labour and lactation, which is also when women interestingly are most in tune with their intuition. This Chakra and the 7th are both more spiritual than physical in their energy, the Brow chakra being the seat of our knowledge, 6th sense and our awareness of Self. Balance here brings Inner Peace and a deeper understanding.
Imbalances affect the Mental state; from lack of concentration and imagination - a stagnating mind to delusions and disassociation.
Working with Pranayama/ Breathing Practices, Meditation and more subtle forms of practice can help balance this energetic centre.
7. The 7th Chakra, Crown / Sahasrara is the hardest to experience from the energetic point of view. We all know where our Crown sits however, and one way of relating I find is to notice where You stop and everything else begins, then realise this energy is actually not contained there within the head, but leaves us through the Crown connecting to all other energy around us and beyond. We are all small energetic parts of the bigger picture so to speak!
This 7th Chakra can be a difficult concept to understand and experience. Meditation is the tool to use to try to find this higher state of consciousness. For the majority of us it may remain unrecognised, but the energy balance here still affects us. When balanced it will bring Peace and an ability to find fulfillment in our life. Signs of imbalance are frustration at life, greed and materialism, obsessions, depression or a sense of detachment from reality.
The study of this subject of the Chakras could take years! My knowledge is basic. However, I am lucky enough to say that I do believe in them through experience. Becoming aware of your own energy or energies does not involve taking a medical degree nor do you have to practice Yoga. Just take a few moments each day, sit comfortably, close your eyes, look inside and ask yourself a few basic questions:
"How do I feel today physically?"
"How do I feel today emotionally?"
"How do I feel today mentally?"
Listen to your answers and see if there is an energetic side to them. Look at the list above and whether there is a Chakra that may be involved. If there is, try one or two of the asanas a few times, watching in between for any residual energy or any change. Then sit quietly for a few more minutes, breathing deeply and ask yourself the question,
"How do I feel now energetically?" It may not happen immediately, but over time you will begin to tune in and find balance in the flow throughout your energetic systems, just like that old car!
NB. There are many ways of harnessing and balancing the Chakras - essential oils, crystals, nutrition and diet amongst them. Experimenting further should be done under the guidance of a trained specialist and should not take the place of medication or any other medical advice.
Sending you positive energy!
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