From today, it's nine weeks until my 47th birthday.
By now, I thought I'd have it all figured out! I'm doing ok, but I want to make sure I'm heading into the next decades in a good place.
I want to feel great when I get out of bed or look in the mirror. I want to go to meetings with confidence in my abilities. I want to contribute all to the world that I can.
So, I'm offering a free 8 week course (not selling anything!) and allowing you all to go on this journey with me. Let's do it together. Let's learn to look in the mirror and love who we are - inside and out.
Head to www.beyonddowndog.com/courses for more information.
See you in a week.
Learning to speak from a spiritual space is a challenge and takes practice. Here are some more tools to balance your 5th (Throat) Chakra.
Using the same mudra as we practiced in our previous Chakra 5 discussion (see here) and sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Inhale and on the exhale, slowly say “HUM”. Repeat for 5 minutes.
Sit in easy pose and rotate your neck gently in both directions. Then, place your left hand on the right side of the neck and gently bring your left ear toward your shoulder. Do not pull your head or force it in anyway. Hold for 5 breaths and release. Do the same pose on the other side. Repeat a few times.
Shoulder Stand/Half Shoulder Stand
Lying on your back, bring your knees into your chest. Lift your tailbone off of the floor and bring your hands to your hips to support the lower half of your body. The weight should be in your upper arms and not in your neck. Try to get your legs nice and straight and pointing straight up to the ceiling (if this is too much, angle your legs as below). Stay for a few breaths only, unless you have practiced this pose in the past. Ask your doctor if you are ok to do this pose and please do not do it if you have neck problems.
Starting from a similar position as in Shoulder Stand, bring your legs up over your head while supporting your hips with your hands. Gently bring your feet over your head toward the floor. This takes some practice! If you place a chair behind your head, you can start by bringing your feet over your head to rest on the chair. Stay only for a few breaths unless you have practiced this pose in the past.
Legs Up the Wall
Lie on your back with your rear end up against a wall. Raise your legs so they are against the wall, and flex your feet. Stay here for 5 minutes.
Cat & Cow
Start in tabletop with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your ankles. Inhale and curve your back downward as you gently look up. Exhale as you arch your back away from the floor and bring your head down. Do this as long as you would like!
The 5th Chakra, also known as the throat chakra and Vishudda, is located in your throat area. It is associated with the color blue and is the first of the three chakras known as the “spiritual chakras”.
When your throat chakra is balanced, you are able to speak your truth. You can communicate with ease and handle conflict appropriately. You don’t feel that you need to keep secrets, and you can express your feelings. It allows you to communicate from a higher, more mindful and spiritual place.
An underactive or blocked throat chakra can lead to much stress. Someone in this situation may withhold information when appropriate or feel like they are living a lie. An overactive throat chakra may result in too much talking, gossiping, being rude to others or cutting people off when they are talking.
Our practice with the first four chakras has prepared us to work on this chakra. We have addressed our need for safety and security (1st chakra), allowed for freedom of expression in and acceptance (2nd chakra), found and embraced our power (3rd chakra) and learned to love and be open to love (4th chakra). Now, we can elevate our spirits and connect with spirit.
Try these practices to balance your throat chakra:
I speak freely
My voice is heard
I speak with love and integrity
I am kind with my words
I address conflict appropriately
Sit comfortably and place your hands in the Granthita Mudra (See instructions here: http://learningdays.tumblr.com/post/39128380533/granthita-mudra-mudra-for-activating-throat) . You are basically holding your hands with palms facing each other and fingers intertwined. Your thumbs touching the index finger of the same hand. Your palms will not be touching, and your hands will create a small hole between them (as you look down at them). Rest your hands in your lap. Imagine a ball of blue light forming in between your hands. Feel it move and glow beyond your fingers. Feel it split and then feel blue, glowing balls moving up your arms, through your shoulders and into your neck where they come back together. Here, the glowing light encompasses your throat and neck. Sit quietly as you feel this energy. When you are ready to finish, slowly allow the blue light to fade.
Ahh, the Heart Chakra. It allows us to give and accept love freely. Once it’s balanced, you will feel an openness and lightness in your chest. Love makes the word go ‘round, right? This one is pretty important.
Let’s practice to balance the Heart Chakra.
Sit in a comfortable position. Place your hands over the center of your chest. Feel your chest move as you breathe. Feel your chest getting warm from the energy created by your hands. Simply sitting here, breathing and focusing energy on your heart center will bring awareness there. Now, smile. Maintain this position as you breathe naturally and bring loving thoughts to your mind. If you do this a few times and want an extra challenge, imagine someone with whom you don’t typically get along, and send them some love.
Lie on your stomach with your hands near your shoulders. Slowly lift your torso up while keeping your hips on the ground. You may not be able lift far, so just go until you are at your edge. Breathe here 5 times, and gently lower your chest to the mat.
While still on your stomach, bring your arms down along side your body. Your forehead is resting on the floor. Inhale and bring your arms and legs off the ground. Shoulders move back as your shoulder blades come together. Breathe here 5 times and relax to the mat.
Kneel on your mat with a straight back. Grab two blocks if you are new to yoga. If you are using blocks, place them on the inside of each foot. Inhale, and on the exhale, come into a gentle backbend with your hands supporting your lower back. If this is a challenge, stay here. If you can go further, reach one hand to the block on that side or to your heel on that side. Then reach the other hand down. There are many variations of this pose, so don’t rush it! It takes a lot of practice. Take a few breaths here and gently (and slowly) come back to a kneeling position.
This one is advanced too, so be easy on yourself! Start in downward-facing dog (facing the mat, with your hands and feet at shoulder/hip width, bring your hips toward the ceiling and back so that your spine is nice and straight). Bring one leg over the other one and let it land outside of it. Pivot your entire body, bending your back and bringing your arm (the same side as the leg that flipped over) to an outstretched position.
Stand on your mat with feet hip distance apart. Grab your right foot in your right hand (behind your thigh). Bring your left hand up in the air. Stay here to establish your balance. If you want to stay here, that’s fine! When you are ready, slowly pivot from your hip, keeping your left hand and right thigh in a straight line. Come to a comfortable position and take 5 breaths. Slowly come back to center and release your right leg. Repeat on the other side.
Here’s to working on our heart centers so that those around us can feel our light!
The 4th Chakra (aka Heart Chakra or Anahata Chakra) is, to me, one of the most powerful ones. (Do I say that about each one?). It influences our ability to love and be loved, to forgive, and to give of our selves. It’s also the connection between your grounded reality and your spirituality.
When your heart chakra is open, you feel connected. You give your affection freely and openly. When it’s blocked, you feel sad or angry. You might feel jealous and become dependent on others. Physically, you may have heart or blood pressure issues.
For those of you who have a regular meditation practice, you know how incredible it is to place your hands, in prayer mudra (holding your hands like you are praying), near your heart center. The heart chakra is in the center of your chest (to the right of your actual heart). This mudra, used while focusing on your ‘third eye’, can intensify your meditation practice. The prayer mudra is also used in balance poses, like tree.
Try these practices to balance your heart chakra:
I love freely
I give freely
I receive love
I forgive myself
I forgive others
I give and receive love, affection and forgiveness
Sit comfortably and place your hands in prayer position near your heart center. Close your eyes. Focus on your breathing for a minute or two. If you are having trouble focusing, consciously say to yourself, “I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out. . .” Once you feel relaxed, imagine the sun above you, shining its warm light all over you. Watch it intensify in the middle of its glow to saturate your fingertips. Visualize it slowly moving through your hands, forearms, upper arms, shoulders and into the middle of your chest. The light is constantly moving through you. Imagine the light slowly fading to green as it pours into your chest cavity. It is swirling about and energizing you. Say to yourself, “I give and receive love freely” several times. When you are ready to end this visualization, let the light fade and inhale deeply. Hold the breath, and then exhale, relaxing your hands to your knees. Notice how your body feels.
The Solar Plexus Chakra is a vital one to balance. It is the center of your self-worth and self-esteem. An imbalanced 3rd Chakra can throw your entire life off track. Think of those times where you let others determine your self-worth in a negative way. Think of times you have felt beaten down and left to suffer. . . the 3rd Chakra is an important part of the ability to get up and dust yourself off. It helps you realize that you are worth so much – just as you are. It allows you to hold your head high, even when others are trying to beat you down.
I know I’m getting a bit dramatic here, but this is a personal one for me right now.
Let’s practice to strengthen and balance the Solar Plexus Chakra.
Sit in a comfortable position. Place your hands over your middle abdomen (above your belly) in Matangi Mudra (to learn how to do it, see here) https://avani-yoga.co.uk/matangi-mudra-manipura-chakra/
Focus on a spot just above and in between your eyebrows. You can do this with your eyes closed. Just shift your gaze upward. Say to yourself, “Ek Ong Kar”. Repeat this mantra for 3-5 minutes. At the end, take a deep inhale and hold it, applying the root lock (tighten the muscles around your rear end and perineum). Then release the breath and then the root lock.
(a migraine struck this week, so these are photos from when I first started teaching)
Begin standing on your mat with wide legs and a tall spine. Turn your right foot so the toes point to the front of your mat. Angle your left foot so the heel is behind the toes at an angle. Shift your entire body to the front of the mat. Your hips should strive to reach forward, but this may take some work. Just do your best. Lower your right leg so the knee is over the right ankle. Lift your arms up to the sky. Hold for 5 breaths, and repeat on the other side.
Start as above and place your feet in the same position. This time keep your hips aligned with the long edge of your mat. Slowly lower your body so the right knee is over the right ankle. Bring arms out to the side so they are parallel with the floor. Relax your shoulders and look toward your right hand. Hold for 5 breaths, and repeat on the other side.
Stand in Mountain Pose (feet shoulder distance apart, tall spine, shoulders back but relaxed). Bring both arms up overhead. Maintaining a straight line from the tips of your fingers to your left heel, pivot your body while bringing your arms and right leg parallel to the floor. Hold for 5 breaths, and repeat on the other side.
Lying on your stomach, bend both legs so your feet are reaching toward your rear end. Reach your right hand back to hold your right ankle and your left hand back to hold your left ankle. If this is difficult, you can use a scarf, belt or yoga strap. Gently lift your chest toward the front of your mat while pulling your legs away in the opposite direction. Take 5 breaths here.
I wish you a strong sense of self and connection with your power.
yWe are moving up the body in our exploration of the chakras. We’ve discussed the first two in previous posts, and now we are on the 3rd one. It is also known as Manipura or the Solar Plexus Chakra. It is located around 3 inches above the belly button.
The Solar Plexus Chakra, if balanced correctly, allows you to feel confident and have a healthy self esteem and sense of purpose. It is your identity center. If it is healthy, you feel empowered and ready to take on the world.
An unbalanced or weak Solar Plexus Chakra will result in feelings of shame and fear of the future and could lead to digestive problems. People who consistently have a weak 3rd Chakra are often very goal-oriented and feel that they are not worth much if they don’t accomplish things (that one hits close to home for me!).
Overactive Solar Plexus Chakras can create aggressive egos, arrogance and cockiness. Most of the discussion in this blog will address underactive 3rd Chakras (people with overactive ones probably don’t think they need help anyway!).
You can start to strengthen this Chakra by purposely going out of your comfort zone and speaking up for yourself. Every time you do something to demonstrate that you believe in yourself, your 3rd Chakra gets a bit stronger.
I am courageous
I believe in myself
I am strong
I embrace my power
I am confident
I am competent
Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position or in a chair. Rest your hands on your thighs with the palms facing up. Bring your ring fingers and index fingers in to meet your thumbs, and extend your middle and pinky fingers. This is called the Rudra Mudra. We will get into mudras another time but they are essentially hand positions to enhance your meditation experience. Each one has a specific purpose. The Rudra Mudra has been linked to 3rd Chakra balance. Close your eyes and picture that you are sitting on a round rug. The edges of the rug begin to turn into a yellow light. You can feel the light moving inward into the center until the entire rug is glowing yellow. Sit here to experience this feeling. Then, slowly feel the yellow light moving up into your body until it reaches your 3rd Chakra point (about 3 inches above your navel). Here, it turns into a glowing ball of light, gently spinning. As it spins, self-doubt gets thrown away, then feelings of powerlessness fly off the ball. Any feelings that make you feel inadequate are being removed by the ball as it cleanses your chakra space with healing light. Sit here for a few minutes to feel this cleansing. Then, feel as the light dims and moves out of your body, into the rug and then through the floor.
I hope you find your power and realize how awesome you are!
This is the second part of our Sacral Chakra discussion. If you would like to read further, check out part one here.
Hopefully, you explored the visualization and affirmations I suggested last week, and you are feeling freedom to create and experience more joy. Sacral Chakra issues can prevent you from feeling joyous and appreciative of good things in your life.
Today, I’m going to recommend a meditation and some yoga poses to help balance this chakra.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Focus on your breathing. If your mind begins to wander, simply say the words to yourself: I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out. When you reach a point of relaxation, focus on your lower belly area. Imagine a small orange disc spinning gently. It is an orange flower, with all of its petals folding in toward the center. As you feel yourself going deeply within, imagine the disc slowly opening its petals – one at a time. The petals seem endless, as they continue to open. Continue this visualization as you meditate. Then, as the last petal opens, the center glows bright orange and you feel a sense of peace. Your mind will wander, but gently bring it back to your breath and the flower in your lower belly. Sit here for 3-10 minutes and enjoy the feeling. When you are ready, place both hands on your lower belly, deepen your breath and open your eyes.
The following poses all support the balance of your Sacral Chakra. If you are new to yoga, be very careful and don’t do anything that causes pain (and always see a doctor before trying any new form of exercise!). Try to hold these for 30 seconds or 5 breaths in the beginning. You can always extend it as you get more comfortable.
Sphinx – Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your elbows, which should be directly under your shoulders. Make sure your neck is not tucked into your shoulders, but gently extended upward. You will likely tense your rear end and legs. Gently untense them and feel this gentle stretch in your lower back. If it doesn’t feel good, you can move your elbows forward. This is best done when you are in a position to get dog kisses (as pictured).
Bridge – Lie on your back and place your feet on the ground. Try to keep your legs parallel. As you inhale, gently lift your pelvis off of the ground, and then your lower vertebrae (one at a time). You can leave your hands at your side or reach under your back and clasp them together.
Reclined Butterfly – There are several ways to get into this pose. I like to start from a sitting position. Place the soles of your feet together (this is Butterfly) and gently lean forward. Then, lean backward gently, and use your hands to help your upper body to a lying down position. If this is difficult, use a strap (or tie or scarf) to wrap around your ankles and gently hold them in a position toward your body.
Seated Forward Bend – In a seated position, bring your feet in front of you with legs extended. Widen the legs to a comfortable distance. With a straight back, walk your hands forward until you can’t go further. Then, gently round the back and relax into the pose.
Pigeon – This pose is not for everyone! If you have knee issues, please consult your doctor first. Starting from a position of hands and knees, bring your right knee in between your hands and place it on the floor. If you are able, bring the foot out toward the edge of the mat so your leg makes an “L” shape. This may require some practice, so do not worry if your leg can’t do this yet). Rest your hips down to the mat (or as close to the mat as possible). If you’d like to bring your elbows and head to the mat, feel free to do this. Repeat on the left side.
I hope practicing these poses and the above meditation allow you to be free to enjoy and create good things in your life.
Today, we are diving into the 2nd Chakra – also known as the Sacral Chakra or Svadhistana. This spinning disc of energy is located in your lower belly area and is associated with the color orange. Balancing the Sacral Chakra is important, because not only does in affect how you feel about yourself, it also affects your relationships with others.
When the Sacral Chakra is balanced, you are able to feel pleasure and enjoyment in your life. Creativity inspires you and you are able to express this with confidence. Emotions are balanced and you move easily in your relationships with self and others.
An overactive Sacral Chakra can result in feelings of being a victim, fear, dependency on others, addiction to sex and being controlled by your emotions.
An underactive or blocked Sacral Chakra may make you feel stuck in life with a lack of desire and feelings of numbness.
-My creativity is flowing through me.
-My feelings are balanced.
-I am a creative, passionate being.
-I enjoy healthy relationships.
Sit in easy pose (cross-legged) place your hands on your lower stomach. Imagine a ball of orange light under your hands. It is inside you and glowing through your skin. It rotates slowly, warming up your lower abdomen and gaining brightness as it spins. Feel the heat on your hands as the orange glow extends through your body and out into the space around you. In this moment, you understand that you are a creative, balanced person who enjoys life. Allow the orange ball to spin under your hands until you are ready to come back. Allow it to slowly fade, leaving feelings of love, joy and peace after the light has disappeared.
I hope you enjoy exploring your Sacral Chakra! Next Friday we will discuss the poses that can help to balance this chakra.
This is the second part of our Root Chakra discussion. If you would like to read further, check out part one here.
Hopefully, you explored the visualization and affirmations I suggested last week, and you are feeling more secure in your life. Root chakra issues can interfere with the rest of our intellectual and spiritual development. After all, it is difficult to work on creative, spiritual things when you are worried about surviving.
Today, I’m going to recommend a meditation and some yoga poses to help balance your Root Chakra.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Focus on your breathing. If your mind begins to wander, simply say the words to yourself: I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out. When you reach a point of relaxation, focus on the color red. Try to see it in your mind’s eye. Feel completely surrounded by it. Feel it throughout your entire being. Your mind will wander, but gently bring it back to your breath and the color red. If you feel like you can go further, imagine a small spinning disc at the base of your spine. It is spinning clockwise (from the view of looking at you). Sit here for 3-10 minutes.
The following poses all support the balance of your Root Chakra. If you are new to yoga, be very careful and don’t do anything that causes pain. Try to hold these for 30 seconds or 5 breaths in the beginning. You can always extend it as you get more comfortable.
Standing Forward Fold – From a standing position, place your hands on your hips and fold forward from the waist, keeping a straight back. Once you are as far as you can go comfortably, let the hands fall toward the floor. You can place your hands on blocks or on your legs if you cannot reach the floor.
Easy Pose – sit cross-legged with a straight spine and neck. Hands rest on your knees.
Childs Pose – Sit on your knees. Spread the knees to a comfortable position. Lean forward placing your head on the mat or a blanket/block/bolster. Arms can be in front of you or along your sides.
Supported Garland – Roll up a blanket and stand with your heels on the blanket – feet a bit wider than your hips. Place your hands in prayer mudra and slowly lower down into a squat. Most of your weight should be in your heels. Alternatively, you can also sit on a block to feel secure and supported. If you have knee issues, this may not be a great pose for you (check with your healthcare provider!).
Knee to Chest – Lying on your back, bring your shoulder blades together, and extend your neck. Bring your right knee to your chest and hold it with both hands. If this is difficult you can use a strap (or a tie, belt or scarf). Switch legs.
I hope these tools help to increase your feelings of security and safety.
I am a corporate lawyer by day and a spiritual scholar by night. I am a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 200) and am seeking transformation though the tools of yoga, meditation, visualization, mantra and any other tools I find useful. This site is to record my journey, share lessons with others and inspire readers to find the path that is calling them.
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