Quick Bedtime Sequence for Chakra Balancing

Please note: I am experiencing problems uploading the time lapse video to this post so if you want to see it, please pop over to my Instagram feed or Facebook page (both Yoga With Nicci). 

Here’s my little sleepy time yoga sequence that checks in on each of the seven main chakras in sequence before ending in a headstand to bring it all together before I snuggle up. 
I am such a sucker for these time lapse videos because it always looks so comical – especially the Sufi grind that I start with (Muladhara) – utterly daft looking – and then (after baddha konasana/Svadhistana, twist/Manipura and ustrasana/Anahata) my simhasana (Vishuddhi) in which I resemble a cat trying to vomit up a hair ball. I couldn’t do the eye bulging thing – too sleepy already after doing my actual practice before this fun vid.

 Garudasana with thumbs on 3rd eye for Ajna and of course headstand for crown chakra. A bit of slow smooth breathing and a quick journal post, literally listing the things I’m grateful for today, and then off to the land of nod. 

Sleep tight! 

Ajna Chakra – About, Asana & Suggested Journaling Questions 

As promised, here are the notes on Ajna (brow or 3rd eye) chakra which we focused on this morning. 

Did anyone else notice how resonant and calm the integrated “AUM” sounds were at the end of the class? Or how steady your standing balances were? Beautiful. Thank you. 

Next post: more about Sahasrara (crown) chakra which we started working with this morning. Next week we pull everything together in the closing chakra integration class. 

The sixth chakra is located between the eyebrows – the so-called 3rd eye. It governs our thoughts, honesty, inner and outer sight, our visions and our dreams, intuition and awareness. 

This chakra is associated with light and the colour indigo and as you work with it, it can be helpful to see the third eye as access to a cosmic vision, illuminating everything as it is without the filter of your past, your expectations or your judgment and allowing you to start seeing things as they really are, without the colour and projection of the ego.

The development of this chakra is vital for personal and spiritual growth because it helps us awaken from the illusions in life that we unconsciously accept as real … until our third eye opens, and we start looking beyond dualism

Most people are content to accept the commonly-held views of reality as presented and reinforced by popular media (TV news programs, movies, social media and books). Our early schooling teaches a simple or childlike view of the world that often extends, unexamined, into adulthood. It will take third eye chakra development in order to see past what we are told is true, and to make our own evaluation.

It means examining self-limiting ideas and developing wisdom that comes from a perspective that transcends the duality of good or bad, black or white. It means seeing and helping others to see the deeper meanings of the situations in their lives.

The sixth chakra is holistic in nature so when fully activated, both hemispheres of the brain function in synchronicity. The right hemisphere’s creativity and synthetic thinking is integrated and balanced with left hemisphere’s logical and analytical thinking. Nadi Sodona using Nasgra mudra is a wonderful breathing exercise for Ajna for this reason, but we simply didn’t have time for it in this morning’s practice. 

The third eye is not only the seat of wisdom, but also a seat of conscience. This is where you not only see what is going on, but you also know what it means. When your third eye is open, you not only see but you also understand.

Third Eye Chakra Affirmations

I am in touch with my inner guidance.

I listen to my deepest wisdom.

I seek to understand and to learn from my life experiences.

I am wise, intuitive, and connected with my inner guide.

Asana for Ajna Chakra

Any posture that you feel most able to connect with your inner self is a good place to start, including Child’s pose with the brow resting gently on the mat.

Eye cupping or eye exercises are a wonderful way of focusing on the gaze and sight, and any postures that see you crossing the midline of the body are powerful for integration of left and right sides of the brain (Garudasana – Eagle pose – is one of these). In addition, any postures that bring focus to the brow serve to harmonise the consciousness by balancing the lunar and solar energies within ajna chakra, increasing alertness and intelligence, and making the spirit feel aroused, enterprising and vivid.

Nasgra mudra is a hand position one which gentle but firm pressure is applied to the brow chakra, and can be used with any asana for the purposes of stimulating the third eye.

Click here for a beautiful guided meditation for Ajna chakra.

Journaling Questions for Ajna: 

Do I trust my intuition?

What behavior and thought patterns can I identify in my life?

What inspires me?

What beliefs do I have that cause me to judge another person negatively?

What would I like to know more about?

If you had one question to ask a psychic, what would you ask?

Name a time when you listened to your intuition and it worked, and name a time you didn’t follow your intuition and the results were unfavorable.

To tune into your sixth chakra: Take a break from watching the news and perusing your friends’ newsfeeds. Take ownership over what you consume; what you read and watch. Bust out the old magazines, and make a vision board. Write your vision down, and hang it somewhere you look every day. Read a book. Look at the sea. See the beauty everywhere, even when it’s the hardest thing to do.

Namaste.

Vishuddha Chakra – About, Asana & Suggested Journaling Questions 

   

Source
The fifth, or throat, chakra is perhaps the most misunderstood chakra – which is ironic since it is linked with understanding and being understood. Located in our throat, it is associated with speech, and our ability to communicate. But this chakra represents so much more! It is also linked to our ears, and our ability to hear – both physically and intuitively. It is the connection between our sense of who we are inside, and how we represent ourselves out in the world. 

In addition, it is the bridge between our lower chakras, where we play out most of our daily ‘human’ experiences, and our two ‘spiritual’ chakras (in the sense of the energies that move through them)– our third eye and crown.

One way that the complex nature of the throat chakra is reflected is in the element associated with it within classical subtle body systems – ether. While the lower four chakras are each associated with physical elements – earth (first chakra), water (second), fire (third) and air (fourth), the throat chakra element is ‘ether’, as in ‘ethereal.’ Within the historical systems that first defined these associations, ether represented the energy that bridges the physical and subtle realms – it both surrounds us and is in us. In modern terms, I think ‘vibration’ comes closest to this meaning, and certainly the throat chakra is deeply connected to vibration through sound – sound as speech, as music, and as simple tones.  

Because the throat chakra can be a difficult one to fully grasp, I think one of the best ways to do so is by looking at how blocks or weaknesses in our throat chakra manifest in our lives:

Difficulty Speaking: Although there are many ways to communicate, speech is our primary means of doing so, and from an energy body perspective, it’s a function of our throat chakra. 

Difficulty speaking might come in any form, physical, linguistic or psychological. It might be a stutter, difficulty projecting our voice, feeling perpetually tongue-tied, or a fear of how others will react when we speak. Of course, any fear or anxiety we feel is most likely also related to at least one other chakra, but any problem speaking is also linked to the throat.

Trouble Expressing What We Really Feel or Think: This means through any means – writing, movement, art, music – not only speech. All of us typically have one or more ways that we best express our thoughts and feelings, but if we have no outlet for this, it corresponds to a throat chakra issue. We might have developed emotional blocks in childhood from parents or caretakers who dismissed our emotions, or asked us to lie (as often happens to abuse survivors.) We might have patterns of ‘people pleasing’, where all of our expression is filtered through an analysis of how others’ might react, inhibiting true self-expression. Another possibility is that we ‘overtalk’ – engage in constant meaningless chatter as a way of avoiding communicating how we really feel or think.

Deception Issues: This may mean we ourselves have difficulty telling the truth, especially when it’s a difficult truth. It can also mean we have difficulty discerning the truth – both within ourselves, and in others. We are prone to both self-deception and/or deception by others. Our throat chakra is not just about our ability to speak truth, it’s about our ability to recognize it – it’s our ears as well as our mouth, listening a well as expressing, on intuitive as well as physical levels.

Disconnect Between Our Inner and Outer Selves: Our throat chakra is a bridge between our inner and outer selves – who we feel we truly are, and how we represent ourselves in the world. If we feel we need to hide parts of ourselves from others out of fear or repression patterns, this is associated with a holding or even blocking of our throat chakra. This doesn’t mean we need to tell everyone in our lives all about ourselves in order to have an open throat chakra. A balanced and clear throat chakra is more about an alignment between our true values and how we live and express them.

Difficulty Integrating Spiritual Insights and Daily Life: Our throat chakra is also a gateway or bridge between our psychological and spiritual selves. Our lower chakras represent our physical body (first chakra), emotional body (second chakra), mental body (third chakra), and relational self (heart chakra). Our third eye and crown chakra are linked to our intuitive, occult, and spiritual levels of being. Our throat chakra serves as the bridge between these two groups of chakras, just as our neck bridges our torso and head. When it is blocked we may feel as if we can not integrate spiritual experiences and insights into our daily awareness. For example, we may feel peaceful, calm, and wise within meditation or prayer, but not experience an increase in these feelings when we are off our meditation cushion or away from a house of worship.

Physically our throat chakra is linked to our throat, neck, mouth, ears, jaw and thyroid gland, so within energy medicine, problems with any of these are linked to issues with our throat chakra.

Suggested questions for journaling:

How do I express my unique creativity?

What healthy/unhealthy [foods/drinks/information/ideas] am I consuming?
How can I communicate my ideas, needs and wants clearly and compassionately?
What are the qualities of my voice?
Click here for a fun read on 7 ways to balance your throat chakra. 

 Source:  Lisa Erickson from Mommy Mystic; Elephant Journal 

Guided Meditations for Svadhistana and Manipura Chakras

In the second class of the Chakra balancing series we’re currently doing at the studio, we focused on Svadhistana and Manipura chakras (2nd and 3rd). On Saturday past, my printer had run out of toner so I wasn’t able to print hand-outs as I would have liked, and I promised to post the guided meditation scripts that I used on the blog. Here you are: with special thanks to Wanderlust for these gorgeous words.

WATER

Svadhistana: A SWEET OCEAN MEDITATION

While you are earth, you are – quite surely – also water. Everything ebbs and flows, drips, drops, pours, splatters, trickles, ripples, soaks, splashes… everything is nurtured and nourished by water.

Sit on the edge of a cushion, pillow or blanket. Weave your fingers together, touch the tips of your thumbs and rest your hands in your lap. Close your eyes. Connect to the rise and fall of your breathe.

Imagine you are sitting in a small boat, a canoe perhaps. With each inhale that arrives, feel the sensation that you are floating on top of the water. With each exhale, you are drifting further and further from shore. Feel the vastness of the ocean below you. The possibility of the sky above.

Now, imagine that a wave rolls underneath you and rocks your boat. And then another. And another. Feel them come and go, come and go, holding within them life’s ever-changing nature.

Think of the many waves of your life. Some have lulled you with their gentleness, their consistency and comfort, while others have been giant, drag-down tsunamis that you nearly drowned in. All have integrated into the great big ocean that makes up the tapestry of you. You are each wave, but you are also the entire ocean. Honor all that has brought you here.

Ask yourself: Do I give myself permission to feel the fullness of all of my feelings in any given moment? Think of what you have stuffed inside or shoved away… What part of your emotional landscape in waiting to be acknowledged? On the other hand, ask yourself: What parts of the past am I clinging to? What am I ready to let go of?

Roll onto your back into Baddha Konasana with the soles of your feet together and your knees wide. If you need some support, prop blocks or pillows underneath your legs. Place your hands on your lower belly. Feel the vulnerability of this position, your body’s expression of total openness and receptivity. Ask yourself: Do I allow for pleasure in my life? And feel the space to listen…

Dance, swim, DTR, take a warm bath with essential oils of cardamom and sweet orange, eat sweet potatoes, sprinkle cinnamon on everything. Do/wear the things that make you feel sexy. Express your sensuality through movement-based practices. This part of you needs tending always. Look for the sweetness in life. Stop and smell the roses, as they say. And then walk on.

May you feel each of your feelings fully, and then surrender them to the flow.

FIRE

Manipura Chakra: A FIRE MEDITATION

In the same way that fire turns matter into heat and light, this is where you take what you’ve been given and make the best of it. And then some.

Without a strong third chakra, we remain stuck in the sameness and drudgery of a passive life. Manipura is action, doing, going through the eye of the needle, breaking inertia.

Note: Light a candle, or better yet, complete this meditation in the middle of a circle of lighted candles.

Sit on the edge of a cushion, pillow or blanket. Cup your left hand and make a fist with your right hand, extending your right thumb up. Place your right fist in your left open palm, and draw your hands in front of your solar plexus (located just below the sternum and above the navel). Close your eyes. Connect to the rise and fall of your breathe.

Imagine that your right thumb is a flame, flickering at the center of your being. With each inhale that you take, watch the yellow flame grow just a little bit brighter. Imagine a warmth spreading from this area of your body and filling you from the inside out…

Now, imagine that you have gathered a little stack of sticks. On each stick, write a word or phrase representing something in your life that is no longer serving you, something that you are in the process of letting go of, or need to be. Remember that some things must be let go of hundreds of times before we are free from them, maybe thousands. Forgive yourself this process, for letting go is one of the hardest things to engage with…

Now, place each stick into your flame. Watch it catch fire. And burn. And as each stick is completely burned, imagine that a gust of wind travels into your hands and carries the ash away from you, far far away.

Ask yourself: Do you have the energy to do the things you want to do? Do you have the confidence to do the things you want to do? What gets in the way? Oftentimes our energy is drained in one area of our life, and we are left lifeless before the mountain of wonderful, enriching experience that could be…

Stand up, with your feet a little wider than hips distance. Reach your arms overhead, weave your fingers together, and extend your pointer fingers. As you inhale reach up high, and with your exhale sweep your arms through your legs while shouting, “HA!” Inhale your arms back into the sky, exhale shoot your arms through your legs, “HA!” Do this ten times, and then pause, hands in prayer at your heart. Feel what has been stirred…

Boil sliced ginger for a tea, build a campfire, eat a spicy curry, take a heated yoga class, go for a run, massage some sandalwood into your sternum, make a plan, and execute.

Fire teaches us that power results from combining and integrating, rather than fighting and dominating. Remember, there is ease and grace in true power. And you are powerful beyond measure.

You can change.

Benefits of Balanced Chakras 


What are the benefits of balanced chakras?

First of all you just feel good. You feel balanced, relaxed, whole and healthy. You feel everything in your life is going well for you. All or most of your projects are flowing the way you like.
Tomorrow 8am is the first session of the 5 week chakra balancing course that I am offering. See flyer for more details. Remember to book.

Here are some more answers to frequently asked questions:

How do you know if your chakras are out of balance?

If you are out of balance, you will know it immediately! Your clues will be that you feel awful, depressed, or even that something is not right. What makes it sad is that most people don’t know why they feel this way. It can start with an empty feeling, sometimes it start in the heart or the stomach and if the “emptiness” is not addressed, the “emptiness” spreads throughout the body. There may be days you feel like you can’t get out of bed. After a long time of not knowing what it is, in some cases, health illness can develop.

What is going on?

You may be voicing your concerns to anyone who is willing to listen to you, your body, your biggest advocate has probably has been telling you for a long time what is not right. Most people don’t pick up on their own clues. In fact, most people ignore what their bodies are telling them. By continuing to ignore your body, your body decides to catch your attention by developing health issues. In many of cases, health issues start in the gastrointestinal, respiratory or in the jaw. Now the discomfort forces you to stop and look for help! You thoughts may turn to calling your doctor, a specialist or even a holistic practitioner.

What’s happening to your chakras?

They are getting blocked with negative energies! How does the blockage begin? It usually starts with how aware you are of your life style. Are you living a balanced life? Are you stressed out of your mind? Are you over-scheduled? Do you take time to breathe? What do you do you do for yourself? Are your worries overwhelming you?

Blocked Chakras – When a chakra becomes blocked, damaged, or muddied with residual energy, then our physical and emotional health is usually affected. Another way to know when your chakras are blocked, your mood announces your energy level. Are you in a bad mood often? Are the people closes to you now hiding from you or not returning your calls?

What does a balanced chakra feel like?

Calm, peaceful, less or no anxiety and balanced. Chances are good that you can handle stressful situations pretty well. If your energy is positive, the energy will flow evenly from the top of your head to your feet with ease.

Who can achieve balanced chakras? Everyone with practice, awareness and education.

How Do We Open Chakras?

If our chakras are opened and moving, energy runs from the top or our heads to our sacral chakra and up again (in a circle). If one of the chakras becomes blocked, this energy cannot move through it and all other chakras become affected and deprived. In time, with lack of energy, the chakra becomes weaker and eventually illness and disease can set in. When we start to feel “off,” the first thing we must do is to check in with ourselves and feel our body. We must start to be conscious of how we feel and what our body is saying to us. Time on your yoga mat is one of the best ways to listen.

For original article, click here.

Feedback from our Chakra workshop in Stanford

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It was such a strange and wonderful experience to wake up on Saturday morning and know that I was going to be presenting my first joint yoga workshop with my friend and fellow-teacher, Leli Hoch. She is one of those passionate people who makes things happen, and it almost seemed surreal to realise that we weren’t just in the planning phase anymore, but were actually about to roll it out! I lay in bed for a few extra minutes, visualising all the yogis who were also starting to stir and stretch and wake up in their own parts of the Cape, before beginning to make their way towards Stanford.

After picking up my dear friend Claire in Somerset West, we stuck to the N2 to get to Stanford as quickly as possible (even so it took a bit longer than I anticipated, what with getting lost in conversation and admiring the stunning scenery along the way). It was a perfect morning, quite cool but with vibrant patches of blue sky and a beautiful warm sun peeping through the clouds. The venue itself could not have been more lovely. Leli really did herself proud by finding it. The yoga ‘studio’ itself is a renovated old barn with gorgeous reed ceilings, simple wrought iron chandeliers, Cape Dutch windows looking out towards the beautiful mountains and huge expanses of fynbos. The cottages on the farm are all whitewashed with green doors and windowframes, and all in all it was just so tranquil and picturesque.

In the end the studio was pretty much filled to capacity – we had 18 people in total, and it really did lend itself to a very special energy. Once we got started, I experienced a now-familiar sense of wanting to pinch myself to remind myself that this was actually happening, that these people were all here for us, because of us, and reminding myself that my dream of becoming a yoga teacher has actually become a reality! It was a very special moment indeed, and although it felt to me like the morning was over way too quickly, I enjoyed every single minute of it. One of the things that I  most enjoyed is the diversity of the people that came to join us: from all sorts of backgrounds, differing levels of ability (we had some teachers and some beginners and many inbetween) and all ages and stages of life. I truly embrace the fact that yoga can be such a wonderful leveler, helping us all to forget about all the superficial layers of life, and to focus rather on what we have in common and how connected we all are. I had a really powerful, quite emotional moment where we were moving through a sequence of asanas and I found myself marveling at all these beautiful women (interesting that there were no men) who had made the conscious decision to do something so peaceful, so spiritual, so gentle, so positive on a Saturday morning. There wasn’t the chance to have any indepth conversations with anyone afterwards, but I genuinely felt a very real connection to every single person who was there, and I feel inordinately privileged to have the opportunity to come into contact with them, even just for a few hours of my life.

We closed the workshop with tea and Leli’s spectacular ginger cake and crunchies in the sunshine afterwards (is there no end to this woman’s talent?!) before all going our seperate ways. I hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as Leli and I did. We have a lot to learn and have had some very valuable feedback from some of those who attended, so we look forward to getting better and better, and appreciate the learning opportunity.

Claire and I took a slow drive back to Stellenbosch, going via Kleinmond to pop in to visit another friend and fellow-teacher, Corinne, who is also The Potter (I put it in capitals as she really is the only one who is worthy of wearing that crown) – another supremely talented person who is a wonderful artist both in and out of her yoga studio.  Clarence Drive was as spectacular as ever, with beautiful stormy weather and clouds pouring down over the mountains towards the sea. A perfect ending to a very special morning.

A big thank you to everyone who came, and also to the lovely Nina from Yoga Awakening Africa for donating all the YAA magazines.

Some of the comments we have received:

“Thank you for the lovely Chakra Yoga class. It was a wonderful experience!  We thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the class, specifically the walking and eating meditation. We also loved the gentle breath work and visualization techniques that accompanied the various sets of asana’s.  There is nothing that we would change about the practice, however we would love to try the Rainbow meditation next time. We would also like to thank you for the lovely tea and cake. ”

“You two make a lovely yoga teaching team…so we were blessed as well! Thanks for a stunning time!!! My only complaint is that it was to short…maybe till 13h would have been good. I would also like to have a full day in the winter months when I’m not so busy at the guest house!”

“Loved the morning… really liked the venue, the light, the meditations, the quietness, the sequence, the enjoyed the sway between the two of you, the cake and crunchies ofcourse delicious, inspiration as one finds in such spaces of intention… to connect… ofcourse… needed more hands on adjustment where needed if needed.   Maybe some more time during savasana …  I was just so happy to be there and receiving all the benefits that these small details  really are small in comparison to the goodness of the experience – thank both so much!   Hope we can look forward to more classes of this nature.”

Countdown to Chakra-time

Less than 24 hours from now, my friend/fellow yoga teacher, Leli Hoch, and I will be just coming to the end of presenting our first joint yoga workshop. I am so looking forward to it! We did our teachers training together at Ananda Sanga in Somerset West but even though we have the same theoretical background, our personal styles are quite different and I think they will complement each other beautifully. We are expecting about 15 people so there will be a wonderful energy. Ooh, I can’t wait!

The theme of the workshop is ‘Balancing your Chakras’ and we have put together a sequence of mini-classes that will talk to each chakra individually, including specifically chosen pranayama and meditation for each one.

We are presenting it at the beautiful Stanford Valley Guest Farm http://www.stanfordvalley.co.za/and I am looking forward to getting out to the Overberg almost as much as I am doing the actual workshop. If I wake up early enough, I will take the coastal route via Clarence Drive, which surely has to be one of the most scenic routes in the world. It is one of the things that makes my heart swell with pride at being South African. The Amalfi Coast in Italy is breathtaking and the Pacific Coast Highway via Big Sur in California is absolutely spectacular, but I still think that this takes the cake. Of course I am biaised! But I am allowed to be. Surely that’s what being patriotic is all about?

The last time Leli and I did something together was when we attended a Southern Africa Yoga Safari retreat with the awesome Cheryl Lancellas in early October. It was at the Blue Butterfly Retreat centre just outside Tulbagh, and a truly memorable experience (more about that in another blog). Our dear friend and fellow teacher, Nicole Shea, also attended with us, before coldheartedly abandoning us to join her husband in Malaysia (we miss you, Nicole). It was not just a wonderfully restorative weekend but also huge fun getting to know each other a bit better, and I really look forward to the next one.

Who knows, maybe if this workshop is a success (as I am fully expecting it to be), Leli and I will be able to roll it out internationally… Malaysia here we come!