Standing Your Ground: Working with Muladhara Chakra

muladhara chakra grounding yoga with nicci

Our basic survival issues involving trust, health, nourishment, family, money and appropriate boundaries lie within the muladhara chakra – the root chakra. This energy center is close to the earth, helping us feel grounded and safe. It involves our right to be here and, when balanced, we feel comfortable in our bodies, we are able to trust and be still, we enjoy stability and we are able to face the world fearlessly.

The howling wind that was our constant companion during a recent trip I did to the Karoo left me feeling hugely unsettled and ungrounded. Hence, I did some things traditionally associated with balancing the root chakra:

1. Wore red
2. Got out into nature and close to the earth
3. Used some calming essential oil (lavender)
4. Breathed myself into stillness in four grounding asana.

I know I look like I’m having a boskak in malasana and the lavender does make me smell a bit like my granny, but I feel better now.

This post is especially for those of you that had questions on our recent retreat about how to work with the root chakra. Let me know if you have any questions. Always happy to chat.

Anahata Chakra -About, Asana & Suggested Journaling Questions 

  
Source 

Anahata Chakra is more commonly known as the Heart Chakra. The literal Sanskrit translation of “anahata” is “unhurt, unstuck, or unbeaten.” The Heart Chakra is perfectly situated in the middle of your body, balancing the world of matter (lower three chakras) with the world of spirit (upper three chakras).

The Sanskrit word implies that deep beneath our personal stories of suffering and pain lies boundless love and compassion.

Determining whether your chakras are balanced is quite an elusive subject; people often seek healers or reiki masters to rebalance them, when it’s just as easy to look inward and dig deeper within yourself. 

Signs your heart chakra may be blocked include feelings of shyness and loneliness. If you have an inability to forgive or a tendency to lack empathy, then you may be leading with your head more often than your heart.

Flip that the opposite way and an overpowering chakra can include feelings of codependency, and looking outward for acceptance or fulfillment. Intense jealousy or harsh judgment of others is also a red flag.

If you fall into the blocked category, figuring out how to rebalance your chakras really boils down to repressed emotions. Whether it’s a traumatic event stemming from childhood that you can’t even remember, or a grudge you’re holding so tightly from last week. When you repress your feelings, your heart chakra’s balance gets out of whack.

Try to set these three intentions to extinguish your repressed emotions, whether you’re consciously aware of them or not:

1. Be open with your emotions.

Any way you want! Whether you write them down or scream out loud, you need to let them out. Be extremely honest and open with every word; don’t hold anything back. Write coming from the heart — it’s always painful, but it’s part of the healing process. Even if you have no intention of anyone else reading what you write, it’s so helpful to put your feelings into words so that you can become comfortable, aware, and at peace with it.

2. Stop clinging to your feelings.

You get what you give. Practicing yoga really helps with this, because it teaches you to live in the present moment. Dwelling in past loves or past problems only brings us down, and if we stress about the future then we aren’t living fully. Like most things in life, it’s easier said than done. Do yourself a favor and consciously work on this one!

3. Practice the art of acceptance.

A good rule of thumb is “If you can’t change it, forget it.” Why stress about something or someone you have no control over? It’s a waste of time and energy. Instead, focus on what you can control. That’s what will bring you contentment and happiness. Set your daily intention to going with the flow and letting it be.

Try incorporating these three reminders into your daily life, and always remember that love is the greatest healer. Especially love for yourself. Keeping this intention while practicing asana will help open your heart. A few great poses to aid you in “opening your heart” are camel pose, eagle pose, and a back-bending practice. The heart chakra is represented by the color green. Eat more dark green leafy vegetables and drink green tea.

  
Suggested questions for journaling: 

How do I show myself love and compassion?

How do I give love and compassion to others?

In what ways am I generous/stingy?

What am I grateful for in this moment?

How can I cultivate empathy for people close to me as well as acquaintances and even strangers?

Source

Swadhistana and Manipura Chakras: Questions for Journaling 

This morning’s class in the chakra balancing series focused on the 2nd and 3rd chakras: Svadhistana and  Manipura respectively.


Svadhistana – the sacral chakra – relates to sexuality, reproduction, sensuality, intimacy, desire, control, emotional expression. It relates the water element and its all about the fluids of the body: tears, lymph, urine, saliva, sweat, sexual fluids and more.

To tune into your sacral chakra, here are some suggestions:

Go for a long swim, luxuriate in a hot 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, as we did this morning through our flip cat/cow/figure of 8 movements. 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.
Questions you may wish to reflect upon:

What do I want?

What turns me on/off?

How do I express my sexuality?

How can I relax and go with the flow?

How do I adapt to change and new situations?

With whom am I intimate?

How do I honor my higher self?

What lessons are my relationships teaching me?

Suggestions for asana practice for Svadhistana: 

Hip and groin openers such as baddha konasana (Cobbler’s Pose) and crescent moon pose

Ocean breathing: relaxing your abdomen fully on the inhale, filling the lower belly as well as the lungs and exhaling naturally and effortlessly.

Yin yoga style pigeon pose and saddle pose, releasing muscular effort and using gravity to open the tendons and ligaments of the hips and reposition the sacrum.

Practicing next to or submerged in water — a pool, a river, a lake, an ocean. Water is the element of the sacral chakra.


Manipura chakra is concerned with integrity, willpower, digestion, energy, achievement and sense of self – with one’s inner fire and ability to assimilate all that life brings our way.

Located at the solar plexus, the Manipura chakra is the seat of your power and transformation. 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.

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.

Manipura controls our digestive fire (appetite/ digestion/ metabolism) and also our sense of self- ie self control/ will/ esteem/ vitality. How we control our temper and moods is indicative of the health of this chakra, likewise, the nature of our attitude towards eating and diet also highlights balance or imbalance in this area.

3rd chakra essential questions:

How do I act with strength and compassion?

Am I speaking and behaving with integrity?

What will I achieve today?

How shall I express my personal power?

Am I following a wholesome diet that is conducive to healthy digestion?

What negative habits do I need to give up? What positive habits should I cultivate in my daily life?

Practice suggestions for Manipura:

Uddiyana bandha (abdominal lock): exhaling and pulling the abdomen back and up

Any and all twists

Medium to fast sun salutations to warm the muscles, produce sweat and get a great cardiovascular workout

Core strengtheners like boat pose (navasana), double leg lifts, plank pose, crunches and so forth

To ignite your inner fire: Practice under the hot sun, in a heated studio or near a toasty bonfire. Boil sliced ginger for a tea, build a campfire, eat a spicy curry, go for a run, massage some sandalwood into your sternum, make a plan and execute it.

As always, please feel free to comment – questions or your own experience of the class or your home practice – anything goes!

Sources:

Elephant Journal 

Wanderlust

Journaling, Self-study & How They Helped Me Break The Chains of Addiction

  My children, dog and husband don’t often listen to my suggestions, so I am delighted to hear that some of the yogis that joined yesterday’s chakra realignment class have started journaling! Not just because it’s quite a novel and pleasant feeling to have someone pay attention but because it indicates a willingness on your part to take this journey of self discovery to a deeper level. 

As I mentioned, you will get wonderful benefits from simply attending the classes or starting a home practice of chakra balancing, as my beautiful friend and co-teacher Victoria suggests over on her blog. However by journaling, you are consciously investing yourself more in the process of svadhyaya, or self study: the fourth niyama in the 8 limbs of yoga

In Sanskrit, sva means “self’ and adhyaya means “inquiry” or “examination”. Any activity that cultivates self-reflective consciousness can be considered svadhyaya. It means to intentionally find self-awareness in all our activities and efforts, even to the point of welcoming and accepting our limitations. It teaches us to be centered and non-reactive to the dualities, to burn out unwanted and self-destructive tendencies. I should know about this one: as someone in long term recovery from substance abuse, I am wired to sniff out dangerous territory. More about that later. 

The better we know ourselves, the better we are able to choose circumstances that are most harmonious and productive for us, including lifestyle, social interactions, ways of learning and growing. Ultimately, this allows us to not only experience more joy but also to find ways of contributing to the world that fit our disposition and therefore are more powerful and beneficial to all.

In addition, greater self-knowledge also helps us be more aware of our “less-than-ideal” patterns, whether part of our inherent nature or from past conditioning. The more aware we are of our challenges and issues, the more mindful we can be when they arise, allowing us to guide them in healthful directions rather than falling into unconscious patterns, such as fear and anger, which tend to prevent us from thinking clearly. 

Here’s a personal story: svadhyaya (and professional help, ultimately) helped me to recognise a very dangerous pattern of self-medicating with alcohol when I found that I was feeling unsafe emotionally. It was a coping mechanism that had gone haywire – serving me (to a point) when I was a teenager, struggling to come to terms with being raped, refusing to go to therapy and unable to make sense of anything in my world. 

What started as a desperate clutching at anything to numb the pain ended up as a full-blown addiction. That’s a story for another day, but the practice of yoga and svadhyaya shone a light on all these patterns and is one of the main reasons I am where I am today, free from the terrifying chains of addiction.

Understood this way, what might at first seem a “self-centered” practice, ultimately becomes a bridge, not only to ourselves but also to others – that is, through greater awareness of our own issues, we can reduce the likelihood of falling into them during our interactions while also increasing our compassion, realizing even those who have very different issues are at heart wrestling with the same basic challenging process of self-awareness. 

At this point, you are probably noticing many parallels between self-study and therapy, and there are many. However, there are a few significant aspects which set them apart. 

I will be exploring these in my next post, so for now would love to hear any comments on how you are finding this process of self-study, any comments or thoughts. 

About The Chakras: A Bit More Detail 

  In my previous post, we looked at a very basic overview of what the chakras are and what their significance is in our lives and yoga practice. With those issues hopefully answered, here is some more detail on the chakras and their influence on our energetic balance. 

The chakras are formed at the junction of three connected energy shafts that ascend the spine, one on each side of the central channel, the Shushumna. The two lesser channels of energy — the Pingala on the right and Ida on the left — run parallel to the spinal cord. Chakras both take up and collect prana (life force energy) and transform and pass on energy. Our material bodies could not exist without them for they serve as gateways for the flow of energy and life into our physical bodies.

Each chakra is associated with a certain part of the body and a certain organ which it provides with the energy it needs to function. Additionally, just as every organ in the human body has its equivalent on the mental and spiritual level, so too every chakra corresponds to a specific aspect of human behavior and development. 

Our circular spirals of energy differ in size and activity from person to person. They vibrate at different levels relative to the awareness of the individual and their ability to integrate the characteristics of each into their life. 

The lower chakras are associated with fundamental emotions and needs, for the energy here vibrates at a lower frequency and is therefore denser in nature. The finer energies of the upper chakras corresponds to our higher mental and spiritual aspirations and faculties.

The openness and flow of energy through our chakras determines our state of health and balance. Knowledge of our more subtle energy system empowers us to maintain balance and harmony on the physical, mental and spiritual level. All meditation and yoga systems seek to balance out the energy of the chakras by purifying the lower energies and guiding them upwards. Through the use of grounding, creating “internal space,” and living consciously with an awareness of how we acquire and spend our energy we become capable of balancing our life force with our mental, physical and spiritual selves.

My next post will look at the primary qualities of each chakra, its corresponding location in the body, colour and mantra, physical and emotional realms of influence, and its greater significance in our practice. 

Questions? Opinions? I’d love to hear from you. 

Chakras 101

  

In anticipation of the 5 class series on chakra alignment that I’m offering in November, my next few posts will be about the sometimes mysterious chakras: what they are, why they are important, how to bring them into alignment, and more specifially to answer any questions that you may have about them.

The ancient yogis understood that in order to experience a more satisfying life—one that feels more stable, more sublime, and more connected to others—we have to effect change from within. And one of the key ways to alter the inner reality is working with the chakras, the body’s energetic centers.

Chakra literally means “spinning wheel.” According to the yogic view, chakras are a convergence of energy, thoughts/feelings, and the physical body. Our consciousness (mind) gets projected through these wheels, and this largely determines how we experience reality from our emotional reactions, our desires or aversions, our level of confidence or fear, even the manifestation of physical symptoms.

By working with these centers in yoga practice, we can begin to unravel any blocks that may prevent the unfolding into our highest potential. 

That’s all you need to know for now if you are just wanting a basic explanation. If you want to take your understanding a bit deeper, please come back for tomorrow’s post which will get a little more technical. 

Any questions? Any thoughts? 

Chakra Balancing Series

You’re invited: A 5 Week Class Series to Balance The Chakras

Yoga With Nicci Chakra Series

Starting on Saturday 7th November, I will be offering a five week series focused on bringing the chakras into alignment.

Classes will be repeated on Monday evenings during my 6pm class slot. They can be attended as stand-alone classes but you will experience maximum benefit from attending all five in sequence.

Regular rates apply unless you book for the series in which case you pay 10% less. Full details on the pic. Excited!