January 11, 2016

Base Building

Another round of Chakra classes starting this week to bring in this new year.  One of the things I love about the Chakra system is how incredibly in-depth and varied it is.  No matter how many times I go through it, something new always seems to come up for me.  It has been no different this time around. 

We're starting this week with the root chakra.  The root chakra, or Muladhara in Sanskrit, is about building a strong foundation. So, it involves things like strengthening our bodies which is our foundation in this reality, examining the foundation on which we base our thoughts and habits or doing things to ensure we feel secure in our lives (a place to live, finances to support us, food to eat, etc.)  It’s an energy centre that is very much involved in the physical. 

Personally, at this time of year, I find I live in my head a bit more than I usually do.  The start of a new year is like a blank canvas on which anything can be drawn.  So, I spend time dreaming up where I want to go, what I want to do, intentions I want to set, etc.  These are all valuable activities, but I have been feeling very ungrounded.  I realize it’s great to dream, but it is just as valuable to come back down and get down to the logistics of what I need to physically do in order to take even just one step towards making these dreams a reality.

Let’s get grounded and keep it simple by focusing on one yoga posture and a breath technique. 

Sukhasana (easy pose) to support and open the Root Chakra

Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position allowing the sit bones to evenly ground into the earth.  Let’s place our hands on our knees with palms either up or down.  Feel the weight of the sit bones grounding into the floor and feel the pressing down action as we lift the spine up and feel the crown of the head reaching towards the sky.  The root chakra is located at the base of the spine, so really bringing our attention to this area.  This posture helps us to settle into our body, get rooted and connected, and is a great place to be to do breathwork.

Prithvi Mandala Pranayama for the Root Chakra
This breath technique comes from the Gitananda Yoga tradition which my teacher David was trained in.  The technique involves inhaling, exhaling and retentions (holding the breath)  
***** Because of the retentions, this technique should not be practiced if you have hypertension, heart disease, asthma, ulcers or if you are pregnant.  Breath retentions can also be intense if you are new to a pranayama practice, so if you feel any strain, irritation or cramping . . . please stop. 

This technique involves a four-part breath:
  • inhale for a count of 6
  • hold the breath (with the lungs full) for a count of 6
  • exhale for a count of 6
  • hold the breath (with the lungs empty) for a count of 6   

Continue this pattern for at least 9 rounds.  If a 6 count feels like too much when starting out, you can lessen the count to 4 for each round.  There are no pranayama techniques that should create any kind of strain.  

Below is an audio recording of this technique along with a visualization that can be used with this breath which you can follow along to.

Feel free to connect if you have any questions, otherwise enjoy your week of getting grounded and happy breathing!

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