September 25, 2016

Slow Burn

Moving from earth to water to fire. All of my classes this week will be focused on the element of fire and the third chakra. Physically, the area of the body associated with this chakra and element is the core. Manipura, or the solar plexus chakra, is very much about passion, determination and personal power.  Manipura loosely translates as “city of jewels,” and it is where our self-confidence, will power and clarity reside. It is the core where we build up our heat and where our strength, both physical and mental, radiate out from. There’s sometimes this misconception with the element of fire that in order to build heat and strength, we need to be continually moving at a quick, intense pace. Though this type of momentum does serve a purpose in some situations, it is ultimately unsustainable. True power often resides in going slowly, becoming focused and attaining true clarity. Even as we slow down, we still build heat and strength, and in fact often slowing down can be more intense and challenging both physically and mentally. So, focus this week will be on activating the core of the body, but also on slowing EVERYTHING down to build and maintain that heat, fire, light and personal power within the body and mind. Join me this week to help fan your flames and/or use the following techniques to build up your fire and shine your light.         

As before, you can choose a mandala associated with the solar plexus chakra to colour, or you can draw your own. Mandalas can be quite simple with very little details. While in my teacher training, we worked with a few simple mandalas that represented each of the chakra energy centres.  We would colour them as generally or adding as many details as we wanted. Once complete, we would use them as a focal type of meditation. Simply look to the center dot of the mandala (add one if there isn’t one already) and focus your gaze on the middle. After a few minutes, close your eyes and watch the mandala appear in your inner vision. If you don’t see anything right away, just open the eyes, continue with the gaze and try again. You can do this practice (gazing at the mandala, then closing the eyes and watching it appear on the inside, repeating a few times) for several minutes. I found it interesting to see the difference between colours and sometimes textures between the mandala I gazed at on the outside and the one that appeared on the inside. 

While colouring or drawing your mandala, in order to keep the focus on the Manipura chakra, you could:
  • include triangles (either inverted or upright . . . an inverted triangle is a symbol for the solar plexus chakra, and an upright triangle is a symbol for fire)
  • use various shades of yellow (colour of the solar plexus chakra), reds and oranges (colours of the fire element)
  • include the seed sound for the third chakra (rung/ram) in the picture physically (in English or Sanskrit) or mentally by repeating this word as you work
  • ask questions or make statements that direct your mind to the third chakra as you work and see what answers, words, images, etc. appear. Questions could include:
    • When was the time in my life I was most courageous?
    • How do I express my personal power?
    • Do my intentions make me feel powerful and confident?
    •  I feel independent and able to care for myself when _________

When working with the solar plexus chakra, any pose that works on activating the core of the body (whether the front or the back) is beneficial. This week we’ll focus on Ardha Phalakasana or forearm plank. You might think you would rather work with plank on the hands to build more strength, but when we are on the forearms, the triceps work less causing us to work more with the core, and with the shift in the centre of gravity closer to the floor, it also causes us to activate the abs more. 

Ardha Phalakasana
Start in table top position. Come down onto the forearms so that the elbows are directly under the shoulders, and the forearms are parallel to each other. Walk the feet back, so you are on the toes, or at any time come down onto the knees. Feel a straight line from the heels (which are reaching back) to the crown of the head (which is reaching forward). Hug the thighs in towards each other, activate the glutes (without letting the legs rotate) and feel the inner core muscles lifting in and up towards the crown of the head. Keep the forearms planted and rooted into the floor (for more of a challenge, allow the palms to turn up). Look slightly forward to keep the neck and spine long. Make sure you are not lifting the butt too high in the air or sinking the hips too low towards the ground.  Feel this activation and then SLOW down the breath. Hold for 5-8 SLOW, deep breaths and then repeat 1-5 times. 

Feel free to check out earlier posts labeled 3rd chakra for more ways to work with this particular energy centre. Enjoy your week of slowing down, finding the strength and power in this slowness and building up your inner light.

See you on our mats,

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