October 16, 2016

Express Yourself

Earth, water, fire, and air are elements that most of us are familiar with.  The 5th chakra, or the throat chakra is associated with the element of ether.   Ether is related to the concept of vibrations and is said to be the stuff that angels are made of.  While the heart chakra acted as a bridge between the tangible and intangible, the throat chakra tends to act as a gateway from the physical world to that of the spiritual.

In Sanskrit, the throat chakra is referred to as “Vishuddha” which loosely translated means to purify.  It is represented by the colour sky blue and is located at the neck or throat.  When working with this energy centre, it is largely about communication and expression.  What do you say?  What do you hear?  Can you purify your thoughts and recognize what thoughts are truly yours and what thoughts came from elsewhere?  When you express yourself, are you sharing what is true to you, or are you expressing what you think others want to hear?  Do you truly listen to what others say to you and what you say to yourself, or are you filtering the information and perceiving it from a certain slanted point of view?  Lots of heavy work and soul searching comes along when focusing on this throat chakra! 

Physically, we’ll be focusing on the neck and shoulders in classes this week.  We’ll be opening up to better express ourselves, but also closing off in order to tune into the sounds from inside.  Want to continue your work at home?  See below for more ways to open and strengthen this particular energetic centre.

The mandala above was worked on while I was on retreat in Guatemala.  It is one that I didn’t get a chance to finish, and I haven’t gone back to since, which seems to be my theme when it comes to the throat chakra.  Being a strong introvert who spends a lot of time in her head, I am still working on drowning out those sounds and those perceptions of me that aren’t actually coming from me, but that come from somewhere or someone else.  A perfect way to move past those thoughts, while working on mandalas, is to use a mantra as you're working.  Focus on the sounds of the mantra instead of drowning in the possible negative slant of your thoughts.  “Om Shanti Om” is a simple mantra that has the meaning and vibration of peace.   

In order to further focus your colouring or drawing on the Vishuddha chakra, you can:
  • include black or dark indigo oval eggs (symbol for throat heart chakra)
  • use the colour sky blue (colour for the throat chakra), or black and white (colours of the ether element)
  • the seed sound for the fourth chakra (hung/ham) can be included in the picture physically or mentally
  • direct your mind to the throat chakra by asking questions and observing what words, answers, phrases, pictures, etc. show up for you as you work
    • How do I creatively express myself?
    • What am I not saying?
    • Do I balance my time spent speaking and listening?
    • Is there any misinformation that I often tell myself or others?  What?  Why?  

Poses that work with the neck are good to do with this energy centre.  For whatever reason, the neck is not focused on a lot in yoga despite the fact that a lot of tension settles here for many of us.  Shoulder openers are also good to do as the tension from our necks tends to settle into the shoulders, and we spend so much of our time hunched over.  We'll concentrate this week on one of my favourite poses for shoulders which also gets a bit into the neck.  This is a posture called Eka Bhuja Swastikasana I, and I've pictured the fist stage of the pose as well as the full expression.  Find your edge and stay in whatever variation works for you at this time.

Eka Budja Swastikasana I

Start in a position lying on your stomach.  Bring the arms beside you like a "T" with your palms facing down.  Keep the right arm there, then bend the left arm and bring the left hand under the left shoulder.  Push into the left hand to lift yourself up and over your right shoulder.  Let the head rest on the mat, but if this is to much for your neck, you can place a block underneath your head.  If this is enough, stay here and breath.

To go a bit deeper, you can bring your left hand behind you to rest behind the lower back, or it can reach back to clasp the left fingers with the right fingers.  You can bend the left knee and bring the left foot flat on the floor.  For the full expression, bend both knees and bring both feet flat to the mat  To further deepen this posture, think about drawing your hips towards the ground as if you want to bring your sacrum flat on the floor.  

There should be sensation, but there should be no pain at any point within this pose.  Stay in your expression of the pose from 5-20 breaths, then slowly unwind and lower your belly back onto the floor, pause to notice the after effects, and then start to set up for the other side.

To learn more about the Vishuddha energy centre, go back to early posts labelled 5th chakra or message me for more information and details.  Enjoy your week of listening, being creative and expressing your true self.  

See you on our mats!

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