February 26, 2016

This Is Where It Ends/Begins

The first chakra outside of the physical body is the 7th chakra (also referred to as the crown chakra).  The journey doesn’t end here as there are more energy centres located higher up above this chakra, so there is continual energy flow moving upwards as well as energy moving back down into the physical form.  Like all things that seemingly end, it’s not so much an ending as it is a transformation.  All endings result in new beginnings. 

The Sanskrit term for this chakra is Sahasrara.  It is the only one of the seven major chakras that is located outside of the body, so it is where it all comes together.  By working on bringing all of the lower six chakras into balance we can more easily gain access to the crown chakra.  By bringing balance and awareness to all of these energy centres (which results in harmony and understanding of our bodies, minds and different areas of life), we can see how truly wonderful and amazing we are.  This is THE goal of the crown chakra . . . to help us identify our light.     

Tadasana (mountain) to support and open the Crown Chakra
Starting in a standing position at the top of our mats, we’ll bring our big toes to touch with our heels slightly separated.  We want to create a solid base with our weight balanced evenly on our feet, so we can start to shift our weight forward and back, and side to side until we can find that centre balance point.  We’ll then start to pull our ankles apart to activate the lifting of the arches of our feet.  Let’s firm up our legs by activating our thighs and feeling the knees begin to lift.  We’ll slightly tuck our tailbone and allow our core to be active by drawing the belly in.  Focus on the length of our spine as we start to stand even taller.  Our shoulder blades draw down towards our waist as the chest opens and the collarbone widens.  Arms are straight with our fingers extended and palms facing forward.  Our extension of the spine continues into the neck as we keep the chin parallel to the floor and the crown reaching towards the sky.

Tadasana is the foundational pose for all other standing poses in our yoga asanas.  It is where it all comes together!  It appears as if we are just simply standing there, but in reality every single muscle in our body should be engaged.  As well, we are activating all of the chakra energy centres in our body and we can bring awareness to this by noticing:
  • how the feet are rooting down, and the energy of the legs is grounding down into the earth (root chakra)
  • the pelvis is slightly tucked to protect our creativity centre (sacral chakra)
  • the belly is drawing in to create heat in preparation for moving forward(solar plexus chakra)
  • the chest is opening to expand the heart and open the lungs for deeper breaths (heart chakra)
  • the neck is neither open nor closed to prepare us to both express out and turn inward to hear more clearly (throat chakra)
  • we can start to close our eyes to picture the pose we are in and where we would like to go (third eye chakra)
  • the crown reaching up to lengthen our spine and allow us to stand tall and proud in who we are and where we came from (crown chakra) 

Savitri Pranayama (the Rhythmic Breath) to work with the Crown Chakra
*** this breath technique comes from the Gitananda yoga tradition.
*** this breath technique uses breath retentions, so should not be practiced by those with hypertension, heart disease, asthma, ulcers or when pregnant.  If you are new to a pranayama practice, breath retentions can be intense, so please STOP if you feel any strain, irritation or cramping.

The best way to open, activate and work with the Crown Chakra is through meditation.  This breath is great to do as a meditation or to begin a meditation practice as it calms the mind and the nervous system.  This particular breath technique was the foundation for most of the yoga and pranayama practices I learned in my training with Pyramid Yoga which is based on the Gitananda yoga tradition.

This technique involves a four-part breath:
  • inhale for a count of 6
  • hold the breath (with the lungs full) for a count of 3
  • exhale for a count of 6
  • hold the breath (with the lungs empty) for a count of 3

Continue this pattern for at least 9 rounds.  You can work with different counts, which will have different physical and energetic effects on the body, but the inhalations and exhalations are always twice as long as the holds.  Some of the different counts include:
  • 6-3-6-3 = helps to control and calm the emotions
  • 8-4-8-4 = helps to strengthen and rejuvenate the body
  • 10-5-10-5 = helps to increase metabolism

Below is an audio recording of a 10-minute meditation/breath practice with the 6-3-6-3 breath.

Happy breathing/meditating!  Feel free to connect with any questions that may come up.

See you on our mats :)

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