What is a Chakra and what do they do for me?
For my next series of blogs I thought I might unravel some of the mystery around Chakras. They are currently a fashionable theme, popping up in magazine articles, self help books and even providing the inspiration for modern jewellery collections (Thomas Sabo & Pandora both have chakra themed pieces). I have to be honest, the wisdom of the chakras is often watered down or indeed misinterpreted and as I am frequently asked about them I thought it would be worth spending a little time putting chakras back into their correct context.
A chakra is a wheel or vortex of energy, and key to yoga philosophy. You may not know about them but I’ll guarantee you have felt them. Have you ever felt so happy that your heart could burst, or indeed had it broken? Ever felt a lump in your throat? Had a gut reaction to something? Yes? All chakra energy that you are tapping into.
We have 7 major chakras which rest along the spine, and they are a hub where a group of energy pathways (nadis) meet, just as a plexus is where a collection of nerves meet in the physical body. Energy should be able to flow freely through the chakras, without becoming blocked or wasted, to keep us healthy and in balance, as you might guess though, this is easier said than done!
Yoga philosophy tells us that we are surrounded by and made up of prana or life force. All yoga is about drawing prana into the body and then using it wisely, via the chakras. Yoga keeps our chakras healthy, in the correct position and the energy moving smoothly.
The health of the spine has a major effect on the health of the chakras, if we have mis-alingments in the spine then chances are that the chakras are also misaligned. For example, if we are rounded shouldered we are closing in on our heart chakra (perhaps subconsciously protecting it) so the energy is not able to flow freely. If I start to feel anxious for no good reason I always check my posture, almost always I’ve allowed my bottom to stick out, hollowing my low back, this is allowing the energy of the sacral chakra, which is all about fear and anxieties, to flow out unchecked. By making slight alterations to how I’m stood, namely engaging core postural muscles and lengthening the tailbone, this brings me back in control of the energy and my anxiety levels back in check.
Here’s a great routine to get your chakras back into line and working for you :
Start with some quiet time, perhaps lying on your back and checking in on how you feel right now.
Move your body with some lively activations, you know the sort of things we like to do in class. These warm your body for movement, let you know where you might be feeling a bit stiff and get energy and blood circulating. This is also a good time to do any body preps you think you’ll need, I generally include some core muscle strengtheners, leg stretches and hip openers.
Come into the mountain pose. This is one of the most beneficial poses of all. Allow yourself to settle into an easy, natural alignment (plenty of info on this in previous blogs).
It’s great to start with one of Dru Yoga’s unique energy block release sequences, they do what they say on the tin! If you can’t remember them, speak to your tutor, they can guide you to great books, DVDs and CDs to help you.
Rest for a moment in crocodile.
Stretch your back out with Cat pose. From an all fours position, alternate between tucking the tailbone & head in, rounding the back, and lengthening the spine, tailbone moving towards the back wall, opening the chest & the chin rises. Keep the core engaged throughout, avoiding an exaggerated dip in the lumbar spine. Focus on this being a smooth, wave-like movement from tail to crown.
Time now for some sun sequences to get things moving!
Finish with some relaxation, lying on your back, allowing all your spinal muscles to relax and your vertebrae to settle back into place.
Keep practicing this routine and we’ll be ready to explore the properties of the base chakra next time.