chakra

Crown Chakra - Connection to the Divine

The seventh chakra is the one that brings all of the other chakras together. It is our connection to the divine and it makes us feel like there is a deeper purpose to our lives. Are you perhaps searching for this deeper meaning in your life at the moment? It may mean that your spiritual journey has begun, and that your Crown Chakra is starting to open up.

Sahasrara - Our Point of Connection

The last of the seven chakras is the Crown Chakra, Sahasrara. It connects us with the Universe and the Divine around us. This chakra is located on the top of the head, and through it we can experience the connection and unity with everything and everyone. It allows us to experience peace, joy and calm surrender knowing there is a larger purpose to life. We know there is a deeper meaning to our lives, and trust the Universe to take care of our soul, as we are indefinitely part of the universe.

The Crown chakra is represented by a lotus flower with thousand petals radiating violet and white light. It is the point where the body and the ego meet the soul and the universe. Thought the Crown chakra we receive energy from the Universe, and we give it back towards the Universe. We all radiate energy from within us, and these energies form a collective consciousness, a matrix of energies, and are all interconnected and influencing each other. Therefore by changing your energy, you can change the collective energy.

When the Crown chakra is in balance, we can live in peace and be grateful and joyous about the events in our lives. We are aware of the connection between us and the Universe, and feel that there is a grand plan for everything unfolding.

Different Stages of the Crown Chakra

Unlike the other chakras seeking balance, the crown chakra can be closed, in the process of opening up, or open.

Closed Crown chakra

If the Crown chakra is closed, we may have a belief that the deepest intuitive knowledge and connection with the Divine is not meant for us. We can be skeptical towards the spiritual world, and have the tendency to only believe what can be seen or felt. We may lack the feeling of connection to others, and can have a strong urge to possess material things in life.

Opening Crown chakra

When the crown chakra is in the process of opening, one is beginning the spiritual journey. This quest for spiritual connection is different for every person, some are finding guidance from meditation or yoga, and some find other means of getting in touch with the inner urge to find a deeper meaning to one's life.

Open Crown chakra

When the crown chakra is open, a person is completely connected with the Divine, and very open to the source of life.

How to Open Your Crown chakra

The Divine speaks to us all equally, some of us are just more tuned in. So how can you become more tuned with your 7th chakra, and hear the guidance available to you?

Shutting out the noise from outside will be helpful to let the divine information come in. Meditation is a great way to turn the awareness and energy inwards, and quiet the mind. When the mind is quiet, we can hear the soul, which is always connected to the great Universe, the Divine Source.

We can practice gratefulness as a form or praying. When we notice all of the things around us that we have, we can be grateful for them, appreciate them and bless them. Instead of asking for more, when we are grateful for what we already have, we open the channels for more good to come into our lives.

You can also write down any dreams and visions you have. These can be intuitive feelings, colors, shapes and visions that may at first seem like they do not make sense. But don't judge these visions with the mind, but stay open to them and observe the guidance they are providing you.

How is Your Intuitive Guidance?

How connected do you feel to the Divine Source? Do you wish you could be more connected, or are you still skeptical of the spiritual world? How easy it is for you to follow the inner guidance and find the deeper purpose of your life?

You can remind yourself daily:

I am part of the Divine, and the Divine is within me. I cherish my spirit and trust my intuition.

5 Yoga Poses to Balance Your Third Eye Chakra

The sixth chakra, Ajna, is our all seeing Third Eye. It is all about intuition, wisdom and psychic ability. When this chakra is open, we can trust our inner guidance, we are intuitive but grounded and can see clearly what needs to be seen. To keep this chakra in balance you can incorporate the following gentle asanas and meditative exercises into your practice. Let your creativity fly, and feel free to visualize the world exactly as you would like to see it. After all, we first create with the eye of the mind, we create with visualizing, before we see things in the physical world.

1. Child's pose with forehead pressed to the floor

Come down to child's pose, knees open or closed, hands stretched in front. Press your forehead on the floor, close your eyes and bring your awareness to the Third eye. Bring your inner energy onto to this chakra, and let it show you how you would see the world through it. What is needed for you to see? What is relevant, and what isn't?

Take 2-4 minutes here, breathe steady and long, and let your body relax.

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2. Ardha Uttanasana - Half standing forward bend

This mild forward fold relaxes the mind and at the same time creates pressure in the area of the third eye, stimulating it.

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Start in Tadasana, inhale your arms up, and fold forward into uttanasana, standing forward bend. On an inhale straighten your legs and your back, and place your palms on the floor in front, or on your shins (or on two blocks). Stay for 4 long and deep breaths, and come out by folding back down to uttanasana on an exhale. Bend your knees, and come back up with an inhale, arms all the way up towards the sky, palms touching. Close your eyes and bring your thumbs close to your forehead, and pause here. Feel the third eye chakra, take 5-6 long breaths before lowering the hands and opening your eyes.

3. Sun salutations - with your eyes closed

Yes, with your eyes closed! When we close our eyes, we can truly start to see with our Third eye. Make sure you have enough room in case you tumble, and take it slow. Feel your body, feel you intuitive guidance and go with the flow.

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You can do one round of Sun salutations with your eyes open, and flow through uttanasana (standing forward bend), ardha uttanasana (half standing forward bend) , plank pose, chaturanga dandasana (four limbed staff pose), bhujangasana (cobra pose), adho mukha savasana (downward facing dog) and back to uttanasana and finally tadasana (mountain pose).

After this first round, close your eyes before you begin the second round. Place your hands in anjali mudra, and have the bases of your thumbs touching the forehead. Focus here, and again draw all your energy into this one point of the sixth chakra. From here, begin 4 rounds of Sun salutations with your eyes closed.

After the final round, take a few breaths in Tadasana and feel your body. How did you experience your body when the eyes were closed. What was different?

4. Virabhadrasana III - Warrior III

Practicing balance can bring energy and awareness into our third eye chakra. When we balance the body, the mind needs to be just as engaged as the body.

Start in Tadasana in front of your mat. Inhale your arms up, and with the exhale bring the palms together and place the thumbs again onto your forehead. Close your eyes, take few breaths here and draw the energy into your third eye chakra.

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With an exhale, bring your palms in front of your heart centre, pour all your weight onto your right leg, and start lifting up the left leg while hinging forwards from the hips. Keep the hips square, and the toes of the left foot facing towards the floor. Keep your hands on your chest, or extend them forward or to the side. Take 3-5 deep breaths here. With an exhale take your hands back in front of your heart space, and start coming back up with a straight back. Repeat on the other side.

5. Seated meditation

One of the best ways to find contact with our Ajna Chakra is via meditation. Find yourself in a comfortable seated position, sit on a block or on the floor, straighten the back and relax the shoulders. Close your eyes.

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Start with rubbing your hands together to generate heat in your palms. Do this for about 15-20 seconds, after which you can place your hands on your eyes. The warmth of the palms stimulates the eyes and lets the eyes soften. Once you feel the palms losing their heat, repeat once more.

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Then, place your hands on your thighs or on your lap, and focus on your breathing. Once more draw your energy onto your third eye, and ask it to show you what you need to see. Ask it to remind you of your purpose in this life, and then sit and listen to the answers coming from within.

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The Ajna Chakra is about your inner wisdom and guidance. It's about being creative and trusting the intuitive messages we receive. For this we sometimes need to close our eyes to really see what we need to see.


feature mage via: M. Appelman

The Third Eye Chakra - The Chakra of Intuition

We all have an inner guidance that some feel more strongly than others. It's relating to our spirit, to our deepest essence and to information we receive from the universe around us. The sixth chakra is about connecting with the intuitive guidance to feel our essence in life.

Ajna - Purple lotus of intuition

The sixth chakra, the Brow Chakra is located on the centre of the brain, behind the centre of the forehead. It is also called as the Third Eye chakra, namely due to its intuitive, all-seeing qualities. This chakra sees both the inner and the outer world, and acts more as an observer. It helps us to understand what we see, and to act with justice and compassion.

Ajna means to perceive, and through this chakra we can imagine and act through intuition and truly see with our soul what is around us. The element of this chakra is light, and it will help us to see the larger picture. We move away from the ego and gain insights into our own behavior so we can eliminate patterns that are harmful to us and our true path in life. We interpret our lives and other people quite quickly, and if we get too stuck on these interpretations or expectations of what should happen, we stop seeing things the way they really are.

This chakra is symbolized by a purple and dark blue lotus flower with two petals. Since it's linked with our intuition, it allows us to receive clear thoughts and spiritual self reflections. It supports our inner wisdom and essentially connects us to the Source. When the Ajna chakra is balanced we can see clearly and feel the purpose of our lives. We feel a guidance and we feel secure in the flow of life.

Imbalances in the Third Eye chakra

If the Ajna chakra is too strong and leading, a person can have difficulty concentrating, they can live too much in the fantasy world and miss what is around them. If the chakra is weak, there is little connection with the intuition and the inner guidance. A balance Anja chakra makes an individual insightful, able to visualize and imagine.

Overactive sixth chakra

When the Third Eye chakra is overactive, one can have strong psychic visions and information, which can make you lose your sense of the physical world, and the sense of being grounded. If the chakra is too strong, one might be scared of the visions that are coming, feel overwhelmed and even delusional.

Deficient sixth chakra

When one is more analytical and trying to figure life out just by analyzing, it can mean the sixth chakra is weak. Not understanding the spiritual side of life, one tends to worry and imagine the worst case scenarios. When the Ajna chakra is weak, one finds it difficult to feel any guidance from within, which can lead to lack of direction in life.

On a physical level the Brow chakra is connected with the sinuses, eyes and ears. An imbalanced Sixth chakra can cause headaches, sinus infections and issues with the eyes.

Balancing your Third Eye chakra

Try to find the difference of looking at the world through your own personality, and through your soul. See how things change when we look through your soul? This allows us to really see and feel and to get beyond the illusions of the conditioning and the physical world.

Take some time to get playful and open. When we get too serious in life, we may dampen the intuition and the guidance from the soul. So try to give the analytical mind its time and place, and as a balancing activity try to do something where you can remain creative and open. Creative hobbies are great for this!

Alternate nostril breathing can also be useful when trying to balance the two hemispheres in the brain. It will calm the mind and bring you back to the present moment. Start by closing the right nostril with your right hand's thumb, and breathing in through the left nostril. Block the left nostril with your right hand's ring finger, and breathe out from the right nostril. Breathe in again through the right nostril, block the right and exhale through the left.

Meditation, Yoga Nidra and Reiki are also helpful in developing this chakra, restoring the balance back and getting us more receptive to the higher messages of intuition.

How is your intuitive guidance?

Do you feel connected to something beyond yourself? Do you feel it's easy for you to tap into your inner guidance and feel what your soul wants out of your life? Or if you are very intuitive, are you feeling grounded?

To strengthen the intuitive Third eye chakra, remind yourself daily:

I am in touch with my inner wisdom. I know that all is well in my world. I nurture my spirit every day.

 

Feature image credit: Mermaid Yoga

5 Yoga poses to Balance Your Throat Chakra

  The fifth chakra, Vissudha, is our voice. It is governing our ability to express ourselves, to listen and to communicate with others. It challenges us to think about what we say and what we hold back, what is our truth and how willing we are to share it.

To balance your Vissudha chakra, yoga poses that focus on the upper back and throat can be beneficial. Here are 5 yoga poses that can bring balance to your 5th chakra.

1. Neck rolls

If the throat chakra is not balanced, this can lead to tension in the neck and jaw. You may grind your teeth or have tensed shoulders.

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Start by sitting comfortably in Sukhasana, and bring a block under your hips if needed. Start with tilting your head from side to side, slowly observing if there is any tension. You can roll your head from side to side, and stretch the sides as well as the back of the neck. Make also sure that the jaw is released. Continue for 1-2 minutes.

2. Matsyasana - Fish pose

The Fish pose opens the throat and the chest. It stimulates the thyroid and strengthens the muscles of the back.

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Start with laying on your back, and slide your hands slightly under your hips. Keep your hands touching your hips at all times throughout the pose. Imagine there is a magnet in the middle of your chest pulling you up. With an inhale, start slowly lifting up your chest from this point. The crown of the head, or the back of the head, touches the floor, and the forearms stay grounded to the floor. Stay for 2-4 breaths and come out slowly. If you feel any tension in your neck or throat, lower the chest and the angle of the head.

3. Salamba Sarvangasana - Supported Shoulderstand

The supported Shoulder stand tunes the nerves running in the neck, and stimulates the thyroid. The pose calms the mind while energizing the body. As it's an inversion, the blood starts to circulate better and the mind gets clearer.

You can start in Viparita Karani, bringing the legs up the wall and hips close to the wall. Place the bottoms of your feet against the wall, and have your hands firmly on the ground. From here you can start slowly lifting your hips up, firmly rooting your feet onto the wall. Once up, you can bring your hands behind your lower back to support your back, and raise one leg at a time, or both legs, into supported shoulder stand.

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Be mindful not to adjust yourself when in the pose! Stay for 2-4 breaths to begin with. Slowly come down by placing your feet back on the wall, and lowering yourself onto the mat. With any pain or discomfort in the neck, avoid the pose.

4. Purvottanasana - Upward plank

This pose gives a great stretch to the shoulders, neck and upper back, releasing tension from the whole front of the body.

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To come to this pose, start with sitting in Dandasana, and place your hands behind your hips, fingers pointing towards you. Take an inhale, and on an exhale press into your hands and lift up your hips. Try to open up the chest towards the skies, and if your neck feels comfortable, you can drop your head gently. Leave your neck neutral if you have any discomfort in the neck. Hold for 2-3 breaths at first, and come out slowly by lowering your hips.

5. Child's pose

Child's pose is a wonderful, restorative pose, relaxing the upper back, neck and throat. You can have your knees together, or apart, whichever feels more comfortable. Have your hands straight in front, or folded underneath your forehead. Place a flat pillow or bolster under your hip bones to make the pose more comfortable. Try to let go of all the tensions you might be holding in this area, and relax yourself with every breath.

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In all poses try to imagine the freedom you have when you can speak your truth in every situation, and with every person. Remind yourself:

I have the right to speak my truth. I love to share my experiences and wisdom. I am at peace.

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The Throat Chakra - The Chakra of Truth

We all have that sense inside of what is the truth for us. Our life is an expression of this truth we feel, and the liberty we feel in expressing it. The fifth chakra is about communicating your truth to yourself, allowing you to feel what is your truth, and accepting the truth of those around you.

Vishuddha - Blue wheel of communication

The Vishuddha chakra, also named the Throat Chakra, is located in the neck area, but the ears and shoulder are connected to his chakra as well. This chakra is the first of the spiritual chakras, and governs our communication and authentic voice. It helps us to find our truth in life, and to speak our truth. The color of this chakra is blue, and it's represented by a lotus flower with 16 petals. The word Vishuddha in Sanskrit means pure, and its element is Akasha, connection.

When our Vishuddha chakra is balanced, it's easy for us to find and express our authentic voice. We have no fear of speaking our thoughts and feelings, and we can accept our truth easily. We can listen to others and give them the space to speak their truth. This chakra also encourages us to find the universal truth, to go beyond what we have learned and been conditioned to think through our culture and family background, and connect to a higher truth.

We express ourselves in many ways in our daily lives. We may be drawn to artistic expression, but also our daily career choice and the activities we do are an expression of our true self. A person with a balanced Vishuddha chakra is creative and free to follow their own truth.

Imbalances in the Throat Chakra

This chakra can be imbalanced or blocked due to negative feelings, such as guilt or shame. When the throat chakra is not in balance, we find it hard to express ourselves, or to truly listen to others. On the other hand, it may be hard for us to express ourselves or to create a life that is fulfilling for us.

Overactive Throat chakra

When the throat chakra is overactive, one may have traits of arrogance towards others, one may talk too much and forget to listen to others. A person with overactive throat chakra may be very critical with others, lie and become manipulative. It may be hard to allow others to speak or to accept opinions that are different from theirs.

Deficient Throat chakra

On the other hand, a person with a deficient throat chakra finds it hard to express their truth to themselves, and to others. It's difficult to speak up, to find their voice and to be definite in their goals in life. A person with a weakened throat chakra can appear very indefinite, as if unable to make decisions.

On the physical level the imbalances in this chakra can cause thyroid problems, issues in the neck and shoulders, pain in the jaw or problems in the ears.

Balancing your Vishuddha chakra

Pay attention to the 'lump in your throat', as this is often an indication of emotions trying to get out. When we block emotions, they are often stored in the body. Whether this is in the hips, or in the throat, upper body or shoulders, a good way of releasing emotions from your body is to slowly bring them to light.

Singing is a great way to balance your throat chakra, and practice expressing your voice. If you're not so sure about singing, then hum or add some chanting or AUM's in your private yoga practice. Anything that gets you using your unique, beautiful voice. For practice, close your ears and hum softly, truly listening to yourself from within. How does your voice sound within you, how does your body vibrate with your voice?

You can also express yourself on paper, and keep a journal or just write down your thoughts and feelings. This will help in expressing your true self, and will support your artistic expression as well.

You can meditate on blue color, and imagine a beautiful blue light in your throat supporting everything you say. Take some deep breaths and feel the air flowing in through the throat, and out, letting it purify and unblock the throat chakra.

In the next article we will explore yoga poses which are helpful for balancing the Throat chakra.

How is your inner voice?

Take a look at your life, and think whether it fully expresses the true YOU, and the calling you feel inside. What is your purpose, and do you dare to let it out? When we recognize our truth and express it to the world, we are getting ready for further spiritual development. The truth will set you free.

To strengthen the Vishuddha chakra, remind yourself daily:

I have the right to speak my truth. I love to share my experiences and wisdom. I am at peace.

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Image Credit: Michael Parvin

 

5 Yoga Poses to Balance Your Heart Chakra

The fourth chakra, Anahata Chakra, is the heart chakra, and unites the lower and higher chakras. It is our centre of love, compassion and joy. Since it's located in the heart centre, the beneficial yoga poses are those opening the chest, the heart space and shoulders. To balance your Anahata chakra, enjoy these following heart-opening yoga poses.

1. Cat / Cow pose

To warm up the muscles in the chest and upper back, the cat / cow movement is a good place to start. When our intention is to open up the heart, we also need to focus on the shoulders and upper back muscles to make sure they are released and supportive of opening up the chest.

Start by coming on your hands and knees. Keep your shoulders above your wrists, and hips above your knees. On an inhale start lifting your head and tailbone towards the ceiling. On an exhale, arch your back, press through the shoulder blades and drop your head. Focus on bringing the shoulder blades as close together as possible on the inhale, and as far away from each other as possible on the exhale.

Repeat for 6 rounds, before moving on to the next pose.

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2. Anahatasana - Melting heart

This Yin yoga pose is great for opening the shoulders and softening the heart. It also creates a mild back-bend for the upper back.

Begin on your hands and knees. Start walking your hands forward, and allow your chest to drop to the floor. Your hips should be above your knees, and hands shoulder width apart. Stay for 2-3 minutes, and come out to a Child's pose for a mild counter pose.

If you have any issues with your neck, avoid this pose. If you feel any tingling in your arms, adjust the arms and bring them further apart. Tingling could be a sign of a compressed nerve, which can damage the nerve if left longer time. You can also rest your chest on a block to make the pose more gentle.

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3. Bhujangasana - Cobra pose

This pose strengthens the entire shoulder area, and provides an opening for the chest.

To start the pose, lie on your stomach and place your feet hip width apart, the tops of your feet pressing against the floor. Place your hands underneath your shoulders, and draw your pubic bone towards the floor to stabilize your lower back. With an inhale, start lifting your chest off the floor until you feel you cannot go higher without compromising the steadiness of the pose. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Take two long and steady breaths here, and with the following exhale lower yourself back onto the ground.

Avoid this pose if you are pregnant or have undergone abdominal surgery. If you have problems with your wrists, stay on your elbows (Sphinx pose) and elevate the elbows with a block to get a deeper back bend.

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4. Ustrasana - Camel pose

Powerful heart opening pose, the Camel pose is a great counter pose for modern life, where we tend to hunch forward. If we have been hurt in life, we tend to protect the heart area by closing the chest and rounding the upper body.

Start with kneeling on the floor, legs hip width apart. Press down on your shins and feet, and place your hands on the back of your hips, fingers pointing down. As you inhale, lift up your heart, draw your shoulder blades together and arch your upper back. When you feel ready, place your hands one at a time on your heels. Make sure your hips remain above your knees. Drop your head gently if this feels comfortable for your neck. Stay for 3 long and steady breaths. Come out slowly by placing your hands back on your hips. Take a few moments in Child's pose again as counter pose.

Leave your hands on your lower back for a more gentle back bend. You can also tuck your toes under your feet to elevate your heels, making the pose more accessible. If you suffer from lower back or neck injury, avoid the pose.

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5. Setu Banshasana - Bridge pose

The bridge pose builds lower body strength at the same time as it opens the chest.

To start, lie on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet close to your hips, your hands next to you palms facing down. While exhaling begin lifting the hips up, starting from the tailbone and slowly rolling the spine off the floor. Press your legs against the floor and lift up your hips. Press your shoulder blades against your spine, and if you feel comfortable, place your hands underneath your back, interlacing the fingers while the shoulder blades are close together. Stay for 2-3 long, steady breaths, release your hands and slowly lower your hips back onto the ground.

If you have neck injury, avoid this pose. For additional support, you can also place a block or a bolster under your sacrum.

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While opening your chest with these poses, focus on energetically opening your heart to love and compassion. Remind yourself

"I am open to love. I feel compassion and connection to other beings. I am open to receive love."

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Feature image credit: Ashley

 

The Heart Chakra - The Center of love

You know the feeling when you are watching a beautiful sunset, a star-filled sky or staring into the eyes of your loved one. Your chest is about to burst with an inexplicable feeling of love, happiness and joy. We all carry these infinite feelings of love and compassion in our heart. They are feelings so vast they cannot be expressed with words. This is also what the fourth chakra is all about; love, compassion and infinite joy.

Anahata - Green centre of love

The Anahata chakra, also named the Heart chakra, is located in your chest at heart level. This chakra is the centre of love, joy, happiness, and generosity. It connects the lower chakras to the higher ones, balancing our body and spirit, making it an important chakra for our spiritual development. The word Anahata in Sanskrit means unbeaten or unstruck.

The color of this chakra is green, and it is represented by a lotus with 12 petals. The main lesson of the Heart chakra is that we learn to love and accept ourselves before we can show pure love and acceptance to others around us. Whereas the lower chakras are representing the physical elements, desires and emotions, the Heart chakra encourages us to follow our higher self, to follow our heart.

A balanced Anahata chakra supports us in being kind and compassionate towards all beings. We feel outgoing and at ease with ourselves and the people around us. We can easily accept others the way they are, and this loving kindness is also felt by others. People feel comfortable and safe in our loving, generous presence. With an open Anahata chakra we can also forgive others from the purity of our open hearts.

Imbalances in the Anahata Chakra

If we have suffered emotionally, we tend to protect our wounds by creating an emotional shield around our hearts. We don't want to make ourselves vulnerable in the fear of getting hurt. When the Anahata chakra is not balanced, we can have a lack of trust towards people around us. We may feel unloved, not appreciated and we may have difficulty loving ourselves fully. Feelings such as hate, fear, anger and envy may take over, and we may feel unable to feel deep joy and happiness.

Overactive Anahata chakra

An overactive Heart chakra may make it difficult to control your feelings. Whether feelings of happiness and joy, or feelings of grief and despair, they will just wash over you without control. You may feel insecure, and find it difficult to love others freely without conditions. As it is difficult to accept yourself with an overactive heart chakra, it is difficult to accept love from others as well. This may lead to pleasing others in order to gain love.

Deficient Anahata chakra

A deficient Heart chakra may cause negativity in thoughts and feelings. You may feel like you want to keep yourself at distance from others, feel like it's hard to trust others or to let them in all the way to your heart. When we protect ourselves too much from getting hurt, we close the gates into our hearts. This way we close off also all the beautiful and wonderful things, which can lead us to feel isolated and lonely, without any real connections to others.

On the physical level imbalances in the fourth chakra can affect lungs and the heart, it can cause pain in the chest and disturbances in the blood pressure.

Balancing your love centre

When balancing the Anahata chakra, love is the key. Love towards yourself, and consequently love and acceptance towards others. You can ask yourself, what would my heart do? What does my heart want? Following the advice we receive from the heart and having faith in it will restore the balance into the Heart chakra.

As the heart chakra is all about compassion and love, it encourages us to reach out, to go beyond ourselves and to find a way to reach out to others. You can find a way to help others by volunteering, or by finding another way where you are contributing to those around you and connecting from your heart to the hearts of others. Care for nature around you, and extend your loving compassion to animals as well. Animals can be great teacher of unconditional and pure love.

Being open to the emotions and feelings we hold inside will also help get past the blockages. Accept the feelings you have, observe them and try to invite them to the surface with kindness. Try to open the gates to your heart and face yourself and others with a heart that does not need a shield.

The element of the Anahata chakra is air, and the color is green. These elements are found in nature, and you can surround yourself with air and green for comfort and balance. As the air is all around you, so is love. Breathe in the air, feel the air on your skin and imagine breathing in the ultimate acceptance which is found in nature.

In the next article we will explore yoga poses which are helpful for balancing the Heart chakra.

How is your Heart chakra?

In order to find out how open and balanced your Heart chakra is, ask yourself whether it is easy for you to truly love and accept yourself as you are? Do you feel open to others, and do you feel connected to those around you, whether to people, nature or animals?

To strengthen the fourth chakra, remind yourself daily:

I am open to love. I am wanted and loved. I am connected with other human beings.

 

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Feature image credit: The Real Estreya

 

 

5 Yoga poses to Balance Your Solar Plexus Chakra

Image credit: Benoit Mouren


 

The third chakra, Manipura, is our power centre and the spot for our strength and self-esteem. Since the Manipura chakra also governs the digestive organs, the beneficial yoga poses for balancing this chakra are the ones providing fire into the belly.

To balance your Manipura chakra and to strengthen the feeling of self-esteem and personal power in your life, try the following yoga poses.

1. Surya Namaskar A - Sun Salutation

Surya Namaskar, or the Sun Salutation, is a great way to generate some fire within. This is a series of yoga poses aimed at 03_SolarPlexus_Chakra1energizing the body. Start with four rounds of Surya Namaskar A to warm up the body and get the energy flowing.

Start in Tadasana, the mountain pose. Inhale arms up, and as you exhale, fold forward into Uttanasana. Inhale, straighten the legs and back, gazing forward (Ardha Uttanasana, Half standing forward bend). As you exhale, place both hands on the mat, and step one leg after the other into Chaturanga Dandasana, the four limbed staff pose. You can bring your knees on the floor to lessen the pressure on your arms. Inhale into Bhujangasana, the cobra pose. As you exhale, come up to Adho mukha svanasana, downward facing dog, either directly, or come to all fours first. Take 5 breaths in downward dog, then lift your gaze towards your hands, and take one big step forward, or simply walk your feet towards your hands. Exhale and release into forward fold, and with inhale come back up keeping the back straight.

 

2. Virabradrasana I - Warrior 103_SolarPlexus_Chakra2

Warrior pose is a sure way to feel more powerful and confident. Warrior 1 opens the solar plexus area and strengthens the legs. Start from Tadasana, mountain pose, and step your left foot back. Turn your left foot approximately 45 degrees out. Inhale your arms up, and with the exhale bend the right foot, always making sure the right knee stays above the right ankle. Keep your palms together if this is comfortable for your shoulders, otherwise keep arms shoulder distance apart, palms facing each other. Square the hips towards the front of your mat. Hold for 5 breaths, and with the next inhale straighten the legs, and exhale your arms down. Step to the front of the mat to Tadasana, and repeat with the other side.

 

3. Ardha Navasana - Half Boat pose03_SolarPlexus_Chakra3

The Half Boat pose is strengthening the entire abdominal area, which in turn supports the lower back. When starting the pose, keep your awareness on your spine, and keep the spine straight. Start in a seated position, and bend your knees, feet on the floor. Keep the feet together and the chin straight. Lift your feet until your shins are parallel to the floor, and flex you feet. Make sure your back is not rounding, and try to move your spine forward towards your legs. Stretch your arms out, parallel to the floor. Hold for 5 breaths, and with the following exhale bring your feet to the floor. You can repeat 2-3 times. Avoid the pose if you have had recent back or abdominal surgery.

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4. Matsyendrasana -Seated spinal twist03_SolarPlexus_Chakra4

The seated spinal twist is a beneficial pose for the spine, and it increases circulation to the pelvic area. Start in Dandasana, and bring the left foot on the ground, over the right knee. Bend the right knee and bring the foot close to your outer hip. Place the right hand over the left knee, and lift the palm up. Place the left hand behind you. Keep the hips squared, both sitting bones on the ground and the keep the left knee pointing upwards. If you have pain in the lower back, you can allow the hips to move with the twist. With an inhale, lengthen the spine, and start the twist towards the left from the waist first. Inhale and lengthen the spine again, and twist from the ribcage. Inhale once more and lengthen the spine, and twist from the shoulders. Turn your head back, making sure there is no pain in the neck. Hold for 2-3 breaths, and on the following inhale, release your neck, and exhale release the upper body.

 

5. Sphinx pose03_SolarPlexus_Chakra5

The Sphinx pose will cool down an overactive Manipura Chakra, and at the same time it tones the spine and stimulates the sacral-lumbar arch. Start by laying on your stomach, feet hip-width apart, and bring the elbows under the shoulders. If the pressure on your lower back feels too strong, bring your elbows a bit forward. If you want a deeper bend, you can place a block under the elbows. Hold the pose for 2-3 minutes, and come out by first lowering your upper body onto the floor. Relax on the floor for at least 3-4 breaths, and once you feel ready, come to a child pose for 2-3 breaths.

 

Enjoy the feeling of confidence and self-esteem that these poses will give you. Remind yourself "I am strong. I direct my own life and stand up for myself."


 

Check out our other articles in the Chakra Series:

ROOT CHAKRA: THE BASE AND SECURITY WITHIN

FIVE YOGA POSES TO BALANCE YOUR ROOT CHAKRA

SACRAL CHAKRA: PLACE OF PASSION AND FREEDOM

FIVE YOGA POSES TO BALANCE YOUR SACRAL CHAKRA

SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA: YOUR FIRE WITHIN

 

Solar Plexus Chakra - Your Fire Within

Image credit: Benoit Mouren


 

We all have the power to choose our path in life. We can choose to only react to the different circumstances presented to us by life, or we can be active participants in our lives, taking balanced action and living out our best versions of ourselves. The third chakra, the Manipura chakra, helps us with just this.

Manipura - Yellow centre of strength

The Manipura chakra, also called the Solar Plexus chakra, is located few inches above your navel. This chakra is all about who you are, and it is there to empower you, it gives you confidence, willpower and the warmth in your personality.

The Solar Plexus chakra is represented by a bright yellow lotus with ten petals. The element of this chakra is fire, and it relates to the fire in our belly, our personal power, but also a place of intuition where we can sense what is truly right for us. A person with a strong inner fire takes confident steps towards the end goal and has a healthy dose of inner drive.

A balanced and open Manipura chakra allows us to move forward in life with confidence, ease and we feel self-motivated. It is easy to make conscious choices and act upon opportunities in life. We feel confident that we can accomplish what we want without the need of controlling everything around us.

Imbalances in the Manipura Chakra

The lesson of the third chakra is to find the fine balance between letting go and taking control. At the same time it's a balancing act of true confidence which does not need external validation, and being too independent relying only on yourself. If we find that we are in a situation where we have the need to control things too much, or on the other hand do not dare to take any responsibility in life, the third chakra may be imbalanced.

Overactive Manipura chakra

If your Solar Plexus chakra is overactive, you may find yourself reacting to different circumstances in life, and you can often feel stressed out. You may feel the need to micro-manage things and people around you, or find yourself being very critical of yourself and others, to the point of being a perfectionist. It may also be hard for you to accept help from others. This may lead to isolation both emotionally and physically.

Deficient Manipura chakra

If, on the other hand, you find yourself being inactive or passive in life, and you let others control your agenda, your third chakra may be weakened. You may experience difficulties finishing projects or to execute plans, which comes  from lack of faith in our own abilities and the fear of assumed failure. You might doubt the motives of people around you, and seek approval from outside. Every time you talk down to yourself, you are depleting the third chakra even more.

On the physical level  imbalances in the Manipura chakra may manifest as digestion issues, weight problems and liver or kidney problems.

Balancing your power centre

To balance the Manipura chakra, surround yourself with yellow. Light up some yellow candles, buy some yellow flowers or imagine a big yellow flower around your navel, on the location of the third chakra.

As the element of this chakra is fire, you can find healing balance in being in the sun, or looking at a fireplace or campfire. You can also tune into your inner fire, your gut feeling. If you are struggling with something, or you are torn between two choices, close your eyes and fully focus on how your third chakra feels with each choice. Are you feeling a sense of lightness and ease, or are you experiencing nausea or a feeling of heaviness? Always try to identify a feeling of lightness, ease and confidence, and trust your gut to show you the right path.

It is also important to keep your digestive fire healthy by not overeating, drink enough fluids daily (avoid soda's and alcohol) and avoid excess snacking in order to give the stomach a rest between the meals.

Yoga poses that are generating heat into the area of the Solar Plexus chakra are also beneficial. In the next article we will focus on yoga poses that are helpful for balancing the third chakra.

How is your Manipura chakra?

To observe whether or not your Manipura chakra is balanced, ask yourself how confident you feel. Do you have the need to be perfect and to control your environment, or can you let go easily and trust it will all work out. Ask yourself if it's easy to stand on your own two feet, or are you relying on others too much for decision making.

To strengthen the third chakra, you can try the following affirmations:

"I am strong and courageous. I am free to choose in any situation. I direct my own life and stand up for myself."

 

Check out our other articles in the Chakra Series:

ROOT CHAKRA: THE BASE AND SECURITY WITHIN

FIVE YOGA POSES TO BALANCE YOUR ROOT CHAKRA

SACRAL CHAKRA: PLACE OF PASSION AND FREEDOM

FIVE YOGA POSES TO BALANCE YOUR SACRAL CHAKRA

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Root Chakra: The Base and Security Within

If you ever feel unstable in life, it may be that one of the chakras in your body is not completely in balance. Chakras, or energy wheels, are centers of energy within the subtle body, overlaying the physical body. It is through these chakras that energy flows within our body, and to feel healthy and fit, it is good to spend some time to review how in balance each of your chakras is.

What are chakras exactly?

The chakras were first mentioned in the Vedas, ancient Hindu texts, and later on in the Yoga Upanishads and  Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. They are centers of energy, each represented by a different color, sound and function. They vitalize the physical body, and draw in universal life force energy to keep the body in balance physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

There are altogether seven main chakras. If energy is blocked and cannot run through a certain chakra, it can lead to disturbances in the mind and body.

Muladhara - Red root chakra of safety

The root chakra is located at the base of the spine, symbolized by a red lotus with four petals. This first chakra relates to our foundation and base in life. The Sanskrit word Muladhara comes from two separate words, Mula meaning root, and Adhara meaning support or base. As the first chakra, this is an important starting point when beginning a journey to balancing these energy wheels in our bodies.

The root chakra connects us to our physical world. It relates to the physical energies, and it provides us with a sense of security and safety. Whatever makes you feel stable in life, elements such as food, water, shelter and even finances are governed by the root chakra. Also emotional needs relating to safety are based in the first chakra.

The color of the root chakra is red, which relates to self awareness. It is the area of survival and stability and your place on this earth.  The color red provides the power from the earth and gives vital energy on all levels.

When your root chakra is balanced, you feel stable and you are not doubting your place in this world. You are in good health, you feel safe and grounded.  The positive qualities of a balanced root chakra is a sense of stability, vitality, loyalty, prosperity and patience.

Imbalances in the Root Chakra

The possible imbalances in the root chakra are not necessarily relating to what we have in our lives at this very moment. Early childhood developments and the feeling of security once had, has a great impact on the development of the root chakra. The family wounds as well as cultural beliefs can also be stored here.

If you feel unsafe in any area of your life, whether in relationships, in your job or financially, you may have imbalances in the root chakra. And as energy flows upwards, blockages in the root chakra affect the energy flow towards the other chakras.

The imbalances in the root chakra can show themselves physically or emotionally. Physically this can show as constipation, having lower back or leg issues, prostate problems or even eating disorders. Emotionally the imbalances can show as increased feelings of fear or anxiety disorder.

If a chakra is not functioning optimally, it can be either overactive, or deficient.

Overactive root chakra

Those having an overactive root chakra may experience excessive feelings of anger and aggression towards others, and towards life. One can become greedy, materialistic and overly controlling. When the root chakra is overactive, the sense of security is found mainly from outside, resulting into inflexibility towards external factors in life.

Deficient root chakra

People with a deficient root chakra may feel disconnected from the world around them. One can have lack of focus and increased feelings of fear when dealing with others. Financial security can also be affected, and finding balance in this area of life is challenging.

Balancing comes from within

Connecting back with the feeling of trust is an inside job. The outer world may not know what we need, and if we hold it responsible for our happiness and feeling of safety, we may be waiting a lifetime. Therefore to find balance we need to find a way back to our deepest selves.

There are several ways in order to increase the balance of the root chakra. Meditation is a good way to connect again with the inner self, and to find a place where we are connected to the source.

The root chakra is connected with the sense of smell, and the element associated with it is earth. By being in nature, feeling the supportive earth beneath us and using the sense of smell to connect to the element of earth can have a positive effect on the root chakra.

Sound can also be healing. Hindu beliefs state that everything in the universe is made of sound. There are distinct sounds, or mantras, related to each chakra. Each chakra has a one syllable seed sound, Bija Mantra, which, when performed, activates the energy patterns of the chakra in order to purify the body and mind. The sound of the root chakra is LAM.

Yoga asana practice provides also a great tool to connect to the inner layers of ourselves, and to find the base of security and comfort within. In the next article we will provide asanas which are helpful in balancing the root chakra.

How is your Muladhara chakra?

To check if you may have blockages in the root chakra, you can ask yourself if there are areas in your life where you do not feel safe. Are there areas where you do not seem to be in control? As an affirmation, try waking up in the morning and before tuning into the world, tell yourself: I am part of this world, I am safe and grounded. I am stable, healthy and strong.

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