Music for the Soul - Mantras. Part 4 Heart

Chakra Series. Part 4, Heart
YAM, Anahata

A heart full of YAM

If you've never felt the power of a chant at Kirtan or in a yoga class, well... you're missing out. To know the meaning behind a mantra and to chant it with intention can create an energy so strong and breathtaking. And today we are exploring the power behind the mantra of the heart, YAM. To understand more about the Chakras and the meaning behind the mantras, see Part 1 of this series here.

The Heart Chakra
Sanskrit name, Anahata
Colour, Green (also shown as pink for romantic love)
Element, Air

In Sanskrit, Anahata means to become unstuck or unhurt. This would imply that the challenges of this chakra are teaching us to overcome pain that we endure as part of our life's tapestry. Once we overcome and move through that pain or sense of brokenness, underneath we find what is a flowing and abundant spring of boundless love and compassion.

The heart chakra (fourth energy centre) is located at the centre of the chest - it aligns to the position of the sternum, the thymus gland and energetically this is where the lower and upper chakras meet: the meeting of the physical (matter) and spiritual (spirit) worlds. When it is open and healthy it reflects balance, beauty, unconditional love and compassion. In Tantric teachings, Anahata is represented with 12 red or white petals with a smokey blue central component symbolising the element of air. The air element symbolises what can be flowing, flighty and able to change, it assumes whatever form it takes on. In the case of new love or romance we may find it is necessary to find grounding within the lower chakras. For those who are closed down in their heart chakra, they may find it difficult to allow themselves to get "caught up" in romance or "swept away" in love. 

When our heart chakra reflects the colour green, we are loving ourselves and others without judgement and with compassion. If the heart chakra is blocked we begin to show signs of blame for ourselves, unable to appreciate and accept ourselves for the divine child of the universe that we indeed are. This can manifest very seriously in illnesses such as cancer in the breasts, heart and immune diseases, as well as dysfunction within the circulatory system. 

Opening the heart
I love focussing on the Heart in my classes. So many of us carry brokenness and pain which is preventing us from living a life that is full and free. In a yoga practice we have the opportunity to focus on healing our heart but also improving our health in areas such as our immune and circulatory systems. 

Chanting YAM

When I ask students to chant together the bija mantra YAM something truely special takes place. When the Paris attacks took place, we chanted YAM for peace and to those who live in darkness. A chill and extreme warmth filled the room. It's in times like these where we find our capacity for love, humane and spiritual compassion and forgiveness. 

Heart Opening Yin Yoga Sequence

Beginning in Savasana, we extend the limbs into Pentacle Pose - creating a star shape with the body. This opens the body from the centre out. The heart and lung meridians which run along the arms are unobstructed and allow energy to flow. With each breath we focus on opening the heart in an offering (inhale) and receiving (exhale) of love. Start to visualise the colour green as the heart opens. A vibrant colour representing health. 

Coming up to sit, the hands centre at the heart space in prayer pose. Drawing light and breath in from the crown, we exhale out of the heart into our hands. 

Holding the intention of sending out love to those in need, take 3x rounds of the YAM bija mantra. Open the arms out to shoulder height, taking them as far back as possible on the inhale. On the exhale, hug the arms back in, opening the back of the heart. Every time the arms open we imagine sending out love, on the closing of the arms we receive love and hug ourselves. 

Come into table top and move through cat and lion focussing on the front and back of the heart. 

Anahatasana

Anahatasana

Walk the hands forward to Anahatasana, Melting Heart Pose. Hold for 5 minutes and soften the heart with each breath. Feel the back collapse as the heart melts towards the floor. Breathe deeply noticing any tightness or blockages in the heart space - front and back. 

Sit in upright in Saddle (Virasana, Hero Pose). Circle the arms, lead with the right arm into Eagle arms. Hold for 1 minute. Change to left arm leading, hold for 1 minute. Move back into tabletop and then into Sphinx Pose. The forearms are connected to the mat, shoulder distance apart and the shoulders are over the elbows. Focus on lifting from the heart, relax the hips and lower back. Hold for 2 minutes. Rest in Balasana (Child Pose) for 5 minutes.

Come back to sit with the legs extended in Caterpillar Pose (Pascimottansana). Tuck the chin and round from the shoulders. Breathe into tight spaces at the neck, shoulders or back. Hold for 4 minutes. Sit upright and bring the legs into Butterfly (Baddha Konasana). Circle the arms and twist to the right. Hold for 1 minute. Change to left side. Hold for 1 minute. 

Supta Baddha Konasana

Supta Baddha Konasana

Move into Reclining Butterfly Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) which can take place over a bolster or block for a deeper opening of the heart chakra. Hold for 5 to 10 minutes. Then move to Savasana, bolster under knees for 5 minutes. Finishing in Sukhasana (Seated Pose) with 3x chants of YAM. Send out love and receive it.

Alternative modalities for healing the heart

  • Rose. Rose flowers, rose essential oils or creams. Rose Spagni is a homeopathic formula that is applied topically to bring balance, protection and centring. Start from the hands or feet and work your way towards the heart. 
  • Practice forgiveness. This doesn't mean excusing someone for what they have done or needing to say "it's ok", it means accepting what has happened and recognising the part within yourself that needs to heal or be dealt with. 
  • Crystals. Rose Quartz. This beautiful crystal is so graceful and pure and holds the intention to open and heal the heart allowing love to flow. 
  • Self Reiki. Invite in Universal or God Consciousness into your heart by placing your hands on the chest. Draw in light through your crown as you inhale and exhale that energy into your hands. 

If you know of any other modalities or therapies for the Heart Chakra, please feel invited to share your techniques with those seeking healing. 

Our next post will be the teachings of the Throat Chakra. 

Music for the Soul - Mantras. Part 3 Solar Plexus

Chakra Series. Part 3, Solar Plexus
RAM, Manipura

The sound of RAM

This has to be one of my favourite chakra sounds. It stirs emotion and inspires action. RAM is the sound of the Solar Plexus Chakra – this is the third energy centre. To understand more about the Chakras and the meaning behind the mantras, see Part 1 of this series here.

The Solar Plexus Chakra – Honour Oneself
Sanskrit name, Manipura
Colour, Yellow
Element, Fire

The Solar Plexus chakra bathes us in light when it is open and balanced.

Representative of the element of FIRE and the colour YELLOW. the Solar Plexus inspires us to shine like the sun. What happens when our light refuses to shine? We are clouded and shaded in doubt and fear. We lack self worth and confidence and we easily surrender or just give away our power to others. We may feel weak, anxious, nervous, stressed or depressed. On the extreme side, these doubts and insecurities may cause us to act with aggression out of desperation – grasping at power and hungry to snatch it from anyone who appears weaker than we are. This chakra is closely connected to the EGO.

In our society I see signs of Solar Plexus imbalances very frequently. Our culture strives to be the best perceived version of ourselves whilst undervaluing the need to just be who we are – to be raw, to the real. The challenges of the Solar Plexus force us to create masks as a means to protect our vulnerable self and hide our true self away from ridicule, judgement and ultimately blocks our high perspective and ascension in consciousness.

This chakra is located between the navel and sternum. Just think – when you feel under pressure, exposed, stressed or anxious – where do you feel it? In the gut, you feel “sick to your stomach”. This is where these imbalances manifest and in the form of digestive complaints such as stomach ulcers, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation.  

When we focus on this chakra in yoga or with mantras, we are drawing all of our energy and awareness to it in order to connect with the underlying issues and to release the energy that is stuck. By chanting the Bija Mantra, RAM, we are calling upon this chakra to open and be free – to shine like the sun.

Yoga Therapy
These are some poses that I love to use for the Solar Plexus and invite in the chant, RAM.

Urdhvamukhasvanasana

Urdhvamukhasvanasana

  • Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclining Spinal Twist) – Using any variation of the legs in this pose, relax the shoulders upon the earth and radiant the heart towards the sky. Allow the knees to fall wherever the reach and release the spine and navel like wringing water out of a towel.
  • Parivrtta Sukhasana (Seated Spinal Twist) or Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 – Lengthen the spine to engage the Shashumna Nadi (spine) and allow Kundalini energy to rise. Drawing the navel in, begin to twist from the base of the spine. Continue to lengthen into the crown and twist breathing in and out of the Solar Plexus.
  • Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) – balancing on one leg, we open ourselves up to the world and shine bright.
  • Urdhvamukhasvanasana (Upward Facing Dog) – pressing down through the palms, lift mother earth energy up through the hands and through your centre, shining the solar plexus out and up like the sun from the core of your being.

Other ways to balance the Solar Plexus

  • Citrine - a crystal that can be carried with you, placed beside you at your desk or placed on the chakra during meditation. 
  • Essential Oils – diffuse, massage or bathe in citrus (lemon, mandarin), geranium, clary sage or helichrysum for balance, strength and healing.
  • Be the Sun. Wear yellow clothing or accessories, choose sunflowers to brighten your sacred space, and seek out yellow foods like banana or squash. 

Moving through these blockages we can let go on deep seeded misery attached to our ego and begin to live a life that is truely unique, real and raw. If you have any other ideas for working holistically with the Solar Plexus chakra, please leave comments below to share with others. The next Chakra and mantra we look at for the Heart. 

Nurturing the Nurturers

The only constant in life is change.

As I step deeper into the world of yoga and energy, it's hard to ignore the signs that surround us asking us to take action and accountability for our health and happiness. It's empowering to know that we each have the ability to change - and it all starts with intention and awareness.

My approach is simple - be holistic. You can't expect one session and one therapy to fix all your problems. Be open to change and engage a team for support. As Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit, describes it - you need a Healing Team. That team may consist of a friend, a sibling, a naturopath, a yoga teacher or whoever else you are drawn to – and don’t forget that the physical body is as important as your mental, emotional and spiritual body. We are complex beings, not just existing with a physical layer - so we can't just heal on that one level.

We are constantly evolving and we must evolve our practices and self-care methods too. This is how I came to include new therapies into my second pregnancy.

As a yoga teacher, holistic healer, mother and wife, life is busy. But whose isn’t? When we are in a role that facilitates the healing and health for others we always giving out. Yoga teachers and therapists are always holding the space for students, family and friends whether we mean to or not, and without a solid self-practice that allows our cup to be replenished we can find ourselves burned out, disconnected and indifferent.

Since becoming a mother my yoga teaching career gained momentum and it wasn’t long before my personal practice and self-care began to suffer. At home you’re always attending to your child, partner and household, while every time you manage to get to a studio you’re there to teach. While all of this was taking place I began to notice painful memories from suppressed childhood experiences begin to surface. It was only when I would allow myself to go into deep meditation or yoga that these memories would start returning. And as a result, the avoidance of my self-practice became greater.

Fast forward a year and we are expecting our second child. After enjoying an energetic and fairly hassle-free first pregnancy, this time around it is quite different. With a toddler and the demands of a growing baby the time I have to nurture myself is limited.

Throughout this pregnancy I have endured an incredible amount of pain in my left sacrum. After the discussing the circumstances of the discomfort with my doula, she recommended Craniosacral Therapy (CST). At the same time, I could recognise that I needed someone else to assist in facilitating the healing of my past and I prayed for an answer. Within a couple of days, I noticed a post by Gisela Andersson on the local yoga community page offering CST in my area. I booked a session immediately.

Without knowing how she worked or what to expect, what I received in our session was a deep sense nurture and healing that I had been searching for. Her gentle approach to CST combined with Reiki allowed me to receive the rest and deep relaxation that I so desperately needed. After our first session I had so much energy and a renewed sense of inspiration to go about my teaching and the pain in my sacrum had softened. Since our first session my visits have become weekly or fortnightly as the benefit of deep relaxation combined with the passive adjustment of CST is serving not just my physical body but also my emotional, mental and spiritual body. It allows my body to respond on such a deep level and allows it to restore. It gives me time out from the external demands and allows me to nourish the deepest part of myself while someone else is lovingly holding the space.

Earlier in my pregnancy I was drawn to seek out alternative methods of care from what I had tried previously. Although acupuncture and naturopathy had served me in my first pregnancy, this time I was pulled towards Homeopathy. After a week of gastroenteritis at week 8 gestation, I felt incredibly depleted and almost toxic – there was no way I could handle another week feeling like this, let alone another 32! Determined (and slightly desperate) to find a Homeopath, I was lucky enough to get an appointment with Louise of Sea Salt. Her spiritual insight made me instantly feel at ease as homeopathy was and is a new concept for me. Our sessions are every 6 weeks or so and with each meet I feel as though I am receiving so much more than homeopathic advice. The principles of supporting rather than interfering with the body and soul resonate with me on a deep level and I feel comforted by her understanding of the energy system which aligns to yoga and Reiki.

Opening myself up to homeopathy and CST has not only expanded my Healing Team, but it has evolved it and contributed to my personal practice. It’s important to always to keep an open mind and practice asking your body, mind and soul what it needs. Through this process of self-enquiry we gain the confidence to seek out new therapies and also have the confidence to know when it is time to move on so that we are always serving our highest good.

Find out more about Yoga and Healing Arts and how the benefits of these therapies might best serve you in your health, wellness and personal development. 

Music for the Soul - Mantras. Part 2 Sacral Chakra

Chakra Series. Part 2, Sacral Chakra
Vam, Swadhisthana

Welcome back to the world of sound. This is the second instalment of our Music for the Soul series and today we feature Bhakti and the second chakra, the Sacral Chakra. If you missed the first part, please see here to learn about the meaning of mantras, the background to the chakras and the sound of the Base Chakra, LAM.

Making music with mantras is the language of Bhakti. Bhakti is one of the four main paths to yoga – the yoga of love and devotion.

The thirst for unconditional spiritual love calls upon the Bhakti Yogi to surrender oneself to God through prayer, worship, meditation, asana, pranayama and also in the form of chanting or singing. In whichever of these creative ways we chose to direct our love we are able to cultivate a sense of deep love, gratitude and devotion for something outside of ourselves. Through giving love, we receive love. The love of the Bhakti Yogi also extends to the whole of creation (humans, animals and nature) – essentially, everything that we are energetically connected to.

An example that came to me was George Harrison. A natural creative - a born musician and songwriter. When he was with The Beatles he wrote the love ballad, Something. This song was a creative expression of his love and devotion to his wife, Pattie Boyd. As he developed in his personal journey and certainly in his career, his music began to reflect his spiritual awakening and his devotion to God, as can be witnessed in the song, My Sweet Lord. In both of these examples, Bhakti is at the heart and soul of his music.

In the Bhakti practices we know today, mantras and chanting form a large part of this path. When we use Mantras - either in yoga or in other forms of devotion - we are creating intention with the sounds or words we call upon. Through this form of prayer we are expressing our divine right to be creative beings. For without creative expression, what are we?

The Sacral Chakra - Honour One Another
Sanskrit name, Svadisthana or Swadhisthana
Element, Water
Colour, Orange

The Sacral Chakra houses our creative potential. In other words, it is the place where we learn to find our unique voice or expression in this world. It is how we learn and allow ourselves to create. It challenges how we then interact with others and raises many issues around control, fear, letting go and uncertainty.

The Sanskrit name, Swadhisthana translates to welling place of the self.

Physically, the Sacral Chakra is connected to the lower back, the sacrum and the sexual organs and is located below the navel and between the pubic bone. When we are facing mental or emotional issues surrounding our creative expression, sexuality or letting go, we may find problems arising in this area of the physical body. It's not uncommon to find discomfort or ailments in lower back, sciatic nerve, sacral area or gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis or PCOS.

In my teachings and treatments, I regularly see a strong link to women who are wanting to become mothers and issues concerning the Sacral Chakra. Pregnancy brings a whole range of aspects to the surface – including the strength of the relationship that a woman has with herself, her partner and the child. It also explores the ability to let go. To read more about fertility, pregnancy and motherhood relating to the Sacral Chakra please see these articles: A new energy in pregnancy - inside the sacral chakra and Journey into the sacral chakra. next stop: motherhood.

How to use a mantra for the Sacral Chakra?
The sound of the Sacral Chakra is VAM. Either lying down in Savasana (Corpse Pose) or sitting in Sukhasana (Easy Seated Pose), place the hands on the area of this chakra and begin to breathe in and out of them. Observe the sensations you feel, notice any obstruction of the breath and be aware of any change in mood or energy flow. Keeping the hands here or moving them away, chant VAM three times as you exhale. Repeat as necessary.

Bringing mantras into your yoga practice
I find it deeply powerful to include Bija Mantras in the asana practice. Choose a pose that works with the Sacral Chakra such as Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle), Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose) or Natarajasana (Dancers Pose) and chant the sound while in this pose focusing all your energy on the sacral area.

Other ways to balance the Sacral Chakra

  • Find an opportunity to be with water – by the river, take a bath, swim – indulge yourself in and with water as much as you can.
  • Eat a variety of orange-coloured foods such as mangoes, sweet potato, carrot and oranges.
  • Explore Craniosacral Therapy (CST). This therapy is gentle and works to align the sacrum and spine to achieve overall wellness and improved function of vital force energy (Prana or Chi).
  • Aromatherapy – either diffuse or apply Wild Orange, Ylang Ylang or Sandlewood. When applying essential oils directly to the skin, I use organic Castor Oil from an ethical source and preferably one that has been prayed upon.
  • Start creating! Begin with something fun and easy like a mood board for creating intentions and uncovering what you like and don't like. See more about manifesting with mood boards

I hope you've found some useful ways to work with the Sacral Chakra - please share any insights and tips of your own as other readers would love to learn more. In our next feature we'll focus on the third chakra – Solar Plexus and the sound RAM. 


Creatively manifest and set intentions for the new year

“Nothing ever happens in your life unless you create the space for it to happen in.” James McCay.  

In other words – we create our own reality. Never has this been more true than at this moment in time. We live in a world of infinite possibilities, a world without barriers and boundaries, and one where simple ideas are transformed into successful businesses overnight – just with a little motivation and intention.

Setting Intentions
So what are intentions? Intentions can be seen as goals. But I believe they are much more than that. From a spiritual or energetic perspective your intentions become something that you set out to do that is serving your highest good, and in turn it serves the highest good of those around you too. This can be as small as choosing to be more present or as grand as starting a business that inspires and enriches lives.  

How to set intentions and manifest through creativity
Over the last five years I’ve maintained a personal ritual that has helped me focus on what intentions are aligning to my highest good. I do this through a creative medium because at the core of our being our soul expresses itself through creativity.

What do you need?

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Art diary, canvas or sketch pad
  • Magazines and images.

Over time I collect images that reflect something within myself or something that I am attracted to – for example like something that I am wanting to manifest for my own life. Then when the time is right, or if I have a particular intention or direction in mind, I’ll sit down with these images or trawl through magazines to compile a Mood Board. Some may call this Scrapbooking, but I’ve always fondly referred to it as Mood Boarding or Manifesting.

In this way, we are creating a picture of what we want our future to look like. We are carving out space for this dream to become a reality by spending the time to put intention and energy into life we want to live. On a psychological level perhaps we are organising our brain to align with this intention and recognise the signs and opportunities that may arise that allow this idea to be manifested. Read more about Clearing the way for new beginnings

How pictures reflect the soul
The images never lie. They offer a very real reflection of what is trending for us at the time – externally or internally. And because our energy and interests change so regularly I sometimes find that I hold onto images for years before finding the right mood board for them. And occasionally there are some that will make their way back to the trash.

Early in December I sat down to set my intentions for 2016, I spent some time as I always do revisiting old pages from months or years past. They are always dated and some include words or automatic writing that add more to the story.

I was inspired to see how much of what I’ve manifested and cultivated over the last few years has come to fruition. It has also allowed me to see certain threads or trends that keep carrying through as well as aspects of my personality and interests that reflect my true self or who I am at my core.

Creating our reality
Over the last few months the importance of my internal and external worlds reflecting each other has become increasing powerful and important. I’m drawn more and more towards Feng Shui and believe the practice of Mood Boarding or Manifesting aligns with its principles. One of my personal intentions for 2016 is to have a less cluttered home space which has aligned with moving house this week.

A new start, a fresh design and a design that reflects positive energy and flow or energy through a space that is open and includes “things” that are only there to serve the good of all who use the space.

On a professional level this is important for our businesses to flourish as we work partly from home. And on a personal level, we also want our family life to flow as it grows.

Tips for getting started with your Mood Board

  • Besides having the right tools available, begin to sit down regularly with old magazines or postcards and start collecting cuttings of things you love. Try not to think too much about where it’s going just yet but get into the practice of being on the look out and collecting.
  • When you have a good staple of images to work with, give yourself time to explore. Start matching images together into what may feel like a category or if you have an intention already in mind, gather images appropriate to that.
  • Look out for headlines that contain words to support your ideas.
  • Include any other media that feels right – i.e. fabric, leaves, flowers, etc.
  • Start to create your mood board with words and images, layering as it feels right.
  • Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense to you straight away. It may take practice or the answer will present itself in time.

Remember, this is a creative expression of this moment in time. We are creative beings and this is our soul’s natural expression.

Today's new moon would be the perfect time to try this out! Find out more about Healing Arts or for guidance on mood boards or interpretations or readings, contact me on 0413 485574 or at hello@indigohealingarts.com.au

Clearing the way for new beginnings

The new year offers us the chance to start again. 

New hopes, dreams and resolutions come to life in our inner and outer worlds, and as well as making sure that we claim and state our intentions we must also be prepared to add in a bit of action and dedication.

As well as looking ahead take some time to acknowledge the year that has been, celebrate growth and trust in the insights and learnings that have unfolded. It is with this sense of completion that we can let go of what has been and make way for what will be. 

HOW TO BALANCE THE BASE CHAKRA

  • Yoga - Sun Salutations help to keep energy moving and flowing. Downward Dog and Dandasana (Staff Pose) for stretching out the back of the legs. Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall) for tired and sore legs helps to promote circulation and energy flow away from feet.  
  • Meditation - Visualise the area of the body that holds the discomfort and direct you awareness there. Imagine white light entering from the crown to that area and watch the discomfort dissipate. Note any colours or visions that appear. Include colour - a vibrant, clean red - to symbolise the balance and radiance of the Base Chakra. 
  • Cleansing - Use white sage to cleanse the area. Or have someone training in Aura cleansing to perform a SWEEP of the aura. 
  • Aromas - Frankincense is very grounding and comes from a tree resin. It is calming, a spiritual scent and perfect at Christmas time. The Three Wise Men brought Jesus Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. 
  • Crystals - I carry my Desert Jasper whenever I travel or need to ground myself or balance my Base Chakra. 

The month of December has had a heavy energy surrounding the Base Chakra. This time of year prompts us to address our deepest conditioning as we reunite with family and friends.

Two days prior to Christmas I noticed an energy build up in my legs. It was something that seemed to come out of no where and as the big day approached and I knew metaphysically it had to do with upcoming festivities involving family and friends. I could sense that the energy in the back of my legs was emotional in its nature. As the discomfort was in the back of my body, I understood that it had to do with my past. The legs themselves are linked to the Base Chakra, and can be described as being like the grounding stumps of the tree - our roots. 

There were lots of thoughts and feelings being processed at the time and I had the feeling that I would need to ride it out and allow the energetic dust to settle. I used massage, aromatherapy, cleansing techniques, meditation and yoga as a way to help shift and balance the energy. Luckily I didn't have to wait it out for too long and by Friday the full moon shone it's light upon answers and offered a release. Although it wasn't until the next night and I was looking up at the Blood Moon that I was given a clear message from my guides and angels; 

it's time to let go of those things and people that cause you frustration. 

It was time. I knew with every part of myself. For weeks I had been disturbed by thoughts and feelings relating to people and situations. It was time to let all of it go. These thoughts and feelings were indicative of what's no longer serving or aligning with me.  As we learn, change and grow it's only natural that our values evolve with us - and when our values don't align with others' values we can find ourselves at odds. 

I knew this was particularly important right now as we welcome a new family member in May. Just as a pregnant woman makes room for a baby to grow in her body, so too must the external world make room. Some people get a bigger car, house, pram, but what about energetically? How do we create space in our lives for new people and experiences? By letting go of what is finished and what is not contributing to our growth and higher purpose. 

This is one of the key challenges of our Base Chakra. It requires us to review our physical world, what is means to belong, who we stand with and why that is even important. It's not about saying "I don't care about you anymore" but we can learn to love from a distance and make the conscious choice not to take on the energy of those we love. As a result, we then have more energy for ourselves, a greater perspective and space to welcome new people, places and experiences.

Read more about the Base Chakra

Music for the Soul - Mantras. Part 1 Base Chakra

Chakra Series – Part 1, Base Chakra
Lam, Muladhara

image credit  bloglovin

image credit bloglovin

Welcome to the world of sound. Music, lyrics, vocals and beats have and hold amazing transformative qualities that inspire all walks of life. All you need to do is see an infant respond to a tune and its obvious to see the affect sound has over us.

It has the capacity to raise our vibration, to draw us into a centred place, to help us overcome frustration and to take us deeper into our emotions – sometimes sadness or grief while other times it may be towards excitement and love.

Music has always had and will always have a very special place in my life. The ability for songwriters and singers to bare their soul to the world through music is one of the most divinely vulnerable acts. It takes courage, strength and often great perseverance. But not all of us were meant to express ourselves in such a public way. However, we can still enjoy music and its healing benefits in our own space and in groups.

Through this series I wish to share the music of the soul through the Chakras.

What are the Chakras?
In Sanskirt, Chakra translates to a wheel or in context, a spinning wheel of light. We have seven major chakras within our energetic body that connect in with our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. When these layers of our being are healthy, for example – they are open and balanced, our chakras spin like a vortex to receive and radiate light. Although these bodies may appear to be separate, they are far from isolated. They are interconnected. For example, an imbalance in the mental body will affect the energy body (i.e. the corresponding chakra), which will ultimately have an affect on the physical body. The state of our mental, emotional and physical will have an impact of how we receive and omit energy. 

Throughout this series we will delve into each chakra, understand what they are about and look at the sound of each one and how it can be used to balance the chakras and restore harmony within our being.

How we use mantras
If you’ve ever participated in a yoga class you may have come across chanting or mantras. The most simple way to describe a mantra is as a sound, syllable, word or group of words. The purpose of this practice is to create transformation (ar-yoga.com).

Man – to think. Tra – Instrument. When we look at how we use mantras, you could say they are used as an Instrument of Thought. They help us to break down unhelpful thought patterns just as affirmations help to lift our spirits. How we talk to ourselves has the highest affect on our self-belief system and ultimately on how we value and respect ourselves – and that impacts on the way others value and respect us too.

The sounds of the Chakras are known as Bija Mantras. Bija meaning seed. The Bija Mantras are one-syllable seed sounds. “When said aloud, these sounds activate the energy of the chakras in order to purify and balance the mind and body.” (Daily Om)

The Base Chakra – All is One
Sanskrit name, Muladhara
Colour, Red
Element, Earth

The base Chakra relates to survival and our primal needs. It is our grounding force to Mother Earth, it connects us to our family and the belief systems with which we were raised as well as how we relate to the physical and material world, our foundations and loyalty.

Within our being, the base Chakra is found at the perineum or the base of the spine and affects the physical body in areas of the base of the spine, the legs, bones and feet.

When there is an issue within the base chakra, the emotional and mental cues relate to a lack of safety, threatened security and lacking in basic human needs. Imagine if there was political unrest or conflict within your family (tribe). These become the foundations upon which we build our lives from a young age. So as our world becomes threatened we may feel this manifest in physical body in the form of lower back pain, varicose veins, bone disorders, sore feet or depression.

The physical body is often the last layer of our being to manifest an illness or injury by blockages or imbalances carried in the mental, emotional and energetic bodies. Therefore treating only the physical body becomes somewhat ineffective, it’s unsustainable. We have to go deeper. We need to go to the root of the issue.

And there are many ways that we can work with the energy body – yoga, colour, crystals, reiki and mantras are just a few. 

How to use the base Chakra bija mantra
The sound of the base Chakra is LAM. Find a comfortable seated position. Focus on the base of the torso, breathing in and out of it. Draw all your awareness there. Chant the sound LAM while focussing on the base chakra. Do this to same tone as Om, repeating three times. By the third time you will feel a deep connection to this chakra and the vibration caused by the sounds. Repeat when and where necessary.

I also like to incorporate the Bija Mantras into my yoga classes. When taking a pose specific to a Chakra, I will chant the sound of that Chakra. For the base Chakra, I like to use Garudasana (Eagle Pose), Gomukasana (Cow Face Pose) and often the warrior poses like Virabhadrasana II.

I also find this very useful when students are struggling to focus or if the energy of the class feels scattered or ungrounded.

I look forward to sharing more insights and tips for using mantras and hope you have a chance to try this and begin to work through any issues of the base Chakra.

The next part will feature the Sacral Chakra and the sounds VAM. 

Mandala

Bird in the tree
See from the sea
One at a time
Ride the earth divine.

Sun in your eyes
Lead with your heart
Feel with your feet
One with the beat.

Circle of flight
Hold on tight
Wings for the glide
Take off and ride.

There comes a time,
There comes many a time...
Sun in your eyes
Moon in your heart
Breathe away what’s not there.

There comes a time
when we come full circle
There comes a time
when we are ready to go within.

In the circle we find our meaning.

by Vanessa Ritson

Love and devotion

The words love and devotion have been dancing around in my head for weeks – literally, dancing. Over the last month I’ve been drawn to explore Bhakti yoga, so I assumed these words had to do with how I practice yoga or how I honour myself. Perhaps both.

Bhakti Yoga is one of the four main paths to yoga, the others being Karma, Raja and Jnana. While all paths reach the same destination, each one appeals to different personalities or approaches to life. I confess that I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to the theory and philosophy attached to these paths, other than recognising that I identify myself with Bhakti yoga and it was the path that I was already practising.

Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion or divine love.

The thirst for unconditional spiritual love calls upon the Bhakti Yogi to surrender oneself to God through prayer, worship, meditation, asana, pranayama and also in the form of chanting or singing. However one choses to direct their love, through these forms they are able to cultivate a sense of deep love, gratitude and devotion for something outside of oneself. And through giving love, we receive love. The love of the Bhakti Yogi also extends to the whole of creation (humans, animals and nature) – essentially, everything that we are energetically connected to.

As a self-professed lover of all things in this world, it was no surprise that Bhakti yoga resonated with me. However, it was the spiritual dedication through devotion that took me a little by surprise. Growing up as a Christian I always felt drawn to express my faith and love of God to those around me, but I struggled to find the words, the context and the audience. Since practising yoga I felt my faith strengthen, my love of God deepen and have most certainly found the words, context and audience to share the essence of this love and devotion. So this exploration of Bhakti yoga has really brought this home for me and confirmed how I feel spiritually about myself and as a yogi.

In reflection, I can see that forms of Bhakti yoga have been present in my life for a long time. For example, at church I have always felt overwhelmed with emotion and joy at participating in hymns and am regularly moved to tears. In fact, only last week I admitted to my husband that I’d been considering joining the roster to sing at mass. Prayer and singing have always been a big part of my life and a big part of devotion. While prayer and singing continue to be part of my life, I have also incorporated meditation, asana, pranayama and chanting as forms of devotion. As for love, while undergoing my yoga teacher training I realised my I Am Presence as being love – I Am Love. And more recently, I have learnt the importance of unconditional love towards myself. Unconditional love that allows us to accept, forgive and be our true selves.

Each day I am receiving signs of Bhakti yoga in the form of love, devotion, chanting, singing or Kirtan. The frequency of these signs is escalating, so I accept that it’s time to act out this Love and Devotion! Continuing on the path as a Bhakti yogi, these are some of the acts that I have already begun to implement:

  • Attend singing and chanting groups or Kirtan when possible
  • Find more ways to open my heart and let love flow
  • Through yoga, meditation and daily life
  • Open myself to learning more about yoga through workshops
  • Including Kundalini, Sound Healing and Bhakti
  • Send light and love to all those around me
  • Give thanks each day for all the blessings in my life
  • Accept and love myself for who I am
  • Use my voice for devotion and to speak my truth
  • Feel love in nature

I know there is a way for me to bring music and singing into yoga, this is part of that discovery. When I connect with my inner child, my little girl wants to sing. She is full of love and devotion – I can’t wait to share this with the world.

Ref: http://www.yogajournal.com.au/2013/06/lead-with-your-heart/
http://www.sivananda.org/teachings/fourpaths.html#bhakti