Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Manipurna: the Jewel of the Self

Manipurna, the solar plexus chakra, is the 3rd chakra up and is a fiery yellow.  I could tell you about its association with the Hindu god energy of Vishnu, the seed syllable ram, and how citrine resonates with the solar plexus.  You can find any of that, and more, with a cursory google search.  And no doubt, I'll geek out on the esoterica of the chakras at some point and write posts that explore the more arcane aspects of chakra theory ad infinitum.  Correspondences, symbols and imagery are wonderful, and if they resonate with you they can be used as a kind of energetic shorthand, bringing out the qualities they represent.

But, in their essence, the chakras are YOU.  They are your energy centers.  Your chakras are co-created by your body's kinetic, electric energy and the subtle shifts in electromagnetism created by hormonal balance.   Whether you are aware of it or not, 'believe' in it or not, your chakras are engaging with the world around you.... because you are engaging with the world around you.  And if I tell you this-and-that about the correspondences of the solar plexus chakra, if I give you an essay on the (albeit fascinating) various theories of the chakra's association with symbology and imagery from various traditions; I will only be helping you to distance yourself from your own experience.  If you are living an embodied human life, you don't need anyone else to tell you what your experience of your own energy is, you are living it.  Giving someone else the authority of your experience leaks your power.  And Manipurna is all about power.

Manipurna is the fire, the strength that supports the heart.  Manipurna is will and intent.  Manipurna is power. 

Power.  Such a loaded word.  As a young woman in our culture, it is interesting to put fingers to keys to talk about power.  Society would like to tell me I don't have it. Politicians do tell me I don't have it.  Many people claim it for themselves or on behalf of a religion or a country.  Others think it can be bought or stolen.  Somehow we think that through war we can establish it.  But power is not about control.  Power is not about power-over, coercion, or authority in the sense of wrong and right.  I can deny my power.  I can forget about it, neglect it, not use it.  But no one can take my power from me.  Nor I from them.  Power is not relational.  It has nothing to do with anyone else. 

Power is self-esteem and self-confidence and self-efficacy all rolled into one.  Power is a way of walking in the world.  Power is being so full of one's own energy, so centered in one's own self, that no one can push us over or insert their projections into our sense of self.   How do we lose power, then?  In essence, by consistently denying it.  Sometimes we internalize the idea that it is something outside of ourselves, needing to be obtained.  Sometimes we find ourselves triggered by the actions of others into (frequently habitual) actions and patterns that lead us to deny, ignore, or scatter our energy. 

How do we cultivate power?  Through yoga of course, that's why this is a post for a blog on yoga!  But seriously, we cultivate power through reclaiming the parts of self we have denied, repressed, shunned.  We cultivate power through physical work: when you get your heart rate up, blood pumping, skin alive with moisture, muscles warm you feel like you fill up your body, like you fill up the space between outstretched hands.  We cultivate power by saying "YES" to what nourishes us, to what our inner voice wants and asks for.  Usually that means saying "NO" to something else.  We cultivate power by trusting ourselves.  By believing in ourselves.  By recognizing our own authority.  We can cultivate power by strengthening the core – yes, through an ab workout.  Manipurna is located at the solar plexus, just below the sternum, at the top of the abdomen: by strengthening the physical, we strengthen the energetic.  We cultivate power by practicing discipline.  Through dedication.

In my experience, the yoga mat is the best place to practice all of this.  On the mat, I can look at the parts of myself I try to hide away, repress, deny.  I can hold space for the meeting between me and me.  I can breathe into it.  On the mat, I can get embodied – filling up my skin, filling up my luminous body, filling up the room!  On the mat, I can work out: engaging muscles, mind, and awareness.  On the mat, I can explore what is my "YES" and what is my "NO."  On the mat, I am alone.  As teacher or as student, with others or in a solo practice, ultimately it is me, myself and I on my mat.  I have no choice but to work with myself, learning trust, exploring my limits.  To stand in Vrksasana, I have to trust that my one foot will hold my whole body – or else I would crumple to the ground.  On the mat, I learn to believe in myself.  When I take a variation on a pose, moving into or out of a lunge to meet the anatomy of my hips; I am recognizing my own authority.  And every time I roll out the mat and step onto it, I am living my dedication to this practice. 

I cultivate power through my yoga practice.  I invite you to join me.

Tomorrow night (THURSDAY 5:45-7:15) we'll explore Manipurna through a practice of strong standing poses (hint: the warrior is an impeccable embodiment of power), core work balancing the extension of backbends, and chanting.  We'll end class with the deep restoration of yoga nidra.  And because symbols ARE powerful, I'll be wearing a yellow shirt.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


There will be still be yoga at HeartStream tonight.

Drive safely, all you beauties, it is icy out there!

We'll explore the solar plexus chakra NEXT week.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Muladhara Root Chakra: From the Ground Up

Tonight we we begin 2014's journey from the Ground Up with the root chakra.  If you visualize your body's energy field as similar to the electromagnetic field of the earth, the central axis of the earth - running between north and south poles - correlates with the line of the spine in your body.  The spine runs parallel with the main energy channels in the upper body : the ida, pingala and shushumna nadis and the governor and conception meridians.  The flow of energy through these vital channels creates the electro-magnetic charge that umbrellas out of the top of the head, passes outstretched fingertips, and comes back home through feet and root chakra.  As this energy runs up it engages with each of the 7 chakras.  Anything we carry energetically: be it memory, pain, trauma or simply heavy energy, interrupts the free flow of energy and causes disruptions in our energy field.

The practices of yoga, pranayama, and mantra are three powerful ways to transform these energetic blockages, leaving us with more abundant energy with which to live.

Tonight, we focus on the Root chakra, the Muladhara, as it is the first energy center our vitality encounters.

Muladhara chakra is the energy of manifestation, of moving energy into form.  A balanced root chakra creates a felt sense of belonging, of stable vitality, and the deep security of knowing presence.  The root chakra is our connection to the earth as ground and source, our connection to gravity, and our vehicle to abundance.

Tonight 5:45- 7: 15 we will explore the strength of standing poses to ground and center, practice a grounding cord meditation, and invoke the auspicious energy of Ganesha through mantra.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A new year from the Ground Up.

Tonight is my first yoga class of the New Year.  2014 is a year full of promise and auspiciousness.  The turn of the new year gives us the chance to start with a proverbially clean slate, to move forward into growth or change.  We make resolutions.  We set intentions.

Whether we resolve to love more or weigh less, to run a marathon or start something new; deep inner work supports the process.  To create the kind of stable lasting change or growth we intend for ourselves, it is necessary to create fertile ground for new habits and patterns to emerge.

In honor of this new cycle and new year, the next 8 Thursdays will be about supporting this inner work. Starting tonight, we begin with turning inwards to find our inner wisdom, our highest Self, so that we can harness our own inner light to the manifestation of our intentions.  Next week we start at the ground: clearing blockages from the muladhara or root chakra.... and work our way up in seven steps, seven chakras, week by week.

Each week, class will focus on poses, mantra, pranayama, and meditation to support that chakra.  The subtle energy body comprised of chakras, nadis or meridians, and the aura is like a satellite we use to send and receive information from the world around us.  The human body creates a bio-electro-magnetic field, and when this energy field is cluttered with blockages or old habits, it is hard to create lasting change.

We will use these yogic practices to clear out any samskaras, old patterns, or energy blocks lodged in each chakra, moving with the flow of energy from the ground up.  Clear and charge your subtle energy body as you allow your resolutions to move from intention to manifestation!

Join me for this transformative series every Thursday from now through February at HeartStream Yoga from 5:45-7:15 pm. You can come to yoga right after work!  All levels.  Beginners welcome!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Moon, More Love.

In honor of the New Year, beginning with a New Moon in Capricorn, I'd like to share some words from one of my heart's teachers:

"One of yoga's fundamental teachings is that our basic nature is love. Love is experienced as a felt sense of belonging, deep contentment, abiding ease, and joy. It is an overarching feeling of acceptance, inclusion, warm welcome, and understanding. In love, we experience profound tenderness and affection toward all that is and has been. Love is expressed as innate respect and care for our body, mind, and heart, and for our thoughts, actions, and relationships. Love allows us to feel what is precious and fleeting, without fear of the ephemeral nature of all things. It allows us to move fiercely toward truth, and it requires us to uphold integrity, passion, and fervency in the face of harm, or threat of shame. Love is the force through which any sense of inadequacy is burned away, allowing the blazing clarity of our deepest worth to shine forth." -SarahJoy Marsh

Here's to more love in the new year.  Here's to all the practices that support love and all the people that practice love.

Happy New Year!