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Fun 7 Chakras Guide

The first time I heard the term 'chakras' I was mostly concerned with how to pronounce it

I was new to yoga and taking a class where the teacher was discussing the chakras meaning. She zeroed in on the root chakra, Muladhara, and explained this was where everyone needed to begin. Without stabilizing and balancing this first chakra, she clarified, a secure and sound foundation could not be laid. This terrified me. I was certain my root chakra was a mess and I was doomed to have a low-functioning chakra system. I'd never become enlightened or experience less suffering.

So I started to do some research. A lot of research, actually.

Question everything and know that everyone has a slightly different interpretation of the chakras meaning and how the system works. And our various chakras shift in balance constantly because our lives do.

We are always evolving and growing. We change our minds, hearts, and beliefs. The main thing is to consistently be in the role of learner and remain endlessly curious. Sure, balance is a damn fine endeavor. But when life creates a tsunami, your system just may experience a bit of turbulence. Studying the chakras gives us an emotional framework to connect to our bodies and the indicators something is off so we can address it. That's all. The goal is not perfection and maintenance is required.

So where to begin? That's what I wanted to know too

Let's begin with the basics. Just a few clutch pieces of information offering you a 7 chakras guide to tiptoe into the meanings, functions, and practices to find more balance. For now, wrapping your minds around the vital components will allow you the time to process and scratch just a little below the surface.

7 Chakras Guide: quick and easy

Root (Muladhara) Chakra

The root (first) chakra is located at the base of the spine (the pelvic floor). To be clear, the indication of where each chakra lives is about our subtle body, not our actual physical form. Our root chakra's main job is to provide a strong foundation and offer us a connection to our most basic needs and a sense of security that these needs are being filled. Our survival is our most basic need and the instinctive urges we feel, hunger, thirst, sexual satisfaction, sleep, and safety are all indicators of this chakra being in balance and offering us a strong infrastructure on which to build the fortitude of the ascending chakras.

Root chakra basics: 

  • Element: Earth
  • Sense: Smell
  • Color: Red

If you're looking to strengthen your root chakra, try this guided meditation for healing. To stay grounded, practice yoga postures that help you stand in your truth and strengthen, such as Tadasana, mountain pose.

Sacral (Svadishthana) Chakra

The second chakra is positioned in the lower belly and associated with the sacrum.  The sacral chakra is about our emotional and sexual connection to ourselves and others. This chakra is where our creativity lives and thrives. When this chakra is in harmony, we feel joy, expressive, and energized.

Sacral chakra basics: 

  • Element: Water
  • Sense: Taste
  • Color: Orange

To really connect with our sacral chakra, we have to remain open and flexible to change and acknowledge where fear arises and possibly holds us back because we don't want to fail. Connecting to ourselves with passion and enjoying pleasure without guilt or too much need is an incredible way to find balance in the second chakra. Try nurturing the second chakra when eating, truly tasting and savoring your food, enjoying every morsel without hesitation. Spend time with loved ones and give into being fully present, putting down the phone, turning off the TV, and avoid multi-tasking. Just be with that person and enjoy the time you have with them.

Solar Plexus (Manipura) Chakra

The solar plexus chakra is the third primary chakra. It's located between the belly button and sternum. The solar plexus chakra is all about our self-worth and personal power. In a balanced third chakra, we have a sense of willpower and self-control. We aren't afraid to speak our truth and we own our success with confidence and an understanding that we've earned it.

Solar plexus chakra basics: 

  • Element: Fire
  • Sense: Intuition
  • Color: Yellow

To balance our solar plexus chakra, we need practices that help us to accept ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally. Practice yoga poses that make you feel peaceful and glorious, happy to live inside your own body. Use mantras to stoke the internal fires that bring you alive and continue to feed your inner conviction.

Heart (Anahata) Chakra

The heart chakra is the fourth in our system and its location, you guessed it, is by our heart and lungs. Compassion, connectedness, joy, and transformation govern our center chakra. Our heart chakra is a bridge between earth and spirituality. It's where we foster happiness and connect our sense of self with absolute love and beauty.

Heart chakra basics: 

  • Element: Air
  • Sense: Sixth Sense (Higher Self)
  • Color: Green

 

To find a greater sense of stability in the fourth chakra, connect fully to a pranayama practice and devote more time to meditation to center yourself. Practice loving acts and thoughts and commit to self-care rituals and random gestures of kindness.

Throat (Vishuddhi) Chakra

The 5th chakra is located at the throat. This is our communication center and affects our voice box, speech, hearing, thyroid and parathyroid glands, which regulate our metabolisms. We develop our ability to both speak our truth and communicate effectively as well as hear others utilizing the throat chakra.

Throat chakra basics: 

  • Element: Space
  • Sense: Sound
  • Color: Blue

There are many ways to create symmetry within the throat. If you have trouble talking, practicing chants and speaking up for yourself are the practices for you. If the opposite is true, a silent meditation retreat could do wonders for you. Get outside and enjoy nature, noticing the details and astounding beauty all around you. Being with yourself and quietly contemplating your good fortune is another way you can find an energetic shift here.

Third Eye (Anja) Chakra

Our sixth chakra is located near our eyebrow line. This is our command center, where our senses and intellect meet. Growth, stillness, intuition, clarity, and openness are the qualities that exist in a balanced third eye chakra. Self-knowledge and consciousness are fully realized.

Third eye chakra basics: 

  • Element: Light
  • Sense: Sight
  • Color: Indigo

Alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhanam) is a helpful practice here for finding mental clarity and insight by balancing our subtle energies and opening us up to a more profound level of consciousness. When we can find stillness in both our bodies and minds, we are free of distractions that keep us from the continued pursuit of truth and knowledge. Meditation and calming restorative practices that allow the subtle shifts to happen are best utilized to encourage balance in the third eye.

Crown (Sahasrara) Chakra

Finally, the seventh chakra. Our crown chakra is positioned beyond the realm of our bodies and mental functioning. It's beyond our physical selves yet it's also the height of where we can reach with our consciousness. Some refer to the crown chakra as the state of enlightenment. When we as human beings can reach beyond ourselves and our individual experience to live on a higher plane far past what we could previously imagine, our seventh chakra is balanced.

Crown chakra basics: 

  • Element: Oneness or Transcendence
  • Sense: Beyond Consciousness
  • Colore: Violet

The practices here encompass all of the other 7 chakras. To celebrate and encourage ourselves to go beyond and become inspired. Gratitude for everything and affirmations steeped in our spiritual connection are how we encourage this chakra to open and flourish.

There is a vast world to explore when delving into the realm of the chakra system. Keep learning and seek out information and practices to assist you with alignment and sense of your place in the universe. For a more in-depth look at a 7 chakras guide, visit The Chopra Center to continue your studies.

For more information about each of the chakras, see the complete guides:

 


The Ebb and Flow of Giving and Receiving

On the subtlest level, we’re in a constant state of giving and receiving. If we look to nature, we see that giving and receiving are the basic characteristics of all life forms. Humans breathe in (receive) air, process the oxygen, then give out carbon dioxide. Plants then receive carbon dioxide, process it, then give out oxygen in return. We take in food, water, elements, and information while simultaneously giving out liquids, solids, gasses, moments, sounds, and thoughts. It’s a constant relationship we’re in with our environment.

To be healthy means to be part of our environment in an open and fluid way. Each moment that we rest in mindful awareness, we’re training ourselves to allow life to arise. This is what meditation is often used to improve: to be in a relaxed flow of receiving and letting go.

Mindfulness is the quality of awareness that does not interfere, but rather, becomes that flow of being presence and wakeful in the midst of it. As we study the mind further we see it has two states: active and receptive.

1. Active Recognition (receiving)

In an active way, when experience is happening our practice is to recognize so we can connect to what’s happening. We gain more understanding through an active engagement with the experience.

2. Receptive Compassion (giving)

When our mind is being receptive, we become accepting and inclusive towards an experience.

Actively recognizing and being receptively open are interdependent. You can’t recognize what’s going on if you’re busy interfering and pushing it away. It requires acceptance and allowing to see clearly what’s there. Just the same, we can’t allow and accept an experience unless we know what it is. As an example, we can't establish intimate relationships until we’ve first connected with who the other being is.

Maintaining this receptive present awareness is not easy. Especially since we're conditioned to want things one way and then fear they’re going to be another way. This leap into existence, moment after moment, makes it quite difficult to be allowing. This is why it’s hard to receive what’s going on when we’re facing pain or fear. Similarly, it’s hard to give out unconditionally love when we’re always wanting things to be our way.

Opening up to the natural flow of giving and receiving.
Living and loving more fully begins by allowing yourself to be as you are. Recognize your life as it is, see it clearly. Let go of all else and respond to that with compassion and love. We are boundless connected beings that don’t require the amount of controlling we think we ought to.

Start by accepting where you are now

We can't grow if we keep repeating the same old way. And the only way we can connect with our heart is by starting where we are. By relating to where we are and what's most vulnerable, we open to a more free, alive and spacious sense of being.

Whatever arises and is given to you, welcome it. As we open to receive something, we soon find that there’s always more. Live always offers opportunities to open and accept more than we thought we ever would. Yet there’s an enormous joy and satisfaction in openly discovering there’s enough room to accept whatever is going to happen. And if it’s going to happen anyway, why do anything different than accept? This even applies with things we may not necessary want to accept.

Thomas Carlisle puts it well when trying to relate with the hard stuff:

"It is good to use best china the most genuine goblets the oldest lace tablecloth. There's a risk, of course, every time you use anything or anyone shares an inmost moment, or a fragile cup of revelation. But not to touch, not to handle, the artifacts of being human- is the quiet crash, the deadly catastrophe where nothing is enjoyed or broken or spilled or spoken, or stained, or mended - where nothing is ever lived, loved, laughed over, wept over, where nothing is ever lost, or found."

Each moment that we open and receive is a moment where we cultivate this moment of aliveness, presence, and deep compassion.

The relationship of giving and receiving

Maharaj, author of I Am That, beautifully explains the joy derived from the interconnected process of giving and receiving:

If you look at yourself in your moments of pleasure or pain, you will invariably find that it is not the thing in itself that is pleasant or painful, but the situation of which it is a part. Pleasure lies in the relationship between the enjoyer and the enjoyed. And the essence of it is acceptance. Whatever may be the situation, if it is acceptable, it is pleasant. If it is not acceptable, it is painful. What makes it acceptable is not important; the cause may be physical, or psychological, or untraceable; acceptance is the decisive factor. Obversely, suffering is due to non-acceptance.

–Nisargadatta Maharaj

Giving and Receiving Breathing Exercise

Breathing in, sense aliveness—whether your pressing, squeezing, smelling, absorbing—invite in life.

Breathing out, let go as if you're dissolving with your breathe into the vast sky.

Breathing in, absorb your environment and it's constraints.

Breathing out, visually sense space all around you.

Breathing in, touch what's here, affecting you.

Breathing out, listen and sense vastness.

Breathing in, feel where you're vulnerable.

Breathing out, feel that space permeating with love.

Breathing in, receive and yield to your current emotions.

Breathing out, release and let go of these emotions.

Breathing in, receiving this life.

Breathing out, offering your love.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to continue breathing in and out as you focus on receiving and giving current mental and physical sensations.

Giving and Receiving with Joy Through the Holidays

Joyous energy infuses winter’s air. The promise of precious time with family and friends ensue. The essence of Christmas unwraps our heart to flutter open and embrace the jubilant act of gracious giving and loving forgiveness. Love is a gift you receive by giving selflessly without ownership, attachment or expectation. The more you give the more you get. It is the key to making a difference, to lead an empowered meaningful life. The love we give expands within ourselves and beyond without measure, which harnesses the endless dynamic flow of universal energy that unites all. Tis the season of giving and receiving that is nigh. Let us put Christmas in our hearts and celebrate our true spirit, ourselves and each other.


The Gift of Gratitude

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others

- Cicero

The gift of gratitude giving is far more than a meagre thank-you for all you have received. It’s a state of perception, mindfully taking the time to pause and savour everything that surrounds our lives. It can alter our sensitivity with regard to all the occurrences which take place in our lives. It can lead us from shadows of darkness, back to our Devine light, our authentic self if you will.

As human beings, we have been blessed with a conscience and the freedom to make our own choices. Naturally we will stumble and fall and if we resist by not taking ownership of our actions, our darkness will persist. Always polar opposites exist and where there is a breakdown, there is also a breakthrough to be experienced. All you need is the courage embrace yourself, love yourself, and give yourself permission to be you, then face up and get back up again.

The basic path back to grace is wonderfully simple, as many of the best things in life are. The gift of gratitude is a timeless practice which never wanes. It is available to be undertaken without cost, at any present moment, the only moment in time which truly matters. With Thanksgiving and Christmas looming, contemplation on what we have to be thankful for increases. The benefits are immense. It can improve spiritual, intellectual, emotional and social health, such as creating new wholesome relationships, reduce tension and improve sleep and mental strength.

Gratitude can nourish your life every day, gifting you a superb occasion to create space and honour your authentic-self. Like any skill in life worth having, it takes time, dedication and practice.

Smile

It's the way our souls say hello to the outside world just as the flowers bloom to radiant sunshine. A smile takes but a fleeting moment, yet to someone in need (and this includes you) the good which ensue can be immeasurable.

Start small and let it flow

All the little things add up to equal the bigger things. Be silent, be still and centre your thoughts on gratitude and let it flow. Focus on the abundance you have in your life. The food on your plate, the birds singing, stars shining, a mutual smile between strangers, mothers’ everlasting love…

Put it out there

If you announce it, you have stated it and let it be so. The written word is a committed word, whether this is a diary entry, post-it on your fridge, a social media post or announcement to family, friends or colleagues.

Pass it on

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle and the life of a candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

- Buddha

Commit and stick to it

The moments (and they will come) when you cannot summon the energy to feel gratitude is the very moment you need it the most. Catch yourself, check-in to create the space for grace and gratitude. Challenges are blessings to help us grow in body, mind and spirit.

Soulful Feeling

Our attitude and approach to anything is a reflection on your soul and how you do everything. Do what makes your soul happy even during the most humble of tasks, be it singing, dancing, Yoga (of course) and see if you can change your fortunes of time.

A Pause of Gratitude

Pausing provides the space to step back and focus on the important stuff. In a go-go-go society, it's a gift to allow ourselves a break to take notice of the blessings we have in our lives.

 

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

- William Arthur Ward

 


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Honoring your agni, the fire within

Just as a campfire provides energy and warmth, so does our agni, “digestive fire”. It breaks down food into nutrients, converts energy, aids growth, cell repair and eliminates toxins. It assimilates what is useful and eliminates the rest. Our fire can serve as a beacon to all aspects of our vitally, playing an illuminating role in our physical and emotional well-being. Is it the Manipura, solar plexus chakra “City of Jewels” which represents our confidence and control in our lives.

These powerful Ayurvedic principles will help create a spark and set your life on fire.

Fuel your agni mindfully

The Sattvic diet. Developed for higher state of consciousness, Sattvic foods are bountiful in Prana, the universal life-force. They are pure, constructive, clean and wholesome; whole grain, seasonally obtained, non-meat, prepared with love and awareness.

Eat the right amount. Find what’s right for you. Consume enough food to strike a balance for strength whilst avoiding indigestion. As a guideline, fuel your tummy at mealtimes with 25% liquid, 50% food, leaving 25% to activate digestion, remembering that all fire needs space to breathe.

Enjoy your largest meal at lunchtime. Our sun and agni are most active during the heat of midday, which is also generally when we need the most energy to power through.

Chew, chew, chew. Digestion begins in the mouth so lend your gut a helping hand (or mouth) by chewing food properly and making it easier to digest.

Eat in peaceful surroundings. Just be present and give yourself space to relish life-giving energy, avoid distractions from phones, TV’s, books etc.

Don’t eat when you’re “in a mood”. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and can antagonise your digestive tract by causing tension.

Take your time, sit and be present. Take a time-out moment to savour and appreciate food. By siting down our muscles relax, soothing the stomach. It will be more satisfying than scoffing a sandwich on the run.

Invoke all your senses. Make the experience one to enjoyably remember. Inhale the delightful smell of flavours. See the “rainbow” on your dish. Enjoy the chewy, sticky and crispy texture sensations. Tickle your taste buds with foodie goodness.

Limit your ingredients. The expression “too many cooks spoil the broth” bears meaning to our digestion too. Some foods just don’t work together such as starch and protein, which need different enzymes and acidity to be digested.

Eat warm meals. Not too hot, not too cold, just right and it won’t antagonise or smother your digestive fire.

A rhythmic eating regime. Nature's seasons, day and night, move in timed cycles, so adopt the pace of nature. Our digestion actually craves regularity, it is built for it.

 

Stoke your agni, get it moving

Exercise. Regular exercise helps to keep food moving through our digestive system. The levels of hormones which send signals to our brain telling our stomach that it’s full increases immediately after exercise, according to research published in the Journal of Endocrinology.

Fire to the core, Yogi Surprise Sequence. The combination of asanas in this sequence targets your core to help stretch and massage your abdominal organs.  At the same time they will help increase your stamina, ease bloating discomfort, and leave you feeling re-energised.

Surya Namaskar. Yoga pros say that practicing our beloved Sun Salutation cycle for 12 – 15 minutes, is equivalent to doing 288 powerful Yoga asanas. The mantra spoken at the end of practicing Surya Namaskar alludes to the potency of this timeless Yoga sequence; “For those who salute the sun every day, life expectancy, conscious, strength, courage and vital power shall grow.”

Breathing. Yogi breathing exercises such as Kapalbhati Pranayam help to oxygenate the body, improves circulation and digestion whilst strengthening the muscles in your stomach and abdomen.

 

Give your agni breathing space

Mediation. The powerful art of meditation exists in countless forms. Whatever you identify mediation as, it’s about finding and creating space, surrendering and being at one in the moment. Regular committed and mindful practice can liberate tension, leaving you with a sense of inner peace. Mediation can aid digestion and coupled with Vajrasana, Thunderbolt pose (a traditional seated and meditative position) also helps purify functions of the immune system and digestion, is a powerful combination.

Cut it out. Vices including alcohol, coffee and cigarettes can inhibit the effect of your digestive fire, as well as leading to problems such as stomach ulcers.

Let it go. Undesirable “gut feelings” such as nausea, loss of appetite or a desire to supress emotions by over eating, all harm our digestive fire. By observing emotions, being mindful and finding the right path of action, you can prevent your agni from going into overdrive or crying out in pain.

Fasting. Before moving too fast and getting carried away, the act of fasting doesn’t simply mean total abstinence from food. It is a wilful cleansing technique promoting good health to bring back balance. It may just be elongated periods between meals, no food 2 hours before sleeping, cutting out a certain type of food… Please, don’t go to fast without due care under a professional's guidance.

Slumber time. The list is endless when we get a good night sleep. Wow, don’t we feel it when our sleeping pattern is disturbed or irregular? Our digestion, the food we eat and our vitality are deeply connected to sleep. Simple techniques such as avoiding food before bedtime, keeping your head elevated, allowing gravity to keep acid and gas in the stomach from moving up your digestive tract and sleeping on the left to aid removal of stomach acid all help in some way to keep your fire moving.

Fire is a force to be reckoned with. Too much fire can cause devastation, too little and it will perish.  Fire is a hypnotic wondrous thing, and you have the power to honour the fire that burns inside you.