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By: Stephanie Heino
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on how to balance your chakras through meditation. However, that is not the only way to open up your chakras and to live a balanced happy life; chakra yoga poses are also very effective in doing this. By opening the heart chakra you will instantly increase your self-respect, and you will open yourself up to love and gain a more positive outlook on life. All we ever want is to love and be loved, that is our ultimate goal in life. That very human desire creates an immediate and deep connection with the heart chakra. Not only is it located at center of your physical heart, it also marks the transition from the lower three chakras (which are associated with relationships to the society around you, your loved ones and yourself) to the higher chakras that relate to enlightenment and to connection with the Divine. The heart chakra is the bridge between the earthly and the eternal. To open our heart chakra we have to know what throws it off balance. Keeping it in balance requires a deep and ongoing commitment, not just a one time thing. It can be difficult not to let your heart harden when a loved one passes away, when a partner or friend hurts you, when you solely depend on others for your happiness and someone lets you down, or when you unleash negativity on yourself on a regular basis. But that only leads to isolation and even more pain for yourself. By seeking freedom in the heart chakra, you remain open to finding true connection with those around you and with yourself.
The color green represents the heart chakra. Green represents harmony, creativity, abundance, health and is also representative of nature, offering new energy and revitalizing your body. The best heart chakra yoga poses are those that open the chest area while breathing deeply, as well as poses that draw energy into the heart. Let me show you how to practice 4 asanas to assist you in opening your heart chakra and start love yourself and others in a way that feels freeing and secure:
Ustrasana (Camel Pose). Kneel on the floor with your legs hip width apart. Press your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor. Place your hands on the back of your hips. Inhale and slowly lift your heart up and allow your hips to move forward. Draw your shoulders back as you breathe into the posture then together once you are in the asana. If you are more advanced or flexible, you can lower your hands to your ankles or your Achilles tendon. Hold for 3-5 breaths then take a moment in child’s pose.
Benefits: This heart-opening pose stretches the muscles of your chest.
Sphinx Pose. Lie on your stomach, with your forearms flat on the mat, elbows under the shoulders and legs together. Press forearms down into the mat and inhale as you lift your head and chest off of the mat, keeping the neck in line with the spine. Bring big toes together and zip all the way up your legs engaging the gluts. Keeping your elbows close to your side using your arms to press the mat away, keeping your shoulders out of your ears. Hold here for 6-10 breaths then, again, relax in your child’s pose.
Benefits: This gentle backbend opens your chest, helping you to feel the receptiveness associated with the heart chakra.
Bidalasana (Cat Pose). Start on your hands and knees. Position your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Have your fingers fully spread with the middle fingers pointing straight ahead. Make your back horizontal and flat. Gaze at the floor. This is your “neutral” positioning. Take a deep inhale here and on the exhale begin to tilt the pelvis in. Do this by gently pulling the abdominal muscles backward toward the spine, tucking the tailbone under, gently contracting the gluts. Press downward with your hands so you stay lifted away from the shoulders, and press the middle of your back toward the ceiling, rounding your spine upward. Curl your head inward. Gaze at the floor between your knees. On the inhale offer up your heart center while tilting your tailbone up towards the ceiling and lifting your gaze. Take this flow as much as you like!
Benefits: This arching pose helps to soften and release tense muscles in the neck and back that keep you from letting your heart open.
Matsyasana (Fish Pose). Begin on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. If you are experienced in the pose, you can bring your legs into Lotus Pose. Either way, inhale, lift your hips slightly and place your hands, palms down, under your hips. Lower your pelvis onto your hands. Inhale and press into your elbows and forearms to lift your upper back and gently place the crown of your head on the floor. Be careful not to let your head take too much weight. Remain in the pose for 15 to 30 seconds before releasing and hugging your knees into your chest.
Benefits: This deep backbend opens the intercostals muscles between the ribs, creating more physical space in your heart center.
By: Stephanie Heino
As you might have heard, scientists tell us that everything is made up of energy. And this is something ancient cultures have known for thousands of years. The well-developed and proven healing systems of traditional Chinese medicine are based around even flow of energy. Energy flows through different pathways, called Meridians, around the body. This energy that I am talking about has intense focal points called Chakras. There are 7 main chakras in our bodies.
A healthy system works with an even flow of energy. But if the flow of energy gets blocked it works just like a garden hose getting plugged leading the entire system to be dysfunctional. The same thing happens in our body, if just one of the chakra centers is out of balance it can affect everything. And yes, it does feel like you are out of balance.
If you chose to not go and see an energetic healer for a treatment, alternatively, you can work on yourself. But for those of us without a developed psychic sight, how do we know what chakras need attention? Luckily, there are often proven physical, emotional and mental conditions that suggest where attention is needed. When you get the hang of it, it makes sense and your intuition will guide you further. Chakra meditation is a form of meditation that is concentrative, recharging, and cleansing. Chakra meditation is used as a balancing form of meditation, channelling in good energy and and ridding the body of negative energy. The chakras that are the centers for energy within the body, and using chakra meditation helps to keep that energy balanced and aligned.
Chakra meditation can be performed in a couple of different positions including lying down or sitting in a position that feels comfortable and relaxed (cross-legged on the floor works great). It is important that the head and back are aligned. While practicing chakra meditation, many people choose to listen to soft, soothing music or to listen to complementary music that is soft and relaxing. It is important to remember that this form of meditation is very powerful and you should take the effects into consideration before you begin. Usually, it is an excellent idea to start out with a chakra meditation instructor to properly guide you. Chakra meditation uses thought, contemplation, and reflection on the various chakras to bring about the balance that is needed and also to provide more energy as well. As you are meditating, it takes deliberation to focus on the chakras and to get rid of problems and negative energy that may be held in each. If you are going to practice chakra meditation it is important that you understand the seven chakras and how they effect the body and mind, so let me tell you a little bit about each.
Below you see a figure illustrating the chakras from the base of your spine and all the way up to the top of your head. Notice the colours of each chakra, as you will use them in your work.
- The Root Chakra is located at the base of the spine.
It vibrates with the color frequency of Red. This is the location for your stability, balance and security.
- The Naval (or Sacral) Chakra is located in the lower abdomen.
It vibrates with the color frequency of Orange. The place for passion and sexuality. It is also the location for psychic abilities and higher consciousness.
- The Solar Plexus Chakra is located between the navel and sternum. It vibrates with the color frequency of Yellow. This is where spontaneous actions and energy are located. It is also the place where our willpower can be found.
- The Heart Chakra is located in the center of the chest at the same height as the physical heart. It vibrates with the color frequency of Green. This is the center for compassion and unconditional love.
- The Throat Chakra is located in the throat region. It vibrates with the color frequency of Blue. This is where our communication abilities and our ability to express our selves verbally are located.
- The Brow Chakra (Third Eye) is located in the center of the forehead. It vibrates with the color frequency of Indigo. This is our window to the spiritual world. This eye has the ability to see beyond the physical world.
- The Crown Chakra is located on top of the head. It vibrates with the color frequency of Violet, or pure white light. This chakra is the direct channel to higher consciousness and getting in contact with our Higher Self, which can work as a guide, if you learn to listen to it.
Step by step Chakra meditation guide to open your Chakras – Root to Crown.
Start off by sitting comfortably in the Lotus position or in any posture you find most comfortable. Take a few deep belly breaths, feeling all your tensions, anxieties, and stressors leave your body with each exhalation.
The Closed Flower. Close your eyes and take a deep breath all the way down to your root chakra. Imagine a bright red colour at your root chakra area. This is the Chakra of stability and security. Visualize a closed flower on that area. As you breathe in, imagine that the air carries a warm energy to the root chakra flower, which slowly opens. Feel how you are allowing your chakra to heal and be free.
Sensing. Use your senses and see the red colour clearly in your minds eye. Feel the colour slowly expand from the root chakra flower and stretch out through your legs and all the way down to your toes. Feel it expand from its source up through your body, out your arms and all the way to your fingers. The bright red chakra colour stream also enters your head and fills your whole body with its warmth.
Opening The Flower. Feel the love and security as the root chakra flower continues to open, making you feel more and more safe. Say to yourself (mentally) that you will not allow anything to come in the way of the blossoming of this root flower. Any bad experiences or any obstacles are not powerful enough to close this remarkable flower. When you feel that your Chakra has opened, let the bright red colour float upward to your second Chakra, the Sacral Chakra below your naval, and blend with its warm orange colour.
The Closed Sacral Flower. See the orange closed sacral chakra flower at your second chakra. Breathe in deeply and feel how the energy is carried to the closed orange sacral flower, and how it stimulates it to open up just a bit. See how the bright colour from the chakra flower slowly leaks out and expands from this Sacral Chakra to all sides.
Sensing. Visualize clearly in your mind how the orange colour moves through the bright red root chakra colour and further down to your thighs and legs and finally reaches your feet and toes. Feel how warm and pleasant the sensation is. The warm orange colour also moves upward like the red root colour, passes through your stomach and your chest, and fills it all with a warm secure feeling. It also reaches your arms, hands and finger and your head, filling it all with love and security.
Opening The Flower. Allow your sacral chakra to open. You are in a safe and secure environment so allow it to open up and embrace the world as it has become much stronger now. Your source for passion and sexuality and even some psychic abilities is opening and is sharing its warmth and its qualities with the rest of the body and the rest of the world. It does not have to hide anymore, so allow your sacral chakra flower to remain open no matter what the future may bring.
Continue. Do the above chakra exercise for each chakra, but remember to change the chakras individual qualities and colour. Try to work with each chakra for at least 5 minutes. Do not rush through the meditation.
Chakra meditation is a great investment in balancing your body, mind and spirit. Comment below and share how you felt afterwards. Good luck!