Meditation for balancing heart chakra

The heart chakra, or anahata, represents the center of love, compassion, empathy and forgiveness. A healthy alignment of heart chakra will make us feel surrounded by love, compassion and joy. We are open to all experiences in life. We can see all the goodness and love around us. We can truly accept and connect to ourselves and others.

On the other hand, a blocked heart chakra will bring dysfunctional relationships in which the person may find it hard to develop and keep healthy relationships with oneself and others. Other signs of the heart chakra being blocked include excessive social isolation, frequent feelings of loneliness and jealousy, being overly defensive and difficulty in trusting others.

Keeping a balanced chakra is important for our physical and mental well-being. To balance the heart chakra, we can practise chest-opening yoga poses such as camel pose (Ushtrasana) and upward bow pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana). On a daily basis, we can also practise gratitude and meditation to change our mental habits. In this blog, I would like to share with you the loving kindness meditation exercise that I have learnt from the book “Search Inside Yourself” written by Chade-Meng Tan.

 

Just like me and loving kindness meditation

(adapted from “Search Inside Yourself”)

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. Start with 2 minutes to rest the mind on the breath.
  2. Bring to mind somebody you care about. Visualize him or her.
  3. Begin “Just like me” meditation on this person as the object:

This person has a body and a mind, just like me.
This person has feelings, emotions and thoughts, just like me.
This person has experienced sadness, disappointment, anger or confusion before, just like me.
This person has suffered physical and emotional pain before, just like me.
This person wishes to be free from pain and suffering, just like me.
This person wishes to be healthy and loved, and to have fulfilling relationships, just like me.
This person wishes to be happy, just like me.

Now, practise loving kindness by allowing some wishes to arise:

I wish for this person to have the strength, the resources, and the emotional and social support to navigate the difficulties in life.
I wish for this person to be free from pain and suffering.
I wish for this person to be happy.
Because this person is a fellow human being, just like me.
Now, I wish for everybody I know to be happy.
(Long pause)

End with 1 minute of resting the mind.

This practice is useful to heal relationships in any situation. I like to use this practice to manage my relationships in life. For this to work, I have also consciously made some changes in my mental habits.

  • Choose kindness

Remind myself I have the choice to become a kind person. When you give people kindness, it is more likely for you to receive kindness from others. I choose to be kind because I want to make the world a better place to live. There is no need to judge or harm others. Everyone has their own struggles and difficulties in life. We come to the world to help each other grow to become a better and kinder person.

  • Surrender your ego

When interacting with people, I always remind myself to put away the ‘self’. Forget our ego, our interests and even our own problems. Instead, choose to focus the attention on the person in front of us, listen to understand them, talk to offer our empathy and kindness to them.

  • Practise gratitude

Remind myself to be grateful for every person I have met and every experience that has occurred in my life. Without the rain, I wouldn’t have learnt to appreciate the sun. Learn to see the goodness in every person and experience. The unpleasant people or experience are there to teach us life lessons, to serve as a mirror for ourselves and more importantly, to help evolve ourselves to become a better person.  

  • Success from other people only shows us what is possible

Jealousy is one of the sins that prevent us from attaining happiness in life. Do not get jealous over other people’s success because each of us has the opportunity to rise and shine in our fields by hard work and determination. Other people’s success only shows us what is possible within us. This is something to inspire us and to motivate us.

Lastly, it takes time to transform our mental habits. As long as we are willing to take the first step to change, be aware of each of our thoughts, actions and words, we will slowly evolve to become a better person.

 

With love,

Wei Li

Plan a Yoga lesson with theme- Chakras

In the past 10 years, I attended many different yoga classes. Every yoga teacher has different styles of conducting lessons. At time, they will inform the class what will be the focus of the day such inversion or upper body poses, etc. However, they are some who prefer to monitor the energy in the class and plan on the spot.

Since I started my 200hrs Yoga Teacher Training (200YTT) course in June -2021, I am pondering if I can create a theme for every lesson that I conducting in the future. My first theme will be Chakras.

Write a little story about Chakras and why it speaks to you

There are 7 chakras (Sahasrara, Ajna, Vissudha, Anahata, Manipura, Svadhisthana & Muladhara). You can go through all the 7 chakras in an hour lesson by touching on each of them briefly. You may also want to select 1 or 2 chakras in a lesson so that you can go into details for the poses and breathing. It is important to explain the identity, elements and location of chakras,

To me, chakras is a chamber in the temple of the body that receives assimilates and transmits life force energy. It creates an inner roadmap for awareness in the body. When all chakras are aligned and tuned, energy flows freely. The chakras are a helpful way to think about modern-day spiritual ailments, metaphorical though that may be.

Chants, quotes, mantras or poems that connect

Quote

“Strength, love, courage, love, kindness, love, that is really what matters. There has always been evil, and there will always be evil. But there has always been good, and there is good now.”- Dr Maya Angelou

Bija mantra

  1. Sahasrara = Silence
  2. Ajna = Om or Ksham
  3. Vissudha = Ham
  4. Anahata = Yam
  5. Manipura = Ram
  6. Svadhisthana = Vam
  7. Muladhara = Lam

Phases or sentences to employ during the lesson

Opening

Chakras literally means a wheel or disc, that enables energy to flow through or around it at various speeds, different directions, with a center that is anchored to a fixed point. There are 7 chakras in our bodies. In our practice today, we’ll mediate on each one, connecting a pose to each chakra space and moving with the intention to allow energy to flow freely.

During movements

Think of the energy flowing from your root to your head. Breathe deeply, allowing it to flow freely in every part of your body. Nothing to be forced.

During pauses

While resting, we gain energy again. Rest, and tune in to the flow of your personal energy when your body is still.

**Remind the students about the chakras mantra.

Ending

Awareness of your chakras can start you on a path of self-discovery. Allow this knowledge to ignite your interest in self-study. The chakras are one more path to deeper self-knowledge.

Poses that work with chakra

Besides going into the poses below, you may want to warm up the students with 3 rounds of sun salutation A or sun salutation B.

(in sequence for each chakra)

  1. Muladhara (Coccyx) = Apanasana, Supta Padangusthasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, Supta Virasana ending with Siddhasana
  2. Svadhisthana (Sacral area) = Baddha Konasana, Upavistha Konasana, Agnistambhasana (fire log pose), Eka pada kapotasana ending with Supta Baddha Konasana
  3. Manipura (Solar Plexus) = Standing side stretch, Virabhadrasana I, II & III, Viparita Virabhadrasana, Trikonasana ending with Ardha Chandrasana
  4. Anahata (heart) = Gomukhasana, Anahatasana, Parighasana 2, Ustrasana ending with Matsyasana
  5. Vissudha (Throat) = Sasangasana, Salamba Sarvangasana, Halasana ending with Karnapidasana
  6. Ajna (Brow) = Yoga eye exercise, Makarasana II, Pincha Mayurasana, Adho Mukha Vrksasana ending with Bakasana
  7. Sahasrara (Cerebal cortex) = Paripurna Navasana, Purvottanasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana ending with Savasana

You can perform all the poses in one lesson or break them up into a couple of lessons. The above poses for each chakra are just some of the common ones. Some of the poses impact more than one chakras.

After the Savasana, don’t forget to give your ending phase to complete the lesson!

Tips when planning yoga lesson with theme

  • Write down how you want your students to feel end of your class. This will be the destined goal for the class.
  • Next write out your road map to reach the destinated goal. It should include a list of sequences, poses, music playlist, and quotes, etc. You may also use online template for theming yoga lesson.
  • Examine the road map and identify potential road bumps (such as pregnant student walk in to attend your lesson focusing on backbends, technical issue with music app, etc). Not forgetting to find alternative for those road bumps.
  • Lastly, smile and find contentment in the lesson even if events do not go according to your plan.

 

Namaste

Ivy Ng (July-2021)

Pranayama & Curing Eczema

Recently, I’ve taken an interest in how yoga and pranayama can help with eczema. Having had no history of eczema until this year (could be the weather, stress, who knows?), and hearing a little about how some pranayama such as Sitali and Sitkari can lower body heat, I decided to do some research into how pranayama can help with Eczema!

For starters, a yogi, Swami Ramdev, suggests doing kapalbhati breathing for half an hour, and then anulom vilum for an hour, then bhastrika, ujjai and bhramari pranayamas. After a consistent practice of this together with some tweaks to our diet, we’ll supposedly have glowing skin! Time-commitment seems to be a bit of an issue here though, but we can try.

Anyway, how can pranayama specifically help to ease eczema?

Detoxifies the body

Pranayama detoxifies the nadis (energy channels in our bodies), which are usually clogged with impurities. Once these energy channels are purified, the blood circulated around the body is one that brings about greater energy, and this also helps to improve complexion. In addition, pranayama activates the body’s lymphatic system, which is responsible for the removal of waste. The lymph nodes produce white blood cells to fight infections. I can imagine that this could lead to greater inflammation in the short-term, but a solution in the long-term.

Helps to relieve stress

We all know that yoga as an activity in itself, even if just focused on physical asanas, does help to relieve anxiety and stress levels. Being placed in an environment which encourages you to focus on your breathing, your flow, your postures, your mat and leaving your stressors outside the door (at least for the hour or so) does wonders for the mind. You leave a yoga session feeling rejuvenated and at least a little more calm.

To zoom in specifically on pranayama, In a Vogue article, Yoga guru Mini Shastri talks about how the slowing, modulating and equalising of our breath triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes the master gland of the pituitary-thyroid-adrenal nexus to harmonise. This results in a balanced hormonal system. Hormone imbalance is a primary cause of many skin conditions, including eczema, which are triggered by stress. Thus, pranayama helps to tackle this by bringing greater relaxation to the body.

Also, Kapalbhati has been said to have a positive effect in clearing the mind, and thus helping with anxiety and depression, all which contribute to, and simultaneously stem from some forms of stress in life too.

Eczema can be seen from a yogic perspective to be a dysfunction of the Muladhara Chakra, Manipura Chakra and Vishudda Chakra. Thus, yoga will help these chakras spin more effectively to some extent.

What is the Solar Plexus Chakra and how is it kept balanced?

What are chakras?

Chakras are the energy centers of the body.
It means “wheel” or “disk” in Sanskrit, and our energy is spining like a wheel based on these chakras.

When all of our chakras are open and aligned, energy can run through them freely, and harmony exists between the physical body, the mind, and the spirit. On the other hand, blockage of chakras can lead to physical, psychological and emotional disorders.

There are 7 main chakras.

What is the Solar Plexus (Manipura) Chakra?
The Manipura Chakra is very important chaktra to help you feel in control of your life. It’s characterized by energy, vitality, and emotions like ego, anger, and aggression.

– Located at the navel
– Colour: Yellow
– Element: Fire
– Association: Energy, Vitality, Desire, and Power
– Mantra: Ram

What happens when Solar Plexus (Manipura) chakra is blocked or unbalanced?
Physically: digestive problems, liver problems, diabetes, allergies, fatigue
Emotional: depression, lack of self-esteem, anger, perfectionism

Low energy
When your energy is low, it makes you become passive, starting with doubt and mistrust towards the people.
You also believe that you can’t control your life and feel like a victim, blaming your life on others. You always feel anxiety that you’re alone.

Too much energy
When the Solar Plexus Chakra is overactive, you keep a stubborn attitude, get angry and aggressive, and feel the need to control others.

What happens when the Solar Plexus (Manipura) Chakra is opened and aligned?
When Manipura chakra is balanced, it enables you to build self-discipline, high self-esteem, and confidence.
It gives you the power to know what you desire, take actions, and achieve your goals in life. It’s all your responsibility, and you don’t blame others.

How to open the Solar Plexus (Manipura) chakra?
1) Asanas
Boat pose (Navasana)

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

Half Fish Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

2) Meditation
Take slow calming breaths and imagine a yellow-coloured glowing ball three inches below the rib cage that is radiating energy outwards into the whole body.

3) Aroma
Juniper Berry
Grapefruits
immortelle
Lemon
Lemongrass

4) Yellow
Wear gold or yellow.

5) Food
Eat spicy foods
Drink room-temperature beverages

6) Affirmation
I accept myself unconditionally.
I can do everything that I desire
I am worthy of love, kindness, and respect
I stand in my power
I feel ready to face challenges.
The only thing I need to control is how I respond to situations.

SPIN THOSE CHAKRAS

Spin Those Chakras

I came into this 200hr yoga course for two reasons, one was to improve my flexibility and range of motion and the other was to add a new layer to my coaching for the current classes that I teach at the gym I work in. I certainly was not thinking about the spiritual and philosophical side of the experience.

Admittedly I was a bit sceptical about a lot of the philosophy side of it all when I began this journey  but after hitting the theory classes with Master Ram and YY they have successfully changed my view in a lot of it.

The philosophy was always going to be my Achilles Heel during this 200 hour experience  but one of the main things that has stuck is the Chakras. The day we discussed this I started (and I repeated started as there is so much to learn) to really take it in and believe there  is something there, I also started to realise that after 5000 years of yoga being practised there must be truth in it all.

The 7 Chakras

What is a Chakra? Chakra literally means wheel and Chakra refers to the seven spinning energy points in our body that start at the base of the spine and work up through our body to the top of the head. These seven spinning disks of energy are aligned with nerves, organs and glands and each Chakra radiates a different colour.

Each Chakra is linked to certain physical, emotional and psychological aspects of our life so a blockage of one Chakra can lead to personal issues.

  • Muladhara Chakra (The Root Chakra) Located at the base of the spine and radiates Red and is responsible for your sense of security and stability.
  • Svadhishthana Chakra ( The Sacral Chakra) Located at the lower abdomen and radiates Orange and is responsible for your sexual and creative energy.
  • Manipura Chakra (The Solar Plexus Chakra) Located at the Solar Plexus and radiates Yellow and is responsible for confidence and self esteem.
  • Anahata Chakra (The Heart Chakra) Located at the Heart and radiates Green and assists our love and compassion.
  • Vishuddha Chakra (The Throat Chakra) Located at the base of the Throat and radiates Blue and assists our ability to communicate verbally.
  • Ajna Chakra (The Third Eye Chakra) Located between the Eyebrows and radiates Indigo and is responsible for intuition and imagination.
  • Sahastrara Chakra (The Crown Chakra) Located at the crown of the head and radiates Violet and represents your spiritual connection to yourself, others and the universe.

To write a blog on every Chakra could possibly take a me a life time with my one finger typing skills so I will pick the Chakra that jumped out to me the most and this was the ANAHATA CHAKRA (The heart).

ANAHATA CHAKRA

Anahata, The forth Chakra, The Heart Chakra.

As you may have probably guessed its located in the heart region of the body, its colour is green (representing growth and renewed healthy relationships) and its element is air (representing freedom/expansion) with the Thymus as its gland. This Chakra is responsible for love, compassion, passion and trust.

When this Chakra is in balance you will be more friendly, more caring and understanding to others but when out of balance it can cause moodiness, loneliness, anxiety, jealousy and anger.

I think this Chakra jumped out to me as I feel that I can be balanced and imbalanced intermittently leaning more towards it being balanced side as I get older. I believe that my Heart Chakra is close to being balanced and will be trying the following to help complete the process.

  • Asanas: All Back bending poses (e.g Matsyasana/Fish Pose, Ardha Setubandhasana/Half Bridge) will assist in balancing my Heart Chakra.
  • Diet: Eating more Greens (Anahata Colour) can help to balance my Heart Chakra (e.g Brocolli, Apples, Spinich, Matcha and Kale). I definitely don’t eat enough.
  • Pranayama: Anulom Vilom with an inhale 4/hold 8/exhale 8 ratio.
  • Meditation: This will help with anxiety and will assist in restoring balance.

Let’s talk about the HEART Chakra

Anahata Chakra – Heart Chakra: 
All about LOVE

What are Chakras?

Chakras are the energy centers of the body. They are located in the astral body along the spine, starting at the base of the spine and running upwards to the crown of the head. The Chakras coincide with a gland in the physical body and each radiate a specific color and energy. Since each chakra relates to specific spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical aspects of our being, it is said that the blockage or malfunction of the chakras can lead to physical, psychological and emotional disorders. The conscious awareness and the balancing of these energy centers on the other hand is believed to lead to well-being and good health. That is one of the purposes of asana practice: to stimulate and balance the chakras or energies in the body

In my blog, I like to elaborate on Anahata Chakras- Heart Chakra

 

Why : I have deeply resonate with this chakra as perhaps big part of what I do daily is working with people coming from all levels and background and it is important for me to have a balanced heart chakra so I can have an open heart to develop good fulfilling working relationship. This is also important towards my family relationship, my husband and our 3 dogs.

So….

Anahata Chakra is the most influential energy center out of the 7 chakras. Exploring divinity through pure love inspires this fourth chakra. Opening the channels of heart in order to receive and give freely is brought by our Heart Chakra.

 

In Sanskrit, Anahata means “unstruck” or “unbeaten”. This signifies an impartial and infinite love allowing a deeper understanding of self and others. It is located in the region of the heart, in the center of the chest. It invites a person to meditate on the different levels of relationship experiences with an open heart.

The color of Anahata Chakra is green. The corresponding element is Air that represents freedom and expansion. This chakra promotes a consciousness that develops boundless compassion. The Mantra of the Anahata Chakra is ‘yam’. It means to let go, to liberate, to give

What are the Characteristics of Anahata Chakra?

The life-giving element of air

The element of Anahata Chakra or Heart Chakra is the Air or Vayu. The Air symbolizes freedom of expansion and breadth. A heart that is absolutely willing to give without restriction. Vayu is connected physically to the sense of touch and emotional feelings. When the heart is open, a person feels optimistic, friendly, and motivated to believe in themselves. Building fulfilling relationships become easier when the Heart Chakra balanced, as we become more compassionate and understanding towards others.

The renewing element of green color

The green color of the Anahata Chakra represents growth and renewed healthy relationships. The color green is associated with nature, freshness, and tenderness. It is a healing and restful color for the human eye. Green suggests stability and endurance. Serenity, calmness, balance, and compassion for yourself, and others are the themes of Heart Chakra.

So what are the Signs of a Blocked Heart Chakra?

Issues with the energy flow in the Heart Chakra can make us feel lonely, isolated, and unable to connect. This is because when we are wounded and feel stuck in the past it leads to anxiety. A person may be scared to share and trust any relationship. Any resolved disappointment from childhood may affect our behavior as an adult. Any of the below-mentioned symptoms indicates that the Heart Chakra requires rebalance and healing.

  • Fear of rejection
  • Loss of trust in a committed relationship
  • Issues giving and receiving affection
  • Over dependency in a relationship
  • Distant behavior with people who care
  • Tough and unemotional appearance while feeling vulnerable
  • Physical symptoms such as heart palpitation, poor blood circulation, heart pain, angina, or even problems like Asthma.

Why do we need to balance the  Heart Chakra?

When the heart chakra opens, you’ll feel an abundance of empathy, compassion, and love. This translates not just towards others but also to oneself. A balanced chakra allows people to be who they are, instead of attempting to dismiss or change according to external expectations. A person with an open Heart Chakra develops trust in them self and respects others. Here are some of the ways to unblock the Heart Chakra.

Seed Mantra Meditation

Meditation can help to restore proper energy flow to the Heart Chakra. Meditation is a deeply personal experience that clears the path to experience peace within. It resolves the various anxious thoughts that bring imbalance in life.

The mantra associated with Anahata Chakra is YAM. It is considered to be the seed or beej of the heart depicted with the Heart Chakra symbolism. Chanting this mantra heals both the physical and the spiritual heart center. It also makes a person more open to experience unconditional love and compassion.

Sit cross-legged and take deep breaths. Focus on the Heart Chakra and start changing YAM. Imagine the chakra opening with the energy flowing throughout the body. The vibrations of the chanting YAM produces an overflow of positive feelings.

Daily affirmations build confidence

Affirmations – can help to increase the positive energy associated with the Heart Chakra. Keeping a journal of gratitude helps in acknowledging the gifts of the present moment. Some examples of positive heart affirmations include:

  • I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
  • I am wanted and loved.
  • My heart is open to love.
  • I forgive myself.
  • I live in a state of grace and gratefulness.

Pranayama – Breathing exercises

The fourth chakra element is air so breathwork is a gateway to opening your heart chakra. One of the best breathwork techniques that not only balances the right and left brain hemispheres but also opens the heart is Anulom Vilom. Practicing Anulom Vilom frequently brings calmness to both body and mind.

Green diet for balancing energy

 The predominant color of Anahata Chakra is green. Eating foods of the same color as the chakra you are trying to heal can balance the energy flow around that area. The foods that help restore the balance are – spinach, kale, broccoli, matcha, green apples, green tea, cucumbers, etc.  Green vegetables are also recommended by expert nutritionists for a healthy body and mind.

Practicing Forgiveness

When we have experienced loss and isolation, it can make us judgmental and jealous. Making an effort to practice forgiveness might seem a very difficult task. Not able to forget the past resentments and anger only stops us from moving forward into the future happiness. Talking to a close friend or meeting a professional counselor clears the mind and guides you through inner growth and peace.

 

Daily Asanas to balance Heart Chakra

Here are a few asanas to help open heart chakras :

It is also advisable to counter-pose with the following to ease lower back after:

Conclusion

The energy that the Heart Chakra manifests has a deep impact on our personality. A meaningful and balanced life can be achieved when our Heart Chakra is in balance.

Maintaining a balanced Heart Chakra brings knowledge of the Self, which helps develop a strong relationship with others.

The Power of the Chakras

Yoga Philosophy

Kundalini is the kinaesthetic energy that is created when prana circles around the body. It moves through the 7 chakras. The sahasrara chakra is the crown chakra and it is located at the crown of the head. It corresponds biologically with the pineal gland, which is located in the hypothalamus at the base of the brain. This chakra is associated with cosmic consciousness, enlightenment and understanding. The hypothalamus in the brain is responsible for many activities such as energy maintenance, memorising, stress control, body temperature and it is directly connected to the pituitary gland which corresponds to Ajna Chakra, the third eye. I have been meditating for about a year now and in the last few months I had noticed that I started to feel pressure in between my eyebrows when I was meditating. From learning and researching more about the chakras and their correspondents to the glands in our body, I realised that this was the Ajna chakra, pituitary gland that I was feeling. I learned that this may be because my third eye was starting to open, that I was possibly starting to ‘see’. After learning this, I started to focus my attention on my third eye and noticed that the feeling of pressure expanded. Learning about the other chakras, like the sahasrara and its connection to the pineal gland, I was then able to focus my meditation on more than one chakra at a time. As we learned in class if you focus your meditation on a chakra then it will become stronger. It may sound completely crazy but I was able to focus my attention on both my Ajna and Sahasrara chakra, and even felt the connection between them within my own head. Something miraculous happened after a while and I believe I entered a very brief period of deep trance. Trance experiences happen when I meditate, however this brief moment was a much deeper state of trance than I had ever felt before. 

Within the time in the classroom, I also learned which of my chakras was possibly at a lower frequency, and this was the Vishuddha chakra, throat chakra. When I had learned this, I knew it to be true, I do sometimes experience difficulty in communicating my truth to others. During my mediation practice, I therefore tried to focus my attention on this chakra so as to hopefully increase its power. Sirsasana is known as the king of all yoga poses as the hypothalamus sends information to the pituitary gland which sends information to the other glands. The headstand activates the pituitary gland and through practicing the headstand repeatedly, I have noticed a difference within my confidence to speak within the class and to express my own personality. Hopefully this means my chakras are balancing! Knowing that teaching requires a good amount of self confidence I also focused my mediation on the Manipura chakra, solar plexus, to increase my self confidence and will. Whenever I have meditated in the past and now, I have always noticed a great, powerful energetic feeling within my chest and heart region, suggesting that my Anahata, heart, chakra is quite strong. Learning about chakras has been one of the most interesting topics I have learned because in a way they are not scientifically proven but from experience, I can feel their energetic vibrations within me and their correspondence to the endocrine system, and how they make me feel. Another theory that I had, which I am not completely sure is correct, is that I have always had flexible or open hip joints and used to do ballet for many years of my life, which includes a lot of hip opening postures. I feel as though my Muladhara chakra is open, or at a reasonable frequency, as I feel like I have always known my path or have always felt a strong magnetic pull towards the topic of psychology in my life. Whether I have deviated my interest from the grounded topic of psychology into for example music or meditations, it has always come from a place of interest within psychology. 

On another topic, learning about the foods of the 3 gunas and pranic and apranic foods have made me more conscious about what I eat. A bit more than a year ago I stopped eating meat, however I have recently started eating meat again as I have come back to Singapore on holiday and really enjoy singaporean dishes, and I find them so hard to resist! However, since eating tamasic food again, I have noticed my body transform into states of tiredness very easily, as this type of food creates inertia and therefore is considered lethargic. The negative pranic foods include garlic, onion, chilli peppers, eggplant, vinegar, cacao, cocoa, coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco. When I first started this class, I would come back home and roast some vegetables including eggplant, onion, and garlic. However since learning of these negative impacts to prana (life force) within the body, I attempted to stop eating them to see if there would be a change in my state of consciousness. Negative pranic food leads to a duller and less refined state of consciousness, aka its harmful to the mind and body. It can cause stress to any physical organs. So far I have cut out all of the apranic foods on that list, except for coffee (my guilty pleasure!). Since cutting these foods out about a week ago, I have noticed a very big difference in my overall mental state. Although I am not 100% sure if this has been due to my increasing amount of mediation, or because I feel very comfortable being in the class with all of the people in it, I feel very positive everyday about each session, and notice that I am able to apply deeper states of consciousness when practicing the postures.

Chakra and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

One of my favourite topics is definitely, Chakra. Chakra literally means a wheel or disc, that enables energy to flow through or around it at various speeds, different directions, at different orbits, with a centre that is anchored to a fixed point. We have learned that there are 7 main Chakras revolving around our spine, from our Coccyx all the way through our spinal bone and finally at the cranium, of the top of our head. Each Chakra represents a state of consciousness and has a specific feeling, tone, bliss or emotion tied to it. What interests me the most is that if one chakra is blocked, all the other following chakras will be block too.

This reminded me of the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – a five-tier model of human needs in psychology, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid as seen below (courtesy to Simply Psychology for the image). Maslow’s also noted that one has to fulfill their most basic need before transiting to the next level, much like if our Muladhara Chakra is blocked, all the other chakras above will be block too.

Where the Muladhara Chakra is associated with our root issues, such as sense of security and safety, sense of belonging, satisfying our basic needs like food and shelter; it corresponds with the basic needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy where all humans will need to satisfy our physiological needs first before being able to consider our other needs.

The Svadhisthana Chakra governs our emotions, creativity, sexuality, intimacy, emotional well-being and self-expression. This corresponds with belongingness and love needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy where we look to fulfil our needs for interpersonal relationship.

The Manipura Chakra is associated with our self-esteem, sense of purpose, personal identity and individual will, which corresponds with esteem needs of Maslow Hierarchy Needs. Both looks at one’s ability to achieve which impacts our self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment.

The final tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy is self-actualization which looks at one’s realisation of their own potential, self-fulfilment, personal growth, and peak experiences. In my opinion, the Anahata, Vishuddhi, Ajna, Sahasrara Chakra are all steps toward self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy. Where at Anahata Chakra we surrender our self-centredness to selflessness, letting go of judgment, we focus more on compassion and love for others, and find joy in giving more than receiving. In Vishuddhi Chakra, we are able to live authentically as who we are, speak our truth, set clear boundaries with ourselves and others. In Ajna Chakra, we are in touch with our intuition and intellect, and able to evaluate our own beliefs and attitude. And in Sahasrara Chakra, we find detachment in illusion, gaining freedom over our thoughts and emotions that bound us and connect to our life’s purpose and spirituality. All these chakras together will help us to reach self-actualisation stage.

There is so much knowledge to draw from ancient text that can be applied in today’s modern society. How our ancestors have so much wisdom and foresight to come up with all these theories never fails to amaze me! As I continue to learn Yoga Philosophy, I see so much connection to Yoga and Psychology and it is intriguing to connect ancient knowledge to modern science!

Understanding your Chakras

Ever since I started YTT program, I’ve made an effort to develop my self-awareness and be more conscious of my surroundings. Other than practicing yoga and pranayama, learning about the chakras and knowing my chakra has definitely helped me gained a deeper understanding of myself emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

There are 7 chakras and each chakra has its own position and purpose. It is important to find balance in your chakras such that you can find harmony within yourself. And before you can find balance in your chakras, you will first have to identify which chakra is blocked.

Let’s run through the 7 chakras:

1) Muladhara (Root Chakra) is associated with our most basic physical needs like food and security. The shadow of of this chakra is fear and anxiety. When this chakra is in balance, you should feel safe, grounded and have a sense of security physically and emotionally.

2) Svadhisthana (Sacral Chakra) is associated to creativity, pleasure and connection with others. When this chakra is blocked, you tend to feel uninspired and struggle to express emotion or desire.

3) Manipura (Solar Plexus Chakra) is related to our ego, will and drive. Signs of imbalance are low self-esteem and feeling unmotivated. Symptom of a blocked solar pexus chakra can be manifested in a form of obsession like overeating, powerless to gain control or being attached to an unhealthy relationship.

4) Anahata (Heart Chakra) is located near our heart and as you can guess, this chakra has to do with love and compassion. A closed heart or an imbalanced Anahata are emotions like jealously, anger or fear of loneliness. Likewise, when it’s in balance, you will feel joy, gratitude and love for people around you.

5) Vishuddha (Throat Chakra) is about pure and honest communication. When it is overactive, you are probably talking to much and needs more listening. On the other hand, if you have an underactive throat chakra, you are probably refer to as being shy or an introvert, who is not able to express yourself well.

6) Ajna (Third-eye Chakra) is located in the center of the forehead and is about dreams and intuition. A blocked Ajna will cloud your judgment leading to poor decisions.

7) Sahasrara (Crown Chakra) is positioned at the top of the head and is about connection with the universe. You will likely have difficulty connecting to a spiritual living if you have an imbalanced sahasrara and also may be attached to material achievements.

The above 7 chakras when balanced will harmonize the prana in your entire body, mind and spirit. By understanding these 7 chakras, you can then identify your physical, emotional and spiritual imbalances with the chakras and empower them. Since I have been introduced to the chakras, I have been practicing self-awareness by asking myself questions relating to the characteristics of each chakra as I tried to identify any blocked or imbalanced chakra in me. After I started this, I became more aware of my emotions, behaviors and moods and I definitely feel more empowered and clear-minded.

Visuddha

While I was looking through my recipe ingredients list that I consumed daily and studying the 7 Chakra in deeper knowledge. I came to realise all this while I’ve consumed most of the food that related to the fifth Chakra – Visuddha. I am excited and hope I can share with you what are the food that I consumed and how it affected me so far.

 

Visuddha, the throat Chakra located at the throat area closed to the cervical spine. It refers to “especially pure”. The symbol for Visuddha is a blue triangle surrounded by 16 purple petals. It is also associated with the element of Ether. 

 

Ths chakra expresses our authentic voice and ability to speak our truth openly and purely but also our ability to understand our own needs and desires and being able to communicate them freely to others. 

 

The signs of underactivity: Inability to communicate, express creativity, feelings and emotions; procrastination, stagnation, flakiness and difficulty in being honest.  Physically, we might have problems with hearing, sore throat, and toothache.

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