Chakras: Land, ho!

I discovered yoga at my most unsettled of times, when I was most adrift. I had a serious case of wanderlust; had panic attacks when the holiday was over and it was time to go home; and basically felt like a waste of space in the universe. Even birds seemed to traverse the earth with greater purpose than I (cue the violins).

During my first few Hatha sessions, we focused a lot on the lower body. We spent a good deal of time understanding the workings of Tadasana. I really didn’t expect standing upright to be such a conscious effort. I found hamstring stretches particularly rewarding, especially forward bends and of course downward-facing dog (my absolute favourite pose till this day!). But I recently found out a possible reason for this inclination when I learnt about Chakras. 

There is little set in stone about Chakras, save for its translation from the Sanskrit language – ‘wheels’. These ‘wheels’ were imagined to be spinning vortexes of prana or life force within our body. Each Chakra is believed to be associated with specific functions within the body, as well as determinants of how we handle situations internally and during interactions with the outside world. When exposed to extremities, externally or within ourselves, Chakras can become deficient or excessive, leading to imbalance which can manifest physically or emotionally.

Muladhara (Root) Chakra
In my case, I was probably responding to a deficiency in the Muladhara Chakra. This Chakra is related to survival needs and establishing a healthy sense of groundedness, which by inference is mainly associated with body parts engaged for stability, like the base of the spine, legs and feet. This could very well explain my inclination to hamstring stretches. When our hamstrings are tight, the contraction can make us feel like we’re constantly prepared to run and escape. When I’m in Uttanasa or downward-facing dog, there’s a therapeutic sense of emotional grounding, willingness to stay put and trusting the earth. 

Manipura (Naval) Chakra
During the period I felt most lost and defeated, I was also having constant headaches most likely from increased fatigue. What I tended to turn to during these episodes were spinal twists like Ardha Matsyendrasana, which I learnt were beneficial for firing up the Manipura Chakra and thus boosting confidence. Physically, these twisting poses release tension in the neck and spine, a common trigger for headaches. Twists also aid the body in detoxification by stimulating the kidneys and liver, forcing out toxins. More interestingly, on an energetic level, these twists are believed to loosen attachments from our ego that weigh us down.

In a world obsessed with facts and figures, the subject of Chakras leaves much to be desired for most. But maybe the worthwhile thing to do in this life, for ourselves and those around us, is to believe in and live our own truth.

Hui Yan
200hr YTT (Nov)

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