This week began our exploration of the 2nd chakra. In Ayurveda, the 2nd chakra is ruled by the element of water. Which, even on a physiological level, makes sense to me. The second chakra is located in the low back/sacral region and in the low belly, below the belly button. It rules the sexual organs and the emotions. All things, very connected with flow and movement in life.
I love working with the second chakra and deeply connect to the energy of water, yet, for me it is place where I have long had holding and I feel this speaks to my tendency (and our tendency as a culture) to shut down emotion. We lock emotion up and it stays held in our bodies, taking the form of tight hips, low back issues and injury and blockages in sexual energy and our ability to release emotionally, muscularly or structurally. Connecting with water helps us find the flow once again, to find movement out of stagnancy and helps us to bring greater health and wellness to our 2nd chakra.
Here are some practices to connect you with breath, the water element and to bring you into the flow:
Remember as a child, finding shells on the beach and holding them up to your ear to hear the ocean? This breath practice invites those same principles into the body. Find a comfortable seat and close the eyes. As you begin, connect with the breath. Notice the rise and fall of the breath in the body and notice how the breath is moving through you as you sit on your mat. Bring the hands or fingers up to cover the ears, drowning out any outside noises and amplifying the internal noise of the breath. Listen to the breath, like waves. As you inhale it is like a wave rolling into shore, and as you exhale, it is a wave rolling out to sea. Spend 2-5 minutes listening to the breath, notice how it fluctuates and changes the longer you spend with your focus on it. As you feel ready, lower your hands and notice your connection to the breath. Feel the breath in your body and as you are ready, open your eyes.
This practice is wonderful as a seated meditation, I also like to bring it back into my asana practice as I continue. Pausing in tadasana during sun salutations to take 5-10 ocean breaths or pausing prior to balance poses to engage this practice. It calls us back into the water-like nature of the breath and it also invites us to ground into the deeply calming aspects of the breath.
Audible Exhales: Finding the Flow
If you’ve ever taken class with me, you’ll notice how often I encourage exhaling through the mouth. I’ve found that often times we tend to hold back our breath and hold back our sound, whether we’re embarassed about making too much noise or are simply unable to connect to our breath in that way. The more we can facilitate deep and audible breath, the more we can also let go of other things that are locked down (such as emotions or the physical body). In this class, I invited students to take several different flow practices with an audible exhale through the mouth. It allowed us to all find the cadence of our breath and also to begin to breath together as a class. Some poses I like to flow between are:
- Table Top→ Cow→ Cat→ Prayer
- Raising and lowering in Cobra Pose
- Downward Dog→ Plank→ Downward Dog
- Tadasna→ Forward Fold→ Half Forward Fold→ Forward Fold→ Tadasna
Supta Baddha Konasana Water Meditation
image courtesy of durgamama.wordpress.com
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but this is one of my all-time favorite restorative poses. I come back to it again and again for is rejuvinative aspects, but also because it feels so lovely! If you’re working with knee or hip injuries, please use two blocks one under each knee or outer thigh, place high enough to give you support.
Take Supta Baddha Konasana with appropriate props and close the eyes. Bring both hands to rest on the lower belly, below the navel center. Breathe into the space under the hands, creating space and opening with each inhale and each exhale. As you breathe, imagine water flowing along the spine as you inhale and exhale. Let it pool up around the pelvis and let the waves of each breath wash over you. As you connect with this movement of breath, connect with other fluids in your body: blood, sweat and tears. Fill its movement in your body and its ability to cleanse, heal and renew. Stay here as long as you like.
And now, I’ll leave you with a little breath focused inspiration from one of my favorite yogis, Rob Lundsgaard, check out his song Breathe (scroll down through the song lists and select “Breathe” to listen to or download). A great addition to any yogi’s playlist!