Activating Energy In the Body: A Preparation for the Cardinal Grand Cross

image from radicalvirgo.com

image from radicalvirgo.com

If you follow astrology, you have heard about the upcoming peak of the Cardinal Grand Cross on April 23rd. There is much speculation as to what this big planetary line-up will mean and the impacts that will be felt internally as well as externally. I am a firm believer that astrology should never be used in a way to incite fear, but I also believe in the powerful shifts these planetary bodies can bring about and having an awareness of what’s going on can be of huge benefit as these energies ebb and flow. If you would like to know more about the Cardinal Grand Cross from some very thoughtful astrologers, you can read below for more:

Having looked through all that is being speculated and predicted with this Cross, what seems to be up for most right now is that this is a time of change. We have a powerful opportunity create transformation in our lives. As we face down huge shifts in our lives it can be easy to look outward and see all the things that need to changed or tidied up before this can happen, but the most profound work we can do right now is inside. The more we can activate our own energy centers and allow energy to flow freely and smoothly, the easier it may potentially be to harness this strong flow of energy and utilize it to help shape our lives. Below is a meditation to use to begin to activate the energy flow in the body:

I recommend doing this meditation seated. You can spend as little as 5 minutes or as much as 20 minutes with the visualization.

Begin by closing your eyes and finding your breath. Spend some time connecting with the inflow and outflow of the breath and feel it moving through your body. If possible imagine breathing all the way down to the tips of your toes. As you settle into the flow of the breath, begin by imagining a cord of golden light extending along your central axis. Extend it down below your seat into the earth and up through your crown toward the sky. You can spend as much time as you like with this visualization, but ensure you see the line running strong and clear before moving forward (in fact your first few times it might simply be to visualize this cord of energy).

Once you have maintained this cord in your mind’s eye, bring your awareness to the front of the chest, see two golden balls of light resting at the front of the chest right where the collarbone connects to the shoulder. Again, spend time until you feel you can sustain this visualization, once you have it, so two more balls of golden light resting at your hip points. Spend time seeing these two orbs. Finally send a cord of light from the shoulder to the hip. And again work with this till the visualization becomes strong.

Once you’ve mastered this, you can add in a component done standing. Do the above visualization but then add to golden balls in the soles of the knees and finally the soles of the feet connect a cord of light downward, first from hip to knee and then knee to foot.
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Chakra Imbalances

The ChakrasMuch of the work I do with clients is based around the chakras, the energy system of the body first described in ancient yogic texts. In this system, there are seven main energy centers in the body that govern different parts of the body and different energies in the body. As life circumstances arise that impact us negatively, our energetic system can also be impacted negatively. When the energetic system is out of balance, this can map to the physical body making us susceptible to injury and disease. Because many of us are unaware or just beginning to learn about our energetic system, it can be challenging to know if and when our energy is out of balance.

Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself to ascertain if a chakra may be in need of your attention. Remember, it can be easy to feel that all of these apply to you, but feel for which one or two resonate with you strongest. Whichever you find yourself answering with a resounding yes to, this will be the chakra for you to explore:

  • 1st Chakra: I have difficulty feeling stable in my life situation. I may feel that I am lacking in resources, safety or have difficulty feeling “at home” anywhere. Conversely, I may horde my resources or have very rigid boundaries.
  • 2nd Chakra: Expressing emotion is difficult for me. I feel stuck creatively and may have difficulty expressing myself sexually. Conversely, I have no boundaries with expressing my emotions and find I may overshare personal things that are up for me.
  • 3rd Chakra: I am quick to anger and may have an inflated perception of my own self worth. Digestion may be an issue for me. Conversely, I have little to no confidence in myself. I may feel week and lack direction.
  • 4th Chakra: It is difficult for me to express or receive love. I may have difficulty connecting with others. Conversely I may over give and exhaust myself helping others.
  • 5th Chakra: Communication is challenging for me, whether it is speaking my own truth or listening to what others are sharing with me.
  • 6th Chakra: I feel overloaded when I am around a lot of people and feel that I am too empathic. I may find myself constantly being pulled out reality and into daydreams. Conversely, I find it difficult to meditate or do visualization exercises.
  • 7th Chakra: I have difficulty feeling connection to others on a broader scope. I may feel as though I am not like anyone else. Conversely, I may be so connected spiritually that I am unable to engage in day-to-day activities.

Did you find a chakra that was out of balance? Scroll back through my blog for yoga practices that will help you address these imbalances and bring more balance to the system.

When Stretching ISN’T The Answer

image from fitsugar.com

image from fitsugar.com

I’ve been battling an aggravated hip injury for some time in my yoga practice. For a while, it was something that came and went and if I practiced mindfully it would go away. For the last month or so, it has been consistently present and I had started also getting irritation in my knee as well. Any time the pain would flare up, I would immediately pull out my “yoga asana tool box” and start working hip openers and other stretches…because for me, anytime something hurts my response has always been to stretch it. And I would argue that is the natural response of many of us, yoga teachers or not, to find relief from my pain through stretching.  And yet, all this stretching and nothing was getting better.

Enter my partner, and a workout called “Inferno.” I have done my fair share of intense work outs in my life having trained for a half marathon, rode over 550 miles in 7 days in the AIDS Lifecycle, and participated in various other adventurous outdoor sports including climbing, kayaking and mountain biking. I had not, however, done “Inferno.” From my understanding of cross-fit, its something similar…lots of push-ups, lots of core-work, lots of squats and lots of jumping…not to mention lots of sweat and lots of drill sergeant style encouragement.  Basically the anti-thesis to my yoga experience. I was initially wary of the impact on my hip and knee and paid very close attention as I began the workout to ensure that I wasn’t making things worse, yet to my surprise, after only a few days of practice things started feeling better. My knee pain subsided and my hip, while still not totally happy, was doing much better. I was baffled, all this pushing hard and no yoga, and I was feeling better.

The following week I was in a yoga teacher training with twelve hours of anatomy training, with nearly four hours focusing only on the hips. I was in heaven, I was looking for answers! What came up as we talked was that sometimes stretching ISN’T the answer, sometimes strengthening is. In my case, some of my glute muscles were weak and some smaller hip and quad muscles were over-working to compensate. What I needed to do, to help these over-worked muscles, was strengthen the muscles that were weak so the hard-working muscles could start to let go. This explained why so much squatting, so much jumping, would actually make me feel better, I  was strengthening those glute muscles that needed my attention. I wasn’t over-stretching these already over-worked muscles. Little had I known, but I had stumbled upon exactly what I needed to start healing. It was a powerful reminder of that age-old adage “everything in moderation”…even stretching.

Descent into Darkness

photo by Nick Woods

photo by Nick Woods

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
holy. ~ Pesha Joyce Gertler

I talked in my last blog post about new year’s intention setting, and the powerful opportunity we have to make change in our life. The energy of the new year was coupled with the power and potency of two vibrant new moons in the month of January that have given us the opportunity embrace all the change coming our way. When I set the intention for change in my life, I have found that everything in my life that is not in resonance with the shift I am wanting to make, rises up to be processed and dealt with. For example, I have set intentions in the past around expressing more self-love. It seems, almost immediately, I find myself facing my harshest critical voice and the ways in which I judge myself. At first, this feels counter to the intention I’ve just set. However, when I can start to unpack my oldest wounds and my deepest fears I find I have the opportunity to do my most profound work.

So, if you set some strong intentions at the start of the year and it now feels as though you’re just barely treading water, take a moment to pause and give thanks. Its like the old adage “Its always darkest before the dawn.” The more you can consciously wade into the murky depths of whatever is coming up with the intent of healing, the more powerful the outcome will be.

Saraswati: Guiding us into our Intuition

SaraswatiContinuing my journey into Sally Kempton’s Awakening Shakti, I spent the last month working with the goddess Saraswati. She is known as the goddess of language, insight and sound. She is evoked by practitioners for work with music and mantra, but she can also offer us profound insight and connect to our own intuition. If you’re working with a question in your life right now that you’re having trouble finding clarity on, consider invoking Saraswati to guide you. She offers the following practice:

Write down the question and read it through a few times. Then close your eyes and repeat the mantra to Saraswati nine times:

Aum aim hrim saraswatyai namaha
ohm ai-eem hreem suh-rah-swah-tyai nuh-muh-huh

Ask inwardly for the answer to your question. Then imagine the form of Saraswati. See her as a luminous figure, seated on her vehicle the swan. See a stringed instrument in her hands and see white light emanating from her figure. Breathe with the sense that you are breathing together and with each exhalation visualize your question flowing to her. As you inhale, allow her knowing to flow into your mind.

Now begin to write. Don’t censor, simply let the words flow out (punctuation and spelling are not important). Write until there is nothing left. Read over what you’ve written and then ask “Is there anything more?” and take down whatever arises.

Four Elements & The Chakras

"Four Elements" by Paul Roden + Valerie Lueth

“Four Elements” by Paul Roden + Valerie Lueth

As we explore the chakra system as a whole we have the opportunity to access the flow of energy currents that move up and down the central channel and feed the chakra system. Much focus is brought to the ascending current in many yogic traditions (moving out of the physical body of the lower chakras and into the spiritual plane of the upper chakras). Yet much is to be said for working with the descending current, particularly at this time, when planetary energy is shifting and we have the opportunity to pull that energy into our bodies and manifest it through the lower chakras. The four lower chakras (heart to root) are associated with the four elements and represent the steps down the chakra system toward bring though, idea, intention and spirit into the physical plane. Honoring these elements as part of our experience, our bodies and our energetic system, opens up the ability to bring this energy not only into our consciousness, but into our entire system and the world around us. I offer the following piece below as a meditation on the four elements and their dance in our bodies and in our existence.

“What are you? What am I? Intersecting cycles of water, earth, air and fire, that’s what I am, that’s what you are.

Water—blood, lymph, mucus, sweat, tears, inner oceans tugged by the moon, tides within and tides without. Streaming fluids floating our cells, washing and nourishing through endless riverways of gut and vein and capillary. Moisture pouring in and through and out of you, of me, in the vast poem of the hydrological cycle. You are that. I am that.

Earth—matter made from rock and soil. It too is pulled by the moon as the magma circulate through the planet heart and roots such molecules into biology. Earth pours through us, replacing each cell in the body every seven years. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we ingest, incorporate and excrete earth, are made from earth. I am that. You are that.

Air—the gaseous realm, the atmosphere, the planet’s membrane. The inhale and the exhale. Breathing out carbon dioxide to the trees and breathing in their fresh exudations. Oxygen kissing each cell awake, atoms dancing in orderly metabolism, interpenetrating. The dance of the air cycle, breathing the universe in and out again, is what you are, is what I am.

Fire—fire from our sun that fuels all life, drawing up plants and raising the waters to the ky to fall again replenishing. The inner furnace of your metabolism burns with the fire of the Big Ban that first sent matter-energy spinning through space and time. And the same fire as the lightening that flashed into the primordial soup catalyzing the birth of organic life.

You were there, I was there, for each cell of our bodies is transcended in an unbroken chain from that event.”

– John Seed and Joanna Macy

Awakening to 2012: Finding the Bridge

by Waelad Akadan

by Waelad Akadan

The winter solstice represents a huge time of transition, a threshold between two times. Not only are we marching up to this transitional time of the solstice, but we are also drawing near the end of 2012, a time long thought to be another broader threshold. As we stand on this precipice, there are many who foretell an “end times” and there are many who disregard any mention of change or shift. While I find no benefit in getting caught up in the fear being generated by those predicting apocalypse, I do feel that there is a change building. It feels as though things have accelerated and that shifts are happening physically, emotionally and energetically at a much faster rate. One need only look around at world events and weather patterns to these energy unfolding in real time, palatable and intense.

I feel we have a great opportunity at this time to harness this heightened energy and awareness and move forward consciously into the next manifestation of the world and in our own lives. This time is rich with transformative energy and anyone who is ready to make change in their life need simply open up to receive the energy that is starting to come through. And while I say, “one need simply open up,” this is a tall order. As it involves releasing the old paradigm: our limiting beliefs, the wounds we have carried around with us for so long and our negative self talk. If we can open and up and release these things we can become a powerful channel for this heightening energy.

As we move forward, a groundedness in intent and openness to change become truly important. Preparing the body, mind and spirit is all important and time should be taken for nurturing self-care, internal exploration and energetic expansion. I offer the following meditation as a way to begin to open to this energy and start to connect with what blocks might still be in our system as we move forward.

Energetic Bridge Meditation

Ensure you are somewhere where you will be uninterrupted for at least 20 minutes. Come to lie on your back, on a bed or on the floor. Make sure you are comfortably supported using props such as a pillow under the back of the knees or a pillow under the head. Also ensure that you will be warm, perhaps covering yourself with a blanket or donning extra layers.

Once you’ve settled in, allow yourself a few minutes to watch your breathing and to come into your body. Gradually allow the breath to deepen and lengthen and as it does so, invite your body to relax. Scan from tips of the toe to crown of the head and as you find places of tension or holding in the body, direct the breath into those places. As you feel yourself relax, become aware of the heaviness of the head and the sensation of gravity pressing down upon your whole body.

As you’ve settled into the pace of the breath, begin to direct it along the spine. As you inhale, pull it from base of the spine to crown of the head and as you exhale pull it back down the spine. After several rounds of breath, imagine an orb of light traveling with the breath. As you inhale, pull a golden orb of light up the spine, tailbone to crown. As you exhale, pull that golden orb from crown to tailbone. Continue with this visualization for at least five rounds of breath.

Next bring the orb of light up the spine to the heart center at allow it to come to rest there. Take several breaths into the heart center and watch the orb shift from golden light to a deep emerald green. After some time with the focus on the heart, drop your awareness into the back of the body and envision the space between the shoulder blades, the back of the heart. On an exhale drop a cord of emerald light from the heart down into the floor send it deep into the earth and as it reaches the earth watch it spread out in an intricate root system, like that of a tree or plant. With each breath send it wider and deeper. Once the roots have sunk deep into the earth, reverse the flow of energy and like a plant drawing nutrients up from the soil, begin to draw earth energy up your root system. As it rises, the earth energy turns the roots from emerald green to a deep crimson red. Breath by breath the energy rises until eventually it returns to the back of the heart and rises up into the orb at the center of the chest. As this energy fills the heart, it turns the orb in the chest from emerald green to red as well. As you take each breath, the light at the heart grows more vibrant and deeper in its reddish hue.

After several breaths, draw the awareness to the front of the body. Bring your focus to the sternum and pull an emerald cord of light from the orb at the heart up through the center of the chest and toward the ceiling. Take it up into the sky, higher and higher. Eventually the entire night sky expands before you and you see thousands of glittering stars. Look around and find the bright disk of the moon in the sky and send your cord of emerald light toward that disk. Eventually, you connect with the energy of the moon and as you do, you begin to pull the lunar energy down the emerald cord and back toward the body. As the energy of the moon descends, it turns the cord from emerald green to a glowing silvery white. It drips like honey, bit by bit, making its way back down to the body. When it reaches the body it enters through the front of the chest and enters the crimson red orb at the heart. The moon energy begins to swirl with the earth and energy and as they mix the orb at the chest begin to glow a vibrant pink, the color of quartz crystal. Take 10-15 breaths allowing this pink light to fill the heart.

Once this light begins to overflow from the heart center, begin to direct it down the spine toward the tailbone and up the spine toward the crown until you see the entire central channel illuminated a brilliant pink. Remain here as long as you like allowing the energy to course through your body and opening up to the innate intelligence of these two energies. Feel yourself as the meeting place, the bridge, for these energies to meet and co-create and feel your body as the vessel for this energy.

When you feel an expansiveness throughout the entire body, come back to an awareness of the breath and begin to slowly return.