Resonate: Colors, Sounds and Visualizations for the 1st Chakra

This week marked the second week of Chakra Yoga at 8 Limbs Yoga in Wedgwood. I have truly been enjoying this class as I feel like it gives me the opportunity to present something I’ve been playing with for a long time and its fun to see it reflected back to me in new ways now as the teacher instead of the student. This week, our exploration of the 1st chakra moved into the realm of colors, sound and visualization.  We stayed deeply connected to the Earth element from last week and began to weave some other elements into our practice. Below you will find some highlights from that exploration that you can explore and take into your own practice to continue finding your connection to the 1st chakra:

LAM: The Seed Syllable of the 1st Chakra

image courtesy of centrodharmayoga.it

Chanting LAM, the seed syllable of the 1st chakra can help you connect with and activate the 1st chakra. It can be used at the start of practice, much in the same way we chant the sound of OM, beginning first with a drawn out “L” sound, moving to the “AH” sound and then to the “MMM” sound. We also explored using the mantra as a way to extend the breath in a pose and a way to activate the energy of the 1st chakra while moving into that pose. While chanting LAM and moving into asana, I encourage students to also find Mulabhanda (drawing in and up on the perineum) to further activate the 1st chakra. When chanting LAM and engaging Mulabhanda, two sequences I like to flow between are:

  • Cow → Cat → Prayer
  • Arms alongside ears with belly button lifted, flow from uttanasana to urdva hastasana. If there are considerations for the low back, please put the hands on the hips instead.

Seeing Red

image from serenityexpressions.com

The color red is assigned to the 1st chakra. It is a deep earth red, and the color red, much as the chakra it rules, is associated with life, vitality, strength and the physical aspect of human beings. Visualizing the color red at the 1st chakra is another way to activate the energy of the chakra. When visuazling the 1st chakra, I invite students to do the following:

Close your eyes, visualize an orb of light at the base of the spine, at the perineum. Focus on that orb of light and allow it turn a deep crimson red. Take 8-10 breaths bringing your focus deeper and deeper into the red orb of light. Once that image has become clear for you, envision the orb of light extending red light downward from the perineum through the center-line of the legs. Allow it to travel down between inner thighs, inner knees, inner calves, inner ankles until it extends down below the feet. Allow that light to shine down into the floor, imagining its connection with the Earth below you. Take 8-10 breaths running crimson red light down the legs and into the floor. As you’re ready, release the visualization and take a few breaths to feel your experience of the feet on the floor, the energy in the legs and when you’re ready let your eyes open.

Finding your Foundation

image from wikipedia.com

When you see the image of the 1st chakra, no matter how it is depicted, there is always a square inside the image somewhere. The square is a symbol of structure, foundation and stability, all positive characteristics of the 1st chakra. To connect with this energy, close the eyes and take a few deep breaths. As you breathe, feel the heaviness of your sit bones resting on the floor and start to feel the connection points of the sit bones and that on which you are resting. As you become more aware of the sit bones, visualize a line running from sit bone to sit bone — the top of the square. Drop two lines down from each of the sit bones to create the sides of the square and then see a line connecting these two sides to create the bottom of the square. Breathe into the square, feeling the sit bones resting on this structure. Feel yourself, held up, supported and grounded. Stay here as long as you like.

1st Chakra: Earth Element

“Those who dwell among the beauties and the mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” ~ Rachel Carson

Yesterday was the beginning of the Chakra Yoga class that I teach each Wednesday at 8 Limbs Yoga Wedgwood. As I mentioned in my last post, we are starting the exploration of the chakras with the 1st chakra and will spend the entire month diving into practices geared toward accessing and exploring that specific chakra. The 1st week, our focus for the 1st chakra was its governing element, Earth. We spent the practice dropping into the connection of our bodies to the Earth and ways in which we experience the Earth element in our bodies.

The 1st chakra rests near the base of the spine at the perineum. Our exploration included a great deal of focus on running energy from the 1st chakra into the earth. This can be done in your seat or standing. In a standing pose, the legs provide a vehicle for that energy to travel downward and connect with the Earth, and vice versa, to travel back upward and feed the chakra. Rather than telling students what they should expect to experience, I opened it up to their own exploration. Truly we are our own masters and have the best knowledge about our own energetic systems. The practices listed below are opportunities to open to Earth energy, and whatever you experience beyond that is true and accurate and represents your own knowledge around Earth in your body.

Below are some practices we explored in class to connect us with the Earth:

Tree Meditation

Find a comfortable seat. Feel your sit-bones resting on the floor. Take a few breaths and feel their weight resting on the Earth. Breathe into the length of the spine and connect with the 1st chakra located a the perineum. Take a few breaths into this space and then send your awareness from your seat into the Earth. Imagine roots growing downward, with each breath sink them deeper. After 8-10 breaths, reverse the travel of energy and just as a tree’s roots feed it water and nutrients, begin to draw the energy of the Earth up the roots and into your body. Let it rise up each root imagining the energy as light, color, sensation or simply envisioning it in your mind’s eye. Take 8-10 breaths drawing the energy into the 1st chakra and feeding it. Before you open your eyes take a few breaths to notice what you feel, breathe into your own wisdom and allow the eyes to softly open.

 

Connecting with Leg Lines: A Block Between The Thighs

Try the following sequence with a block between the legs. Start at the back of your mat and move slowly, as if you were swimming through honey. When you move from Ardha Utanasana to Adho Muka Svanasana, walk the hands forward on the mat to arrive.

photo courtesy of teachasana.com

Tadasana → Utanasana →Ardha Utanasana →Adho Mukha Svanasana → Chaturanga Dandasana → Bhujangasana → Adho Mukha Svanasana → Ardha Utanasana → Utanasana → Tadasana

Focus your awareness through the duration of the practice on hugging the inner thighs into the block and experiencing the activation of energy running down the legs. Take 4-5 breaths in each pose.

 

Prithivi Mudra: Earth Mudra

image courtesy of youngever.com

Find a comfortable meditative seat and close the eyes. Let the hands move into Prithivi Mudra with the tips of thumbs and ring fingers touching. Take a few breaths and breath into the energy being generated in the hands. Let your awareness travel from the hands into the arms toward the center of the chest. Imagine a rose at the center of the chest and as you watch the rose SLOWLY blossoms, then begins to drop petal after petal.  Each petal floats downward in slow motion and comes to rest at the seat. Spend anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes in this seat, as you feel complete, release the mudra, notice what you feel and then as you’re ready open your eyes.

Fire in the Belly: The 3rd Chakra

“Fire is the spark of life that ignites will to action. Fire is the spark between Shiva and Shakti…” Anodea Judith, Wheels of Life.

Color: Golden Yellow

Seed Syllable: RAM

Element: Fire

Rules: Digestive System, Agni (digestive fire)

Planet: Sun

The 3rd chakra is the space from which we make manifest the watery dreams of the 2nd chakra. Students who will benefit from work with this chakra are those who have difficult making decisions and taking action. Physically, students who are prone to digestion issues and coldness will also find 3rd chakra focus of great benefit.

Here are some yogic suggestions to embrace the 3rd charka and your inner fire:

Asana

– Surya Namaskar (sun salutations)

– Virabhandrasana I, II & III (warrior poses)

– Trikonasana (triangle)

– Dhanurasana (bow)

Pranayama

– Bhastrikia

– Breath of Fire (Kapalabhati)

Bhandas

– Uddiyana Bhanda

Unlocking the Heart: The Fourth Chakra

” Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” – Zora Neale Hurston

Unlocking the heart chakra can be very powerful work to explore in your asana practice. As a bodyworker, I often find that this is a place that people physically manifest energetic holding and body armoring. Tight shoulders, neck and chest can be signs of a heart chakra in need of some work. For many, getting into chest openers will unlock old wounds and heartache that have been buried in the muscles and so I invite students to work as deeply as they feel comfortable.

The heart chakra is ruled by the air element and so exploring different types of pranayama are also excellent gateways to the 4th chakra. Furthermore, as the ribs, sternum and chest start to expand with heart chakra focused work, the deeper the breath will become and the more effective the pranayama.

Color: Emerald Green

Seed Syllable: YAM

Element: Air

Rules: Heart, Hands

Planet: Venus

Here are some yogic suggestions to embrace the heart chakra:

Asana

Matsyasana (fish pose)

Uttana Shishosana (happy puppy pose)

Setu Bhanda Sarvangasana (bridge pose)

Sphinx Pose

Pranayama

Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing)

Bhandas

Mula Bhanda

Jalandhara Bhanda