We were fortunate enough this week to have Summer Solstice fall on the day of our Chakra Yoga Practice at 8 Limbs Yoga. It was a gorgeous day and the sun was streaming in through all the windows. Days like that (especially in Seattle) make me feel more alive. I feel the dance of sunlight on my skin and I feel more connected with my breath and with my experience of the world around me as I perceive the world around me through my sense. This afforded us the perfect opportunity to connect more deeply with our 1st chakras.
The 1st chakra, is deeply connected to the physical body and to our experience of being in present in any given moment. The 1st chakra invites us into the laboratory our of bodies and invites us to fully experience each opportunity that comes along. Furthmore, we invite the essence of Shakti into the practice. We often speak about the 1st chakra as the home of Shakti, and the 7th chakra subsequently the home of Shiva. It is their union that animates all life and their meeting in our own bodies that invites Kundalini to awaken and rise up the spine. In my own experience, I think of Shakti as this heavy, Earth Mama energy. She keeps us grounded and connected to all of life, and like the Earth, is the birth place of all living things.
Below you will find some practices from this week to further explore the 1st chakra:
The Body as a Field Meditation
Close the eyes, connect with your seat. Feel the heaviness of the seat resting on the earth. Breathe down into your sitbones and connect with the resting place of Shakti. Connect with Shakti as Mother Earth, feel the deepness and richness that this energy offers you. Connect with your breath and with each inhale and each exhale begin to draw this earth energy up the spine. As a fills you up connect with the sensations in the body. Become completely present to all the sensations you are experiencing: the movement of the breath, the seat on the floor. Become aware from tips of fingers to tips of toes.
Now, see yourself as a field. A dark, earthy, rich field. See the whole body as a field ready for planting. Set your intentions, plant them as seeds in the field of the body. As you set each intention, plant it in the body and invite it into your asana practice. Know that as you practice your intentions will be nurtured and fed. As you move your body, you feed the soil in which your intentions are planted and through your practice you can help manifest and realize your intentions. Once you have sat with you intentions and feel grounded in your body, let your eyes softly open and move into your asana practice.
Supta Baddha Konasana with Props
This is one of my all time favorite restorative poses. Be sure to give yourself at least 5-10 minutes to relax in the pose. In order to set up for it, be sure you have a bolster and a strap. If you are working with knee or hip injuries, two blocks can also be helpful to slide underneath the knees for support. First, slide the bolster right next to your low back, with short end of the bolster pressing into the low back. Then, take the strap and make a large belt around the body. Bring the feet together in baddha konasana and loop the strap around the outer edge of the feet (be sure the buckle isn’t pressing on the feet). Cinch the strap down partially and then recline back, you may find once you are back you will want to tighten the strap further. Make sure that you are comfortable and allow your eyes to close. Take a few deep breaths first into belly and chest and feel the expansion and opening of the breath on the inhale, the softening and relaxation of the body on the exhale. After a few more breaths invite your focus to your sitbones. Feel their connection with the floor and breathe into your seat. As you are connected the sitbones visualize roots dropping down into the Earth, at the same time, visualize the body as a fertile field allow your intentions to grow and blossom.
Find a seat of meditation. Bring the hands into Shivaligna Mudra. The left hand rests on the bottom cupping the right hand. The left hand symbolizes Shakti, that fertile soil from which life is born. The right hand makes a “thumbs-up” sign and rests in the palm of the left symbolizing Shiva, the spark of the divine igniting all beings. Once the hands are set, close the eyes and begin to breathe. Sit with the mudra for 5-10 minutes and stay completely present in your body. Follow your inhale and exhale and if the mind wanders off, invite yourself back into the breath.