As we talked about last week, the 2nd chakra is ruled by the water element. Given its rule of the tides and the movement of water, the moon is deeply connected with the 2nd chakra. This week a new moon fell on the Wednesday of our chakra yoga class and so I invited the moon into our yoga class. These practices are excellent for accessing the 2nd chakra and can also be utilized during the moon cycles each month.
One of the areas of the body associated with the 2nd chakra are the sexual organs. Much of our ideas about sex and our own sexuality, healthy and repressed are held within the 2nd chakra. Sexuality and sensuality are deeply linked and one way to access sensuality is through the sense of smell. During savasana, I have been offering essential oils for students to smell. Depending on the properties of the oil, essential oils can be uplifting, grounding, stimulating and relaxing. Essential oils that help to relax the body during savasna are lavender and chamomile (you can purchase essential oils from many companies, one of favorite companies is Aura Cacia). One of my favorite essential oil compounds is one called Tranquility.
Riding the Tides: Practicing with the Moon’s Cycle
In her book, Making the Gods Work for you, Caroline Casey writes this about the moon: “The Moon also governs our inner tides of feelings and moods. She reminds us that extroversion and introversion—animation and retreat—are both necessary for a complete emotional life. The Moon goddess provides a time, or phase, for every undertaking…Following the prompting of the Moon, as communicated to us through feeling, provides us with the stability and rhythm of internal seasonal fluctuation necessary for creativity. The Moon is our caretaker, providing the stable, ,nurturing environment we need to cultivate intimacy with all of creation.” Just like the cycles of the seasons, we go through our own cycles at times feeling grounded and stable and at other times feeling expansive and open. When we practice with this in mind, new moon practices involve spending more time on the floor, practicing in darkness (whether a dark room or practicing with eyes closed), focus on downward moving energy in the body (the apana), and slow, long breathing practices.
Because of the location of the 2nd chakra in the low back and pelvis, hip openers are strongly associated with this chakra. One of my favorite hip openers to explore with a lunar based practice is Goddess Squat. This asana invites and opening into the inner groin and hips and can afford some softening in and around the glutes. Proper alignment also invites a length to the spine, including a drop of the tailbone and a gentle drawing up of the pubic bone. As we do this, mulha bhanda is accessible and as when we draw up on the pelvic floor we can more easily access the bowl of the pelvis. As we stand in Goddess Squat, I invite students to visualize a crescent moon resting in the pelvis and as we breathe, we invite the bowl of the pelvis to fill with air.
Opening the Back Body: Lunar Poses
The term Hatha yoga can be divided into two parts “Ha” meaning sun and “tha” meaning moon. Hatha yoga is the practice of dancing between the sun and the moon and finding balance between the two. In hatha yoga there are sun poses and there are moon poses. Our focus being on the moon, we invited lunar poses into the practice. The back of the body is thought to be lunar in nature as it is the part of the body that we “keep hidden” from the rest of the world (we don’t really walk around exposing our backs to everyone we meet). Given this, any poses in which a forward fold is taken become lunar in practice. We speak of these poses as opening the vulnerable, hidden side of ourselves and exposing it to the world.