Inhabiting the Body: 1st Chakra Exercises

“When we live in exile from our sensate reality of the body, we live in exile from the source of our aliveness.  The only place that we can reconnect with this aliveness is in the body.  Of course we all have bodies, yet few of us truly inhabit our bodies.  We may live a short distance from the body divorced from our feelings, sensations, intuitions, and instincts.  The body may seem like a foreign land that we have read about but never personally visited.  And just as we may come to know a foreign land through the stories we’ve heard and the pictures we’ve seen, the actual reality of the place can never be known until we have walked, eaten smelled, touched, and been there ourselves.  When we begin to live in the body again, we take of citizenship in our personal residence. In this way we come home to the body.” ~Donna Farhi

I feel like I have spent all month harping on the fact that the 1st chakra’s access point is the physical body…but really, how cool is that? We’ve got everything we need right here in front of us, all we have to do is be present. And as I sat with that this month, I began to notice how hard that can be. Some of the signs of a 1st chakra imbalance are being ungrounded in the body, living out of body or harshly criticizing or judging the body. As I began to do my own work with these lessons this month I began to notice how often I was moving outside my own body. I would find myself comparing my body to others, wishing my body somehow looked different or when I was “in” my body, pushing it further than it needed to go. It was so refreshing to have this 1st chakra reminder to come back into my body and sit with those thoughts, feelings and judgements. While I certainly can’t say that I’ve moved beyond it all, I can definitely say I have become more aware of how I inhabit my own body.

This week marked the last week of practice with the 1st chakra. I feel like I’ve just begun my exploration of what the 1st chakra has to offer, its a little daunting to move on to the next. The great opportunity here is the bridging between the chakras and as I develop a stronger more grounded first chakra, the more I support my 2nd chakra, and the rest of the way up the line. While the waters of the 2nd chakra are already calling my name, here are some final practices to ground into the first chakra:

Be Here Now

Lollipop Graphics Poster

Each and every breath you take, be present in your body. As you come into a pose, notice those places that you check out. Where do you have blind spots in your practice? Where do you go numb? Are there places that you’re not able to visualize in your mind’s eye? Notice these places. Invite your awareness into these places and in particular, invite the breath. Use the breath to create space and to explore. The more you bring the breath, the easier it will be to be present.

Now start to notice the transitions you make between poses. Its easy to be present in Warrior II (well, most of the time…). But how present are you as you move from Downward Dog to Warrior II? Are you aware of how you step through? Are you fixing your clothes? Fixing your hair? Are you watching other practitioners? Make a commitment to notice your transitions, make the movement from pose to pose be the focus of your practice for a day. It relates to the idea that its easy to be centered and grounded on your yoga mat, but when you’re in transition, driving in traffic from home to class, how grounded and centered are you then? Let it all be your practice!

 

Using Sound to Connect with Earth: The Schumann Resonance

Alex Theory created a series of CDs called Full Spectrum Soundhealing. The Earth CD in the series works with the Schumann Resonance (listen to a portion of it above). I used this CD for several of the classes, as the sounds he invokes in the Earth series, are grounding and connect us with the resonate power of the Earth. The Schumann Resonance can be thought of as the heartbeat of the Earth. When we bring ourselves into alignment with this sound,we come more into alignment with the energy of the Earth and therefore our own 1st chakras.  For more about the Schumann Resonance visit my previous blog post on the topic.

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Accepting What Is

“You are having a human experience, and part of that is experiencing the boundaries and limitations in a physical form rather than flying above it.”
– Niki Scully & Linda Star Wolf , Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt

I came to yoga in college as a runner. Thanks to genetics, I found myself to be naturally inflexible and the long distance running I did in college did little to help tight hamstrings, calves and quads. Initially, yoga was a way for me to find some more ease in my body, but eventually it became more. As my yoga practice deepened I found myself exploring poses I never thought possible and exploring the philosophical and spiritual sides of yoga on a much deeper level.

Yet through all of this deeper knowledge and exploration, I was still struggling with myself on a most basic and fundamental level. I wanted my body to do more than what it was currently capable of. I was never happy with what was, and had trouble acknowledging the advances I had made. I would see pictures in Yoga Journal and envy the women in these beautiful forward folds with their heads resting on their knees and their wrists wrapped effortlessly around their feet. For years I pushed up against my edge, and sometimes beyond it, thinking that if I could just somehow do MORE, I would be able to get there.

About three weeks ago, after struggling with an injury that wouldn’t heal, I went to see a Physical Therapist. I laid out for her my “story” as I had always known it, I was inflexible and had trouble with forward folds. She spent about 10 minutes assessing my body and as soon as she reached my hips she exclaimed “You have such a big pelvis!”.  I had already known that my pelvis and my rib cage were very close together, but being a small lady, had always assumed it was because I had a short torso. No, she assured me, somewhat surprised “You have a really tall pelvis. No wonder you have trouble with forward folds! You’re trying to bend over this tall pelvis and you have just that much further to go.”
It was as if this weight I had been carrying for years (and I mean YEARS! I remember being in elementary school and failing the “fitness tests” that measured your flexibility through your ability to fold forward over a box that would measure your relative flexibility) had been suddenly lifted! You would think, as a yoga teacher and a long time student of yoga I would get this, but it felt so new to me. My body would only go so far because that’s all it could do, my bones would never allow me to go any further…and that felt so freeing! I was doing my perfect version of a forward fold and there was such a sweetness in letting go of the struggle around that and surrendering into the acceptance of the sweetness of my own body’s perfection.

As a teacher, I am privileged to stand as witness for so many people in these same journeys in their own lives and yoga practices. What has your journey been like in accepting your body as it is, in its own glorious perfection? I would love to hear your stories!