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  • Asha Venkatarao

Chakras - What are they? Where are they? How to open & balance them for better health?

Today's post is about Chakras & Chakra Yoga, a really interesting and different way of looking at one's physical and emotional health. I have taught Chakra Yoga Balancing Classes and have enjoyed seeing the results on my students.

I also practice this series when I can and always feel rejuvenated and energized after the practice.  For most of us, the first question which pops into one's mind is "so, what's a chakra?" Well, as the name suggests, the word 'Chakra' stands for 'Wheel'. According to research, there are Seven main Energy Centers or Chakras in the body.These chakras are like spirals of energy, each one having certain specific functions. Any imbalance in the chakras leads to imbalance in that part of the body, leading to dis-ease.

Every Chakra has a specific color, a speciifc Beeja Mantra and specific Asanas to open & balance them. The 7 chakras are: 1. Mooladhara Chakra - Red / base of spine 2. Swadisthana  Chakra - Orange / at the navel area 3. Manipura Chakra - Yellow / Solar plexus area 4. Anahata Chakra - Emerald Green / Heart 5. Vishuddha Chakra - Sky Blue / Throat 6. Ajna Chakra - Indigo Blue / Center of Forehead 7. Sahasrara Chakra - Royal Purple / Crown of Head

So, Chakra Yoga Balancing series relates to this concept of re-aligning the chakra energies and bringing them to a state of balance and harmony. I do understand that all this seems to elicit the response of "really?" "Does she know what she's saying?" I too started with similar doubts and questions when I started practicing and then teaching this series.  But, I just practiced..breathed through the first doubt, the second doubt..till i completed the series and suddenly realized my chattering monkey mind was quiet for a few moments of blissful silence!!

That was worth it!! So, now its up to You.. Your mind will also have all the doubts, all the myriad reasons not to practice (no time, too much work, no energy, very tired, tomorrow is always there - Believe me, I have heard most of the reasons, from my own mind and from others!!) But, if you can persist and practice this series, which can take about 45 minutes, you will feel light, fresh and relaxed. So, lets start.  Have a light snack 30 minutes before practice. Wear comfortable clothes which help you move and stretch. If possible, mute your cell phone :) - Start in a comfortable seated posture, hands in prayer position, lengthen your back, release shoulders down, close your eyes.

- Bring your mind and body to the present moment, as it is, with all its inherent imperfections.

- Breathe in and out 8 times, focus on lengthening the inhalations and exhalations. 

- Chant "OM" 7 times, either in your heart or aloud.

Balancing the Chakras -  1. Mooladhara Chakra - This Chakra is at the base of your spine. Tadasana / Simple Standing Posture - This pose grounds you in the present moment.Visualize a spinning wheel of Red at the base of the spine. Stand on the mat, relax shoulders, chest and arms. Spread your toes and sink them into the ground. Deepen your breathing, focus on 6 - 8 deep breaths.

2. Swadisthana Chakra - This Chakra is at the navel area. Visualize a spinning wheel of Orange at the navel area.    Baddha Konasana Pose - Sit on the mat, ring the soles of the feet together and hold with palms. Slowly open your knees to the sides and pull the feet towards you. Go until the point where you feel the stretch deepening through both the thighs. Now, lengthen your back again, release hands on the feet or on the thighs. Practice deep breathing for 6 - 8 breaths. 3. Manipura Chakra - This is at the Solar  plexus area, just below the diaphragm. Warrior / Vira Bhadrasana Pose - Visualize a spinning wheel of Yellow at the solar plexus area. Open feet wide, pivot right leg outwards, stretch both hands at shoulder level, lengthen spine from base to crown of head, slowly bend the right knee, hold the posture here for 6 - 8 long breaths.  That is to awaken the Warrior Goddess in you!! 4. Anahata Chakra - This Chakra is in the Heart area. Bridge Pose - Visualize a spinning wheel of Emerald Green at the center of the chest. Lie down on the mat, relax the body onto the mat, slowly bend your knees and bring the feet in towards your hips. Now, as you inhale, lift your hips towards the sky, feel the stretch deepening through the thighs and stay in the pose for 6 - 8 breaths. Let your hands relax by the sides of your body. Let your heart open and breathe with fresh energy!! 5. Vishuddha Chakra - This Chakra is in the Throat area. Ardha Ustrasana - Visualize a spinning wheel of Sky Blue at the throat. Come to a seated position on your mat, now slowly sit on your knees and then come up on the knees. Place your hands on your lower back. As you breathe in, slowly look up, open up your throat and hold the pose for 8 breaths. This releases stagnant energy and balances your communication skills. 6. Ajna Chakra - This is in the middle of your forehead, between your eyebrows. This chakra can be opened by Balancing postures. Visualize a spinning wheel of Indigo Blue at the center of the forehead.

Tree Pose / Vrkshasana - Stand tall, place left foot on the inner right thigh, find your balance through the right foot on the floor and extend both hands to sky. Hold for 8 - 10 breaths and release to ground. Repeat on the other side.

7. Sahasrara Chakra - This chakra is at the crown of your head. You can continue to practice Meditation to energize this chakra.

Sit comfortably on the mat, take back support if needed, lengthen spinal muscles, release hands onto thighs, close your eyes gently, soften your breathing and just glide with your inhalations and exhalations. Practice for around 6 - 10 minutes. That's it!! We are done balancing our Chakras!! This has been my practice when I feel frazzled with too many things to do or too many changes. It has help ground me and bring me to a place of comfort and ease. May it bring peace and ease to you too.. Namaste. Asha

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