You may have heard of the meridian channels of the body, in yoga we call these the nadis. When we practice pranayama in yoga class, we are tapping into these channels. Prana translates to ‘energy’ or ‘life force’ and yama as ‘harnessing’, so when we practice pranayama we are literally harnessing our own life force.
Our chakras are also a part of this energetic body. Balancing them is an important part of purifying prana-maya kosha (our energetic body).
Your first chakra is the Root or Muladhara chakra. It is located at the base of your spine and represents our basic needs (food, money), stability and security. A clear muladhara chakra will have us feeling safe and without fear.
The second chakra is the Sacral or Svadhisthana chakra. It is located in our lower abdomen, between your public bone and navel centre. Svadhisthana chakra represents our creativity, pleasure and sexuality. An open sacral chakra will invite abundance, connection and wellbeing.
The third chakra is the Solar Plexus or Manipura chakra. Manipura chakra is located at our upper abdomen, between the navel centre and the breastbone. This chakra is a source of our own personal power. It represents self worth, self confidence and self esteem. A clear solar plexus chakra will fill us with power from within.
The fourth chakra is the Heart or Anahata chakra, located in the centre of our chest. As the middle chakra it unites the three lower chakras with the three upper chakras. Our heart chakra is concerned with our ability to give and receive love. It represents joy and inner peace. It is a source of love and connection.
The fifth chakra is the Throat or Vissudha chakra and represents communication. It is located at the throat and can affect our ability to express ourselves or speak our truth. When our throat chakra is clear we are able to say what we mean and do what we say, we are living authentically and our thoughts, words and actions are congruent.
The sixth chakra is the Third Eye or Ajna chakra and is located in the middle of our forehead, between our eyes. Ajna chakra represents our ability to see clearly and focus. An open third eye chakra will allow us to see the big picture, hone our intuition and see beyond our emotions.
The seventh chakra is our Crown or Sahasrara chakra. It can also be translated as the “thousand petal lotus” chakra. It is located just above our head and represents enlightenment and spiritual connection to our highest selves and our higher power. An open crown chakra invites divine wisdom, intelligence and original thought.
Mantra: Silent Aum (thought, not spoken).
- Chakra meditation
Meditation focused on a particular chakra can be a very powerful way to hone in a specific issue you may be having. Chant the particular chakra’s mantra for three to ten minutes with eyes closed, focusing in on the physical location too.
- Positive affirmations
Affirmations can be a a great way to harness your mind. You could try mine from when I was in the States on tour: “Do what you love. Follow your passion.”
Pick something that resonates with you. Relative to you and for your day/week/life. Try saying it to yourself in front of the mirror or during meditation. Maybe it’s something you repeat to yourself before you go into a meeting or jump on a phone call.
- Nadi shodhana pranayama
Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) will lower your heart rate, improve your ability to focus and restores balance to the two hemispheres of the brain (analytical and creative).
To practice, sit in a comfortable position (try cross legged on the floor) and bring your hand to your forehead. Lean your index and middle fingers on your third eye and gently close your left nostril with your ring finger. Inhale through your right nostril, then close it with your thumb. Open and exhale slowly through the left nostril.
Inhale through the left nostril, close it with your ring finger and open the right nostril, exhale. Inhale through the right nostril, close it with your thumb and open the left nostril, exhale. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
Once the energetic body has been purified and balanced we move deeper, to manomaya kosha – our mind. Look out for my next post in this series where we will dive into purifying the mind.