This Week: The Fourth Chakra – Love, Compassion and Finding the Balance

“One of the tasks of the heart chakra is to move into a state of balance with all around us, letting our own heart beat in unison with the heartbeat of the web of life, through which we are intricately connected. We then have the balance of the Universe to assist and guide us in all we do.” The Sevenfold Journey, Anodea Judith and Selene Vega

fourth chakra

The Seat of Love – the Fourth Chakra

Monday – Wednesday – Saturday

Chakra flair color: Green

Click here for more info on the Chakra Challenge.

 

>>Click here to sign up for Saturday’s class at Durham Yoga Company.

Note: Chakra work can be quite deep and transformative, and as such can unearth some powerful things. As always, I encourage you to work at your one hundred percent, not backing away from your edge nor—especially important in this work—plowing past your limits. Whatever comes up in the context of working with these energies within or outside of class, please do whatever you need to do to take appropriate care of yourself.

While the material we cover in class will be but a tiny scratch on the surface, like any therapeutic endeavor it can be as powerful as you are willing to allow it to be. It works if you work it. Give yourself permission to do so, and also know that whatever comes up, you have exactly what you need already. Contact me directly if you need any additional support of have specific questions about things as they arise. I am not a chakra expert, but I am always here to support you however I can, as well as connect you to folks who can give you the additional support you might find that you need.

Anahata– Heart Chakra

Fouth Chakra – Anahata – “Unstruck”

Our journey along the Rainbow Bridge is progressing so quickly – already we are at the Fourth Chakra. Bridging the three lower chakras of Manifestation and the three upper chakras of Liberation, this is the Gateway, the Threshold, the Place in the Middle. Here the Manifesting current descending from above and the Liberating current arising from below combine in perfect equilibrium, bringing forth a profound presence and deep love for ourselves and all beings.

“When in balance, we enter a state of grace.” ~Judith, Vega

The color of the fourth chakra is vibrant green. “Like the green, glowing plants, which push toward the heavens from their roots in the earth, we, too, reach outward in two directions – anchoring the manifesting current deep in our bodies and expanding the liberating current as we reach beyond ourselves.” (Judith)

Here is the home of love, compassion, and devotion, where we find balance in the giving and receiving, in reaching out and taking in. Additionally, the fourth chakra is the domain of self-love, intimacy, and relationship, and the seat of grief.  It relates in the body to our heart and lungs, upper chest and upper back. The related element is air, which expands, caresses and energizes. Like water, air fills the space that is available to it – but is lighter and gentler. Similarly, the principle emotion of the fourth chakra – love – also expands and energizes us.

“Love is the expansive state of spirit, the transcendence of boundaries and limitations, the interconnectedness and meeting point. Fueled by the fires of passion and will below [second and third chakras], it is an uplifting energy, opening us to the expansion of spirit characteristic of the chakras that dwell above.” (Judith)

To reclaim our fourth chakra is to reclaim our right to love and be loved. It is to locate ourselves within the cosmic swirl of life, finding the balance between contrary compliments and polar energies. It is embracing the cosmic dance of never giving up and always letting go. Recognizing our nature is both strong and soft, powerful and peaceful, energetic and equanimous, dynamic and disciplined.

 “The most common block in the heart chakra is the absence of self-love.” (Judith)

All this week we’ll work through poses that continue to draw on the stability, flexibility, and courage we’ve cultivated in our journey thus-far, while moving into the compassionate space of the heart. We’ll work to open the shoulders and upper back, especially through heart-opening and expansive back-bends. We’ll see how continuing to connect with our own inner strength and power leads seamlessly into a sense of expansion and connection with each other, all beings, and indeed the whole of the Cosmos.

 

Activities to Cultivate a Focus on Air

As air is the element of the fourth chakra, to help cultivate your awareness of this chakra consider incorporating activities or practices which focus on the air element. Here are some suggestions, drawn from The Sevenfold Journey by Judith and Vega:

  • Use incense, aromatherapy oils, or a scented candle
  • Apply perfume or essential oils/blends
  • Monitor air quality in your environment using online resources
  • Walk in the woods or climb a mountain, noticing the air, your lungs, your breath
  • Learn/practice pranayama – the yoga of breath work
  • Do something to advocate for better air quality on the local level or beyond
  • Consider not driving for a day or more (thereby reducing your carbon emissions) and instead walk, ride a bike, carpool or take public transportation.

Air relates also to space and expansion, so consider preferencing the following:

  • Space to yourself
  • Space for feelings
  • Space to be quiet
  • Space to receive

 

*Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind.
Anodea Judity and Selene Vega, The Sevenfold Journey

I am grateful to Anodea Judith for her extensive body of work on the chakras, from which I draw inspiration and guidance on this journey.
Let me know if you’re interested in recommendations for other chakra books and resources from Anodea.

This Week: The Third Chakra – The Seat of Your Power

We have power when we dare to live authentically, when we reach inside ourselves and tell the naked truth.  The more we dare to take risks, to question, to be true to ourselves, the easier it becomes.   -Anodea Judith*

third chakra

The Seat of Your Power – The Third Chakra

Monday – Wednesday – Saturday

Chakra flair color: Yellow

Click here for more info on the Chakra Challenge.

>> Click here to sign up for Saturday’s class at Durham Yoga Company.

Note: Chakra work can be quite deep and transformative, and as such can unearth some powerful things. As always, I encourage you to work at your one hundred percent, not backing away from your edge nor—especially important in this work—plowing past your limits. Whatever comes up in the context of working with these energies within or outside of class, please do whatever you need to do to take appropriate care of yourself.

While the material we cover in class will be but a tiny scratch on the surface, like any therapeutic endeavor it can be as powerful as you are willing to allow it to be. It works if you work it. Give yourself permission to do so, and also know that whatever comes up, you have exactly what you need already. Contact me directly if you need any additional support of have specific questions about things as they arise. I am not an expert, but I am here to support you however I can, as well as connect you to folks who can give you the additional support you might find that you need.

Manipura– Solar plexus Chakra

Moving right along the Rainbow Bridge, this week we will focus on the third chakra, Manipura, or “lustrous gem.” Located in the solar plexus—between the navel and the sternum—its color is yellow and its element is fire.

Here in the solar plexus is the seat of power and will. It is where we see the potent combination of body (first chakra) and movement (second chakra), tempered by consciousness (higher chakras).  It is where we see the creation and expression of energy in the body, where matter and consciousness weave together to create an inner power and a sense of inner illumination.

The third chakra governs everything having to do with energy, activity, autonomy, individuation, will, self-esteem, proactivity, power, will, and transformation. It is where we move out of instinctual behavior–visceral reaction to stimulus–into reasoned behavior, making choices rooted in our unique realities and tailored towards our unique hopes and dreams.

Physiologically, it relates to metabolism – transforming food and water into energy and heat. Energetically it serves the same function – to transform matter into energy. Unlike earth (first chakra) and water (second chakra)–which move down and follow the path of least resistance–here in the third chakra we see that its element, fire, is upward moving, thus assisting the essential work of moving energy into the higher chakras up above. Here we learn to embody and harness our individual skills and gifts, and to take responsibility for our actions and their repercussions.

Reclaiming and restoring the third chakra requires reclaiming our right to act and restructuring how we think of power. The predominant manifestation of power in our culture is power over – oppression, domination, and exploitation. Further, our culture equates strength with dominance and sensitivity with weakness. Our interpersonal and societal relationships are plagued by power struggles, both internal and external. “We think power is gained by fighting our inferior parts with the strength of our superior parts” (Judith). This is true individually, internally, as well as more broadly.

Here we cannot escape the impacts of the increasingly authoritarian influence on so many societal structures: in obvious places like the military and prisons; but also in places like schools, in churches and within organized religion, and even within family systems. Our behavior is monitored and our places therein are assigned, in no small part, as a function of our ability to exhibit behavior in keeping with the greater social order.

In short, conformity is expected, rewarded, and in some cases brutally enforced; anything else is at least frowned upon and discouraged, and at worse makes one a target for violence, imprisonment, or death. Examples of this include everything from mainstream obsession with and policing of women’s bodies through media, to so-called bullying in schools (a term I think is extremely weak as compared to the sort of vitriol that it describes), to hate-crimes against those targeted by structural oppression like racism, transphobia and homophobia, and ableism.

This policing of so many (all?) aspects of society and behavior takes its toll: not only are we afraid to speak out, act differently, go against the flow, we also become complacent and comfortable with letting ourselves off the hook in the face of the injustices that characterize this type of authoritarianism. We abdicate responsibility, and in so doing we give up our power and agency, our autonomy, our ability to choose.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” –Alice Walker

This has catastrophic consequences across the board, including (but not limited to):

  • high rates of addiction, reflective of attempts to numb ourselves from the crippling impact of our own inability or unwillingness to harness our own individual and collective power in service of transformation;
  • over-identification with the part of “victim,” continuing to allow others or our circumstances to define us and our options;
  • not to mention the results of our unwillingness to claim our power, such as global displays of force and domination in the form of war, occupation, and economic invasion.

 

You get to choose – each of us is free to choose. There are always consequences to those choices, but to have a healthy third chakra is to be rooted and connected (chakras one and two) to your own Source, thereby enabling you to take risks and make mistakes, to take responsibility for your actions and thus for the course of your life. A healthy third chakra exhibits energetic vitality and resilience.  It is evidenced in ease and warmth, joy in purposeful action, and in power from within – neither oppressive nor submissive power.

Our longing points us toward the future. It is no coincidence that the word will is used in the future tense of all English verbs: I will go, I will talk to them, I will finish my book. It is through the will that we bring that future into reality. Will is the conscious direction of our life energy toward a manifest goal. – Anodea Judith

Moving into chakra three requires regarding your life as a product of your own will. As you work in the domain of the third chakra, you are encouraged to reflect on power. Here are a few reflection questions to consider, drawn from “The Sevenfold Journey: Reclaiming Mind, Body and Spirit Through the Chakras” by Anodea Judith and Selene Vega

Power

  • What, to you, constitutes power?
  • When do you feel most powerful? What does it feel like in your body?
  • When do you feel least powerful? What does that feel like in your body?
  • If you think of yourself as developing personal power, what do you want that power for? What do you want to do with it?

This week’s practice will be an impassioned one, as we tap into the sense of personal power and agency that ignites within when we “light the fire” in the realm of the third chakra (i.e. “the core”).  We will fire it up from the inside out and support each other in taking bold and courageous action in the service of our dreams.

*Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakras as Path to the Self.

I am grateful to Anodea Judith for her extensive body of work on the chakras, from which I draw inspiration and guidance on this journey. Let me know if you’re interested in recommendations for other chakra books and resources from Anodea.

This Week: Into the Flow – The Second Chakra

To deny the qualities of the second chakra is to deny an essential piece of our wholeness, a piece that has an important part to play in the expansion and awakening of Consciousness…To reclaim the second chakra is to reclaim our right to feel and our right to healthy sexuality.

       -A. Judith*

second chakra

Into the Flow – The Second Chakra

Monday – Wednesday – Saturday

Chakra flair color: Orange

Click here for more info on the Chakra Challenge.

 

Click here to sign up for Saturday’s class at Durham Yoga Company.

Note: Chakra work can be quite deep and transformative, and as such can unearth some powerful things. As always, I encourage you to work at your one hundred percent, not backing away from your edge nor—especially important in this work—plowing past your limits. Whatever comes up in the context of working with these energies within or outside of class, please do whatever you need to do to take appropriate care of yourself.

While the material we cover in class will be but a tiny scratch on the surface, like any therapeutic endeavor it can be as powerful as you are willing to allow it to be. It works if you work it. Give yourself permission to do so, and also know that whatever comes up, you have exactly what you need already. Contact me directly if you need any additional support of have specific questions about things as they arise. I am not an expert, but I am always here to support you however I can, as well as connect you to folks who can give you the additional support you might find that you need.

Svadhisthana – Sacral plexus Chakra

Our journey along the Rainbow Bridge continues this week with our exploration of the second chakra. It’s Sanskrit name svadhisthana means “sweetness,” and it is the place in the system where individuation occurs – specifically, where duality emerges and the one becomes two. From the unity and containment of the first chakra, we emerge into movement and an awareness of separation.  “We move from solid to liquid, and in this transmutation we encounter change. Through consistency, consciousness finds meaning; through change it finds stimulation and expansion” (A. Judith).

Located in the lower abdomen and sacral plexus, it relates to the water element and the color orange. Its associated issues include movement, sensation, emotions, sexuality, desire, need and pleasure.

The second chakra is the center of sensation and feeling, emotion and pleasure, intimacy and connection, movement and change. Here in the second chakra is where we are invited to take a look our relationship to pleasure and desire, and especially to grapple with the “binding paradox” of our culture’s repressive and obsessive relationship to sex and sexuality.  This repression and asphyxiation severs the perceptual cognition of the mind from the sensate ground of the body (A. Judith), depriving us of an essential component in our process of human development, and (as we have seen) impacting the rest of the system as well: Without a flow of energy from the container (root) through this portal into higher realms, we will be hard-pressed to harness the energy needed to take the empowered, focused action characteristic of the third chakra or the more nuanced and expanded actions required in realms beyond.

At the heart of this chakra is the developmental imperative for stimulus. In order for our cognitive abilities to develop, we need to move and change and touch and see. With every new experience, our bodies connect the sensation with feeling and feeling with emotion. We can think of sensations as the words, feelings as the sentences, and emotions as the paragraphs (A. Judith). When we are deprived of touch and the corresponding opportunity to create meaningful and coherent relationships between sensation, feeling, and emotion, the consequences are profound.

Pleasure is inextricably related to the developmental imperative for touch. As children, pleasure comes to us through touching and closeness, play and stimulation, and validation of our emotional experience. As a consequence of growing up in this culture, we learn to equate maturity with the ability to repress feelings and emotions, and deny pleasure–at great costs to our health, vitality, and even productivity.

Pleasure invites us to pay attention to our senses, to live fully in the present, to enjoy the experience of being alive. Pleasure invites us to relax, which dispels stress. Pleasure makes us more receptive to new ideas, more enthusiastic about new tasks or demands. -A. Judith

When we are constricted, the flow of the life force is limited. Reclaiming the second chakra is about reclaiming our life force and our right to feel. We also reclaim passion and pleasure, neediness and vulnerability, and our sensate connection to both inner and outer reality.

A balanced second chakra has the capacity for sexual satisfaction, physical pleasure, general enjoyment of life, comfort with intimacy, and the ability to accept movement and change gracefully, including graceful physical movements. There is steadiness and clarity in emotional states. One can feel deeply without excessive histrionics. Balance involves the ability to nurture self and others while still maintaining healthy sexual and emotional boundaries. -A. Judith.

As we look at the second chakra this week, we will be focusing on the Inner Spiral alignment principle (aka “thighs back”), which relates to the water element as it support fluidity, expansion and mobility in the pelvic area, lower abdomen and sacral plexus. It also supports conscious contact with our ground (root chakra) as well as the ability to tap into the expansion available through connection.

*Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind.

I am grateful to Anodea Judith for her extensive body of work on the chakras, from which I draw inspiration and guidance on this journey. Let me know if you’re interested in recommendations for other chakra books and resources from Anodea.

This week: Root to Rise – The First Chakra

All foundations rest upon the earth—the universal ground for all we do.  To be connected with the body is to connect with the earth, to be grounded in the biological reality of existence.       -A. Judith*

root chakra resized

Root to Rise – The First Chakra
Monday – Wednesday – Saturday

Chakra flair color: Red

Note: Chakra work can be quite deep and transformative, and as such can unearth some powerful things. As always, I encourage you to work at your one hundred percent, not backing away from your edge nor—especially important in this work—plowing past your limits. Whatever comes up in the context of working with these energies within or outside of class, please do whatever you need to do to take appropriate care of yourself.

While the material we cover in class will be but a tiny scratch on the surface, like any therapeutic endeavor it can be as powerful as you are willing to allow it to be. It works if you work it. Give yourself permission to do so, and also know that whatever comes up, you have exactly what you need already. Contact me directly if you need any additional support of have specific questions about things as they arise. I am not an expert, but I am always here to support you however I can, as well as connect you to folks who can give you the additional support you might find that you need.

Muladhara – Root Chakra

Our journey along the Rainbow Bridge commences this week with our exploration of the first chakra. It’s Sanskrit name muladhara means “root support,” and it is the fundamental element—the foundation—for the whole of the system. It is literally the ground on which the entire system rests. It relates to the earth element, which is the heaviest and densest of the elements; and the color red, the color with the slowest vibration, thus the heaviest color of the visible spectrum.

The chakras are energy centers in the subtle/energy body that correspond to phases of human development. They are interconnected and form a system, meaning that issues or imbalances in one will have an impact on the system as a whole. Since the root chakra is the foundation upon which the entire system rests, it contains everything related to incarnation and manifestation, such as the body, survival, roots, grounding, nourishment, trust, health, home, family, and prosperity (A. Judith*).

Here in the root chakra is where we are invited to take a look at our personal and collective history, to reclaim or rewrite the story of how we came to be and how we go about sustaining our existence. Especially profound here are issues of security and manifesting prosperity and abundance in our lives—not affluence or excess, but rather the right amount necessary to move us beyond survival mode. If we can successfully secure that which we need to sustain ourselves holistically, the energy of the system will be free to move up into other chakras and allow for other forms of development. While we are stuck in a survival mode, other chakras will suffer a lack of energy and a corresponding limitation in their ability to fully develop. We need roots to rise. We need the foundation to experience freedom.

All foundations rest upon the earth—the universal ground for all we do. To be connected with the body is to connect with the earth, to be grounded in the biological reality of existence. Our bodies are the home of our spirit. Situated at the base of the spine, the first chakra is the foundation for the entire chakra system. This chakra roots us into our bodies, the physical world, and the earth. A plant cannot survive without roots, and neither can the psyche of a human being. Our roots represent where we come from: the earth, womb, our ancestors and family, and our personal history. We cannot simultaneously deny our past and maintain our roots. (A. Judith*)

As we explore muladhara chakra this week, we will focus on the physical foundation of the poses as well as opening the hips and pelvis to assist in expanding the flow of energy into and out of this area. We will especially focus on standing poses, because the legs are an extension of the root chakra, to cultivate a deep connection to your own strength and the support you already have—to connect you to your ground. We will address issues of safety, security and survival, as well as the ability to healthfully care for our bodies as temples for consciousness and its unlimited creative potential. I encourage you to wear red to class, and/or throughout the week, if you would like to enter more fully into the spirit. (You know I’ll be wearing red…for a change!)

*Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind.
I am grateful to Anodea Judith for her extensive body of work on the chakras, from which I draw inspiration and guidance on this journey. Let me know if you’re interested in recommendations for other chakra books and resources from Anodea. In the meantime, here is a link to a free, 8-minute meditation on the root chakra.

meme rock your chakras

Rock Your Chakras

In all my classes: Monday, Wednesday, Saturday.

Our annual journey through the chakras starts this week with an overall introduction to the whole system.   Then we’ll travel from the root chakra (at the base of the spine) up through the crown chakra (top of the head), exploring how each chakra connects to the MANIFESTING AND LIBERATING currents that flow through you. If you want to get the weekly chakra reflections delivered right to your inbox, make sure you sign up for my emails.

Don’t forget about the CHAKRA CHALLENGE, a chance to win a free workshop and private with me. Details here.

I can’t wait! To help you get into the spirit of these teachings, I encourage you to don some “chakra flair” – i.e. wear the color that corresponds to the chakra we’ll be exploring that day. Since this week is the introduction and overview, you can wear any and all of the colors of the rainbow to evoke the powers and energies of the chakras. You know I will be wearing my rainbow pants.

Check out the Yoga Classes page for my teaching schedule, and see below for the syllabus.

Chakra SyllabusClick here for Yoga Class Schedule
January 11 – 16 – Overview and Introduction
January 18 – 23 – First Chakra – Muladhara (MOO-luh-DAR-uh)
January 25 – 30 – Second Chakra – Swadisthana (SWAH-dee-STUNH-uh)
February 1 – 6 – Third Chakra – Manipura (MAH-nee-POOR-uh)
February 8 – 13 – Fourth Chakra – Anahata (AH-nuh-HUH-tuh)
February 15 – 20 – Fifth Chakra – Vishuddha (vee-SHOO-duh)
February 22 – 27– Sixth Chakra – Ajna (UHJ-nuh)
Feb 29 – March 5 – Seventh Chakra – Sahasrara (sah-huhs-RAHR-uh)

Sunday, March 13 from 1-3:30pmThe Potent Path – a recap of the chakra journey including meditation and tools for continuing to harness the power of the chakras.