Part 1: The Lower Three
Guru Pathik: The water flows through this creek, much like the energy flows through your body. As you see, there are several pools where the water swirls around before flowing on. These pools are like our chakras.
Aang : So chakras are pools of spiraling energy in our bodies?
Pathik: Exactly. If nothing else were around, this creek would flow pure and clear. However, life is messy, and things tend to fall in the creek. And then what happens?
Aang: The creek can’t flow?
Pathik: Yes. But, if we open the ponds between the pools …
Aang: The energy flows!Avatar: The Last Airbender
The chakra system is an energetic healing model that has its roots in Hinduism and tantric meditation. Growing up in the United States, I had heard of chakras in a “pop culture” way similar to how we casually talk about karma, zen and other spiritual concepts from the East. It wasn’t until I went through my 2000 hour yoga teacher training in my mid-twenties, that I began to study the chakras more deeply and integrate the concept into my own daily practice.
For me, each of the seven chakras represent important areas that all need to be in “tune” in order to feel a sense of balance and harmony in my life. In the years since my yoga teacher training, the chakra system has become a useful tool for my own practice and self-care. Even if you don’t believe in the existence of the actual chakras in your body, I’ve found that each one represents an important aspect of my life and seeing where I’m blocked can help me find the right techniques to use for regaining balance.
From Root to Crown, the seven chakras are:
3. Solar Plexus
6. Third Eye
The root, sacral and solar plexus are collectively known as the “lower” chakras and are symbolically the source of your physical and emotional wellbeing. In this post, I will provide an introduction to the three lower chakras and share some of the practices I do to open up these areas.
I will cover the higher chakras: the heart, throat, third eye and crown in my next post.
Alright, let’s jump in with the Root Chakra!
The root chakra is the ground floor of the chakra system. It is located at the base of the spine, and is connected to the earth – representing our foundation, stability and grounding. In modern days, the Newtonian color spectrum has been attached to the chakras and the color for the root chakra is deep red. I find that it can be helpful to visualize the color associated with a given chakra when focusing on that area.
The root chakra deals with feelings of security and stability. It is that sense of safety and security that we often associate with feeling “at home.” This chakra is most associated with the classical element of earth and that is how I personally like to think about my root chakra when considering whether or not it is in balance. Earth is the element of substance and stability. It represents the foundation upon which everything else must be built.
The root chakra is all about the basics of your life: your financial stability, your ability to get enough to eat and feel safe. When the root chakra is blocked, you feel threatened and insecure with your place in the world. When the root chakra is open, you feel an easy connection with the world and comfortable with your place on earth.
In my own practice, I make a habit of essentially “checking in” with how grounded and safe I feel. When I find myself feeling those feelings of insecurity that are associated with a blocked root chakra, I do practices and exercises that help me feel more grounded and rooted in the earth.
Many years ago, my therapist taught me a root chakra visualization technique that I still use today. While sitting or lying down, you close your eyes, focus on your breathing and imagine a red root growing from your tail bone and taking root down into the center of the earth. Focus on the weight of your body and how it connects to the ground.
Any practice that helps you feel more connected to the earth can be helpful in opening the root chakra. Taking a hike out in nature, walking barefoot on the ground, even literally hugging a tree can all help.
The sacral chakra is located in the pelvic region and is associated with the color orange. This chakra is associated with sexual energy, creativity and creation. When you consider the sacral chakra, think of emotions, fluidly flowing like water. This is why the classical element of water is linked to the sacral chakra. The sacral chakra is blocked by shame, guilt and fear. When the sacral chakra is open and flowing, you are more in tune with your emotions, willing to express your authentic self without shame or fear.
In my own practice, I strongly associate the sacral chakra with the sacred feminine. Yes, it is associated with sexual energy but also with flowing dance. And so, one great way to get that sacral energy moving is to find your favorite song, close the door and dance all alone. Let your shame go and enjoy the flow and movement of your body.
The solar plexus chakra is the last of then lower chakras. The color of the solar plexus chakra is yellow as it is located in your upper abdomen near, well, your solar plexus.
The solar plexus chakra is known as the seat of power, dynamism and action in your life. As a martial artist, I have experienced the power of this chakra first hand; learning to strike from your solar plexus helps you greatly increase the power of your techniques. Not surprisingly, then, the solar plexus chakra is associated with the element of fire.
When the solar plexus chakra is blocked, you may find yourself feeling crippling levels of self-doubt. The solar plexus chakra is the symbolic source of your own personal fire, a fire that can fuel your self-confidence and sense of personal power.
Deep, breathing techniques (breathing into your belly) and affirmations are two ways to bring energy into a closed off solar plexus chakra. Repeating self-affirming statements even as simple as “I am enough” help to build your self-confidence over time and open your solar plexus chakra. In my own practice, I have found that adding these affirmations to physical movements such as martial arts forms or deep breathing can be incredibly beneficial. I’ve even included repeating affirmations to my weight lifting workouts to great effect. I repeat an affirmation that is meaningful to me as I complete my reps and I find that my sense of self-confidence increases as I complete my workout.
Next Up: The Higher Chakras
Next week, I’ll run through the four “higher” chakras: Heart, Throat, Third Eye and Crown.
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