It's January and I'm getting ready to begin the first block of yoga classes for 2019. This will be the 3rd year I am working with the chakras as our theme at this time of year - I think bringing ourselves into balance is a fabulous way to start the new year whether you set goals and/or intentions or not.
What are the chakras?
They are part of our energy body and Chakras are energy centres in the body. Chakra is the Sanskrit word for wheel and these spinning wheels of energy are usually pictorially represented by lotus flowers. These wheels spin creating a vortex, attracting or repelling activity – anything the chakra encounters on its particular vibrational level gets drawn into the chakra, processed and passed out again.
Just as we have a physical body we also have a subtle body and the chakras serve as a bridge between and transmute energy from one level to another, distributing pranic energy to the physical body. Chakras can be open or closed, in balance or out of balance; affecting different aspects of ourselves and lives. Each of these chakras contain bundles of nerves and connect to major organs as well as our psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being.
The chakras are pictorially represented by the image of the lotus. I love this - the lotus has its roots firmly in to the mud - from here in the muddy, smelly, rich darkness it draws nutrients as it stretches upwards reaching for the light before emerging as the most beautiful bloom. And I think this image translates so well for us too - unless our feet and ourselves are firmly attached to the earth we become ungrounded. By delving into our own shadowy, mud we can investigate our own dark corners - take a look at what presses our buttons, what we hide from, what makes us uncomfortable about ourselves - as we do this with with love and support we can begin to bring light to what was perhaps once scary - our personal monsters (I have a whole list of my 'not enough' monsters) and begin to heal - this lightening of our load brings new perspectives and fresh energy - it is like nature - if we offer that which no longer serves us (our personal shit) - perhaps our frustration and anger - to the earth, she will compost that shit and return it as fresh nutrients - fresh energy.
What has this got to do with yoga?
Yoga is so much more than just the postures and gives us amazing tools to bring us back in to connection with ourselves - our body, mind and spirit. Here, in Argyll, January can be a dark, damp, raw kind of place - most cafes and visitor attractions are closed and we can often feel like hiding except that in today's society we're not really given permission to take that opportunity or to fully recharge and reset - so we push through and this can add to feeling sad from lack of daylight, letting our bodies stiffen as we don't feel inspired to get outside and move; and becoming mentally drained from trying to fit everything in we didn't manage to complete before the end of the year as well as all the 'new' projects we had been putting off until the new year.
When this chakra is in balance we are grounded, in control, and at ease with life. When it is out of balance we can become easily annoyed with people and situations, lash out at others, or materialistic. Excessive attachments may develop and lead to rigidity in our body and behaviour. We may be obsessed with money and possessions or our health, unable to allow change or to let go, and as a result we get stuck in the same routines, same old job, same old patterns and feel stuck. Physical problems including bladder issues, constipation, fatigue, anaemia and depression may occur.
Each chakra has a beautiful symbol with each part representing different aspects. With the muladhara the symbol has:
The great aspect of yoga is that is works on all different levels and you can focus on whichever level you wish - your physical, mental, emotional, energetic or spiritual. It is entirely up to you - make your practice your own, take from my blethers what you wish and most of all, practice yoga for you, keep an open mind and observe the magic.
Wishing you all balance, grounded connection to the earth and a transformational 2019
Books I've enjoyed learning from which you might enjoy too include:
Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith
The Elements of the Chakras by Naomi Ozaniec
Chakra Meditation by Swami Saradananda
or the art of letting go....
Letting go of the house brings up many emotions - relief at not being responsible for my large garden, guilt and grief about leaving all my plants, loss of our comfortable home, loss of our identity that is wrapped up in a house we designed and spent many hours working on together. Shelter and home are directly linked to the root chakra - to not have this is ungrounding and can be very unsettling.
And yet, it is so exciting - another description of aparigrapha is non-attachment and so I'm learning to let go of expectations - the old story of who I thought I was - that I will live in one place forever, that I'm going to grow as much of our own food as possible blah blah. I'm not worried about the future - we are not really making ourselves homeless as we have our boat and van - our mini adventure pods. We have the skills to look after ourselves.
We will regain spaciousness to create more adventures without feeling torn about being away from home and coming back to overgrown vegetable beds.
ps Bill just read this and said
"it's not about the kit you are using - it's about using the kit"......
So, at the beginning of May this year was Scotland's first yoga and adventure festival - Scapafest - and it was held in Argyll. Such an opportunity right on my very own doorstep - yoga, sea kayaking, bushcraft and camp fires. Imagine that - my favourite passions in my favourite place. It would've been rude not to go......and yet, I nearly didn't. Here is my Scapa story...
Scapafest gave me so much - I made new friends, I shared amazing experiences and I learned lots about myself. By the end of the 3 days I knew I had regained something I had lost - I was changed - refreshed and full of wonder at the power of festivals, yoga and selfcare. Having injured myself a few weeks before, I was still practising yoga but pretty much from a chair, in a knee brace, unable to get off and on the floor - by the time I left Scapa, the knee brace was off and I had been able to practise a supported handstand (and I haven't even tried a handstand since primary school lol). I began to learn to look at my story from a different perspective. How did this happen?....
As I said, I nearly didn't go - I bought a ticket right at the last moment even though I had known about the event for ages. I remember seeing the early adverts on social media and thinking - yahoo. that sounds fabulous, that's exactly my kind of thing........ and then....... my ego got involved - my head was like - hey - who's this, why are they doing this here - I do this - this is my patch - who's coming to sit in my chair and eat my porridge..haha....And yet, of course, the reality is, I so don't do this - I don't set up big festivals, I don't take that risk, I wasn't even out there publicising that I teach paddlesports and yoga and love crafting and nature and, and..... And actually - what does it matter? It is funny this story, the goings on in my head.
All photos courtesy of Scapafest (except the ones of the trees)