If you’re feeling bored sometime, google search images for “Lion’s Pose” and have a laugh … (see pic below). I tossed this posture into my chakra-centered yoga class series as a way to bring a sense of playfulness to our 2nd chakra practice: the sacral chakra. Lion’s pose stretches the muscles of the face and tongue as well as stimulating the platysma, a thin, rectangular-shaped muscle in the front of the throat. Plus, it feels totally silly and ridiculous. Will come back to this in a second.
Chakras, for those of you just tuning in, are centers or wheels of energy in the body according to yogic belief. These centers of energy are said to help to regulate the body’s processes: immunity, organ function and emotion. Take it or leave it, think it too new-agey or “woo woo”, I think that even if we don’t “believe” in chakras, we can still bring intentions, practices and rituals to our daily life to help open up mental blockages, burn through baggage, evolve emotionally and transform physically. Meditation, exercise, practicing an instrument, learning a new language, therapy, clean eating, these are all ways we can grow as human beings. Think of this blog as a little nudge in the direction of opening up your creativity and letting some fun in for once!
The Sacral chakra is located at the pelvis, three or so inches below the navel. It is governed by the element water and represented by the color orange. This chakra relates to all things creative: fertility, sexuality, emotions, passion, art-making as well as intimacy + connection with other human beings. This chakra’s dark side is very dark – the energy surrounding our sexuality can sometimes be full of suffering & pain. On the other spectrum, we might overindulge in sexual acts or get lost in our fantasies. Regarding creativity we can sometimes feel passionless, void of life, apathetic. We might take to dependence or co-dependence on people or substances. Emotionally we can shove it down, ignore or repress our feelings or just not be in touch with our feelings whatsoever. The blockages that happen here physically have to do with reproduction, elimination, infertility & the lymphatic system. Spiritually we might feel blocked creatively, unable to enjoy ourselves or our loved ones, depression, and NO FUN.
So how do we get in tune with our sacral chakras and restore balance? A number of ways, most involving LETTING IT OUT!
– Dancing can work wonders to get energy moving through. You don’t have to take ecstasy and go the club, just shut your door and crank whatever it is you love. Or put your headphones on and dance walk down the street. I love seeing people do that. Of course they look like weirdos, but who gives a shit! They are feeling good and it makes onlookers smile.
Here’s the Mayor of Duluth getting down gangnam style …
– Journaling. Write that letter to that asshole lover you wish you never dabbled with. Or your mom who’s driving you nuts (mine never does – hi mom! heh heh). You don’t have to send them and burning unsent letters is always fun. Journal out your frustrations, your sorrows, your secret hopes, your disappointments. If you focus on working with the sacral chakra for the week, set a timer for 5 – 10 minutes each day and journal. Let it flow. This chakra is about water and fluidity – no judgement as the pen moves and the words come out – just let it come.
– Exercise. In line with dancing (or, in-line dancing?!), you are bringing circulation + strength to your muscles, building self-confidence, getting into a rhythm whether you’re running, walking, biking, swimming, weight lifting, zumba-ing (very 2nd chakra exercise!). Exercise gets you out of your head and definitely is proven to help lift depressed spirits. Our bodies are meant to move!
– Finally, a little yoga. Ideally, do these postures after exercise when your muscles are a little warmer, but no worries if not – they are gentle enough.
1. Start seated, cross legged or legs in front and connect with your breath. Make your breath slower and longer. Feel yourself get taller with every inhale and draw your belly button towards your spine on every exhale. Feel the invigorating quality of your inhale – ribs lifting, opening and expanding.
2. Come to kneeling for LION’S POSE! Pictured above. Take a big inhale and as you exhale, spread your fingers, lean forward, stick your tongue out and down towards your chin, widen your eyes, set your gaze at the tip of your nose and most importantly ROAR! Do this three times. DO IT DO IT DO IT NOW! You don’t even have to kneel, just sit in your fricken chair and do it right now and then have a laugh.
2. Lay on the floor on your back. Hug your knees to your chest and do a few knee circles. As you inhale, extend both feet up towards the ceiling, gently stretching your hamstrings (don’t straighten legs all the way if you aren’t warm – this is a big stretch for the back of the legs). Exhale and bend knees to chest again. Repeat 3 – 6 times.
3. Bring soles of the feet to the floor. Let your knees open wide like butterfly wings, soles of the feet together. Feel gravity open the knees wider. If it’s too intense, place your hands on your outer thighs. Relax your face. Feel the stretch in your inner thighs and groin. Then, take 6 slow breaths to slowly close the knees together.
4. Keeping your right foot on the floor, cross your left ankle over your right thigh. Open your left knee out to the side of the room, so it looks like a number four shape. Then draw your legs (remaining in this position) closer to your chest. Reach the left arm through the opening of your bent left knee and clasp on to the back of the right thigh with both hands. Feel the stretch in the back of your left hip. If you want a little movement, exhale and bring your legs closer to you, inhale and rock them away. Find a juicy stretch and stay for 3 – 6 breaths. Switch sides. This is a lot of rights and lefts so check out the picture below 🙂
5. Hug your thighs to your chest again and take some knee circles, feeling your low back and sacral area press down into the floor.
6. Extend your legs long and simply rest on the floor, eyes closed. Palms up for openness, feel your breath, invigorating inhale and releasing, slow exhale. Rest for 5 minutes.
Namaste (the spirit in me honors the spirit in you)! Thanks for reading. If any of you try any of these practices, please let me know how they went in the comments below! Yoga class info available here: www.marybue.com/yoga/
Bird of Paradise flower photo by Sarah Holden Photography