Sacral chakra, associated with the water element represents a flexible and flowing energy. It is roughly located at the base of our spine and the lower abdomen below the belly button. It is the driving force of enjoyment stimulated though pleasure from all senses, taste, smell, touch, auditory, and sight. Physiologically it is associated with the lymphatic system. In the state where the sacral chakra is balanced, your experience with the world can be pleasant, harmonious, and nurtured. Imbalance in this chakra can manifest as dependency on people or substance for easy pleasure, extremes of over indulgence or lack of stimulation and desire. It may also manifest as uncontrollable emotions, where your thoughts and actions are severely affected. Physiological manifestation can include kidney problems, infertility, impotence, urinary tract problems, abnormal menstruation, and chronic lower back pain.
Solar plexus chakra, associated with fire element, and connects with the energy of heat, sun, light, and all forms of power. It is located at the upper abdomen, near the base of the diaphragm, and is closely associated to the digestive system, particularly to the metabolism and the pancreas. Imbalance in this chakra can manifest as manipulative and controlling behaviour, obsession over minute details, and miss use of power. On the other extreme one can feel, helpless, become irresponsible, lack direction, drive, purpose and ambition. Physiological manifestations can include nausea, bloating, cramping, heart burn, and stomach ulcers.
Apart from chakra balancing yoga asana and pranayama, you can also be conscious of the foods you eat. To balance the sacral chakra, try to increase the intake of orange coloured food, such as oranges, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes. Also fruits that contain a lot of seeds can give a boost to the sacral chakra. These can include fruits such as strawberries, passion fruits, and papaya. To balance the solar plexus chakra, you can increase the intake of yellow coloured food such as yellow squash, corn, yellow pepper, banana, pineapple, and lemons. Pungent and firery foods as well as some grains and seeds can also stimulate the solar plexus chakra. These can include oats, rice, sunflower seeds, ginger, turmeric, fennel, and cumin.
Throughout the practice its helpful to focus on the two chakras. The colour of the sacral chakra is orange, so you may like to visualize an orange translucent ball at the base of your spine. Or you might like to focus on the solar plexus chakra which is yellow, located at the center of your upper abdomen between the lower ribs. Keeping your focus throughout is progressive for your practice, it’s not always easy to maintain your focus, so if you notice that your focus has shifted encourage yourself to bring it back without self judgement.
Come into a comfortable sitting position. Lengthening the spine and opening the chest. Close the eyes and start with a few rounds of natural nostril breathing. Once you feel centered, deepen your breath, with each inhalation allow your stomach to expand and your ribcage to expand to fill your lungs fully. As you exhale feel your rib cage lowering and then your stomach releasing and drawing back in towards the spine to complete the exhalation. Maintain your focus with the breath and the sensation of your breath while you practice this pranayama.
Starting in a sitting posture, bring the soles of your feet together. Push your knees down toward the ground, opening your hips. Hold for 10 breaths.
Extend your legs forward, in the sitting position turn your hips outwards so that you are able to sit with your back straight and extended. Inhale and reach the arms upwards, as you exhale bend at the hips and lower your abdomen towards the legs. While maintaining the good posture, hold on to your legs, ankles or toes. Continue to inhale and exhale through your nose as you maintain the stretch in the back of your legs. Hold for 10 breaths.
From a seated position bend your knees and begin to lean the weight back until you are able to bring your feet off the ground and keep the balance. Begin to lift the legs until you reach right angle position in your knees. If you are comfortable at maintaining this posture, continue to extend the legs fully. Take care not to round the back, keep your abdominal muscles and your hip flexor muscles activated. Hold for 10 breaths.
From half boat pose (where you knees are bent) hold onto your toes with your index and middle finger. Start to extend your legs forward as much as you can. If you are able to extend your legs fully, begin to draw your legs up towards your body. Hold for 10 breaths.
From Big toe pose release your toes and spread your legs wide as you lower them to the ground, coming into a wide-legged position. Inhale and raise your arms up, extend your spine and then as you exhale lower your palms down to the ground as you lower your upper body forward. Maintain the extension in the spine without rounding the back. Hold for 10 breaths.
Lie on your stomach (prone position), bend your knees and take hold of your ankles. As you inhale lift your chest and thighs off the mat pulling onto your ankles. At the same time push the legs outwards to help create the lift. Hold for as long as possible, continue to breath deeply through your nose.
In the prone position, push your bottom back towards your heels, keeping the chest down towards your highs and the forehead to the mat. As you inhale feel your stomach expand, as you exhale allow your body to relax down. Hold for 10 breaths.
From prone position bring your palms to the side of your chest with your elbows bent and tucked in. Tuck your toes under and push up, lifting the body away from the ground. Make sure your body is inline without your hips drooping or the hips lifting high. Hold for 10 breaths. Alternatively, you can perform phalakasana on your knees.
From plank you can lift the hips high, keeping your hips turned outwards so that the tail bone is pointing towards the ceiling. Feet hips width apart, push the heels down towards the ground as much as possible. Spine should be extended, and gaze between your feet. It is better to have your knees bent enough to allow your hip to turn out and the spine allowed to extend, then to have your legs straight and the spine rounded. Hold for 10 breaths.
From downward dog, you can step your right foot forward between your palms. Once you feel stable, inhale to stretch your arms upwards. Hold for 10 breaths. Bring your palms back down on either side of your foot, then step back into downward dog. Repeat on left leg.
Standing with your feet wide, turn your right foot out and keep your left foot facing forward. Inhale your arms shoulder high keeping your fingers extended and palms facing down. As you exhale shift your upper body to the right side as must as possible, and lower your right arm down, bringing the left arm up. Your arms and shoulders should be inline, while keeping the spine extended. Keep your core engaged to stabilize the spine. Gaze up towards your right finger tips, or down towards the right toes while maintaining the extension in the neck. Hold for 10 breaths, and then repeat to the left.
Come into the triangle position on your right side, as you exhale lower your left arm down towards your right foot, and simultaneously bring the right up upwards coming into a twist. If bringing the right arm upwards is difficult keep the right hand at the waist, while maintaining the twist. Focusing of opening the chest while keeping the spine extended. Hold for 10 breaths. Return to standing position. Repeat on left side.
Come into a wide-legged standing posture. Turn both feet outwards. Inhale bring your palms into prayer position in front of your chest, and as you exhale bend at your knees and come into a squat. Keep your knees pushed out as much as possible stretching the inner thighs. Hold for 10 breaths.
Come in to a supine position, lying on your back. Draw the soles of your feet together allowing your knees to open out. Bring the heels as close as you can to your groin, and allow your hip joint to open as much as possible. Relax your hips, buttocks and your stomach. Your hands can rest on your stomach, or you can rest your arms out to the side. Relax the spine and your shoulders, bringing your awareness to your breath hold for 20 to 30 breaths.
This asana practice should allow you to feel empowered, confident, and more in tuned with your senses. It’s important to continue your practice regularly to maintain a balanced chakra system. If you missed the previous articles, you can find an article about the Chakra system in the May issue, and the Root Chakra in the June issue. Take time out to check into your energy centers!