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Yoga Bliss Gambia: Our higher energy centres

My Magazine 2022/09
8 min
Author: Melissa Kuwahata Daswani
If you are feeling like you have lost the sense of direction in your life and you have become stagnant, or you feel disconnected from yourself or your surroundings, it might be because of your chakra is imbalanced. The 6th Chakra is the third eye (Ajna) chakra located between the eyebrows and driven by the principle of openness, imagination, wisdom and intuition. The 7th Chakra is the crown (Sahasrara) chakra located at the top of your head, and it is a connection to the higher consciousness and the divine self. Energetically it has a significant association with the mind, spirituality and our higher consciousness.

The third eye chakra is affected by excessive ego and superficiality. These often tie in with one not accepting themselves, having a sense of denial, or refusing to see things as they are.  When your third eye chakra is blocked, you can experience disconnection from your own intuition but also disconnection from people and nature.  You may be unconsciously judging situations and others in a negative light. You may lack creativity, develop mental fog, paranoia, delusion, exhaustion or struggle to differentiate between reality and imagination.  This chakra is associated closely with the pituitary gland, which produces arrays of hormones.  Many hormones regulate the thyroid, growth, and reproductive organs, as well as the release of other hormones through other glands in your body that maintain the proper functioning of the body.   Other physical manifestations of the third eye chakra imbalance can include headaches, dizziness, vision problems, seizures, insomnia, nausea, and sinus issues. 

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The crown chakra probably is the most mystical chakra in the system, as it gives access to the higher state of consciousness. Higher consciousness allows you to perceive the world in a very different way.  It is often said that you feel oneness with all things, have unconditional love, experience pure joy and bliss, and transcend fear and anxiety.  You become one with your spiritual essence.  When our crown chakra is imbalanced, it can manifest as constant cynicism towards spirituality and what is sacred or lead to close-mindedness. Physiologically it is associated with the pineal gland and hypothalamus.   The pineal gland and hypothalamus connect the pituitary gland with the endocrine system, which regulates weight, appetite, thirst, mood, body temperature, sex drive, and sleep.  It can affect our whole body system.  Other physical and psychological manifestations due to the 7th chakra imbalance can be neurological disorders, nerve pain, thyroid-pineal gland disorder, Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia, insomnia, depression, or recurring headaches/migraines. 

As with the other chakras, the 6th chakra can be influenced by food, particularly purple and blue-coloured food, which resembles the colour of the 6th chakra. These can be beets, eggplant, purple cabbage, sweet potato, plums, raisins, and prunes.   Food rich in antioxidants and omega-3 is also recommended as it benefits the brain by boosting serotonin to improve blood flow; these can include various seeds, egg yolks, fish, and dark chocolate.   The colour of the 7th chakra is said to be violet or white.  To connect and balance the 7th chakra often, fasting, chanting and meditation are recommended.


Let us find a peaceful space to begin the asana practice

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 centred, deepen your breath; with each inhalation, allow your stomach and rib cage to expand to fill your lungs fully.  As you exhale, feel your rib cage lowering and your stomach drawing back towards the spine to complete the exhalation.  Maintain your focus with the breath and the sensation of your breath while you practice this pranayama. You can visualise an indigo ball at the third eye or violet or a bright white coloured ball at the crown of the head. Try to hold your focus as long as you can, and if you notice that your focus has shifted elsewhere, encourage yourself to bring it back without judgement. 

Lotus pose (Padamasana)

Sitting on your mat or towel, cross your legs.  Bring your left foot across over towards the crease of your right hip.  This is half-lotus; if this is causing any pain in your knees or ankles, discontinue and maintain a simple cross-legged position.  If you are comfortable in the half-lotus pose, you may like to bring the right foot towards the crease of your left hip, coming into full lotus.  Maintain an extended spine, and draw your awareness to your breath.  Maintain for 10 to 20 breaths.  Uncross, stretch the legs and then repeat with the opposite side.


Child pose (Balasana) or Puppy pose (Uttana Shishosana)

Starting in a tabletop position (on knees and hands, knees hip-width apart, and hands positioned under the shoulders).  Lower your bottom towards your heels, extend your arms forward and lower your forehead down towards the mat to come into a child pose.  Hold for 10 to 20 breaths. 

If the child pose isn’t comfortable for your knees, go into puppy pose by keeping the hips high and lowering the upper body to the mat.  Lower your chest as close as possible to the mat, and either rest your forehead or chin on the mat.  Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.


Tree pose (Vriksasana)

Standing on your mat/towel with your feet slightly apart, bring your right foot to the ankle, inner calf, or inner thigh.  Keep the standing leg strong and grounded, your hips facing forward, and your spine drawn up. Palms can be in a prayer position at the chest or above the head. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Gently release and return to the standing position. Repeat on the opposite side.


Lizard pose (Utthan pristhasana)

Begin in a plank; step your right foot forward to the outside of your right hand while keeping the left leg extended towards the back of the mat.  Lower your torso towards the mat while maintaining an extended back. If you are comfortable with the amount of extension in the hips, groin, and thighs, you may like to lower onto your forearms.  Hold for 10 to 15 breaths.  Step the right foot back to return to a plank, and then repeat on your opposite side.


Dolphin pose (Catur Svanasana)

Starting on all fours.  Lower onto your forearms, and lift the knees off the mat, extending the back of your legs as much as possible while turning your hip out.  Keep the neck relaxed, push your heels toward the ground, and extend the underarms and biceps.  Feel the extension in the chest.  Hold for 10 to 15 breaths, then lower onto the knees to come out of the pose.


Fish pose (Matsyasana)

Beginning in a supine position on your back.  Place your hands under your hips, and begin to lift up your upper body while bending your elbows.  Tuck your shoulders under as much as possible to open the chest, and allow your head to relax back, allowing the front of your neck to extend.  Extend the legs actively and point the toes.  If you cannot comfortably lift the upper body up to bend your elbows, you can alternatively place your elbows onto the mat in the L shape first and lower the upper body down.  Stay in the fish pose for 10 to 15 breaths. 

Corpse pose (Savasana)

Allow your body to rest on the mat.  Keep a small distance between your feet and your arms a little away from your body.  Keep the palms faced up.  Close your eyes and soften your face. Allow your body to relax.   Begin to observe your breath, noticing the rhythm, the pace, and the depth.  Allow yourself to feel the breath, noticing the sensation of air passing in and out through the nostrils.  Feel the breath filling the lungs with the expansion of the rib cage, and feel the air releasing from the lungs as the rib cage gradually relaxes.  Maintain this peaceful, calm and relaxed state for as long as you need.   To end savasana, begin by gently bringing back some movement to the extremities of your body, start with wiggling your fingers, toes, wrists, and ankles.  Turn gently onto your right side, and take a few moments before sitting up into a comfortable sitting position.


From the May issue where I introduced the Chakra system, I have outlined the 7 chakras and helpful asanas to balance the chakras. Regular practice of yoga along with a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits and whole grains will keep your chakras in check. But there are times when some chakra may become too prominent, weak, or blocked, creating havoc in our mental and physical state.  As we learn about our body and energy system, we can become more aware of how our surroundings, food, activity, and external energies affect our own state. If you can be mindful of your mind, body and spirit, you will be able to notice the changes and any effects at an early stage, where you will then be able to rebalance yourself through the practice of asana, pranayama, meditation and appropriate diets, avoiding potential malaise or disease.


Melissa Kuwahata Daswani
Founder, Yoga Bliss Gambia and Yoga Bliss Creations
Melissa Daswani is a professional yoga teacher trained and accredited in Hatha Yoga from Rishikesh, India. She was introduced to yoga in the early adolesce by her mother who often practised yoga at their home and still continues to practice to date.
Melissa started to indulge in yoga with a keen interest in her 20’s after researching the benefits of practising yoga.
In order to expand her knowledge and practice, she initially enrolled on official training in India during 2009. Her initial stint in yoga teaching began in 2012 in Togo, followed by expanding in the Gambia from 2016. Melissa’s style of teaching incorporates the fundamental and crucial steps of yoga called Hatha yoga, which encompasses the basis of all other styles of yoga. Melissa believes that every individual has something to gain from Yoga which is not limited to mental, physical or spiritual.
Yoga is not a religion but more a spiritual exercise as well as a practice that can universally be incorporated into your daily routine. Melissa offers regular weekly classes in Fajara, the Gambia, which is open to all levels.
She also runs a weekly beach yoga class which is very refreshing and energizing.
It’s her love and dedication towards teaching which allows her the opportunity to share the essence of yoga and its benefits to people from all walks of life.
Whether you reside in the Gambia or a visitor in The Gambia, Yoga Bliss Gambia would love to welcome you to their next class.

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