Each of the 7 main chakras has its own balancing chant

Seed syllables are one word chants in the language of yoga: Sanskrit. Each of our 7 main Chakras has a seed syllable associated with it, except for the Crown Chakra – it is the energy point of silence, also called Sacred Pause.

The Sanskrit word for chanting can be loosely translated as mantra. The following list for each chakra, if incorporated into a daily mantra practice, can help yogins balance their energy fields.

Shh for # 7. Purple = Sahasrara – Crown, “Thousand petaled lotus”
AUM for #6. Indigo = Anja – Third Eye, intuition
HAM for #5. Turquoise = Vishuddha – Throat, our will
YAM for #4. Green = Anahata – Heart, understanding
RAM for #3. Yellow = Manipura – Solar Plexus, “full of rays”
VAM for #2. Orange = Svadhisthana – Belly, finding one’s own place
LAM for #1. Red = Muladhara – Tailbone, “energy from the Earth supporting me”

Use the breath to help bring forward your heart and soul in each uttered seed syllable. Breathing deeply into the belly – let your diaphragm rise and fall naturally, not constricted by tight stomach muscles. Let your whole belly be loose for your mantra practice, and beyond…

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The Chakras: Yoga and Meditation help balance our energy fields

There are different forms of meditation, all of which can be found on the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Chanting is a major component of yoga, as is visualization. Both these practices are useful in helping balance our main energy fields, called Chakras (Sanskrit: spinning wheels). These 7 points of power run the length of our spines, and everyone has them, but how can a person tap into them?

Mantra

The activity of mantra practice is chanting. A chant is uttered from deep within the body, usually arising out the throat from the diaphragm. Making the sacred sounds, such as AUM (also spelled OM) or other longer verses activates the chakras.

Visualization

Using the power of imagination, visualizing colours and healing pictures, helps align our chakras, especially once they are activated by chanting. Guided imagery is part of accessing the power of our energy fields. In general, a Total Chakra Balancing starts with the visualization of a rainbow:

7. Purple = Sahasrara – Crown, “Thousand petaled lotus”
6. Indigo = Anja – Third Eye, intuition
5. Turquoise = Vishuddha – Throat, our will
4. Green = Anahata – Heart, understanding
3. Yellow = Manipura – Solar Plexus, “full of rays”
2. Orange = Svadhisthana – Belly, finding one’s own place
1. Red = Muladhara – Tailbone, “energy from the Earth supporting me”

Sit in a quiet spot and close your eyes. Let your breath expand your belly and keep it loosened.

Total Chakra Balancing

Imagine yourself sitting on a chair on a red rug. The red of the rug is flowing into your feet and legs…

Chant: Ahhh… Uuuu… Mmmm

Now see yourself walking in to water up to your belly button. The sun casts orange all around you…

Chant: Ahhh… Uuuu… Mmmm

Imagine the sun rising and filling you with yellow radiance…

Chant: Ahhh… Uuuu… Mmmm

In your mind’s eye you have walked open hearted into a field with a tree. The large tree is dancing with green leaves…

Chant: Ahhh… Uuuu… Mmmm

You lay down in the field and put your hands behind your head and neck. The sky above is turquoise an fills you light blue truth…

Chant: Ahhh… Uuuu… Mmmm

The only other colour in the field of vision is a clothes line with a indigo dyed cotton cloth flapping in the wind.

Chant: Ahhh… Uuuu… Mmmm

The sky darkens to a purple, not unlike the colour of grapes. Plump, they drip from the vines. Nectar of the gods.

Chant: Ahhh… Uuuu… Mmmm
Chant: Ahhh… Uuuu… Mmmm
Chant: Ahhh… Uuuu… Mmmm

After your sitting session is over, do yoga stretches to help steady the flow of your newly activated chakras:

  1. Standing forward bends
  2. Spine Stretches
  3. Energy Sweeps

Avalokitesvara: Way of Love and Compassion

Visiting Lama at the Denman Hermitage on Saturday, August 6 – Sunday, August 7

Teachings/Meditation led by Lama Shenpen.

“Lama Shenpen has led a full life, first as a married woman with children, and then as an ordained Buddhist nun. She is best described as a true spiritual elder, having spent much of her life studying and practicing the Dharma. In 1995 she accomplished a Three Year Retreat on Mt Tam, Salt Spring Island, with the guidance of by her root Lama, the late Kalu Rinpoche.

Lama’s retreat will focus on the practice of devotion, love and compassion, particularly embodied in the luminous ideal of Avalokitesvara. She will explain what is required to access the purer level of your being through meditation. Lama’s instruction will cover such subjects as Calm-abiding (shamata) practice, meditation posture, sitting and walking meditation, going-to-sleep meditation, the four thoughts that turn the mind, silence, and how best to establish a daily routine. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers. Learn how the power of love for others is capable of profoundly transfiguring your heart and mind.”

Another engaging event facilitated by the Denman Hermitage!

P.S.
It’s going to be wonderful to have an esteemed woman Lama give these teachings on my solar return 🙂

The Benefits of Supports and Counter Posing in Paschimottanasana

The Hatha yoga pose Sitting-forward Bend, or Paschimottanasana, need not illicit a groan of displeasure from the class when it is given by the teacher.

The groans come from the fact that, although it is a simple pose,  it challenges students with tight hamstrings (which is most people). However, it can be done with supports to make it more enjoyable.

A folded mat or thin pillow under the tailbone, plus, a rolled up blanket or bolster cushion under the knees, make good supports for Sitting-forward Bend.

Keep the spine erect, allowing the energy summoned while doing the pose to move out the top of the head. Flex the feet so the toes are pointing toward the ceiling, or if this feels too tight at first, the toes can point toward the wall. In micro movements, straighten the spine and lean forward from the hips. Stage by stage bring your face toward your knees, but try not to curl the neck and spine. Only go as far as feels right to you, creating a circuit is all that matters and this can be achieved by touching the toes or knees with the fingers.

Supports are not intended to be an easy way out. They were first brought into popularity by the great yogi Iyengar, who still teaches in India, as a way for anyone, irregardless of the condition of his or her body, to achieve correct posture. To achieve correct posture in yoga means the ability to truly to let go of tension and doubt, a precursor to the ability to relax/expand the entire consciousness.

The image behind the Sanskrit word Paschimottanasana is of the setting sun (Intense Stretch to the West). Use the visualization of the sun lowering on the horizon to guide your movements, and ask yourself as you fold toward the front part of your legs, “how can I enter my inner self more comfortably?”.

Ask yourself, Where is my peace?

Most poses work only certain muscles groups and joints, and so it is a good idea to include a counter pose, or equalizing stretch, at the end of each of the main asanas in your session. This practice brings more completion to movements. It keeps the energy moving in a circle as opposed to moving in one direction only.  If you have ever taken a yoga class you will be familiar with a similar concept to this – as teachers have surely taught you from the beginning to “do one side and then the other”. It’s all karma really:

Every action has an opposite and equal reaction

All students can benefit from adding counter poses to their routines. An excellent counter pose for Paschimottanasa is Purvotanasana.

Translated, Purvotanasana means Intense Stretch to the East, and can also be referred to as  Reversed Chatturanga (push-up). Come out of Paschimottanasana by grounding your hands into the mat in a position that is comfortable on your wrists, and rise up through the chest, lifting the buttocks, using your heels for support. Tuck in your tailbone, and protect your neck. The neck can be held straight if letting it lay backwards is too advanced. The ultimate neck protection for beginners is to tuck the chin to the chest.

If this heel-to-floor variation of Purvotanasana is too much, point the toes down so the feet are laying as flat as possible on the mat.

Either foot position is fine. Keep breathing and go back and forth between Paschimottanasana and Purvotanasana once you become more adept at both poses. The image behind Purvotanasana is of the rising sun. While in the asana ask yourself… What is the source of my divine light? Flowing movements will increase the heart rate, so be sure to cool down slowly after finishing any sequence of moves.

Take time when you are through to quietly observe while sipping some water:

  • increased circulation
  • feelings of exhilaration
  • loosened shoulders
  • draining tension
  • deeper breathing