Our Root Chakra is our first Chakra (in Yoga, outside of Yoga there are a lot more!), it is located at the base of our spine, our perineum. It is associated with security & safety, our foundation, our identity & our grounding connection from ourselves to our world around us. It’s colour is red. Gemstones or crystals linked with it are deep red garnet (one of my favourites!), bloodstone, smokey quartz. Key essential oils are bergamot, vetiver & ylang-ylang. The Sanskrit translation for Muladhara is: Mula means root and adhara means base or support. When this chakra is balanced we feel stable, connected and grounded. If it is out of balance we may feel anger, over worrying, insecure and physical feelings of pain or discomfort in our lower back or sciatica, gut related issues such as constipation. Think of all that tension you physically hold when you are upset or stressed (my lower back tightens up every time there is a shift in our lockdown status!)
Key tips for engaging your pelvic floor (Mula Bandha) - this is the group of muscles in your pelvis, they are a bit like a bowl as they hold everything up inside you (or at least they should! Join in the my beginners Pilates & Hypopressives classes if you need more). They should work a bit like a trampoline & should mirror the movement of your diaphragm. They shouldn't be held tight all day, but should naturally engage & relax with your movements & breath throughout your day. To consciously engage them, imagine you are trying to stop yourself from having a wee & trying to stop yourself from breaking wind! That GENTLE drawing in & up is what are aiming for. You should still be able to breathe. If you can’t then you are holding on too tight! As we go through our Yoga & Pilates flows/classes we want to think about not pushing out into our belly or down into our pelvic bowl but instead a gentle feeling of drawing in & up. Lengthening through your spine, growing tall from your hips. For example in a Warrior pose, lift out of your hips without moving your legs & you might just feel a slight tension switching on in your lower abs. In Pilates when we are doing our basic ab preps, toe taps or single leg stretches fro example, we should be thinking about that drawing in and up feeling, so as you lift your head/shoulders or stretch a leg out we are hopefully not seeing our bellies rise.
Keep an eye out for my new Chakra Box being released this month. A mini at home Yoga retreat which includes 2 exclusive Yoga and Meditation videos along with a box of goodies - including a wrist mala (red garnet), soap, notebook, a card with journalling prompts and affirmations.
Pranayama breath work for our Root Chakra
This is a slow calming and balancing breath. If you feel like it is too slow, breathe at a slow but comfortable pace to you and see if over time, you can work at this pace. Breathe through your nose. When I talk about a deep breath, I mean that your breath should travel deep down in your lungs. The best way to get your breath to the bottom of your lungs is to breathe via your nose. Mouth breathing tends to be a very short, shallow breath into the top of your lungs.
Taking your practice off the mat
Our other focus for March is on our shoulder & arm strength & mobility. So yes - naturally pushups will be featuring somewhere ?! But also working on hour shoulder mobility in all directions - do you remember the tea cup flows that we have done (in the distance past) with blocks, we can do those with blocks or (light) books. Some of stretches & movements for shoulders from Hypopressives will appear.
Having a good controllable range of movement in our shoulders will help with our day to day life. Building strength & movement into the musculature around our shoulder blades & finding some really nice stretches for our chest area. Check out your own neck range of movement. Look over your right shoulder & notice how far round your can turn your head. Then look over your left should - do. You have the same range side to side, or can see further round on one side? If you have a different side to side, then maybe make a note of where your range is at the start of March & see if there’re is any change by the end of the month?
Here are some links for resistance bands, which need to be 2 meters long (or as close to) & Yoga bricks. Please note with the bricks, you seem to get 1 of each colour!
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Taking Your Practice off the Mat
Taking your practice with you, off the mat
Humming Bee Breath (Brahmari) - we will be practicing this one in class as well (Zoom classes work really well for this as only you can hear yourself!)
In 2021 I am creating a different theme for each month, for my classes. Each class will, as always, be a full body flow, but with a little extra focus on our monthly theme. These are for my in person classes in Poole, when permitted, and on-line. My online members library will be able search on our monthly tag of heartopenings or backbends
For January our focus will be Heart Openings.
So - what are ‘heart openings’? Quite simply they are back bends, but, to keep the balance and also ‘open’ the back of our hearts we also need to include forward bends to round/open the back of our rib cage. So expect lots of ribcage movement as we get our thoracic spine moving.
In Yoga heart openings can lead to improved connection to our heart & mind, energetically balancing ourselves allowing us to be more compassionate & to give more compassion. Leading to greater peace & harmony with ourselves & to others. We have our Heart Chakra, Anahata, (green). Heart openings can also lead to a greater sense of relaxation & peace as our posture improves. Our breath moves deeper into our lungs & works on our parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous system & slowing our heart rate, moving us out of a shallow breath & our sympathetic nervous system (fight & flight).
Here is a simple heart meditation that you can do anytime. 5 minutes is a good amount of time, but maybe start at 1 minute & then with practice build your time up. If one day your mind just wanders - don’t worry, try again, & the next time & it might be easier. Meditation, like anything, takes practice.
Heart Openers in the Movement & Exercise World
In the movement world we see heart openings as mainly backbends or back extensions but to get back extension we need to mobilise our spine in all its directions so we need to include forward bends (flexion) side bends & rotations. In other words thoracic mobility. Improved thoracic mobility will also lead to improved breathing & posture.
Taking your practice off your mat
Ways to carry your heart openings with you during your day to day life:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
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