May on the Mat

The 5th Chakra and Changing Your World

This month, the 5th month of the year, I have been exploring the 5th chakra (get it?) on my yoga mat, through poses and breath work. The 5th chakra, Vissudha, is associated with the throat, expression, and truth. Through the 5th chakra, we purify our emotions, express our truth, and give voice to the spirit.  It is much deeper than simply talking; when we actively use the 5th chakra, our words are spoken truthfully, almost pouring forth from our core.

As most of us have experienced, speaking in this way, openly and from the heart is NOT more easily said than done. We are often stopped from being totally honest by something in our heart – maybe the desire for approval or the fear of upsetting others (that is what get’s me!). There are many reasons why being honest can be risky. Sometimes people will think you are literally crazy, as in the Carrie character in drama series Homeland (my recent addiction). However, it is the ONLY way we can truly grow, realize our potential, and change the world around us.

I don’t mean “change the world” in some kind of big way, like create new laws or end a war or something like that. I mean simply have a real effect on the people around us. An example from my life: My husband and I are talking about a topic that is tough to discuss – something that he did that upset me (there are many possible situations that this could fit ^v^). I could speak in anger and EGO, telling him how wrong he was so I will somehow feel better because he feels worse. OR, I can speak from honesty and HEART, explain how his actions hurt me; I can show him my VULNERABILITY. When you speak in this way, from “I” statements rather than “you” statements, the energy of the conversation changes, the other person’s response changes, and literally, the world around you changes. (For more on this style of interacting, check out Nonviolent Communication, NVC at http://www.cnvc.org. It was introduced to me years ago while I was in my previous relationship and has revolutionized my perspective on communication.)

Turning Your World Upside Down – The Benefits of Headstand Practice

I love teaching Headstand, Sirsasana.  Maybe its because it took me one year of regular practice to get up safely and comfortably hold this pose. Maybe its the reaction from students who “get” the pose for the first time in class – something clicks, they release some fear around the pose, and they feel an awesome sense of accomplishment and jubilation. This month, I will have been focusing on Headstand and variations of it in my power vinyasa classes at Corepower Yoga.

This pose offers so many benefits including:

1. Reverses the effects of gravity. Gravity literally pulls us and everything in our world down. The force causes pressure on our spines and swelling in the legs. Going upside down elongates the spine and reverses the flow of lymph, reducing swelling in the feet.

2. Refreshes the mind and stimulates all the glands in the brain. By providing a rush of blood flow to your brain and the glands there, the pituitary and pineal to name a couple, you stimulate and refresh the brain and glands. If you are feeling mentally sluggish, going upside down can give you that pick me up(side down!).

3. Core Strengthening. Being able to get into and hold headstand without a wall requires deep core muscle strength, a combined effort of the psoas, transverse abdominis, and the pelvic floor. The pose also helps to strengthen these muscles, a beautifully virtuous cycle that helps support everything from a healthy back to regular digestion.

4. Improved Digestion. Headstand creates more space in the digestive track, loosening up stuff that has been compounded due to gravity, letting things flow as they should.

5. Confidence Building. Like accomplishing anything that is challenging, getting this pose is a huge confidence builder. Because of all the fear surrounding going upside down, it is especially helpful in helping one overcome an insurmountable challenge that may produces fear off the mat.

Manifest in May

As I write, my baby is growing inside my belly. We are in week 32, which means we have just under two months before our darling little one arrives. (My husband and I opted to wait until our baby is born to find out the gender, so we call baby “baby”, or “Tako” ^v^.) Two months feels like a blink of the eyes, and I know it is going to fly, so I need to focus on all that I want to achieve BEFORE the baby arrives. A couple of things I have cooking – a prenatal yoga video series that I will debut on Youtube soon, a Prenatal Yoga Challenge for Instagram, and of course, starting grad school for Mental Health Counselling in June (really). Please look forward to my videos and Yoga challenge soon. I am so excited about these projects, so please be excited with me!!

So, aside from the occasional Homeland watching (occasional meaning nightly) and the food coma that ensues after a binge on fried chicken (not proud of it, but it happens – baby likes grease ^v^), I am keeping myself healthy and focused with my yoga practice, meditation, and my dream of making a contribution in this world as a holistic, mindfulness-based mental health counsellor. Having tools like yoga asana and meditation has been VITAL to keeping my healthy, happy, and focused. Having a dream, a goal, something that keeps you going is also indispensable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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