Working with the chakras is a great way to move your yoga practice beyond strength and flexibility and make it therapeutic for your life off of the mat. It is also an area where many might feel intimidated or skeptical.
Even I was a skeptic when first introduced to the seven chakras. But by being open to the possibility I discovered that you don’t need to focus on them so literally as energy centers displaced throughout the spinal column. Instead I dipped my toes into the chakras, and recommend you do to, by aiming to do some visualization and work with your imagination.
In this practice I offer up one yin yoga pose for each chakra, and some points to turn your direction to while you hold each pose (for 3-5 minutes is a great length).
These poses are pulled from a 75 minute practice I posted a little while back on my YouTube channel. If you want me to talk you through each step of the way feel free to check out the Chakra Yin Yoga video.
So roll out your mat, grab a set of blocks and keep an open mind! If you prefer watching a video, scroll to the bottom and click play.
1. Root Chakra – Deer Pose
Facing the front of your mat and sitting comfortably, align your right shin roughly parallel to the top of the mat. Swing your left leg behind you, so that the left shin is roughly parallel to the long edge of the mat, and possibly off the left edge. The tendency here is for your hips and body weight to lean on the right thigh and hip, try to keep it back by pressing down into the left hip. This is an internal rotation, and you might feel this quite deep into the groin. Sit tall and still here for option 1. To take a bit deeper, walk your hands back behind you and lean gently. If leaning backwards is painful, you may prefer to walk the hands forward and take option 3, which looks like a variation of resting pigeon. Again remember to press the left hip down and find a gentle tuck of the tailbone. Relax your chest and arms, they’re just propping you up slightly. You may want to use a blanket to support your right knee if it’s up too high. The colour for the root chakra is red. Visualize a glowing red light, shining bright at the base of your spine as you send your breath there. The mantra for this chakra is “I am safe,” you may choose to repeat this to yourself while holding the pose. Slowly switch to make your way into whichever variation you choose to take on the other side.
2. Sacral Chakra – Lizard/Dragon Pose
Make your way to table top position, with the palms straight under the shoulders. Step your right foot forward, placing it on the outer edge of the right hand. Your knee should be (or close to) stacked over the ankle, but not past. Rather than hugging the knee into the shoulder, turn your toes out and lift them off the floor (heel stays grounded). Externally rotate the hip, opening the knee to the right side and rolling onto the outer edge of the right foot. Hold here, or lower to your forearms. Use props as feels good, you may want to pad the back knee with a blanket or use a block to rest your forehead down. Relax your low back. The colour of the second chakra is orange. With each breath try to brighten the orange light in your low belly/pelvis area. The mantra to repeat here is “I am creative.” Take any stretches you need before easing into this pose with the left leg forward.
3. Solar Plexus Chakra – Supine Spinal Twist
Come to lying on your back, with your knees bent and soles of the feet on the mat. Lift your hips and shift them to the right, then slowly lower both knees to the left. Bring your arms out to the sides and keep the shoulders pinned down. Either keep your knees stacked, or wrap your right thigh over the left for a deeper stretch. The colour for the third chakra is bright yellow. Envision a yellow energy center shining from your abdomen just above the navel. Repeat to yourself “I am confident” while enjoying this sweet twist. Slowly bring your knees back up, shift the hips to the left and lower the knees to the right.
4. Heart Chakra – Supported Fish Pose
Grab a set of blocks and set them up, the first to lay underneath the upper back between the shoulder blades and the other to support the head. Set them on whichever level you choose (I’ve set them up at the middle level here). Create space in the chest, at the front of the heart. Take your legs out long, or opened in butterfly. Let your arms rest a little bit out from the sides. Breathe a glowing green light, keep it here in the chest. Think about what the words mean as you say softly to yourself, “I am love.”
5. Throat Chakra – Sphinx Pose
Make your way to laying on your belly, with your legs stretched out behind you, toes untucked. As you push up on your forearms, bring your elbows to where feels comfortable for you. If being directly under your shoulders is too much, walk the elbows forward. Find a nice lift here as you push your shoulders back, so that the heart extends forward, opening the throat. Spread your fingers and press the palms down. Imagine crystal clear blue moving through your throat with every inhale and exhale. Silently repeat to yourself, “I am truth.” For the last minute you may opt to press into the hands, lifting the elbows to take seal.
6. Third Eye Chakra – Child’s Pose
From hands and knees, bring the big toes together and knees wide. Rest your hips onto the heels. Walk your hands forward until the forehead comes right to the mat or to rest on a block. Imagine a deep blue almost purple light swirling at the middle of your brow as it touches down to the Earth. Speak, “I am wisdom,” to your inner self.
7. Crown Chakra – Seated Meditation
Sit cross legged as is comfortable to you, on a block, or even kneeling. Bring your hands to the knees, palms turning up. Focus energy into the crown of the head, and think of it lifting higher. The colour of the crown chakra is indigo, though some picture a bright white light instead. Whichever the colour, visualize it swirling at the top of your head as you repeat, “I am whole.”
As you close your practice with Savasana, work your way back through the chakras, starting with the first at the base of your spine. Feel each one balanced.
If you would prefer more guidance through the chakras in each of these pose, please do practice alongside the video below.
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