Posts Tagged With: kundalini yoga

Dance…like I am watching you!

Life has its ups and downs or more correctly; I experience emotional hills and valleys.

If I come home grumpy there are certain things I can do to transform my mood:

– Go outside for a walk (and maybe you meet a group of dolphins in the nearby bay, I did! )

– Do some suitable yoga;

And remember if you don’t have a yoga school nearby, there are many resources on the internet or in the library you can use nowadays.

– Spend time with your loved ones and then I mean really spend time with them. So let go of your busy work day and give them your full attention. A massage is well-received most of the times.

– One of my favorites: DANCE! As crazy and passionate as possible. Of course you need some good music for that, to bring you in the dance mood. Here are some of my favorites which makes me jump out of my chair and grumpy mood straight away. That is why I enjoyed my time in Africa; there people swing and smile through life.

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The pros and cons of growing up as a yogini’s daughter

Growing up with a yogini Mum has both pros and cons – guest author Jacinta Aalsma takes us on a journey through her life as a yogi’s daughter.

via The pros and cons of growing up as a yogini’s daughter.

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Muladhara Chakra

Our first chakra is the Muladhara or root chakra and is located at the base of the spine. Mula means root or base in Sanskrit and this first energy center symbolizes our roots. It involves grounding, supporting and nurturing and establishes the deepest connections with your physical body, your environment and the earth. It is your survival center and your fight-or-flight response is initiated from this chakra. There is an energy stored under this chakra which is often referred to as the ‘coiled serpent’ and Kundalini yoga focuses on stimulating this energy. The associated colour with the Muladhara chakra is red. The associated body parts include the base of the spine, the legs, feet and the large intestine.

The root chakra

The root chakra

First Chakra Imbalances
If you find you are constantly suffering from financial or health issues, your first chakra may be blocked or unbalanced. Circumstances that can cause these imbalances include travelling, relocation, feeling fearful and big changes in your body, family, finances and business. People with busy minds and active imaginations are especially vulnerable to become deficient in this chakra, since they feel ungrounded most of the time, living more in the head than in the body. At the moment I experience a ‘survival crisis’; I have moved to the other side of the world, my temporary job agreement will end soon, I worry about my finances and future job possibilities and feel fearful towards all these insecurities. In addition, I am the owner of an extremely active mind and I have developed a perfect talent for worrying about everything in abundance. I have almost forgotten to relax and trust in my life and especially in my own skills and abilities – also related to the third chakra. Organs and glands associated with this chakra are the adrenal glands and organs of elimination (kidney, skin, colon), bones, hair, nails and legs. If the chakra is sluggish, you might have constipation and if this chakra is overstimulated you might have diarrhea. If I feel stressed, excited or worried, it has an immediate effect on my digestion resulting in many toilet visits.

Yoga and the Muladhara Chakra
Fortunately, yoga exists. There are many yoga poses that correct Muladhara chakra imbalances and thereby bringing you back to your body and the earth and help you experience safety, security and stillness. Standing poses balance and strengthen the first chakra which helps the body to become more grounded and centered. If you are not able to stand firmly, then you are like a tree without roots. There only has to be a small storm and the tree is easily uprooted. You first need to be rooted, before you can grow and move forward. Yoga can provide you with this sense of stability on the matt and in life’s challenges. Other specific target areas for this first chakra are the piriformis muscle in the hip and buttocks and the adductor muscles in the inner thighs. Tightness in hips, groins and hamstrings are related to blocks in the first energy center. These are exactly the places where most of my tightness comes from. A lot of people store emotions in the hips and therefore develop tightness in this area. If you’re in a pose such as pigeon or lizard pose you can start to observe your arising emotions. The practice of yoga can enhance the development of the Muladhara chakra qualities: calmness, patience and a willingness to slow down and stay in one place. Your confidence can be boosted and fears can be eased as you allow yourself to trust the earth and your body. It is helpful to end your yoga practice with peaceful restorative poses, like Supta Baddha Konasana or Salamba Balasana, because this will settle an overactive mind and encourage you to surrender to gravity.

Balancing this first Chakra further
The sense associated with this chakra is the sense of smell and the food for this chakra are protein-rich foods and red foods. Preparing protein-rich food and enjoying the smells while you’re cooking can support you to bring yourself back in your body. As a vegetarian, I probably easily miss out on a lot of red food. If you nourish your physical body it supports you with grounding. For this reason, eating is a first chakra activity and the challenge is to eat mindfully. A peaceful walk in the nature, can also help you to ground and connect with the earth. Signs of excessiveness in this chakra include gaining a lot of excess weight, greed and hoarding. Hoarding keeps the energy from flowing freely, you need to let go to get the energy moving. The challenge is to accept your body, feel it, validate it and love it. For me personally, a massage can help to quiet down my mind and make myself (more) aware of my physical body.

Tree pose

Tree pose

True transformation
Fear of survival, fear of abandonment and feeling insecure are all first chakra emotions that can be stored in your body. Emotions can leave deep impressions within your body and often cause illness. By targeting the muscles where these emotions are stored, you can begin to unblock emotional toxics that are trapped. Yoga is a great tool to do this. For sure all of the seven chakras are important and interconnected with each other. Therefore balancing one chakra will usually create change in another chakra as well. However, it is important to balance the root charka first to create stability and centeredness, necessary for true transformation and personal growth. Safety and security are required for real growth and change.

Balancing your first chakra

Balancing your first chakra

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Yoga of Awareness

Kundalini yoga is an ancient and unique form of yoga and is also called the yoga of awareness. It is the most spiritual type of yoga I have practised. It is brought to the West in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan. The focus is primarily on expansion of self-awareness and realizing your true potential. Kundalini literally means ‘the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved’. This metaphor refers to the flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us and enables us to become one with the infinite consciousness. In other words, Kundalini is the untapped energy or prana at the base of the spine that can be pulled up through the body and awake each of the seven chakras. When this prana reaches the crown chakra at the top of your head, enlightenment occurs. However, for most of us, this potent energy lies dormant at the base of your spine. Through the practice of Kundalini yoga, you can release this energy by breaking through emotional blocks, energy imbalances and addictive behaviour. For this reason Kundalini yoga can be highly transformative, since it releases held issues whether body or mind.

Each Kundalini class typically includes six major components: mantras, pranayama and/or warm-up, kriya, relaxation, meditation and closing with a song. The class starts with a short chant followed by a warm-up to stretch the spine and improve flexibility. The main part of the class is called a kriya. This is a complete set of exercises including pranayama that focuses on a precise area of the body. The kriyas are precise and bring the body and mind to a state where deep meditation is easily achieved. The goal of a kriya could be clearing the heart chakra or increasing spinal flexibility for example. There are hundreds of kriyas and therefore no class will be the same. The class ends with a meditation and song. Most Kundalini teachers and devotees wear white clothes and wrap their heads with a white turban or other head covering. The white clothing is worn to support both the body’s energetic field or aura and the nervous system functions. The white headband is believed to protect the crown chakra and improve the experience of meditation.

Since the emphasis is on breathing, meditation, mudras (hand gestures) and chanting, a Kundalini class could be intense and odd for newcomers. The breath and movement are often very dynamic and will be unfamiliar to more conventional Hatha yoga practitioners. Though, the use of mantras could support you if you are new to meditation and find silence challenging. Mantra meditation can result in clarity, balance and equanimity. This type of yoga appeals to you if you are up for both mental and physical challenges. I have tried different Kundalini yoga classes and I always love the use of mantras and sounds, because it supports me with the transition from a busy work day to a quiet yoga practice. I am quite used to physical challenges, but Kundalini yoga provides me with a whole new kind of challenge. The combination of specific pranayama techniques and asanas requires me to be focused and attentive. After practising some more physically focused forms of yoga, I felt at ease to spend time and energy to develop myself spiritually as well. My first steps in the world of Kundalini yoga were quite magical experiences; it brought me to stillness and peace, my true self.

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Flow Yoga

There are many different styles of yoga. I have tried Hatha yoga, Bikram yoga, Kundalini yoga, Iyengar yoga, Yin yoga and Dru yoga among others. At the moment I am in love with Vinyasa yoga. Vinyasa yoga is also called Flow yoga, since the poses run together in a smooth way, like a dance. The breath is an essential part during this dance, since the series of movements are synchronized with the breath. Generally speaking, upward movement correlate with inhalations of the breath, and downward movements with exhalations. When I was living in the Netherlands I practiced African dance once a week and I went out dancing regularly. Since I have arrived in New Zealand, my dance experiences have been reduced to some rare moments on a party or a wedding. Surprisingly, I have not been missing the dancing as much as I thought I would. The practice of Vinyasa yoga seems to fulfill my dance needs.    

Vinyasa yoga has evolved from Ashtanga yoga over time. There are now many different styles of Vinyasa or Flow yoga. Vinyasa can be translated from Sanskrit into ‘connection’ referring to a connection between movement and breath. Another translation can be ‘variations within parameters’. A sun salutation sequence is a perfect example of a Vinyasa dance, because each movement in the series is done on an inhalation or an exhalation. Basically, any sequence of flowing from asana to asana can be called a Vinyasa dance. During a Vinyasa yoga practice you can expect a lot of variety; one class is focused on backbends and during another class you spend time practicing arm balances. I love this diversity; no class is the same and this makes my mind go quiet. If I would practice the same postures over and over again, I would get bored easily and my mind would wander off. Variety is helpful in preventing injuries, since it keeps you from doing repetitive movements. There is a reasonable amount of freedom within this yoga style which allows teachers to personalize their classes. The classes are relaxed and unpredictable and supportive for persons with an overactive mind like mine. Vinyasa yoga not only brings my mind at ease, it also increases my strength, endurance and flexibility. 

It is quite common for yoga teachers to have a background in (professional) dancing. This could be a reason that nowadays you can find different styles mixing yoga & dance together, such as: Yoga dance, flow dance, Nia yoga/dance or Afro flow yoga. These styles are blending together the benefits of yoga and dance and are providing you with ways to express yourself through movement and to discover your true self. Be inspired, move & dance!

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