How Yoga Helps Me Unite The Chakras (and How it Can Help You Too)
At Yoga Art Space, we have a book club and we are finishing up an extremely educational book called Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith. This book teaches about the 7 major chakras in the body, one by one. Each chakra represents certain life lessons and depending on your life experiences, a given chakra may become excessive or deficient (or even a combination of both since the chakras represent many aspects of who we are).
In the conclusion of this book, Judith summerized how readers can work to open the chakras without overwhelming themselves. I learned that there are several different directions we can take to work through the chakras. When in doubt, we can always work from the root chakra (at the base of the spine) up to the crown chakra (at the top of the head). This is the direction I've always taken the chakras from all of the workshops and trainings I've attended. The benefit of this direction is that its purpose is to lead you to the path of liberation, which is one of the great goals of yoga! However, this book taught me that you can work in 3 other directions. You can also work:
1) From the top down -- This direction leads to the path of manifestation. In other words, it is about bringing the energy, intelligence, and wisdom we gain back down to the earth where we can successfully make great changes in our lives.
2) From the heart outward to the upper and lower chakras-- In this path, the heart chakra is strong in that you love others and have a great deal of compassion for others and for yourself, however, you are not well grounded and you have trouble having a vision for what you'd like to do with your life (as an example).
3) From the outer chakras back to the heart-- This is the opposite of above. You are grounded, passionate, and have a vision. However, you may have difficulty communicating with others, when relationships go bad, you may begin to lose personal power and courage to carry on, and your heart area may be energetically collapsed.
Learning that I don't just have to work on the chakras in a linear manner was life changing for me. Specifically, the 3rd option above is the journey which may prove to be most helpful to me as I continue to work. Let me explain a little bit about my story and the bifurcation that has developed in my head and root.
I grew up in a family where I was lucky enough to be taught that I could become anything that I wanted to. I was always one of the more nerdy of my classmates. In middle school, my math class had a weekly optional assignment which was a competition among all the students of that teacher. This was a paper full of tricky math problems and students could choose to answer any of the questions or none at all. We would turn it in each week and the top student got their name on a special section of the white board as well as a "get of a homework assignment" pass. My name was the top scoring name on that board for all but a handful of weeks that year. And the funny part was that I loved math so much that I never turned in the homework passes at all. I didn't want to miss out on this homework because I liked the practice.
Needless to say, I grew up very much in my head and so, I believe, I put the pressure on myself to "make something of myself." I decided that I needed to choose a difficult career which required a lot of education and training and would set me apart from others around me. I decided I was going to become a medical doctor. I entered college and decided to become a Biology major so that I would be on the track to more easily be able to get into medical school.
The other part of my story is movement. I had taken my first ballet class at the age of 6 and I loved it!! I don't remember this, but my mother lovingly recounts how I took it upon myself to repay her for my classes by doing many jobs around the house. I loved dance and enjoyed showing some of the cooler steps with my next door neighbor friend back at home later in the day. A silly situation came up where I was unable to attend the recital at the end of the class and that discouraged me enough that I didn't return back to dance.
I stayed out of that world until high school when I joined the colorguard in the marching band. I got really good as well. In my third year, for instance, I had a solo, a duet, and a trio at various parts throughout the show. I loved the feeling of the performance, so when I went to college, dance became my minor.
These two parts of me were kept very separate and I was constantly debating with myself about if I was meant to be a dancer or a doctor. The dancer in me represented my connection with movement and my lower chakras and the doctor in me represented my upper chakra intellectualization. I lived with this internal battle even through my college graduation. Luckily, in finding yoga, I've learned that there is a place where I can have the best of both worlds. I believe that yoga can be very healing to self and others (doctor) and one of the great mediums of yoga is movement (dancer).
I am grateful to have learned that I can work on my chakras in the direction of unifying them at my heart. As I've been doing various yoga and meditation practices to build up my heart as the unity between my strong outer chakras, I've found a greater amount of contentedness in my relationships with family and friends (and less of a desire to try to control them!). My hope with this blog is to be able to help a few others realize that you can use your strengths to open your chakras. If you're not currently set up like everyone else around you, that is okay! Yoga is for everyone no matter where you are at right now! Comment below to discuss which chakras are your strength and which path of unity seems most appropriate for you!