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“Surely a man needs a closed place wherein he may strike root and, like the seed, become.  But also he needs the great Milky Way above him and the vast sea spaces, though neither stars nor ocean serve his daily needs.”  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Wisdom of the Sands, translated from French by Stuart Gilbert

muladhara

The Muladhara (Root) Chakra is the 1st Chakra, and is located at the base of the spine. It deals with your physical and material consciousness, how you express yourself in ways that make you feel safe, and how you choose to protect yourself. It is involved with establishing a healthy sense of groundedness, taking care of our bodies, and purging our bodies of waste. It is associated with the color red and the element earth. The associated body parts include the base of the spine, the legs, feet, and the large intestine.

Those who are strong in the Root Chakra are usually leaders and have magnetic personalities. When this chakra is in balance, you feel great and have a lot of energy. You feel comfortable with yourself and with the world.

Those who are depleted or blocked in the Root Chakra tend to feel fearful and unsure.  The will seek attention and pleasure through the actions of others, which could cause them to be very easily manipulated and vulnerable. You can use yoga to help you by focusing on grounding postures that primarily work the feet, leg and thigh muscles.  Standing poses are great to practice as they are great at helping to ground you to the Earth (like Chair Pose, Warrior poses).

Those who are overactive in the Root Chakra are driven to acquire more and more material things, which will eventually lead to frustration and disappointment, since objects cannot truly fulfill a person.  Appearances matter most to people who have an overactive Root Chakra, and they are disconnected from their inner environment.  They tend to be stubborn, violent and unyielding. You can use yoga to help you by focusing on poses that stretch and lengthen the legs. These help your body become less stubborn and more yielding. Forward bends, Downward Dog (particularly variations that release all areas of the calves), and reclining twists are great poses to work in if you are overactive in this chakra.

We’ll be working on poses in class this week that will help create balance in the root chakra. If you’re able to make it to class, try to come knowing whether you are already pretty balanced, overactive or underactive. You can modify during class to suit what will serve you best in regard to balancing this chakra. If you’re not able to come to class, below is a short sequence you can try on your own. Feel free to do it as-is, or you can extend it to a longer practice by including a longer warm-up, Sun Salutations, and mixing vinyasas in where you wish.

  1. Start in Butterfly Pose. In this pose, take a few moments to rub the bottoms of the feet, massaging out any knots, curling and uncurling your toes. Wake those feet up!
  2. Butterfly Twist. Simply exhale as you twist to one side, inhale back to center, and exhale as you twist to the other side. Repeat 5X on each side.
  3. Table Top
  4. Cat/Cow (10X)
  5. Child’s Pose
  6. Downward Dog (make it dynamic, moving the legs in any way that loosens up the legs)
  7. Forward Fold
  8. Mountain Pose
  9. Forward Fold
  10. Runner’s Lunge (right leg)
  11. Crescent Lunge
  12. Warrior 2
  13. Peaceful Warrior
  14. Extended Side Angle
  15. Triangle
  16. Pyramid (Parsvottanasana)
  17. Standing Straddle Splits (Prasarita Padottasana)
  18. Vinyasa if you wish and make your way back to Forward Fold.
  19. Repeat poses 10-16 on the left leg
  20. Standing Straddle Splits (Prasarita Padottasana)
  21. Head-to-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana) on each side
  22. Seated Forward Fold
  23. Supine Butterfly
  24. Happy Baby
  25. Savasana
Namaste,
Melanie

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“It’s not your job to like me — it’s mine.” ~~ Byron Katie

When is the last time you stopped and thought about how you feel about yourself? I’d be willing to bet it’s been awhile for most of us, myself included. However, I was challenged this week to stop and really take the time to reflect on how I see myself, so I decided to accept the challenge.

Wow! It was eye opening! I couldn’t believe how much I constantly beat myself up and doubt myself over every little thing! How many times I found myself thinking I wasn’t good enough at this or that, how I didn’t deserve this or that, how I should have done this or that differently. There were so many more negative thoughts than I would have ever imagined, and I didn’t like the fact that I saw myself in these ways. Not one bit!

When setbacks or self-doubt show up, we can become our own worst critic, and it can be very detrimental to our health and well-being. The solution is self-compassion. We need to ensure we find a way to open to, forgive, and move beyond whatever stress and pain we may be feeling. If we don’t, we’ll never be able to move forward.

This week’s focus is to work on finding your self-compassion. Find ways to listen to yourself, support yourself and encourage yourself. Just like you would do for anyone you really care about…do this same thing for yourself. After all, if you can’t like yourself, how can you expect anyone else to like you?

If you are currently going through something difficult in your life, then think about the advice you’d give to a friend who is going through something similar. What would say to encourage and support that person? Whatever it is, offer that same advice to yourself…and then listen to it!

Also, take the time to list out all the good things about yourself. What are your strengths? Refer to this list frequently to remind yourself how wonderful you truly are!

On the mat this week, we’ll be working on some poses that will challenge our hips and shoulders. These areas of the body tend to be where many of us store our stress and emotions. For many of us, this results in extreme tightness in these areas. In every class I’ve ever taught, whenever we get to a really deep hip or shoulder opening pose, I usually hear people beating themselves up. Things like:

  • “I can’t do this!”
  • “I’ll never be able to do that!”
  • “God, I am HORRIBLE in this pose!”

Hey, I know what it’s like…I’m guilty of it myself, when I get the chance to be a student.

So my challenge to you this week on the mat is to change your thinking when you come across these challenging poses. Instead of saying negative things about how you look or feel in the pose, find something good to say. What could you say to support where you happen to be in the pose RIGHT NOW? What could you say to encourage yourself to not give up?

Do this on your mat enough, and you’ll find it easy to do the same when you’re out in the world, doing what you do everyday. Always support yourself, always encourage yourself. And most importantly, always LIKE yourself!

I sure hope to see you on the mat with me this week, but if not, have a great time with this challenge. It may not be easy for you…it was not easy for me, that’s for sure! But the more I worked on this challenge, the better I felt. And I saw that I really am a good person, who is worthy of good things. You are too…you are worthy of good things…you just have to believe it!

Namaste,

Melanie

8/18 Update:
So today was my first class of the week, so the first time with this theme. I told everyone the challenge to be compassionate towards ourselves, and off we went. Then, when we got to the challenging poses, I caught myself over and over again saying how hard they were or how tight I am, etc. looks like I need a LOT more self-compassion. This is going to be a real mental shift for me. But I know I can do it!

“Life is always NOW.” ~~ Tennessee Williams

How many of you out there are “overthinkers”? You know, when you get a thought, that thought turns into another thought, which turns into another, and another…and then before you know it, you’ve thought about a ton of things, none of which really matter RIGHT NOW. Sound familiar?

If so, you are in good company. This is my life most every single day. My husband constantly tells me that my “overthinking” is what makes me a complete stress ball all the time. And you know what? He’s absolutely right. I think things to death, which means I’m rarely ever relaxed because I am always worrying about SOMETHING.  Worrying about decisions I’ve already made, worrying about decisions I need to make. You get the point.

I’ve written at least one blog post before on this topic, but it’s so important, I wanted to cover it again. So many of my friends and family are going through some tough stuff right now. It seems like everyone I love and care about is worried about something, and rightfully so. Many of my yoga students as well…I’ve had several of them tell me about things going on that have just caused tremendous amounts of stress and worry.

I’m a constant work in progress, as you all know if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time. These past few weeks have been some of the most stressful I can remember in a LONG time, and I could feel the negative effects it was having on me, especially in regards to my health.

So I took my own advice. I stopped and reset. I scanned my body and my mind, at the present moment, and listened to what they were telling me I needed. And you know what? I am glad I did. I ended up changing the workouts I’d planned to do because when I listened to my body, I realized what I’d planned would probably make things worse because the intensity would’ve been too much. I ended up not saying “yes” to everything asked of me, because I realized my mind and my energy were basically depleted…I had nothing to give that would’ve been beneficial to anyone, least of all myself. And so I said “no” and didn’t feel the least bit bad about it. I crafted some really amazing stretches and breathing exercises for myself, and I moved in the ways I needed to move, because I listened.

And you know what? It’s been great. My back has been pain-free since Monday…I’ve not gone this many days pain-free in quite some time. I feel more focused. I feel more at peace. I feel….rejuvenated.

So if you are one of those people who, like me, think things to death…STOP! You can’t change the past, so there is no sense worrying about it. You can’t control what will happen in the future, no matter how much you think you can. All you can do is to focus on RIGHT NOW. What do you need to do RIGHT NOW to help you on your journey to being the person you feel you are meant to be?

In the classes I teach this coming week, we’ll be focusing on connecting to the present moment. On our mats, it’s important to tap in to how our bodies and minds feel in each and every pose, so that we can ensure we’re doing variations that are appropriate…I know I say this all the time in class, so I probably sound like a broken recorder. But if your energy is low or you are nursing a pain somewhere in your body, you may not be able to attempt more advanced variations you may be used to doing…and that’s OK. Remember…don’t think about the past! And don’t think about the variation you hope to achieve someday…worrying about what may never come is a waste of your time and will only cause you to fret if you don’t feel you’ve made enough progress. Simply enjoy, in each and every pose, where you are at that moment. Find that sweet spot where you can truly feel and enjoy what each muscle is doing, where you can breathe deeply and evenly, and where you can let go of all your worries and just be in the moment.

The quote above by Tennessee Williams couldn’t be more appropriate, and was a nice reminder for me these past few weeks. I hope it is for you as well. Life is NOW. Enjoy it!

Namaste,

Melanie

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