Looking for a head-to-toe re-boot? This practice will balance your chakras and help you feel like a new yogi.
Every so often, it’s important to do an emotional-baggage check, to clear out what no longer serves you and make room for what will. And while you could hit the self-help book aisle of your favorite book store or see a therapist or life coach to do this important work, you can also work with your chakras—the seven energy centers that run along your central channel. In fact, practicing with the chakras in mind is the tool to helping you “repack” your emotional baggage.
See also A Beginner’s Guide to the Chakras
Keep in mind that working with your chakras is no easy task—but the results are worth the effort. Click through for practices that will help you use your chakras to resolve any negativity holding you back, so you can start to rewrite your old stories into new ones that serve you on your yogic path.
How a Daily Chakra Meditation Unlocked More Time and Space in My Life
One yogi never had enough hours in the day to tend to it all, much less herself. Here’s how this regular Tantric practice inspired a change.
As a yogi, I’ve grasped the concept of abundance—intellectually. But as someone easily whacked out of balance by overbearing personalities or overwhelming workloads, I’ve never been entirely convinced that the universe could accommodate both my needs and virtually anything else at hand. Things get crowded quickly. My chest tightens and hip flexors grip; I ditch plans to practice yoga, stop making nourishing meals, and skip dates to connect with dear friends—or, most importantly, myself.
It may all go back to growing up in a Greek household, which involved what I’ll generously call a spirited communication style. Somehow, stillness and peace were elusive in a two-story home with big bedrooms and a finished basement. And this perceived lack of space spilled into an underlying, unchecked zero-sum mentality that has shaped my perspective ever since.
In early college, roommates and I lamented the supposed dearth of eligible partners in the dating scene. When peers sustained relationships, I’d shake my head and say, “they’re stealing from the sex pot,” as though, like a soup special on a cold day, our campus could just run out of love.
Last year, a yoga teacher and I showed up for a filming project and both felt under the weather. By mid-afternoon, I’d recovered; “I used up all the good vibes when you needed it most!” I joked. She (kindly) reminded me that there is an infinite source of healing for all.
This isn’t exactly what I thought I’d confront as I embarked on YJ’s month-long challenge to practice a chakra meditation every day. Finding calm? Sure. Less stress? Looked forward to that. Spiritual ecstasy? If I’m lucky, great—but not a must. Instead, it was time to take a look at my internal space-time continuum.
See also YJ’s March Meditation Challenge Will Help You Stick to a Steady Practice
Balancing the Chakras
The 31-day challenge began without ceremony on New Year’s Day in Brussels, where my partner and I were visiting family. I sat in the unmade guest bed, welcomed a purring Chartreux voluntarily curled up in my lap, and fired up a 20-minute guided chakra meditation from legendary Tantra teacher Sally Kempton.
New to chakras? Here’s a quick primer: Chakras are whirling forces of subtle energy associated with different aspects of the physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies. There are 7 (of many more) chakras primarily taught in yoga, and this is what they stand for:
- Muladhara (Root): Earth, security, home, finances
- Svadhisthana (Sacral): Water, creativity, sexuality
- Manipura (Solar Plexus): Fire, sense of self
- Anahata (Heart): Air, love
- Visuddha (Throat): Space, communication from the heart’s truth
- Ajna (Third Eye): Light, intuition
- Sahasrara (Crown): Bliss, divine connection
(You can get sucked into learning more about the chakras here.)
They are strung along the sushumna nadi, a central channel of life force that runs from the base of the spine through the crown of the head. The idea is that balancing the chakras—by focusing breath, mantras (sounds), yantras (shapes), imagery, and colors in their respective locations along this totem—allows you to access this sacred streak of energy.
When I asked Sally about what happens when (and if) you open the central channel, she dangled a taste of nonduality. In Tantra, reality is a universe in which everyone is one with the divine. “You can become aware that your body is a formless, vast undulating center full of light and bliss,” she said. “It’s a fairly dramatic experience.”
It all sounds esoteric, so I wouldn’t expect everyone to embrace it. But I’d microdosed on chakra practices for over 15 years, so I was ready to dive in. When I was 20, I found a random chakra book in my East Village sublet and journaled a root chakra affirmation that resonated: “I am safe, I trust in the natural flow of life, I take my natural place in the world content in the knowledge that all I need will come to me in the right time and place.” Years later, within the context of a vigorous flow, Seane Corn presented the chakras as a psychological roadmap for growth.
Then I met Tantra and Kriya masters Alan and Sarah Finger, who truly brought the chakras to light and offered concrete techniques to harmonize them. They also answered a good question: How do you actually locate a chakra? For me, bija (seed) mantras were the entry point; if I focused enough, repeating the staccato sounds (such as lam for the root chakra) help me trace a pulse in a specific location (pelvic floor).
Even so, beaming awareness and imagery to ambiguous areas in my body required concentration and good faith. As a result, the neurotic part of my brain didn’t focus on the usual storylines: deadlines, challenges, or omg how much time is left in this meditation?! I was lulled by the mantras’ vibrations, and all the visualizations inspired my imagination—a boon for anyone who spends too much time in Type-A territory.
There was a misstep when I first imagined elements—earth, water, fire, space, light, bliss—associated with each chakra. Before Brussels, I’d traveled to Rome, so my mind conjured scenes from the Colosseum: snarled roots in its underbelly; water rising in the amphitheater… I quickly decided not to instill scenes from such an infamous space.
Instead I coaxed meaningful imagery: Strong roots holding up the mermaid-like mahogany trees I’d seen on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula; emerald lakes tucked into rarely trekked valleys of the Sierra Nevada that I’d swam in; the pulse of my apartment stove’s burner enacting a flame in my belly; a tiny flame on a stick of palo santo in my heart center. A Magritte sky in my throat, leading to a golden hour light spilling in from my third eye and crown.
Watch also: What, Exactly, Are the Chakras? Alan Finger Explains
How the Chakras Created Space in My Body, Mind… and Life
Right away things shifted. I was still on holiday when my coworkers began trickling back into the office. Although I still checked my email—it may take a year of meditation to bust that habit—I didn’t feel my heart pound as they came in. I felt freedom as I visited museums, enjoyed the art nouveau architecture, and connected with family.
Instead of seeking the usual alone time when I returned to New York, I invited good friends over for dinner and king cake. Once I resumed the grind, that vacation halo lasted longer than usual. Each meditation felt like it was literally emptying me of clutter and fog, leaving me with clarity.
The real test came later in the month, when my schedule packed up. I prepared for an upcoming filming in another state. I assisted a week-long yoga training that lasted from early morning until evening, and then came home to complete the day’s work. Oh, and a friend from California came to stay with me.
Even for someone who doesn’t easily get overwhelmed, a lot was going on. And it would have been my default to shut out my friend, worry my way through the training, or just operate from the adrenaline.
There’s a pop culture adage that we all have the same amount of time in a day as Beyoncé. Maybe her secret is chakra meditations, because as I found space in my practice, my life opened up. I didn’t have to turn anything down, yet I didn’t feel resentful saying yes. All that inward focus cultivated a strong sense of embodiment. I could be present without losing my wits (or myself) in the process.
When the subway literally broke one morning before training, I didn’t agonize that I’d be late. I calmly walked 20 minutes to the nearest bus route, emailed my teacher, and meditated. (I showed up on time anyway.)
See also This is the Reason I Take the Subway 45 Minutes Uptown to Work Out – Even Though There’s a Gym On My Block
During the training, I knocked over a tripod and it came crashing down during a calming restorative practice. I froze with horror; attempting to melt into my mat was futile. Shit happens, and I was grateful for a makeshift chakra meditation in that moment to move past embarrassment.
I felt peace in this chaotic schedule and could summon an abundance of presence, making deep connections with students at the training, laughing with my good friend at midnight, being kinder to my partner, and, most importantly, tending to myself.
It may sound odd that I “allowed” myself these basic needs and simple pleasures, but it’s true: In the past, the weight of a to-do list or a lot of social obligations meant I didn’t have room for myself. I may not have experienced the splendor of the infinite universe (yet!), but this meditation expanded time and space so I could register the divine moments every day.
I started my days with a cup of coffee on the sofa and read instead of clacking away at emails. I prepared an egg and avocado breakfast. I stole moments to enjoy the way the low winter sun lit the pastel buildings in Soho.
See also This is Your Brain on Meditation
40 Best Yoga Gifts of 2018
Want to wow every yogi on your list? Here are the best (subtle) energy boosters that promise to boost wellbeing, comfort, vitality, and joy.
Yogis are notoriously hard to shop for. Either they already own a gajillion pairs of yoga pants, malas, and essential oils—or they’ve gone the other extreme and taken a vow of asceticism. Enter these unique yoga gifts, which amplify the subtle energies of our chakras, keep us grounded, raise our vibe, and promote overall wellbeing. So, look no further: We’ve taken the legwork out of shopping this season by rounding up the best yoga gifts for 2018 and beyond.
See also A Holiday Gift Guide Inspired by the Five Elements
About the Author
Elizabeth Marglin is a yogi and writer in Lyons, Colorado.
5 Gifts Yogis Will Love, Inspired by the Crown Chakra
Want to wow every yogi on your list? Here are the best (subtle) energy boosters that promise to bring the seventh chakra back into alignment.
The seventh chakra, sahasrara, is located at the crown of the head. “Sahasrara” means thousand-petaled and represents a thousand-petaled lotus flower. Integrate your entire being from head to toe with these gifts to experience a vast connection between your innermost self and all things.
See also Chakra Tune-Up: Intro to the Sahasrara
Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)
surrender • connection • spirit • prophecy • destiny • purpose
1. Christian Berry Gem Catcher
One-of-a-kind dreamcatchers—this one made with amethyst to connect with higher domains—serve as stunning talismans of psychic expansiveness. Berry customizes each one by consulting with tarot cards and his finely honed intuition (from $60, shopeverydaymagic.com).
2. Naturally Dyed Goods Lavender Eye Pillow
Mindful textiles speak volumes about our relationship to the environment. This simple eye pillow, packed with lentils, rice, and lavender buds, will quiet the nervous system and help induce deep rest, the purview of the crown chakra ($16, naturallydyedgoods.com).
3. Among the Flowers Cedar + Rose Smudge Stick
This delicate bouquet of hand-bound herbs and blooms is burned to lift consciousness and clear negativity—making way for connection to purpose and destiny ($16, amongtheflowers.com).
4. Upstate Silk Pillowcase in Galaxy
The crown chakra relates to the pineal gland, which regulates hormones, emotions, and circadian rhythms. This silken, hypoallergenic pillowcase—hand-dyed in Brooklyn, brings serenity to dedicated dreamers ($136, youreupstate.com).
5. P.F. Candle Co. Incense
The crown chakra’s aim of uniting human consciousness with the divine is exemplified by incense, which was invented to appease the gods with its pleasant aroma. We’re obsessed with P.F. Candle Co. hand-dipped incense blends, sourced from rich but often unacknowledged scents, such as teakwood and moss, found in nature ($8 a pack, pfcandleco.com).
See also A Yoga Sequence to Help You Balance Effort and Surrender
About the Author
Elizabeth Marglin is a yogi and writer in Lyons, Colorado.
Balance1 month ago
Are You Traveling to India for the Right Reasons?
Gluten Free7 months ago
Wild Rice Vegan Stuffing with Roasted Sweet Potato & Apple
cashew cream8 months ago
Creamy Vegan Chick’n Rice Skillet Supper
blog friends8 months ago
Brandi Doming’s Thai Red Curry Sweet Potato Dip
comfort food7 months ago
Creamy Vegan Skillet Lasagna | The Full Helping
Life7 months ago
This Is the Guide to Yoga and Meditation We Wish We Had Growing Up
Nutrition and Wellness8 months ago
Weekend Reading | The Full Helping
Nutrition and Wellness4 weeks ago
Weekend Reading | The Full Helping