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Chakras are energy centers in our body, located in the central center of the spine.
Chakras are regarded as meeting points, or interfaces between mind and body.
Every bodily sensation is a part of a conversation between the brain and some part of the physiology.
At a subtle level, according to the chakra system that dates back to 1500 B.C., these centers aren’t purely physical corresponding to bundles of nerves, major organs, but also affect our emotional and mental well-being extending to meaningful parts of our lives. When our chakras are in balance, open and aligned, we experience a “lightness of being”, feel grounded, alert, energetic, in balance and deeply connected to our intuition and innate wisdom, our Higher Self. This state of being not enables us to experience joy in life but also helps boosts our immunity system as proven by scientific research.
The Infinite Possibilities retreat in 2023 will focus on a specific energetic center/area in the body each day during vinyasa and yin/restorative practices. We will incorporate 7 chakra centers - root, sacral, solar, heart, throat, third eye and crown chakra - to learn how to balance, cleanse and align your chakras, developing a deep understanding about how to tap into the inner pharmacy of our body to obtain optimum wellness.
For experienced practitioners, this knowledge will enable them to go deeper into their practice with a more profound understanding on how to tap into the subtle layers of the body in their asana practice. Practitioners new to yoga will learn how to practice with deep awareness of their energetic centers in the body, giving them an in-depth understanding of each pose that goes beyond the superficial layer.
There will be a free beginner's yoga workshop at the beginning of the retreat for those students who are new to the practice.
The root chakra is at the base of the spine, and represents physical and emotional grounding, tending to our survival needs, taking care of the body. It is the most instinctual of all chakras – basis of our survival system – desire for safety, security and basic needs such as food an shelter – also emotional needs like family loyalty, beliefs and values.
When this chakra is in balance, we feel safe and grounded. We have the tools to stay calm and balanced amidst all the turmoil around us. We love and trust our body. We have a loving relationship with our body and we have learned to move away from body shaming practices of social media or the world around us. We feel at peace with ourselves. We are at home wherever we may go and have the ability to connect to our environment easily. When we are taking next steps in our life, even if there are risks, we make decisions from a place of trust in the earth we live in. Regardless of the unknows coming our way, we have no fear as are grounded and connected. We trust the earth and in our selves.
The balance of the root chakra can be thrown off when our roots are pulled up because of traveling, relocation, feeling fearful, and big changes in our body, family, finances, and business. Some people with busy minds and active imaginations, feel ungrounded most of the time, living more in the head than in the body. Grounding work that helps awaken the root chakra is very beneficial to these individuals so they can continue to be creative and expand their imagination while staying grounded and secure about the circumstances they are in .
Issues with spine, legs, feet and large intestine can be affected when this chakra is out of balance. In a more subtle level anxiety and worry are signs of blocked root chakra.
Grounding breath and body work as well as guided meditation that connects us to grounding elements help balance this chakra. Other balancing work includes, focusing on “root to rise” phenomena in yoga - learning to use the gravitational force of earth to length and strengthening our muscles in conjunction with breath work which includes bandha work with a focus on moola bandha which is in our pelvis. Bandha work leads to the activation of energy in certain specific parts of the body, with the help of the contraction on some muscle fibers, that accelerates the functions of all organs attached to that area.
Muscular skeletal work focusing on our hamstrings, calves, lower back, pelvis area, our feet and ankles help open up the root chakra channels.
Practices for balancing the root chakra: Mountain pose, child's pose, standing forward fold, warrior 2 , warrior 3, tree pose, hand to big toe pose (standing or laying down). Walk in nature in barefoot, connect with mother earth, garden, go for nature hikes, meditate with visuals of grounding elements such as trees and mountains,
Sacral chakra is associated with creativity in all its expressions. It is also embodies a wonderful element of yogic philosophy - the spiritual law of detachment - which is about our ability to detach ourselves from the need to control things we cannot control and surrender to life, embracing the mystery of life. It is also about being able to immerse ourselves with a deeper awakening of each moment rather than always being focused on the destination. It is about enjoying the journey of life with all its peaks and valleys, with the understanding that nothing is permanent.
Sacral chakra is located in the lower abdomen, below the navel right where perineum is.
When this chakra is balance, we access feelings of abundance, joy, pleasure and create the way we are meant to, we fell our creative energy to flowing freely. We are able to indulge in the moment, open up to pleasure and know how to go with the flow of life. This energy center fuels the creative force that enables one to paint a beautiful picture, write a novel, play music, build a business, come up with creative solutions to issues or create a life of love and abundance.
When blocked – perhaps by emotional trauma or chronic stress, we are unable to connect with our passions – we may want to control everything and our life may lack zest. We may feel uncomfortable with our sexuality, do not know how to flow in the pleasure of life and do not allow for emotional and sensual moments in our life.
Physically, body may manifest these shackled emotions as unexplained lower back pain, tight hip, reproductive challenges - sitting (car, desk) contributes to the restriction of this chakra’s creative energies through restricting our hips.
Areas of the body connected to this chakra are: hips, sacrum, lower back, sexual organs and genitals, womb, bladder, and kidneys.
All watery things about us have to do with this chakra: Water flows, moves, and changes, and a healthy second chakra allows us to do so too, encourages us to feel the feelings that arise. When we relax our resistance to life, our hips let go, our reproductive organs become less tense, and we’re open to experiencing our sensuality and sexuality.
Practices for balancing the sacral chakra: Allowing for emotional and sensual movement in our life, opening to pleasure, and learning how to “go with the flow.” Main yoga poses that open this chakra are: All hip openers - child's pose, yoga squat, goddess or horse pose, sitting or reclined butterfly pose, diamond pose, pigeon pose, figure four, warrior 2, extended side angle pose. All activities connected to water in nature help open this chakra - swimming, diving, paddle-boarding, sailing, walking by the beach.
Solar chakra is involved in self-esteem, warrior energy, and the power of transformation. It is located around the belly button and represents confidence and personal power.
A healthy, spirited Solar chakra supports us in overcoming inertia, jump-starting our “get-up-and-go” attitude so that we can take risks, assert our will, and assume responsibility for our life. Sensible risk-taking is one way of gaining confidence and flexing our third chakra power muscles. When this chakra is open, we realize our intentions. We are confident without being arrogant, we are motivated, purposeful, reliable and responsible. We believe in our self and feel empowered, however, we always carry a sense of humbleness regardless of what our accomplishments may be. This chakra is also the place of our deep belly laughter, warmth, ease, and the vitality we receive from performing selfless service.
In a state of balance, we are able to let go of things that do not serve us. We also have an ability to digest information as well as life experiences in way that brings us wisdom and peace. We only keep with us what brings us joy, self-confidence and empowerment and release anything that is toxic to our well being.
When the solar chakra is out of balance, we may display aggression, we may be overly domineering towards others or we may feel unmotivated to achieve things, not have self-confidence or feel like a victim .
Solar chakra is associated with our digestive system. Lack of balance in this chakra may manifest itself with blood sugar issues such as diabetes, digestive problems such as IBS, ulcers, as well as eating disorders, fatigue, excessive weight especially around the stomach.
Practices for balancing the solar chakra: When you feel in need of re-energizing, third chakra poses fan the flames of your inner fire and restore vitality so that you can move from the strength of your core. Poses that enhance core work such as boat pose, plank, chair pose, crow pose, downward dog as well as dynamic poses such as warrior 2, warrior 3, high lunge, extended side angle, half moon along with twisting poses such as twisted low and high lunge, twisted half moon, gentle supine twists are wonderful for balancing the solar chakra. Sun Salutations A and B are also helpful igniting your solar power. For more experienced practitioners, arm balances help ignite our core while also enhancing our warrior strength and power.
As for lifestyle practices, fan the flames of your inner fire and restore vitality. Consider cardio enhancing activities, connect with sun's energy by being outdoors - a walk on the beach or in a park when the sun is rising, connect with sun-sets. During the winter, enjoy a warm fire-place. in the mornings, drink healthy warm liquids such as warm water with lemon juice and ginger to enhance your digestion. Stay away from people and things that bring toxic energy. Surround yourself with people who give you empowerment, confidence and love.
Heart chakra rests in the center of the chakra system, at the core of our spirit. Its physical location is the heart, upper chest, and upper back. It is the balance point, integrating the world of matter (the lower three chakras) with the world of spirit (the upper three chakras).
Through the heart chakra, we open to and connect with harmony and peace. The health of our heart center registers the quality and power of love in our life. Its name implies that deep beneath our personal stories of brokenness and the pain in our heart, wholeness, boundless love, and a wellspring of compassion reside.
There is a deep relationship between physical and emotional heart - studies show that among patients with recent heart attacks, those who are in loving relationships have fewer complications and better outcomes. People who view the world as a hostile place have premature heart attacks more often than people who see the world as a nurturing place.
Every act of giving is an act of receiving – each time you receive a gift in your life, you are providing some opportunity for someone to give. Just as the physical heart receives blood which it then pumps out once it is oxygenated, your emotional heart stays healthy by receiving and giving love
This chakra’s element is air. Air spreads and energizes. Like water, air assumes the shape of whatever it fills, yet it is less subject to gravity than water. When you feel swept up in love, you often need to replant your first chakra in order to stay grounded. When we lead with our head and not with the heart, we may be overly focused on thought and tend to cut ourselves off from the emotions and the body.
Some signs that the heart chakra is overpowering your life can include co-dependency, possessiveness, jealousy, heart disease, and high blood pressure. When blocked, sense of alienation from others and inability to full open our heart to love may manifest. While people with deficient heart chakras need to open to receive love more fully, those with excessive heart chakras find healing by slowing down to discover inside themselves the nourishment they have been seeking from others.
Practices for opening the heart chakra: Forward bends are the best antidote for excessive heart chakras, because they are grounding and foster introspection. For heart chakra blockages, heart opening poses such as back bends, bridge, wheel, camel, wrapped side angle, wrapped triangle, fish pose are helpful.
For lifestyle practices, start by giving your love and kindness to those in need by doing volunteering work. Make a commitment to say "I love you" to those you really do. Try to forgive and let go of grievances by forgiving and letting go so your heart stays open and pure. The road to healing and opening the heart starts by releasing blockages that don't serve us.
The most powerful way to open, energize, and balance not just the heart chakra but all of our chakras is to love ourselves and others. Love is the greatest healer. In our yoga practice, remembering what we love and appreciate as we practice fourth chakra asanas enhances the power of the poses and our general well-being.
Opening this chakra will open heal both the physical heart and the spiritual (emotional) heart center and open yourself up to unconditional love and compassion. When open you feel connected at a deep level to all beings in your life
Located in the neck, throat, jaw, and mouth, the throat chakra resonates with our inner truth and helps us find a personal way to convey our voice to the outside world. The rhythm of music, creativity of dance, the vibration of singing, and the communication we make through writing and speaking are all fifth chakra ways to express ourselves. Throat chakra works closely with sacral chakra that is the seed of our creativity. In order for those creative ideas to flourish and manifest, they have to have a way to manifest themselves. This is where the throat chakra comes in.
When the throat chakra is open and flowing, we have confidence that we are communicating our needs and expressing the truth without concern for censors or critics. Anxiety over how people will react to our views does not arise when energy is flowing freely through this chakra. This does not mean we are hurtful or insensitive – people with open throat chakras who have balance in this area are very effective communicators and are sensitive to the feelings of others. They have high emotional intelligence that is infused in their oral and written communication.
When throat chakra is obstructed, we will feel we are not being heard and we feel inhibited about expressing our own truth. We are concerned about being judged and place other people's opinion of ourselves above our wellbeing. A simple example of a blocked throat chakra is the inability to say "no" and sent boundaries to people who emotionally abuse us or take advantage of our kindness. Or, we are unable to say "no" to excessive invitations for social gatherings wanting to please people rather than listening to our inner voice and taking time for self-care and introspective practices.
A blocked vishudda chakra may make us unwilling or unable to speak up to defend ourself, express our opinion or state our choices that are connected to our deep wisdom. When difficult conversations arise, we may choose to stay quite rather than express our true opinion. An imbalance of the throat chakra in the other direction is when we talk too much, we are unable to listen to other people, we cut people off or talk over people, dominate the conversations or need to have the last word and/or we have difficulty in expressing our views clearly.
Physical manifestations of blocked or out of balance throat chakra are thyroid problems, hoarseness, sore throat, sores in the mouth or throat, throat cancer, gum disease, ear infection, sinus infection, TMJ issues, tight shoulders and upper back, voice-box issues, chronic laryngitis.
Practices for balancing/opening the throat chakra: Extended side angle and triangle pose with binds, focusing on lengthening the neck in all standing poses, heart opener poses such as cobra, cat and cow, fish pose, camel pose, wheel, bow pose, dolphin pose, upward and downward dog, forward folds, gentle supine twists incorporating gentle neck stretches, spinx pose. Pranayama (breath work) with specific emphasis on lion's breath and breath of fire. Incorporating sound into your breath work such as "OM".
Chanting, singing or humming are very healing to cleanse the throat chakra. Warm tea and honey will help soothe the throat and create a sense of calm in this area. Have bigger awareness about how aligned you are to your own truth when you are speaking. Work on your listening skills as much as your speaking skills. If you notice you are dominating conversations, learn to take pleasure in listening and being interested in the stories of others.
Healthy communication includes honest communication with yourself. Once you align your speech with your inner wisdom, enlightenment will happen.
The sixth chakra is located between and just above the physical eyes, creating the spiritual third eye. The third eye is the seat of consciousness and as well as our “sixth” sense. While our eyes see the material world, third eye chakra helps us look into deeper realms: intuition, imagination, creativity and visualization.
When this chakra is open, we are connected to our spirituality and we can access our intuition when making decisions. We have increased consciousness and awareness of our "Higher Self" and can listen and hear our “gut” feeling when we need to. Our inner wisdom guides us in life which allows us to live in harmony and on the path towards our true calling.
This chakra is involved both in the creation and perception of art in all of its forms. It taps into our creativity in its purest form.
When the third eye is in excess, we experience headaches, hallucinations, nightmares, and difficulty concentrating. We may feel disconnected from the material world and turn inwards excessively and become isolated. When this chakra is deficient, we have a poor memory, experience eye problems, issues with our brain, memory issues, have difficulty recognizing patterns, and can’t visualize well. In this state, we are disconnected from our inner wisdom and have a hard time making decisions or regret the paths we take in life. We derive joy from material things around us rather than learning to tap into the boundless inner resource which resides within us.
Practices: Pratyahara – the drawing inward of the senses strengthens and balances the sixth chakra. Inward turning practices such as meditation enhance our connection to our essence. Closing our eyes in a yoga practice, in any pose, also stimulates the third eye chakra because our vision is directed more deeply inside ourself rather than being occupied with how the poses we go into look from outside.
Supported forward bends or poses such as spinx, pigeon or child’s pose with a block or blanket gently pressing against our forehead stimulate our third eye chakra. Also, creating positive images and visualizations as well as affirmative visions help foster balance in this energy center. Yin and restorative yoga practices are particularly very helpful in balancing the sixth chakra as these practices allow us to slow down and turn inwards.
Pranayama (breath work) that enhances our rest and relaxation response with deep yogic breathing (Ujjai) and diaphragmatic breathing techniques help us connect to our inner self by using the sound of our breath as our anchor for the present moment; thus transcending the thinking mind and accessing the inner wisdom which resides in the gap between the thought patterns.
The seventh chakra is located at the crown of the head and serves as the crown of the chakra system, symbolizing the highest state of enlightenment and facilitating our spiritual development.
This chakra is associated with the highest functions of the mind that transcends thought patterns. It controls our sense of universal consciousness, wisdom, unity and self-knowledge.
When your crown chakra is flowing freely, you are aligned with your "Dharma", your true calling and feel a deep connection to everything around you. Your resource of deep joy comes from within rather than things or people around you. You not only learn to live in pure awareness and remain undisturbed if unexpected change or fluctuations of life come your way.
When you balance the crown chakra, you will have a sense of "lightness of being". You will feel at ease, with mental clarity.
The Sanskrit word for Sahasrara means "thousand" or "infinite". The awakening of the crown chakra means a universal flow of energy and the ability to have a fully awakened consciousness that allow us to access higher states of being that go and beyond the physical realm. The seed mantra for Sahashara Chakra is AUM and is considered to enhance brain functions such as memory, intelligence and sharp focus.
Signs of a blocked or deficient crown chakra are: Being too attached to materialistic pursuits, unwillingness to be open to other ideas or knowledge, mockery of spirituality, disconnection from inward turning practices, lack of inspiration, poor coordination, chronic headaches, exhaustion. If this chakra is in excess, the manifestations are being disconnected and ungrounded and disassociation from the body. Hyper spiritualization, poor mental functioning, a lack of connection to the world and a lack of focus may surface.
Practices: Meditation, specifically mantra-based Primordial Sound Meditation is a highly effective way to access and open our crown chakra. Breathing techniques such as Nadi Shodhan (alternate nostril breathing) prepare us for meditation by settling the mind and helping us be present in the moment. In the yoga asana practice, inward turning poses such as sitting and standing forward folds as well as inversions help stimulate the seventh chakra.
Focused on transcendence, many people seeking higher consciousness have disregarded the importance of the lower chakras. Yet we all need strong and solid support of our base chakras in order to open to the spiritual in a healthy and integrated way. The lower chakras focus on details such as our home, family, and feelings, while the upper chakras develop synthesizing views and wisdom that help us understand the grander order of things. All of our chakras affect one another and ultimately work together. As we learn to use this ancient Vedic system to understand our lives, we can gain insight into personal issues that require our attention—and we can use use different tools to bring our chakras and life in harmony.