Svadhisthana Chakra: Creation and Sexuality

Second Chakra basics

Svadhisthana Chakra or Sacral Chakra

Sva – “self” or “prana”
Adhistana – “dwelling place” “abode” or “seat”

The Svadhisthana Chakra is the Dwelling Place of the Self. It is our second chakra and it is located at our sacrum. It generates our sense of personal identity and psychological boundaries and governs our sensuality and our ability to connect deeply with others.

When Svadhisthana is open and healthy we feel passionate, worthy, vibrant, playful, and full of life. We feel creative, sensual, desirable, and we are able to express our emotions. We feel comfortable in your own skin and in our sexuality.

The second chakra starts to develop around age seven when the child begins to explore their power of choice, their individuality, and they start to form relationships of their own.

Svadhisthana Chakra is characterized by our need for relationships. Relationships are spiritual messengers… they teach us the lessons we need to thrive. Relationships teach us about our strengths and our weaknesses. They shine the light on our habitual patterns and opportunities for growth. We learn how to interact consciously with others, to nurture the relationships with those that support our growth and to discard the relationships that hold us back.

Svadhisthana Chakra at a Glance:

  • Location: Sacrum and reproductive organs
  • Element: Water
  • Color: Orange/Vermillion
  • Lotus: Six Petaled
  • Bija Mantra: VAM
  • Aspects: Procreation, family, fantasy, creativity, sexuality
  • Sense: Taste
  • Vayu: Apana
  • Planet: Mercury
  • Kosha: Pranamaya

Need a chakra primer? Check out these two articles introducing the chakras.

Introduction to the Chakras

Seven Chakras Every Yogi Must Know

sacral chakra intimacy sensuality

Svadhisthana holds our feelings around intimacy, worthiness, sensuality, creativity, and desires. It is associated with our ability to maintain our sense of self in our relationships and interactions.

In Anatomy of the Spirit, Carolyn Myss defines the strengths of Svadhisthana as, “The ability and stamina to survive financially and physically on one’s own and to defend and protect oneself; the “fight or flight” instinct; the ability to take risks; the resilience to recover from loss whether of family members, partners, property, occupation, or finances; the power to rebel and reestablish a life and personal and professional decision-making ability and talent.”

Svadhisthana Chakra is characterized by the power of choice, the law of cause and effect. “Every choice we make contributes a subtle current of our energy to our universe, which is responsive to the influence of human consciousness.” Svadhisthana is associated with the unconscious mind and is considered the storehouse of our samskaras. Past experiences directly influence our attitudes and how we behave and react today, whether we remember those experiences or not.

“All the attachments by which we maintain control over our external lives, such as authority, other people, or money, are linked through this chakra to our energy field and physical body. The illnesses that originate in this energy center are activated by the fear of losing control.” Caroline Myss

When Svadhisthana Chakra is Imbalanced

An imbalanced sacral chakra can cause low libido, feelings of low vitality, reproductive problems (ovarian cysts, endometriosis, testicular or prostate disease), joint problems, back pain, urinary tract problems, constipation, IBS, muscle spasms, and dehydration.

On an emotional level, you may have trouble connecting with others, you may feel disconnected, your emotions may be unstable, you may express feelings of shame or guilt, you may struggle with vulnerability or experience lack of self-control and/or creativity.

A lot of heavy fears are also associated with our second chakra, from losing control to being dominated by a person, event or circumstance.

When the Second Chakra is overactive we may be attached to pleasure and suffer from addiction, gluttony, greed, obesity, hormone imbalances and/or restlessness.

An underactive Second Chakra often manifests as depression, decreased sex drive, feeling stuck, or a lack of passion and creativity. Its cause? Spending too much time focused on practicalities and not giving ourselves time to experience pleasure in its many forms.

Skip to the last section to find out how to bring your second chakra back into balance.

Svadisthana Chakra and the Water Element

Water is life-giving. Did you know that up to 60% of the adult human body is made of water and about 71% of Earth’s surface is water? As humans, water is present in our blood, mucus, urine, saliva, lymph and other body fluids as well as in our brain, heart, lungs, skin and it’s even in our bones… it’s everywhere.

Water is intimately connected with the moon… think of the tides of the ocean, which are connected to the lunar cycle. I’m sure you’ve also experienced the influence of the waxing and waning of the moon on your own body chemistry and emotions.

svadhisthana chakra flow

According to Harish Johari, the “lunar energy is evoked when the water element (which is dominant for 16 minutes in each nasal breath cycle of one hour) is accompanied by breathing dominated by the left nostril. Left nostril breathing activates Ida Nadi, which is lunar in nature. When the Ida Nadi is activated, it stimulates the right hemisphere of the brain, which is related to emotional behavior. Thus, in this chakra, we see the relationship between water, the moon, emotions, and the psyche.”

To awaken Svadisthana embody fluidity and flow in your movements, your mind and your breath.

The Svadhisthana Yantra and the Six-Petaled Lotus

The Svadhisthana Chakra is symbolized by a six-petaled lotus. As stated in the Mahanirvana Tantra, the six petals of Svadhisthana represent six mental modifications or vrittis:

  • Affection (indulgence)
  • Suspicion
  • Disdain
  • Delusion
  • Destructiveness
  • Pitilessness

The Bija Mantra for the Sacral Chakra

The bija mantra or seed sound for Svadhisthana Chakra is VAM. When chanted it guides Kundalini shakti up to the second chakra and increases the flow of prana (life force) to the second chakra.

The Second Chakra and Our Sense of Taste

When Svadhisthana Chakra is healthy, food is eaten not just for sustenance, it is enjoyed.

Svadhisthana Chakra and Apana Vayu

Svadisthana is associated with Apana Vayu. Apana is the Vayu that expels semen from the male organ and urine from the urethra, it is the energy behind passing a bowel movement and that which pushes the baby from the womb during birth. Think of “down and out” as the flow of Apana Vayu.

Tips and Practices for Svadhisthana Chakra

So now that we know more about the Svadhisthana Chakra, how do we bring it back into balance or keep it in balance?

Tips for an Underactive Second Chakra

If you’re feeling uninspired and you lack passion, make time to experience pleasure or joy. Paint, hike, draw, dance, create, swim in the sea, have sex, self-pleasure.

Try something new. Take a dance class. Learn martial arts. Do yoga. Tap into your artistic side. Prepare food for friends and family.

Tips for an Overactive Svadhisthana Chakra

If you’re feeling unable to control your physical desires or addiction, work on practicing brahmacharya (moderation — in it’s most modern translation). You may also choose to seek the help of a professional.

Much of the healing for the second chakra comes from healing past traumas. Now is the time to do the work and to heal. You can work with a professional, find guides online, or even journal. Journaling is an amazing practice to let go of past traumas and their associated pain, shame and guilt.

Tips and Practices for Anyone Interested in Healing Svadhisthana

Take a warm bath. No distractions. No phone. No kids/partners/pets. Time just for you. Bonus: add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. These oils are all great for the second chakra: Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemongrass, Geranium, Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Jasmine, Neroli, Clary Sage and Patchouli.

Practice abhyanga or Ayurvedic self-massage. After your warm bath put an old towel down on the bathroom floor and oil yourself up with warming sesame oil. Use long strokes on your long bones and circular motions on your joints. Take your time and enjoy it. Or share the experience with a partner.

second chakra massage

Come up with your own second chakra affirmation and write it in your journal, put it on your altar, and on your fridge.

Examples:

  • I am a divine being of light.
  • I embrace my sexuality and its expression.
  • I am alive, connected, and aware.
  • I am a vibrant, creative being of light.

Meditate. A simple sacral chakra meditation is to envision an orange wheel of light spinning at your sacrum. As you envision this orange wheel of light repeat your affirmation.

Crystals for Your Second Chakra

Set an intention to heal your second chakra and create a crystal grid to increase creativity, vitality, confidence, and sexuality. Use:

  • Citrine (self-healing, increases energy and drive)
  • Carnelian (removes blockages that may be causing sexual problems)
  • Orange calcite (creative and sexual energy and increases confidence)
  • Tangerine quartz (raises your vibration, healing after trauma, boosts self-esteem)
  • Milky quartz (let go of overwhelm)
  • Selenite (unblocks stagnant energy and clears negative energy)

If your Second Chakra is overactive you might find it beneficial to create a crystal grid with:

  • Blue or green flourite (emotional balance)
  • Moonstone (creativity, intuition, harmony)
  • Milky quartz (let go of overwhelm)
  • Selenite (unblocks stagnant energy and clears negative energy)

Second Chakra Yoga Sequence

sacral chakra yoga practice

A yoga practice that includes watery, fluid, flowy, primal movements and hip openers will help balance the second chakra.

A lovely yoga practice for Svadisthana Chakra could include:

  • Supta baddha konasana: 3 minutes
  • Figure Four: (5 breaths each side) (rock legs side to side between sides)
  • Come up to Tabletop Pose
  • Cat/Cow x3
  • Flow from Cow Pose to Child’s Pose 3-5x
  • Primal hip circles 3-5x each way
  • Downward Facing Dog: 5-10 breaths → pedal the legs and sway the hips side to side
  • Wave the spine forward from downward facing dog to plank pose 5x
  • Standing forward fold/Ragdoll–> Slow Roll up to Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
  • Surya Namaskar A x3
  • Downward Facing Dog to Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge) to Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Splits)–> Flow between Low Lunge and Ardha Hanumanasana 5x each side
  • Dancing Warrior Sequence: Warrior 2 -> Reverse Warrior -> Side Angle (Flow from Reverse to Side Angle)
  • Malasana 5 breaths
  • Dancing Warrior Sequence above plus Star Pose to Skandasana on the opposite side (flow from right to left 3x) to Runner’s Lunge facing the front and flow between Runner’s Lunge and a modified Pyramid Pose by bending and straightening the front knee (3-5x), drop back knee and add a quad stretch
  • Dancing Warrior Sequence above plus Goddess Pose between Star Pose and Skandasana -> Goddess (eagle arms and rock side to side) -> Wide Leg Forward Fold (5 breaths per pose; R side, then L side)
  • Malasana 5-10 breaths or Crow Pose
  • Warrior 2 -> Reverse Warrior ->Side Angle -> Triangle Pose -> Half Moon -> Ardha Chandra Chapasana
  • Eka Pada Tadasana (standing on one leg with other knee to chest, to Garudasana (Eagle Pose) to Standing Figure Four (like chair pose but with one ankle crossed over the thigh of the opposite leg), return to Tadasana.
  • Lizard (90 seconds) -> Add quad stretch
  • Pidgeon (wave torso up & down 5x)
  • Janu Sirsasana 5-10 breaths each side (wave your spine long on your inhale and soften on your exhale)
  • Gomukhasana 10 breaths on each side
  • Madukasana (Frog Pose or ½ Frog Pose) 10-20 breaths
  • Child’s Pose 5 breaths
  • Dynamic Bridge x3 and hold final round for 7-8 breaths
  • Simple supine twist: 5 breaths each side
  • Savasana: 10 minutes

Do you want to learn more about all the chakras? Check out our free chakra guide. Sign up for the newsletter and I’ll send it over! Option to sign up in the side bar and on the homepage.

XOXO,

Autumn

Anahata Chakra

anahata chakra

Anahata Chakra: The Chakra of the Heart

Anahata: “unstruck” or “unhurt”

Your Heart Chakra is your fourth chakra in a system of seven, counting up from the base of your spine. It is located at the very center of your chest, and is commonly thought of as the bridge between your lower three chakras and your upper three chakras. The lower three chakras are considered centers of physical energy whereas the upper three chakras are more spiritual in nature. The heart chakra is located directly in the middle and provides balance for your physical body and your spiritual self. The Sanskrit name for the heart chakra is “Anahata” meaning “unstruck” or “unhurt”. When in balance it is perceived as a bright emerald green, the healthier the chakra the more vibrant the color. It can also be visible as various shades of pink.    

Tree Pose photo by kjpargeter at https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background

Anahata Chakra at a Glance

  • Location: heart region of the vertebral column, the cardiac plexus
  • Element: Air
  • Color: Bright Green (sometimes represented as pink)
  • Lotus: 12 petals
  • Bija Mantra: YAM/YANG
  • Aspects: Balance
  • Sense: Touch
  • Vayu: Prana
  • Planet: Venus

Anahata is your energy center for love, compassion, calmness, serenity, friendship, romance, and unity. When your heart chakra is in balance you feel connected to those closest to you, you feel cared for, and you feel love for yourself and others. You will also feel equality, joy, and passion. Having a balanced heart chakra is incredibly important for your quality of life.

Your ability to love not only affects your emotional and mental state but your physical body as well. The heart chakra is connected to your Thymus gland, which is located in the center of your chest. The Thymus gland is part of the immune system and correlates to our emotional well-being, it functions at its best when we are happy, loving and joyful. An underactive Thymus gland may be the result of emotional trauma, heartache, loss and more. Your heart chakra is also connected to your physical heart, lungs, arms and hands.

Upward Facing Dog photo by Yanalya at https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people

When your heart chakra is out of balance you may find yourself angry, depressed, jealous, resentful, and envious. If you’re feeling detached from those closest to you, losing hope, or having problems in your relationships these may be signs your heart chakra needs a little extra love.  

Nature walks, time spent with pets, time spent with family, practicing gratitude, and acts of self-care are all ways to nourish the heart chakra. As well as wearing green clothing, green essential oils, green gemstones, and eating green foods.  

Yoga for the Heart Chakra

A well rounded yoga practice can also be helpful to balance the heart chakra. Some heart-healing asanas include

  • Fish (matsyasana) or supported Fish
  • Seated forward fold (paschimottanasana)
  • Cobra (Bhujangasana) or Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  • Boat (Navasana)
  • Bow (Dhanurasana)
  • Child’s Pose (Balasana)
  • Puppy Pose
  • Camel (Ustrasana)
  • Dancer (Natrajasana)
  • Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
  • Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1)
  • Tree Pose (Vrikshasana).
Meditation vector by from https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/design

Meditation for Anahata Chakra

Meditation can be a very powerful tool in balancing not only your heart chakra but your other chakras as well. Visualizing a glowing, bright green orb in your next meditation while repeating heart opening affirmations (either silently or out loud) is a simple yet effective way to open your heart chakra. You may visualize this orb in the center of your chest, slightly in front of you, or washing over your whole being. Pink is also associated with the heart chakra, and you’re welcome to incorporate various shades of pink to intermingle with the green.

Practice Metta or Loving-kindness meditation daily. Loving-kindness meditation is a Buddhist meditation technique where one practices sending love to all beings in stages. Learn more about metta meditation here.

The seed sound of the Anahata chakra is “yam” chanting this mantra internally or out-loud before or after your meditation is another way to connect with your heart chakra. While chanting “yam” place your left hand on your heart with your right hand on top. You may also practice a heart-opening mudra while meditating, chanting or during your yoga practice.

Mudras for the Heart Chakra

A mudra is a sign or hand gesture that has been known to affect different parts of the body by engaging the nerve endings in our fingertips. Mudras direct energy flow from the fingers to the brain and help the body communicate with itself. Some heart opening mudras include;  Padma or Lotus Mudra, Apana Vayu Mudra, and Ganesha Mudra.

Ganesha Mudra

To practice Ganesha Mudra, place your left hand palm up in front of your chest and bend the fingers inward. Place your right hand over the top of the left, so that the palms face each other and the fingers grasp together.

Apana Vayu Mudra

On each hand, bend the pointer finger to touch the ball of the thumb. Touch the tip of the thumb with the tips of the middle and ring fingers and extend the pinky fingers outward.

Lotus Mudra

Begin with the hands at Anjali Mudra (prayer pose), keep the thumbs and pinky fingers and the bottoms of each palm touching and flower open the rest of the fingers.

Do you want to learn more about all of the chakras? Join the Ambuja Yoga Newsletter and I will send you our free Chakra Guide. You can sign up in the side bar or on the homepage. Easy Peasy!

Muladhara Chakra: Safety and Security in an Uncertain World

root chakra

Does the world seem a little bit cray-cray to you? Because it sure seems nutty to me! I’m like, “Is Mercury retrograde all the freakin’ time now?” But seriously?!?! What is going on? We won’t get into politics because we get enough of that any time we turn on the TV or log in to social media. This past new moon was freakin’ intense and it seemed as though everything went to “hell in a handbasket”… is that how that saying goes? I just wanted to chuck my phone in the trash, lock myself in my room, and never come out.

All of my woes centered around money. Miscommunications about money, people wanting money, refunds and cancelations, taxes … money money money!!!! And it sucked! Our finances and stress about finances are deeply linked to our first chakra, Muladhara. Muladhara chakra is associated with our feelings of safety, security, and survival… and in this day and age money is paramount. So instead of hiding in my bedroom and telling everyone to go away, I chose to give my root chakra a little love. I made a crystal grid for abundance and even called in the Goddess Lakshmi. It was time to do ALL THE THINGS.

Here you’ll be introduced to the qualities of the root chakra and a few practices to give your root and YOU a little tender loving care.

root chakra muladhara

Muladhara Chakra

Mul – base
Adhara – Support

The chakras are psychic centers as well as centers of transformation of psychic or mental energy into spiritual energy. There are specific behaviors associated with each of the chakras. Along with our experiences, these behaviors stem from our desires and our attachment to the pleasures associated with each chakra. And our root chakra is tied up with security in job and shelter among other things.

When one’s Muladhara chakra is balanced and healthy one is grounded and calm, they have a strong foundation, they feel supported and connected, they are humble, independent, strong and healthy. They feel generous and have the power to attract abundance.

Muladhara Chakra is the abode of kundalini shakti, the dormant spiritual energy that lies coiled within the first chakra. The practices of yoga coax kundalini shakti out of Muladhara and up the Brahma Nadi. Brahma Nadi, is a spiritual energy channel within Sushumna Nadi. It is within Brahma Nadi that the chakras reside.

Muladhara Chakra at a Glance:

  • Location: perineum and coccyx
  • Element: Earth
  • Color: Red
  • Lotus: Four petals
  • Bija Mantra: Lam/Lang
  • Aspects: Security
  • Sense: Smell
  • Vayu: Apana
  • Planet: Mars

When Muladhara chakra is healthy, one has self-control, physical strength, patience, discipline and the ability to “bear heavy workloads”. When out of balance, one may be obsessed with finding security (including job and shelter). This chakra is also associated with illusion, greed, anger, delusion, avarice, and sensuality. Those with an out of balance first chakra are often self-centered, cruel, and even potentially violent.

Someone who needs to work on their root chakra may find it easy to take direction from others, but not be able to find direction themselves or be able to direct others. They may be humble and respectful to those above them, but harsh to their peers and those they view as “below them”. If their security is threatened they will likely lash out violently like a cornered animal. They may struggle to care for themselves and they often need extra guidance and support.

Other signs that the first chakra may need a little TLC: one may feel like a victim (did you read paragraph two? Hello victim mindset!), be stuck in fight/flight/freeze, one may experience feelings of lack, guilt, overwhelm, anxiety and may also experience insomnia, fatigue, chronic illness or pain.

Muladhara Chakra and The Earth Element

In yogic teachings, the element earth (not the planet) is a combination of the other elements: water, fire, air, and akasha (space or void) and provides stability and security. It is the basis for our physical body, the bones, the flesh, the skin, the Nadis, and body hairs.

In Ayurveda, when the earth element combines with the water element it forms the kapha dosha, which is characterized by mucus.

The Muladhara Yantra and The Four-Petaled Lotus.

As stated in the Mahanirvana Tantra, the four petals of the Muladhara Chakra represent four different vrittis or mental modifications:

  • Paramananda the state of greatest joy
  • Sahajananada the state of natural pleasure
  • Virananda the delight in the control of the passions
  • Yogananda the blissfulness in concentration

The Bija Mantra for Muladhara Chakra

The bija mantras are sacred sounds used to invoke the divine energy within the body. The bija mantra or seed sound for Muladhara Chakra is LAM also pronounced LANG. When chanted it creates a lock at the root and prevents the downward flow of energy from Muladhara. The vibration of the chant invites Kundalini up into the Brahma Nadi and when chanted, this mantra deepens concentration, improves awareness, creates inner strength, and also removes insecurities associated with Muladhara.

Muladhara and Our Sense of Smell

Muladhara chakra, the nose and the sense of smell are deeply intertwined. Sweet smells, the smell of homecooked meals, the smell of fresh earth, and earthy essential oils like patchouli, sandalwood, cedarwood, and palo santo are wonderful scents for those working with the root chakra.

Muladhara Chakra and Apana Vayu

Apana is the Vayu that expels the semen from the male organ and urine from the sexes, it is the energy behind passing a bowel movement and that which pushes the baby from the womb during birth. Think of “down and out” as the flow of Apana Vayu.

Tips and Practices for Muladhara Chakra

Follow the yamas and niyamas.

Practice grounding pranayama techniques like Three Part Belly Breath (Deerga Swasaam), Square Breath or Nadi Shodhanda

Take care of the physical body by eating nourishing foods and getting adequate sleep.

Fears related to security, safety, and survival will need to be addressed and any real issues regarding the above will need to be solved.

Spend time out in nature. Put your hands and bare feet on the earth. Breathe the fresh air. Move slowly and mindfully.

Call in the Goddess Lakshmi.

Set an intention to heal your first chakra and create a crystal grid for safety, security, abundance, whatever needs to be addressed.

garland pose for the root chakra

A yoga practice that focuses on slow movements, rootedness, foundational, grounding and surrendering poses will help nourish the first chakra.

A lovely practice for the first chakra could include:

  • Supported child’s pose
  • Malasana
  • Lizard pose
  • Chair pose or goddess pose
  • Warrior poses
  • Tree pose
  • Seated forward fold
  • Legs up the wall
  • Savasana

muladhara chakra meditation

Meditation on the Muladhara Chakra in the presence of the element earth develops natural health, strength in the body, and intellectual power.

In meditation, visualize roots growing down into the earth. Feel this rooted connection to the Earth. Feel the support of Pachamama, Mother Earth.

While in meditation focus on a red wheel of energy or light at the base of your spine. While envisioning this red wheel of light, Muladhara Chakra, repeat the bija mantra for the first chakra or an affirmation like: I am safe and secure. I am firmly rooted and supported wherever I am.

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful and healing. If you would like to go deeper into the chakra, please join me on a chakra inspired yoga retreat or join the newsletter, where you will receive chakra tips and advice straight to your inbox.

The Goddess Lakshmi and the Art of Giving and Receiving

Lakshmi goddess of prosperity

Recently I’ve been drawn to the great goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. Their stories are magical and moving, exciting and inspiring, and sometimes even terrifying. My original intention was to write a blog post introducing the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance, well-being, harmony, good luck and prosperity in all forms, but she also personifies so many other characteristics worthy of discussion and embodiment. We call on Lakshmi to access the ocean of abundance that lies within, to find our radiant inner beauty, and to guide us on the path of our dharma.

As one of the Great Mother goddesses, Lakshmi guides us from the darkness to the light. She helps us move from a mindset rooted in fear and lack into a mindset of love, abundance, and generosity. The name Lakshmi comes from the Hindu word Laksya with means “aim” or “goal”. When manifesting abundance we can practice self-inquiry and take a moment to examine our intentions. Why do I want this? How would having this influence my life? How would it improve my life and how could my having it improve the lives of others? How can I use this to serve my community?

Abundance Flows to You and Through You

“Abundance flows to you and through you” has been my mantra for more or less the past year. And yes yogis, it is true, abundance flows both ways! I’ve experienced this flow (and lack of) again and again. When I found myself getting stuck in feelings of fear of not having enough or lack I could feel the Universe pulling back. But what’s even more amazing is when I drop back into the space of abundance, gratitude, and worthiness, I feel the support of the cosmos, Lakshmi, the Universe, God, whatever you want to call it. It’s as if I could do anything.

Our ability to give and receive freely depends deeply on our own personal beliefs that we are worthy of love, worthy of gifts, and that others too are worthy of these same gifts. Sally Kempton, author of Awakening Shakti, said it perfectly, “When you can allow yourself to receive with the feeling that you deserve the gifts of life, and then give with the feeling that others deserve them also, you find yourself in what one of my teachers called the auspicious state of mind, the state where shri is simply flowing through you. You feel Lakshmi’s presence as internal abundance and also as gratitude and as the desire to bless others. It’s then that you can begin to feel Lakshmi’s energy as your own.”

Lakshmi: A Tale of Generosity

One of my favorite stories of Lakshmi personifies an attitude of generosity, compassion, and empathy. As the story goes, Lakshmi and her husband Vishnu were the manifest deities at a wealthy temple for the high-caste in Varanasi, India. One year, during the festival of Diwali, Lakshmi decided to visit the town’s untouchables and bestow the untouchables with food and money. Her generosity extended to both those who worshipped her and those who did not. A beautiful reminder that we are all worthy, whether we (or others) deem us to be worthy.

Upon learning that Lakshmi has been spending time with the untouchables, Vishnu becomes angry with her. She immediately flees and goes to live with a group of sweepers. Upon Lakshmi’s arrival, the sweeper community begins to prosper, there is an abundance of food and there is enough money for the sweepers to fix-up their homes.

While the sweepers are being lifted up out of poverty Vishnu’s temple is falling into ruins, the community stops bringing offerings, and the surrounding trees begin to wither. Out of desperation, Vishnu finds Lakshmi and begs her to return. She obliges on one condition, that he may never restrict her ability to share her blessings again.

I think we all probably know a Lakshmi. We have a friend that we can count on… she lends us an ear when we need to chat, she nourishes with food and her gracious spirit, she uplifts us when we need a pep talk, she believes in the abundance of the Universe and is happy to share. She gives from a place of love and heart and soul. She gives without expectations. And yes, abundance seems to flow her way.

The Goddess of Abundance and Padma Mudra (Lotus Mudra)

The lotus is a common image in Hinduism and Buddhism and Lakshmi is often depicted either sitting or standing on a lotus flower and holding two lotus flowers in her hands. Bansi Pandit goes into even more detail about the symbolism of Lakshmi’s lotuses and explains that “since the right side of the body symbolizes activity, a lotus in the back right hand conveys the idea that one must perform all duties in the world in accordance with dharma. This leads to moksha (liberation), which is symbolized by a lotus in the back left hand of Lakshmi.”

A lotus flower begins down in the muck and mud and rises up through the water to blossom unscathed at the water’s surface. You can think of the path of the lotus as the journey to enlightenment. It is the journey from the darkness to the light.

To practice Padma Mudra, bring your hands into Anjali Mudra (prayer mudra) in front of your heart center and then separate your index fingers, middle fingers, and ring fingers. Allow the fingers to spread away from one another like a lotus flower blooming while keeping the pinkies, thumbs and wrists touching.

Did you also know that Ambuja means lotus? Learn more about the meaning of Ambuja here.

Four Lakshmi Inspired Practices to Cultivate the Art of Giving and Receiving

“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”

~Brene Brown

A practice in self-love.

Lie down onto your back and come into Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose/Reclined Butterfly Pose). To practice Supta Baddha Konasana, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet to touch. Allow your knees to drop out to the side like the pages of a book. If you have any pain in your hips or knees support your thighs with blocks, cushions, etc.

Now bring your right hand to your belly and your left hand to your heart. Before continuing, take a moment to bring your awareness to your breath and your heartbeat and simply witness.

Your right hand is often considered the hand of action and your left hand is often considered the hand of reception. In this exercise, envision a free flow of self-love flowing through your left hand and into Anahata Chakra, your heart center. Your heart, mind, and body receive this love graciously and without judgment or expectation. Stay with this free-flowing self-love, allow it to flow into your body for ten to fifteen breaths. Then release this awareness and bring your awareness to your right hand, repeat a mantra of kind words and affirmations of self-love, gratitude, abundance, and/or worthiness. If you’re feeling stuck, perhaps try the same mantra that I have been using, “Abundance flows to me and through me” or try “I freely give and receive the gifts and blessings of Lakshmi.”

A practice in the art of giving and receiving inspired by Sally Kempton’s Awakening Shakti

Set aside thirty minutes or so to journal about your beliefs about giving and receiving.

  • To begin, let’s focus on what you would like to receive. Free write a list of the blessings/gifts you would like to receive, whether they are material or spiritual. Be specific. Are other people involved? If yes, name them.
  • From the above list, decide which three are the most important blessings. For each of the three blessing answer the following questions:
  • How would this blessing influence your life? How would things change? How would this influence your relationships with others? How would you be able to serve others better?
  • How do I intentionally or unintentionally limit my ability to receive these blessings? In what ways do I limit my potential or practice self-sabotage?
  • How could I help someone else receive the same blessings that I want for myself? Write down a few actionable steps to help someone else achieve the same blessing that you want for yourself.
  • Now put it into action, for yourself and for this other person.

Say yes when help is offered. Ask for help when needed.

When we accept help from someone, we gift them the opportunity to be of assistance. If we deny their offer to help, we are shutting down the energy and flow of abundance. I know I struggle with this one! I like to be in control and allowing someone else to help with a task, means that it is out of my hands, but what a gift it is!

I was reminded of this recently when I was leading a yoga teacher training weekend in Bend and we had to be out of the studio quickly, so the next group could come in. One of my gracious students offered to help sweep the floors and my first instinct was to shut it down and say “no” and “that I’ve got it” simply because I’m a people pleaser and I want to make sure that I’m not inconveniencing anyone. I quickly checked myself and my ego and accepted her offer to help. The next time someone offers to help you I encourage you to check in and say yes.

And yogis, we have got to ask for help when we need it! I’m still working on this one. I will run myself into the ground before asking for help, so maybe I’m writing this more for myself than for you. But we cannot do it all ourselves.

And plus, when we ask for help, we are gifting someone with the opportunity to lend a hand. They will feel good about helping someone in need (YOU) and you may end up with a bit of free time to take care of yourself or help someone else in need.

And finally, get your chant on. Chant to Mata Lakshmi.

Okay, I’m definitely the crazy lady chanting in the car, walking the dogs, etc. But I don’t really care.

Invoke Lakshmi with this beautiful simple chant.

Om shrim maha Lakshmyai namaha

Ohm shreem muh-hah luhk-shmyai nuh-muh-huh

Om, I offer salutations to the great goddess of good fortune.

Jai Lakshmi!

Until next time beautiful yogis!

Love and Light,

Autumn

Introduction to the Chakras

chakra colors

An Introduction to Chakras

Chakras are swirling energy wheels observed throughout the body. They are commonly associated with different mental, emotional, and physical traits originating from eastern spiritual traditions. The seven main chakras have been adopted by western culture as a pathway to connecting with your spiritual self by cultivating awareness to these concentrated energy centers.

The origin of the chakras

The idea of chakras was first developed in ancient India thousands of years ago, the earliest evidence of chakras can be found in the Vedas. The Vedas are an ancient religious text written in Sanskrit (the written language of ancient India), they are the oldest known scriptures of Hinduism and the oldest known written Sanskrit dating back to 1500-500 BCE. Evidence of chakra philosophies are found in the Upanishads (part of the Vedas) and helped to shape the spirituality of Hinduism, Buddhism and other ancient eastern religions.

The Upanishads are centered around two main spiritual forces, Brahman (ultimate reality) and Attman (soul self). Brahman exists outside of time and space and creates everything in every universe. Attman is the life force within every living being, the essence of an individual.

Attman energy (often called prana) flows through the human body along specific lines of energy called Nadis. These energy lines cross one another at certain points in the body forming wheels of energy called Chakras. “Chakra” in Sanskrit literally translates to “wheel” or “disc”, these spinning wheels of concentrated energy are where matter and consciousness meet.

Chakra locations

      Chakras are found at specific locations in the body. The number and location vary from philosophy to philosophy, some mystics suggest there are over 100 chakras in the body. Common western philosophies acknowledge seven main chakras that are located along the spine. These seven chakras are: the root chakra, the sacral chakra, the solar plexus chakra, the heart chakra, the throat chakra, the third eye chakra, and the crown chakra. Each of these chakras contains bundles of nerves and major organs as well as emotional, spiritual and psychological centers.

The contemporary western view of the seven chakras associates them with the seven colors of the rainbow. A healthy chakra is bright, vibrant and clear in color whereas an unhealthy or blocked chakra will appear to be more dim, muddy, and muted.

The seven main chakras stretch from the base of the spine to the crown of the head as follows:

The Root Chakra, Muladhara, is located at the base of the spine and is commonly seen as red. This chakra is focused on stability, security, and survival. When this chakra is open we feel safe and fearless.

The Sacral Chakra, Svadhisthana, is located in the lower abdomen above the pubic bone, and commonly appears orange. This chakra is our creativity and sexual center. This chakra brings vitality and joy through various forms of pleasure.

The Solar Plexus Chakra, Manipura, is located above the belly button and appears as yellow. This chakra is our source of personal power, assertiveness, confidence, and willpower. The solar plexus chakra empowers the rest of your body and helps you feel self-assured and independent.  

The Heart Chakra, Anahata, is located in the center of the chest and is commonly seen as green. This chakra is a source of love and connection and rules our relationships, unity, and balance. The heart chakra governs friendships, romance, and spiritual connections.

The Throat Chakra, Vishuddha, is located at the base of the throat and appears blue. This chakra gives us the ability to speak our truth, it is associated with communication, self-expression, and speech. A healthy throat chakra helps us express our views, let things go, and live in the moment.

The Third Eye Chakra, Ajna, is located on the forehead just above the space between the eyes and is commonly seen as indigo. This chakra governs spiritual awakening and intuition.  

The Crown Chakra, Sahasrara, is located at the top of the head and its color is violet. This chakra represents enlightenment, pure awareness, and spiritual connection. The crown chakra ultimately connects us with the divine spirit.

When all seven of your main chakras are in balance you will feel healthy spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. All is great and as it should be in the world, you’ll feel wonderful and like you can handle anything that is thrown your way.

However, it is common for one or more of your chakras to become temporarily blocked. If one chakra is blocked it is quite likely your other chakras will become out of alignment to compensate for this imbalance. The best way to identify which chakra(s) are out of balance is by bringing awareness to each one of them. Once you begin to cultivate awareness in your chakras you will be able to identify the root of the issue and begin the healing process.  

If you enjoyed this article, check out our intro to mudras blog post. You’ll discover here, how hand mudras can influence the chakras! And for a bit deeper understanding of the chakras check out this chakra blog post written by Abigail Cox.

You can also learn more about the chakras by joining the Ambuja Yoga Newsletter, where you will receive our downloadable chakra guide and receive updates about upcoming retreats where you can learn more about the chakras on an experiential level. Enter your email in the sidebar… easy peasy!

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