Since I’m away, I thought I’d offer you a breathing meditation practice you might recognise from one of my classes if you’ve come along recently. This practice is tremendously balancing and helps me to remember my connection to the rest of the world and encourages me to carefully cultivate the kind of influence I would like to have on the people around me. It has evolved from my own practice, taking influence not only from the Yoga tradition but also another form of eastern wisdom, the Japanese Jiu Jitsu form – Seishinkan. The philosophy and breath form are from the Yoga Perspective while the movement pattern is based on a Jiu Jitsu warm up.
There are seven energetic centres along the spine that, within the Yoga tradition, we call chakras. In Western medicine, these energetic centres correspond with massive crossing points of nerves, the communication channels within your nervous system. In yogic theory, it is thought that you can have an excess or a deficiency of energy in any of these centres which will affect your way of being in the world. There are many techniques of balancing the various energies in the body, but from my experience, pranayama is among the most effective.
Beginning just above the pelvic floor, we find Muladhara chakra (root chakra). This centre is said to govern your sense of foundation in the world – your family, your home, your finances. A little further up, just in front of the sacrum is Svadisthana chakra(sacral chakra) which is your emotional, creative, sexual centre, governing the gifts you have to offer to the world. Next between the navel and the sternum is Manipura chakra (solar plexus chakra), your personal power centre which influences the way you assert yourself in the world. Then at the level of the chest is Anahata chakra (heart chakra) and this is the turning point in the chakra system. It’s your connection with the outside world – how you manifest all of the things you generate in the lower chakras in relationship to other people.
In the first phase of the practice (described below), I spend a few rounds of breath drawing energy from the root to the heart, smoothing the breath, regulating my own energy. After some time, I move up the chakras to the final 3 which have more to do with your relationships to the outside world and to spirit.
At the level of the throat, Visshuda chakra (throat chakra) governs the way you communicate with others. At eyebrow center, Ajna chakra (third eye chakra) is your connection with your intuition and the vast amount of wisdom that is available to you from the universe if you are open to it. Finally at the top of your head and just beyond is Saharara chakra (crown chakra) which connects you to Source. (Universal Energy, God, Spirit, Divine or however you see it).
In the second phase of the practice, after I’ve spent some time generating energy for myself, I consciously choose the kind of energy I would like to send out. Energy must be exchanged to be sustained. You can’t horde the energy you generate for yourself and expect to nourished by it. Yes, first you generate energy for yourself but in order for it to live, to breathe and to be manifested the way that is most life-affirming, it must be shared. It must be perpetuated. To create abundant energy, you must share what you have and in a timely fashion. Energy that is hidden is wasted.
This breathing meditation can be done from seated or standing. If you’re sitting, take your time to establish a good, steady seat, grounding through your sit bones and inner thighs while extending tall through the spine. If you’re standing, have your feet hip distance apart and second toes parallel. Ground through the four corners of your feet and lift tall through the spine. With your eyes closed, let your awareness come to your breath. Gently begin to lengthen and deepen it, using the ujjayii technique if you wish.
Check out the video for visual instructions of the first two phases of the breath
PHASE ONE: Nourishing yourself
Once you’ve got a sense of breathing fully and deeply, begin first phase of the moving meditation, which helps to balance and harmonise your first three chakras.
Interlace your hands and let your arms hang straight down in front of you, palms facing up just in front of muladhara chakra. Inhale to a count of three and as you do so, draw your hands up to the level of anahata chakra (chest-height). In the pause between the inhale and the exhale, flip your hands to have the palms facing down. Then exhale to a count of three and, keeping your hands interlaced, release your arms to hanging in front of you again. In the pause before the inhale, flip your hands to face up again. Repeat this for 10 cycles of breath or two to five minutes, as you like. You might like to visualise your spinal column being filled with light from the base of your spine to the level of your heart as you inhale. See that light getting brighter and brighter with each inhalation. Feel that you are offering nourishing energy to yourself and attracting more of the same with every breath.
PHASE TWO: Offering your energy
When you are ready to move to the next phase of the breath, extend the inhalations and exhalations to a count of six. Beginning with the hands interlaced, palms facing up in front of the base of the spine (as before), inhale to a count of three and draw the hands up to the level of the heart. Continue counting and flip your palms to face up (signifying the transition from internal to external) and extend your arms straight, palms reaching past sahasrara (crown of your head) facing the ceiling. In the pause before the exhale, release your hands and face the palms forward. As you exhale for a count of six, radiate your arms wide and scribe a semi-circle with them until your hands are hanging by your hips. In the pause before the inhale, interlace your hands again, palms up in front of the base of the spine. Continue with this breath for 10 cycles or two to five minutes. As you inhale, visualise drawing light up your spinal column from the base all the way past the crown and then as you exhale, visualise radiating that light out through your fingertips, surrounding yourself with white light. Consider what type of energy you would like to be radiating and consciously send it out along with the light.
OPTIONAL PHASE THREE: Balancing internal generation with external radiation
As a reminder that it’s important to balance the energy you offer out to the world with the energy you direct to your own self-care, it’s nice to combine phase one and two of this practice for a few cycles of breath or even a few minutes. Begin with a three count breath as described in phase one, lifting the hands to heart height as you inhale and exhaling to take the hands back down. Let the next breath be a six count breath as described in phase two, lifting the hands all the way up to over head as you inhale and radiating them outward as you exhale.
When you’ve finished your practice, it’s nice to stand, sit or lie quietly for a few moments, absorbing the experience of this meditation.
~article by Kelly Fisher