Finally, spring has sprung, as the saying goes! The time of regeneration and renewal is upon us. It is the time of year when we celebrate the return of succulent flowers, delicate green leaves, birds of all colors, and the warmth of the sun’s rays. As Yoga practitioners and teachers, following the rhythm of the earth around us during our practice will help to align our bodies and minds to the vibrancy of the spring energy the suffuses the world around us.
The tulip is a quintessential spring flower. It represents rebirth and resiliency and is often displayed at Easter time on many church alters. Historically, the tulip was revered in the Ottoman Empire as a symbol of indulgence, plentitude and material abundance. Additionally, it symbolized the veritable manifestation of heaven on earth. The red tulip is also symbolic of the wealth that arises from a steady and solid stance on the earth.
As Yoga students and teachers, we have a number of tools in our “Yoga asana tool kit” to help stabilize and strengthen our stance on the earth. According to Patanjali, who is the famous author of the Yoga Sutras, the regular practice of Yoga asanas, meditation and pranayama exercises are all intended to still the thought waves of the mind and create a steady seat, or asana on the earth, as a foundation from which to do our spiritual practices.
The central chakra that forms the very root of our seat on the earth is the Muladhara Chakra, which is also aptly named the Root Chakra. According to ancient seers and Yogis, this chakra emanates the deep-maroon color of the red tulip. It is the first of seven chakras that follow our spinal column from the pelvic area all the way to the crown of the head. A balanced and healthy Root Chakra is integral to allowing us to stand in a balanced and healthy way on the earth.
When this chakra becomes unbalanced, our very stance on the earth becomes unbalanced. When this chakra is out of balance, we also may experience deep restlessness, anxiety and insomnia. These energy centers ideally move freely and without impediment. However, due to a variety of physical health issues, emotionally painful experiences and/or karmic energy knots our chakras may be come stuck and stagnant. When this happens, our energy is dissipated and we may experience inertia, dullness and lethargy.
Practicing Yoga postures and specific pranayama exercises will help to release stagnant energy and allow the prana to flow freely throughout your chakra system. When the energy is flowing freely throughout the energetic matrix of the body, a Yoga practitioner will feel both relaxed and energized. When the Root Chakra is balanced and healthy, you will feel safe and grounded in the world. Your posture will be upright and your movement through the world imbued with a sense of optimism and dharmic nobility.
* Utkatasana or Fierce Pose
There are a number of Yoga poses that help to facilitate a healthy Muladhara Chakra. Most of these poses bring a Yogi or Yogini’s awareness to one’s stance on the earth. Some of the poses that strongly bring a practitioner’s awareness to the Root Chakra are Tree Pose, Standing Forward Fold and Fierce Pose. Utkatasana, or Fierce Pose, is one of the most effective poses for balancing and strengthening the Root Chakra. This is one of the primary Yoga poses of the Sun Salutation B series in Ashtanga Yoga. It is also known as Chair Pose because it resembles the action of sitting in a chair.
To practice Fierce Pose, begin by standing in Tadasana at the front of your Yoga mat. Take a few deep breaths, and with your next inhale raise your hands over your head with your palms facing towards each other. Keep your arms directly above your shoulders and perpendicular to the ground. With an exhale; sink down towards the earth by bending your knees 6-8 inches. Keep your knees comfortably far apart and directly over your ankles. Hold Fierce Pose for 10 full breaths.
When you are ready to come out of the postures, release your arms with an exhale and come back into Tadasana at the front of your Yoga mat. The springtime is a wonderful time to strengthen your awareness of your connection with the earth. If possible, you may wish to practice Utkatasana outside on a patch of fresh, green grass. As you sink down into Fierce Pose, remember to wriggle your toes into the earth as your reach your arms and upper body up to the blue sky of the heavens.
© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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