Do the names seem different than what you're used to? The names are taken from the Akhanda yoga lineage, which are a little different than many of the other common practices!
Asanas are the poses that are performed in the yoga practice. They are meant to be still, calm and steady to allow conscious shifts in both the body and mind. They are meant to build strength of the body and mind while shedding the idea of competition and stress. Practicing asana allows us to create space in the body to allow energy to flow freely. That space can then be filled with bliss, breath and grace. This practice can lead to balancing energies. These poses can directly influence the balance of chakras, as well as doshas.
Chakras are wheels of energy throughout the body. While there are 114 chakras, there are seven main energy centers that are mainly focused on.
1. Muladhara (Root) chakra is located near the coccyx, underneath the sacrum. It is associated with our foundation and a feeling of groundedness, stability, and basic needs for survival. When this chakra is open there may be a feeling of fearlessness and safety. Many standing and balancing poses help maintain the root chakra.
2. Swadhisthana (Sacral) chakra is located in the lower abdomen, about two inches below the navel and two inches in. It is our connection and ability to accept others and to experience new adventures. It is also associated with our desires, creativity and sensuality. Asanas that are side-stretching and those that compress the lower abdomen focus on this chakra.
3. Manipura (Navel or Solar Plexus) chakra is located in the upper abdomen. It is our source of personal power. It is associated with our anger, anxiety, jealousy, and fear. It is also the center for motivation, ego, will and confidence. The Solar Plexus chakra regulates digestion, energy levels and body temperature. Postures for this chakra include forward-bending, abdominal strengthening and twisting poses.
4. Anahata (Heart) chakra is located in the center of the chest, on the same level as the heart. It is at the middle of all seven chakras and unites the lower chakras of matter and the upper chakras of spirit. It serves as a bridge between our body, mind, emotions, and spirit. The heart chakra is our source of love and connection. It is associated with both giving and receiving love, happiness, mind and emotions, vulnerability. Backbending poses help to balance the heart chakra, as well as heart-opening and chest lifting poses.
5. Vishuddha (Throat) Chakra is located at the throat and is our source of verbal expression. It also gives us the ability to speak our highest truth. The fifth chakra includes the neck, thyroid, and parathyroid glands, jaw, mouth, and tongue. It is associated with sound, vibration, creative and self expression. This chakra is related to the release of emotion and tension from sound and chanting, as well as poses that constrict the throat.
6. Ajna (Third-Eye or Brow) Chakra is located on the forehead between the eyes. It is our ability to see the bigger picture and our intuition. It is also association with our imagination, wisdom and the ability to think and make decisions. It is home to the pituitary and pineal glands. Meditation is a strong influence for this chakra, as well as balancing poses and inversions.
7. Sahasrara (Crown or thousand petal lotus) chakra is located at the top of the head. This is the chakra of enlightenment and our spiritual connection, where we can experience One-ness with the universe and of infinite expansion. Meditation and inversions are related to this chakra.
In Ayurveda, individuals are unique and have different needs surrounding their constitution, which is as unique as the individual. Those different needs require different care, and by knowing your constitution you may be able find a balance that can help improve overall wellness.
Your constitution is what makes you who you are. Ancient Ayurvedic practices heavily consider diet and lifestyle habits when assessing unbalances. Your constitution is comprised of five basic elements – air, water, earth, fire and ether. The combination of those elements forms your constitution, or dosha, and everyone has a different balance that makes them who they are.
Everyone is born with a specific constitution, and when that constitution changes from that with which they were born with, it is considered unbalanced. There are many quizzes available online that can help you determine your birth dosha, as well as your imbalance, so that you can help determine your own needs in order to realign your doshic makeup and find balance.
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