Anahata

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Anahata is the Heart Chakra, and it is governed by the Air element. This is the centre of unconditional love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness. This chakra governs the circulatory system, respiratory system and thymus. Healing the heart chakra can help let go of negativity and fear. The predominant sense for this chakra is the sense of touch.

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This morning’s massage oil was warm Argan oil with pure rose essential oil. I used two pink rose quartz heart crystals to massage the warm oil, paying extra attention to the heart area. I lit up a rose and tuberose candle, and played soothing music in the background  (ila’s Heart of the Earth…yes, I have an obsession with ila spa…they have the most amazing products and rituals, and they are completely ethical, plus the founder, Denise Leicester, is a true inspiration). During the massage, I focused on gratitude and love for my body. You can also practice positive affirmations, like: “My heart is free of unnecessary burdens”, or “My spirit is as boundless and free as the air”, or anything else that may resonate with you.

Excerpt from ila’s Heart of the Earth

Yoga followed. Again, Shiva Rea’s Anahata Chakra vinyasa, which focused on breath and a lot of chest openers. The meditation focused on the heart-fire. (LOVE)
Pranayama (the breathing practice) for Anahata is inhalation, inhalation retention, viloma pranayama. This breathing practice is very simple, and can be done by almost anyone, sitting or lying down. My favorite way to practice this is lying down on my yoga mat, with a bolster under my knees, and two cotton pads soaked in rose water placed over my eyes. The breath goes like this: you inhale for 2-3 seconds, then you pause for 2-3 seconds (hold your breath, don’t exhale, don’t let the diaphragm loose), then you continue to inhale for 2-3 more seconds, then pause again for 2-3 seconds, then inhale for 2-3 more seconds, hold for 2-3 seconds…keep doing this until your lungs are full, and then fully exhale the whole breath out, slowly. Repeat this breath for 5-10 minutes.

After yoga, I had a relaxing candlelit bath, with ila’s pink himalayan salts (rose, sandalwood, jasmine). I applied a face mask on that I made myself. I used 1 tsp manuka honey, with a little bit of rose water and a couple of drops of rose and sandalwood essential oil. I placed 2 cotton pads soaked in rose water over my eyes and relaxed in bliss for 20 minutes. After the bath, I rinsed my mask off and gave myself a face massage. Then I applied ila’s aroma oil for glowing radiance on my pulse points.

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After reading Dr. Pratima Raichur’s Radiant Beauty book, I have been making my own face oil, using organic argan and rosehip oil, with pure rose and sandalwood essential oil. I always ALWAYS give myself a pressure point/marma massage with the oil…every day. No matter how tired I may be, this massage really makes my skin glow and my face looks radiant and completely awake. I described this here

In the evening, I complete my Anahata practice with a loving-kindness meditation, inhaling and exhaling through the heart, focusing on feelings of love and gratitude.

‘Beauty is not in the face. Beauty is a light in the heart” – Kahlil Gibran

PS: You will notice I use a lot of rose oil. According to Ayurveda, Rose and Sandalwood are very good at balancing Pitta dosha (fire nature), which is my predominant dosha.( I go to an Ayurvedic doctor- I LOVE everything about Ayurveda). Pitta skin has a lot of redness and sensitivity, as well as dehydration from too much internal heat. So for me, I use these oils in all my beauty products on a daily basis. It so happens that rose essential oil is also one of the best oils for balancing the heart chakra, as well as balancing hormones. Sandalwood essential oil is also used to balance hormones.

PPS: If you are going to follow any of these tips, please be mindful, and consult with a doctor first if you have any medical conditions.

The Shining Jewel – Manipura

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Fire. Transformation. Metabolism. Energy. Vitality. Joy. Vibrant. Happy. Self-esteem. Radiance.

Manipura chakra (located in the solar plexus region) means ‘shining jewel’ in Sanskrit. It is the body’s centre for our inner fire, ruled by the sun. It is the fire with which we transform and digest our food, emotions and relationships with the world around us. This is the center of radiant health and vitality, self-esteem, self-worth and power.
The body oil I used for my massage was ila’s Vital Energy oil, which is very stimulating, with Juniper, Geranium, lavender and lemongrass.
My yoga practice started with kapalabhati,, or breath of fire, to heat up the body and especially the abdominal area. It is a very energizing, stimulating and detoxifying breath, which brings a lot of heat as well as strengthens the abdominal area. My yoga practice was Shiva Rea’s solar Manipura Chakra vinyasa practice, which focuses on sun salutations, arm balances and core strengthening exercises. Seated forward bend and twists are also great for activating this chakra. The practice ends with a solar meditation gazing at a fire (the one on the screen, or a fireplace, or even a candle will work) and reflecting on its transformative power. Savasana was long, grounding and relaxing.

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After yoga, I made my own sugar scrub, using brown sugar, argan oil, and essential oils of lemongrass, lavender and geranium. I massaged my entire body with this stimulating, energizing scrub and then hopped in the shower. I always make my own body scrubs, because this way I can always change the scent depending on what I want to achieve, using pure essential oils (I have quite the collection). I prefer using sugar instead of salt in my scrubs, because salt is quite drying, whereas sugar is a humectant (attracts moisture). The combination of sugar and oil (you can use any base oil you want…almond, olive, coconut, jojoba, apricot..) leaves your skin really soft, and you don’t even really need to moisturize after.
To keep the internal fire going, I nourished my body with warming foods and spices…ginger, chai tea, warm, stewed apples with cinnamon for breakfast, hot veggie soup with warming spices for lunch….
Throughout the day, it is important to smile, laugh, and keep it light…avoiding over-stimulation.
It is also important to balance our internal fire with relaxation and grounding practices as well, so we don’t “burn out”. In the afternoon, I practiced 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra, which is the most healing and restful practice for me. I described this wonderful practice here.
“May you feel the power of life manifesting through you and rise up in the fullness of your strength, stamina and joy for life.” – (Quote from Shiva Rea’s Chakra Vinyasa course)

Swadisthana

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Swadistana Chakra. Water, fluidity, flexible, flow, pleasure, fun, contentment…’savouring the feeling’, enjoying the senses…touching different textures, listening to beautiful music, enjoying a beautiful nature scenery or some art, tasting different delicious foods . Balancing the second chakra is to connect with life’s flow, be happy, experience the pleasures life has to offer. The colour of this chakra is Orange.
The Essential guide to chakras offers many wonderful tips on balancing this chakra…from lifestyle tips, to yoga, to meditation. I also followed Shiva Rea’s Chakra Vinyasa course to complement my practice for today.
For my morning massage, I used warm Monoi oil, which is coconut oil with frangipani oil.
My yoga practice was fluid and playful, almost like a dance, honouring the water element. At the end of my yoga practice, I had a mineral bath. I love these Alkabath salts, because they use crushed agate, carneol, citrine, chrysoprase, onyx, rock crystal, sapphire and chalcedony, so it is packed with minerals! You could also use pink himalayan salt, which is also high in minerals. I also added pure essential oils of rose, jasmine and sandalwood. These are great to balance Swadistana. I lit up candles, played some soothing music, and had the most relaxing candlelit bath for 30 minutes. There is one tip I learned a long time ago that I find extremely relaxing. When I am having a bath, I submerge my whole body and head under water, except for my face.(I have a big tub 🙂 ) Since my ears are under water, all the sounds are muted, and all I can hear is my breath and a very faint sound of soft music. There is also a sense of floating and extra fluidity. There is just something so therapeutic for me to have my head in the water…the water enveloping my entire head feels so peaceful, so soothing… It is extremely relaxing!
After my bath, I massaged my skin with pure argan oil and applied ila’s aroma oil on, which has rose, tuberose and vetivert. Today is about getting pleasure through all the senses!
My meals today were delicious, full of flavour, lots of fruit and veggies. (think sweet and juicy:) )
Today is also the perfect day to go for a walk in nature, and to also enjoy art like this:


My meditation this evening will be following Shiva Rea ❤ Again, I always begin with alternate nostril breathing. The breathing practice for the second chakra is full abdominal breathing, followed by a flowing seated meditation, which feels almost like dance, and you begin to feel fluid, like water.

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Please consult with your doctor if you have any medical conditions and would like to try any of these practices.

Muladhara

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Today’s focus is Muladhara chakra (Root chakra). In the Essential guide to Chakras, they describe this as your foundation. To balance this chakra is to connect with the earth, feel comfortable in your own body, enhance stability in your life and get grounded.
In the mornings, I usually perform self-abhyanga (ayurvedic self-massage, using warm oil). Focusing on balancing the root chakra, I used grounding essential oils. I was inspired by ila’s chakra blessings (hopefully one day I will be able to experience them in one of their amazing spas)…  And with my ila Heart of the Earth CD playing in the background, I made my own massage oil, using grapeseed oil, vetivert, patchouli, and Embrace from Saje (which is a lovely blend of ginger, jasmine and patchouli). Of course getting massaged by someone else feels better, but even a self massage can do wonders for your wellbeing!:) It’s a form of self-love afterall. 🙂
With my body warmed up, I followed with an hour and a half of Shiva Rea’s Muladhara Solar yoga practice (from her Chakra vinyasa course) followed by meditation. (The chakra book also has meditations specific to each chakra). The yoga practice focuses on grounding asanas, as well as balancing ones. The practice ends with delicious hip opening forward bends, marinating in each pose for about 2 minutes. The rhythm is slow and steady, which feels like the Earth’s heartbeat. Savasana  is long and very grounding…a deep sense of sinking into the earth, rooting down, letting go…I burnt ila spa incense in the background, to add more grounding to my pratice. There are lots of youtube videos out there on yoga postures on each chakra. With root chakra, just think grounded, balance, stability, rooted into the earth, letting go…
Before bed, a foot massage is in order (I posted a short foot reflexology treatment you can do for yourself here , with the same oil blend I used this morning. Foot massages before sleep can be very relaxing and help you get a great night’s sleep.

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Right before bed, I practice alternate nostril breathing (which I described in a previous post here, and I actually practice The breathing practice for this chakra is deep and slow inhale through the nose and long exhale through the mouth (again, think letting go, a deep surrender to the Earth), followed by the meditation on Muladhara chakra described in the chakra book. This is where you use an image called a yantra that you gaze upon during your meditation, and focus your attention on the shape, colour symbols and sounds associated with the specific chakra. This maybe sounds a little complicated at first, but it really isn’t once you practice.

Again, be mindful of what works for you if you are going to try this, and consult with your doctor first if you have any medical conditions.

Hope you all have a beautiful, grounded, peaceful day!

Balancing the Chakras

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‘To live life is not merely to breathe, it is to act; it is to make use of our organs, senses, faculties, of all those parts of us which give us the feeling of existence.’ – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

There is a lot of theory behind chakras, but basically, the chakras are vibrational zones through which energy flows in our bodies. They each affect certain parts of our system and behaviour, and they are believed to be goverend by a specific colour, element, perception and sound.

In order for us to be healthy, we need to make sure all the chakras are in balance, so energy can flow smoothly through pur entire body. When there is an imbalance, our overall wellbeing is affected.

I do this a couple of times a year: I spend a whole week focusing on balancing the 7 main chakras, using yoga, meditation, massage, sound, and aromatherapy. There are spa and health retreats where they do this, but I find that even my mini at-home diy retreat helps me a lot.

There are many books and videos and articles on the chakras. One of mt favorite one, the one I follow during my practices, is ‘The Essential Guide to Chakras’ by Swami Saradananda. Each day, I will post the little practices I do to balance each chakra.

Please not: If you decide to follow along, keep in mind that if you have any medical condition or are pregnant, you need to consult with your doctor before trying anything I mention. Everybody is different, so be mindful of what works for you.

 

The Breeze At Dawn

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The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

~Rumi

I have always loved this poem by Rumi. It is such a beautiful reminder that every day, every single moment of our life in fact is an opportunity for us to experience and learn new things with fresh eyes (beginner’s mind)… No preconceptions, no expectations, just experience, observe, learn…. Every. Moment. Every moment we can ask ourselves: What can I do next that will help me the most? That will nourish me the most? That will serve me the most?

In a world full of distractions, full of noise, full of chaos, it is so easy to go on auto-pilot. The human brain runs only on about 12 Watts of power. That is not much, so in order to conserve energy, the brain tries to take shortcuts, by forming and following patterns based on previous experiences. This can be very useful for basic survival, but by doing this, by going on auto-pilot, we also tend to miss out on a lot of wonderful things and experiences.

The good news is that if we practice present-moment awareness, if we tune into the moment with a beginner’s mind, with no preset expectations, we can get ourselves out of auto-pilot. Isn’t it amazing how we have the power to choose our experience of life in every single moment? Isn’t it wonderful how we can find some stillness amidst all the chaos just by tuning into our breath even for a short minute? From a state of awareness we can make more conscious decisions, and maybe more nourishing ones.

Of course, we all still fall back into auto-pilot from time to time, but the more we practice mindfulness, the less we will “go back to sleep”….the more aware and awake we are in life, in every moment.

The simplest tool, our anchor to the present moment, is our breath. Simple, yet so powerful!

Throughout the day, take a pause for 1 minute, and just count your breaths.

Breathe in. Breathe out. – One
Breathe in. Breathe out. – Two
Breathe in. Breathe out. – Three

It doesn’t matter how many breaths you fit in. It doesn’t matter how long your inhale or exhale was. The only thing you are noticing is how many breaths you took. You are not comparing to anything or anyone else, there is no expected limit. It is what it is in that moment.

So try it now. Set a timer for one minute….or 5 minutes, or 10 minutes. Count how many breaths you took. Do this whenever you get a chance to, in those times when you are waiting in line…How many breaths till you get to the till? Do this on the bus…how many breaths till you get to your stop? Do this on your walk home, or when you are taking a shower. All these moments can turn into such blissful moments and can change your whole day!

I hope you all have a blissful weekend!

PS: Image Source: Pinterest – Dawn of Gods by Giorgos Malamidis

Be the Altar, Not the Alternative

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In his book “Altar Your Space”, the author talks about a conversation he had with his spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan.
“Do you know the sacred secret of success in this lifetime?” asked Yogi Bhajan.
The author gave several answers, to which the teacher replied “Son, be the altar, not the alternative”.
What does this mean to you?
To the author, this means being, living, acting and projecting a point of neutrality and awareness, wholeness and transcendence, experiencing everything, appreciating it all, being connected with it all, without any attachments, without any specific point of view.
For me, being the altar means finding stillness and silence inside. Everything in this life comes and goes, everything has a beginning and an end. Life comes and goes,people come and go, thoughts come and go, moments come and go, the breath comes and goes…It feels like there is always motion, activity, noise, but deep down, we are stillness…we are just too distracted to notice it, too consumed by what goes on outside of us.
A great way to find that stillness inside is to watch your breath. You take a deep, full inhale, and then a slow, deep exhale. You watch the inhale…it has a beginning, a middle and an end…Then the exhale comes…it has a beginning, a middle and an end. But if you slow down and  pay attention, between all those inhales and exhales, there is a tiny little gap, a pause, a moment of silence and stillness, where nothing happens… To me, that stillness is the altar. A point that is neutral and balanced and aware. When you are there, it feels like you are standing still in time and space, and everything else is just moving past you. You watch it come and go, but you are still and there is peace and silence within you.
The more you practice meditation, the more you observe this still point, the more you will notice you can bring it with you in your daily life, and you begin to see things unfold with greater ease, harmony, and grace.
So today, try this meditation on your breath. Take full, deep inhales, then slow, deep exhales and watch where they begin and where they end. Keep breathing and slowing down, and eventually you will notice that gap, that empty space, where everything is still.
I wish you all peace and stillness!

Image Source: Pinterest