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)

True Beauty

I have been thinking a lot lately about beauty…true beauty, what it really means and how to find it or achieve it… I have a post coming up on this, but until then, I wanted to share this beautiful page from ‘Enchanting Beauty’ by Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar.

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I wish you all a blissful day!

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.

 

Gratitude

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One practice that has always made a big difference in my life, is starting with some gratitude first thing in the morning. I used to write in a gratitude journal, but the truth is after a few months, I found my mornings so busy that I felt too rushed, so I would skip the journal…A day here, a day there…then it became a week…then a few weeks…

I was not going to give up on this practice though, because it really does set a great tone for the rest of my day. I just found a different way to practice it, that could fit better in my morning routine.

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Now, first thing when I wake up, when my eyes are still closed, I practice a short gratitude meditation. In that first moment I realize I am awake, that moment I am aware of my breath again. I think of all the wonderful gifts in my life and allow myself to FEEL how this gratitude fills my heart. Then, I set my intentions for the day, and let them sink in, like planting seeds.

The thing I found about gratitude meditation is that you really have to FEEL it, not just think of the things you should be grateful for, not just writing them down or saying them out loud. The real benefits of gratitude meditation come from that FEELING in your heart you get when you are truly grateful for something.

I once tried a gratitude practice I learned from Dr Pratima Raichur (she is such an amazing woman!!!), where, in a quiet place, you begin by listing some of the things you are thankful for in your life. Then, you meditate on losing these things…your home, your health, your ability to walk, your sight, your loved ones…anything that is truly precious to you…and then, one by one, you imagine receiving these gifts back into your life- FEEL  the full effects of these reunions, FEEL the deep gratitude you have in your heart. That is what gratitude meditation should feel like…That humbling realization that all these amazing things in your life are such precious gifts! Nothing should be taken for granted… This is such an amazing practice, but Pratima says it can be quite intense for some, so use a little caution if you decide to try it.

I hope you all have a beautiful day, filled with much love, happiness, peace and gratitude! ❤

Note: First image source: Pinterest.

 

Little things

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At the beginning of this year, I started a journey towards a more mindful life. I wanted to find ways to achieve a more balanced sense of health and wellbeing, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

I still have a long way to go, but I have learned a lot. I didn’t notice it right away, but now, as I reflect upon my days and compare them to how I would have gotten by a year ago, there is a definite shift.

It’s easy to get information nowadays on health and wellbeing, but not always easy to incorporate them into your day, and also figure out what actually works for you. I am the type of person who gets really excited about a project, and takes on waaay too much from the beginning. I do well for a while, but then life happens, and I completely stop. I lose my momentum. I realized it is because I have always had pretty unreasonable expectations.

This year I tried something different. Each week, I tried 5 new wellbeing/mindfulness/healthy practices….Pretty small ones…small enough in fact that sometimes I wouldn’t even notice that my routine was changed at all…but little by little, my life has shifted.

I started each week with 5 new practices. For example: breathing exercises for a few minutes every morning, yoga for 20 minutes every morning, body brushing every day, journaling before bed. I tried to keep them up for a whole week, and then noticed what worked and what didn’t…What made the biggest impact in my day…and at the end of the week, I commited to the one practice that I felt was the easiest to keep and made the biggest impact. I carried that practice into the next week, where I tried 5 new things…and so on…

Months later, I have accumulated all these small new habits that I realize now have become a fluid part of my day. They are my routine, just like brushing my teeth when I wake up. They were such small changes…in small increments, almost unnoticeable…but now, I realize just how much of a difference they have all made.

Everyone is different, and what works for me will not work for someone else. I think this is why it is so important to always be open to learn and grow and be mindful of what feels right and what doesn’t. Accept change. Embrace it. Be grateful for every experience.

One last note, which has probably been the most profound for me this year, was realizing how negative my thoughts really were. I am still a work in progress, but I have definitely improved the quality of my thoughts this year. I realized that we really have no control on the future. No matter how hard we try and do our best, we cannot control the outcome. We sometimes have the illusion that we do, but we don’t. We can control our actions to a certain extent (laws of physics and nature still apply…unfortunately, no matter how much I want to, I still cannot just spread my arms out and fly…)…The ONLY thing we can control in this life is our thoughts. We have unlimited possibilities. We can dream so big!

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Image Source: picturequotes.com

Why do we chose to dream of negative things, of worst case scenarios…when we have all this potential…why not dream and think of the best possible case scenario!! Why not think of beautiful things that make us happy, of things working out instead of going wrong?  If you cannot control the outcome no matter what, why add to your stress by living worries of things that might never even happen? Why worry and stress over things that HAVE happened, that you can also not change. It will not change the outcome either way, so why not think positive in the meantime, and when the time comes, just deal with things in the moment.

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Image source: Pinterest

All you can do is your best in every single moment, whatever your best is at the time. That is all. It is when we attach ourselves to a certain outcome that we become unhappy….because we think things should go a certain way…and sometimes they don’t…If we just did our best and then tried to let any expectations go, we would be much happier.

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Image Source: heartcommunicators.com

In the next days, I will post the little shifts I have made that have worked for me. You may try some of them and see if they work for you. Maybe you already do them..or maybe they are not really for  you…or maybe they will inspire you to look for other ways to improve your day and your life.

For now, let’s all just dream big, do our best and let all expectations go!