Why Talk About the Core so Much in Yoga?

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Here are the yoga thoughts shared in this week’s classes:

“The core is what supports us spiritually in our lives, and physically in our yoga practice. If our core is weak, the ups and downs of life are much harder to take. A strong core makes us more resilient.” -Desiree Rumbaugh

“If we’re weak in the core, our digestive fire is weak. This can cause constipation, which then brings on chronic exhaustion because we’re not absorbing nutrients, and which pollutes the blood stream and can muddy the mind, leading to unclear thinking and gloomy moods. Core work quickens the blood and gets oxygen moving throughout the body. Working on the core…turns on a student’s innate intelligence and gets them feeling more accurately. If we don’t know how to get centered in our core, we’re basically doormats for whoever’s a stronger personality. We become susceptible to anyone who wants to push us off balance.” – Ana Forrest

My favorite cues that speak to me in my practice:

  • Zip up the lowest part of your pelvic floor muscles towards your belly button
  • Draw your belly button slightly in and up
  • Stitch your bottom ribs inward
  • Reach your tailbone towards the ground
  • Press your low back towards the wall behind you

In every movement in yoga, let it emanate from the core. Transition from pose to pose using the core. In the office, as you’re standing up or sitting down or reaching, let the movements begin by engaging your core. Engaging the core lets us feel more powerful and less victimized in our lives. Having a strong core lets us feel in control and resilient. Be strong, friends! ūüôā

Svadisthana Chakra

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Building on the last post and drawing on more info from this Yoga Journal article, let’s explore the Svadisthana chakra, or this second center of energy that resides in the hips, sacrum, low back, kidneys, bladder, womb, and genitals¬†and that is¬†all about our flowy needs: circulation, urination, menstration, orgasm, and tears, and all creativity.

As discussed in the first chakra post last week, a chakra can be deficient, balanced, or excessive.  A deficient or blocked chakra can happen from fear, tension, and past trauma.   An overactive or excessive chakra can cause overexertion, a drained feeling, and a sense of imbalance. We can do specific yoga poses to open up blocked chakras and restore balance to the physical and emotional body.

The svadisthana chakra “encourages us to feel the feelings that arise as we open to life just as it is. As we allow ourselves to accept what is, we taste the sweetness (and bittersweetness) of life. When we relax our resistance to life, our hips let go, our reproductive organs become less tense, and we‚Äôre open to experiencing our sensuality and sexuality.” ¬†Opening up this space in your body with certain yoga poses will decrease the workaholic mentality and open you up to more relaxation and more pleasure in every area of your life.

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People who grew up in environments of repressed emotions or denied pleasure may have deficiencies in this second chakra, and sexual abuse in childhood can shut this chakra down all together, and this deficiency will manifest as fear of pleasure, being out of touch with feelings, and resistance to change. Sexual abuse could on the other hand cause this chakra to be excessively dominant in our lives through overly emotional behavior and poor boundaries, or this excess could be caused by growing up in an environment of constant need for pleasurable stimulation like entertainment, partying, or frequent emotional drama.

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Physical yoga poses and movements focused on our second chakra (hips and low back) can help us with our adaptability and receptivity,¬†bringing¬†balance to this energy center. ¬†Try cow’s face pose, pigeon pose and all its variations, bound angle pose, open angle pose, and all other hip and groin opening poses, all done with soft patience and care.

If you have chronically tight hips and feel yourself drawn towards doing hip poses because they just are your favorite, is it because there’s something about your daily life that is imbalanced in the second chakra, or something sexual in your past that you haven’t dealt with, or an over-activeness of drama in the friends/family around you, and you’re drawn subconsciously to bringing it back into balance?

The outcome of opening this second chakra? More going with the flow in life, more ability to enjoy downtime, relaxation, and pleasure, and savoring life in the moment. ¬†How sweet ūüėČ

Muladhara Chakra

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This Yoga Journal article helps explain something we talk a lot about in yoga, the chakras.  Yoga tradition says there are 7 chakras in the body, lined up from the base of the spine to the top of the head, and they are spinning wheels or vortexes of energy, each one with specific properties and emotional meanings.  A chakra can be deficient, balanced, or excessive.  A deficient or blocked chakra can happen from fear, tension, and past trauma.   An overactive or excessive chakra can cause overexertion, a drained feeling, and a sense of imbalance. We can do specific yoga poses to open up blocked chakras and restore balance to the physical and emotional body.

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I’ll go post by post here, chakra by chakra. This first blog post will focus on the first chakra, the muladhara or root chakra, which is associated with the earth element and is all about¬†our survival needs: Do you feel well-grounded or ready to flee? Do you take good healthy care of your own basic physical needs or do you take on excess food and gain weight to try and feel grounded? ¬†Do you feel in a starving crave of much, or do you greedily hoard¬†possessions or money? ¬†Do you miss something intensely or are you satisfied with where you are currently stationed in life?

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Balance your muladhara chakra with poses that ground you and loosen up your feet and legs. Roll the soles of your feet on a tennis ball. Sit in toes pose. Stretch your hamstrings, quads, and calves (tight hamstrings will give us the emotional sensation that we’re ready to flee). Strengthen your low body with¬†standing poses. Rest in¬†bound angle pose, legs up a wall pose, and supported child’s pose.Bound Angle

The outcome? “Calmness, patience, and a willingness to slow down and stay in one place…¬†Renew¬†confidence and commitment to the next steps on life‚Äôs journey… Fears eased…Trust the earth and body….Settle an overactive mind… Surrender to gravity…No longer felt so worried… More prepared for challenges.”