Vishuddha: Storytelling, Self-Expression, and Sound

Sound, space, and truth influence the fifth chakra. 

Located at the pit of the throat, Vishuddha translates to ‘purifyer’ in Sanskrit and represents our ability to express, speak, communicate, voice opinions, and bring our authentic vision and values to the world. 

How we feel is directly correlated to our thoughts and modes of self-expression. The words we choose shape our attitude, preserve culture, keep traditions alive that may or may not serve, and bond us to cycles of suffering when we fail to see our participation in shaping the future. Creating habits that express how we feel in ways that promote health, longevity, and sustainability rid our environments- and the world- of the disease that ensues due to miscommunications. 

Yoga is an alchemical process of acknowledging our emotions and shifting how we feel.

An asana practice moves the energy in the body while pranayama, mantra, and meditation target the subtle body to create new neural pathways in the brain. The nadis are channels of pranic/energy in the subtle body. The main Nadi of the body is Sushumna which runs from the base of the spine to the crown. There are seven main chakras along the spine that have both physical and metaphysical properties.

The chakras represent energy points that correspond to a specific organ in the body and the physical, emotional, psychological, and emotional states.

The earliest mention of the chakra system is from the Vedas between 1500 and 500 BCE. The word “chakra” is a word in Sanskrit that translates to ‘wheel’ or disks that have the ability to transform the body’s subtle energy. 

This post explores the themes for the fifth chakra, Vishuddha, that is located at the throat. Read on to learn the blockages and imbalances, or listen to the interview.

Themes of Vishuddha Chakra

Voice & Authenticity

The discovery of inner power and purpose is associated with Vishuddha. The upper chakras relate to the masculine intellectual realm (Shiva) and the ethereal properties to manifest and give birth to ideas. Connecting to the lower chakras relates to the creative feminine realm (Shakti) and the physical properties to amass the strength and focus for our desires. Vishuddha chakra represents voicing our dreams and aspirations. It’s where we find the ability to vocalize our purpose and bring our inner dialogues out into the world for others to witness. 

The throat chakra is where we develop the confidence and free will to express our authenticity, bridging the gap between our creative second chakra and the all-seeing awareness of the sixth chakra at the third eye. 

Truth & Purification

The Eightfold Path of Buddhists provides an outline of practices to lead to the release of suffering. Right speech is one of eight precepts for practice to develop the connection of the body-mind. It includes abstaining from lying, divisive and abusive speech, and idle chatter. Developing the right speech would be speaking that which you know to be true and beneficial to others. Understanding how gossip, assumption, judgement, prejudice, and fear shade our language and completely shift the receiver’s dynamic is part of honouring right speech.

As you cultivate a practice for right speech, you might ask yourself:
  • Is this statement true?
  • Will this statement bring the other person some benefit?
  • What is my intention in what I am about to say?
  • Are these words my own, or am I speaking through a layer of social/cultural conditioning? 

The purification process through Vishuddha occurs when we acknowledge how we feel and vocalize our truth. Discovering this truth is an individual process and often requires space for inner reflection through meditation. Our mind-body connection is one of the powers of yoga as we become better at sitting with how we feel and developing skills in language to communicate with the world. 

Words & Communication

The language we choose creates our reality. Selecting the correct words to describe ourselves and our actions influences who we become and how we see ourselves in the world. Observing the words we choose and their origin may give us insight into whether or not the language we’ve learned shares our current vision and values. Clear and effective communication includes expressing our thoughts and feelings without the assumptions, fears, or judgements of others’ influence over our speech.

Sound and the Power of Mantra

Mantras are a repeated word or phrase that aid in meditation and are a powerful tool to tap into the energy of the throat chakra. Chanting mantra is a way to evolve communication and expression, deepen listening skills, and refine sensitivities of the subtle body. When we chant mantra, the sound currents and vibrations interact with our brainwaves and the body’s energy field. We activate the electric impulses in our brain that control our thoughts and hormone secretion. Emotions are generated from the process of the brain’s electrical impulses activating the release of hormones into the body.

Repeating mantra subconsciously redirects the brain’s electrical impulses to induce a state of calm and rewire the brain to improve our attitude and habitual beliefs. 

Mantra is a Sanskrit word from man, meaning mind, and tra, meaning instrument. The purpose of mantra is to release the mind from unconscious thought patterns that trigger the release of hormones and influence our emotional state. The repetition of mantra out loud may induce a state of meditation where the sound waves and vibration release stuck and/or stagnant energies, purging the unconscious thoughts and emotions that don’t serve and cause disease.

Chanting synchronizes the right and left hemispheres of the brain, bringing more oxygen to the brain, reducing the heart rate and blood pressure. On a metaphysical level, the vibration of sound through mantra brings us to a positive frequency that aligns with the natural environment. The brain’s new neural pathways are created through mantra to amplify our ability to bring our truth to the physical world, manifest our desires, and acknowledge our prayers.

The bija mantra for the throat is Ham. Each chakra is associated with a bija seed sound to focus on the said area and direct our energy. Chanting this mantra encourages healing and transformation related to the themes associated with Vishuddha, such as expression. 

Expression through Intentional Language and Silence

Sitting Vipassana for 10-days and honouring the silence and meditation required introduced me to the power of words and the influence of language in the world. This process made me more aware of the power of words, the magic in speaking the truth and voicing fears and desires. I became more attuned to the process of bringing the inner, invisible realities and dialogues I created out into the material realm where others could bear witness to what felt, thought, or wished to actualize.

Vipassana gave me a space to reflect on how I could be more intentional through my words. Intentional language requires that we sit with how we feel, make space to reflect, and decide how we wish to communicate, be it verbal or non-verbal.

Silence is just as powerful a tool in self-expression. 

Non-verbal forms of expression may be preferred to communicating how we feel and venting emotion. Dancing our anger, painting our sadness, singing our angst; physical activity and art are therapeutic forms of purging excess emotion and expressing truths that are difficult to vocalize.

You have many chakras (intersection of energy lines) in your body. We, as yogis, focus on seven that run up our main energy channel known as Sushumna.

In this series, explore each chakra with unique classes geared towards lighting them up.

 
Fifth Chakra Interview with Shiv Derek Oss

The Power of Storytelling

When you read stories, you relate to characters who express similar triumphs and conflicts, giving you a sense of belonging to a greater narrative. Storytelling may diminish feelings of separation, loneliness, and anxiety when we realize that we are not alone.

SDOThe biography of Joseph Campbell, it’s the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell was an American mythologist, and he brings together these themes that Carl Jung would call the collective unconscious. Campbell says that every society has this with this myth that the soul, the individual, goes through. 

Campbell uses symbols moving throughout time to track this, this motif moving throughout all time and space. And I think this deals with storytelling as well, this essence of ‘once upon a time.’ This connects with therapy and the therapeutic notions of the cycle of the Aum, about these elements and forces that are within us. Symbols are externalized through the deities, Shiva and Vishnu, and so on. These are external symbols of internal processes. That’s how I got involved in mythology and my journey.

CROThe book that I’m reading right now is a book by Sarah Wilson; she’s an Australian author who wrote, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Story About Anxiety. It’s a book all about anxiety, and she is a woman who’s worked with anxiety since she was 11 or 12 years old. She’s been in different kinds of therapy, and she’s done all sorts of self-help to medication- anything to kind of help her with anxiety. And she’s been diagnosed with bipolar, and she was diagnosed with OCD and many other things. It’s not a medical book. It’s a book of her experience of anxiety. 

I didn’t realize it until reading this, but I guess I battled with anxiety quite a bit in my teens and early twenties. Then through yoga, I was able to move through it and kind of work with my anxiety. 

SDTThrough someone else’s story, you found solace. The thing with storytelling is it’s not a prescription to living, it’s someone presenting what occurred, and you can choose how you relate to it and how you want to adapt it to your way of being. 

CROWe need to express because it builds intimacy with the people around us.

SDO This reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis, an English author who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia. One of the things that Lewis says, especially in shadow lenses, we read to recognize that we’re not alone. And so storytelling gives us that sense that we’re not alone, and mythology gives us the universal sense. 

CRO–The shadow side of Vishuddha is when it’s blocked, and a blockage shows up when you can’t speak. It goes one of two ways. The other side, in an imbalance of Vishuddha chakra, is that you overshare. 

SDO– A blockage occurred when I was in a boarding school because we were not allowed to speak. And I carry that with me. To balance this, what I’ve done is I’ve learned to sing, and I’m thinking of people who stuttered, people who stutter can sing, and they typically don’t stutter when they’re singing.

What I do instead of singing, I do images. And what gets me going is how light operates and how life is dependent on light. I express myself, not through my throat chakra, but through the photographs and vision through light. 

One of the things I recognize as part of my shadow is now my throat is caught, still caught, and I’m working on that. I do this by massaging myself at my throat, and I’m conscious of wanting to express myself and share my truth.

CRO–When I feel imbalanced in Vishuddha chakra, this is expressed through a nightmare that I have had most of my life is. People can’t hear me in the nightmare, I’m trying to speak, and it doesn’t come out. I’m trying to scream or yell for help, and it doesn’t come out. In the nightmare related to work, I call it a ‘work-mare.’ I walk into the yoga studio, and nobody listens to me. People are on their cell phones. People are talking loudly, and anytime I speak, nobody hears me. No matter how long or how loud I speak, they just keep doing what they’re doing. And so, in that way, an imbalance shows up in my dreams that I’m not heard. 

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Connect to the Power of the Chakras

Your guide to each of the chakras with movement practices including yoga and meditation, to create balance and connect to the potential of each energy center.

Learn the themes, imbalances, blockages, and ways to connect to the 1st chakra.

Learn the themes, imbalances, blockages, and ways to connect to the 2nd chakra.

Learn the themes, imbalances, blockages, and ways to connect to the 3rd chakra.

Learn the themes, imbalances, blockages, and ways to connect to the 4th chakra.

Learn the themes, imbalances, blockages, and ways to connect to the 5th chakra.

Learn the themes, imbalances, blockages, and ways to connect to the 6th chakra.

Learn the themes, imbalances, blockages, and ways to connect to the 7th chakra.

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Sign up for a recurring subscription and get access to hundreds of different yoga classes and join the weekly LIVE yoga class.

Yoga at Home

Reaffirm your commitment to a home yoga practice!

Read our post on how to set up a home yoga studio and the benefits of joining the Class of the Day.

 

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More Opportunties on Practice with Clara

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✧ Frequently Asked Questions ✧

1. What is the Practice with Clara Membership & App?

Practice with Clara is an online platform and Apps that allow you to take your yoga with you anywhere, anytime! With hundreds of classes in various styles, including Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative, Yin, Prenatal, and Meditation, there’s something for everyone at any level of the practice. The Practice with Clara Membership provides a monthly or yearly subscription package with the first 7-days free for you to experience the courses. 

2. How is the Membership Different from the YouTube Playlists?

A membership to the Practice with Clara Apps provides:

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  • Access to a community of yogis worldwide 
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  • & much more!

Clara’s YouTube Channel provides carefully curated playlists to introduce you to the free programs and yoga challenges for you to get a taste of what’s offered and commit to your wellness!

3. What Do I Get When I Join the 7-Day Program?

The 7-day programs include: 

  • 7-Days of Vinyasa Yoga Intensive
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These programs provide a weeks-worth of yoga classes to ignite your yoga practice and cultivate a new, healthy habit. 

When you sign-up for one of these programs, you’ll receive:

  • A welcome email to the program from Clara
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These programs are free with no hidden costs or fees; PLUS, you’ll still receive the 7-day free trial on the Practice with Clara Apps once you complete the series!

4. What Do I Get When I Join the 30-Day Yoga Challenge?

We host quarterly 30-day yoga challenges that are always free for all members of Practice with Clara. Each yoga challenge is themed based on the season. We’ve provided our inaugural challenge, Reconnect | A 30-Day Yoga Challenge, as an email series for you to try to test your physical and mental discipline and endurance!

What you receive in Reconnect | 30-Day Challenge

  • A welcome email to the program from Clara
  • A class each day for 30-days
  • Curated Spotify playlists to accompany each course
  • A calendar to track your progress
  • A journaling booklet to incite self-reflection 
  • Access to the private Practice with Clara Facebook Group

This program is free, anytime, with no hidden costs or fees, PLUS you’ll still receive the 7-day free trial on the Practice with Clara Apps once you complete the series!

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6. I’m Injured, Pregnant, or New to the Practice—Can I Join?

YES, no matter where you are at in your practice, there are classes for you on Practice with Clara. 

We’ve created playlists for beginners and those who are new to the practice.

we also have the Prenatal Collections with classes from the 1st – 4th trimesters that I created when I was pregnant with my daughter. 

Finally, I offer PLENTY of modifications and suggestions based on injury in all the platform classes. 

The biggest thing is to always listen to your body; your body is the greatest teacher.

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Stay Curious: Retreat Planning for Yoga Teachers

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Social distancing has provided many opportunities for us to get creative and curious about the ways we might stay connected and embrace community. It was one woman from the West End who initiated the nightly clapping at 7pm in support of Vancouver’s Health Care Workers, an event that’s since amassed with folks across the city who gather each night and light up the streets and seawall with their collective music and cheers. Curiosity insists upon a story of inspiration through a path less travelled and events born of the courage, consideration, and sheer determination to move forward despite obstacles along the way. 

As one of millions who lost employment and connection to community with the turn of events in March due to CO-VID, Clara and I came together to create the #PracticeWithClara Podcast, a space to share yoga related content with our community. With no clear direction or end in sight, the ways in which we come together has and will continue to dramatically shift, causing entrepreneurs, community builders, and creatives to change their perception of work and how to maintain and build relationships. It’s an uncertain period and a time to question how we want to appear in the world; a time to develop an attitude of curiosity; and a time to see all the ways we might innovate and bring our deepest desires to light.  

As one who’s passionate about shaping and contributing to the community, Clara provided insight on how to host a yoga retreat and experiences for guests to go deeper into their practice in one of our podcast discussions. From managing guest expectations, to creating a budget and selecting the location, Clara shared her top learning highlights for yoga teachers and anyone who wishes to host events or workshops abroad. Planning a destination yoga retreat may be a ways off given the current state of the world, but nobody knows what the future holds. Sometimes it’s through events and stories of others that we are able to appreciate and discover more in how and what we wish to offer. Right now is the ideal time to investigate what type of value you might bring to your community, allowing the curiosity for what could be to spark new ways for community contribution and inner growth. 

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DESTINATION RETREAT PLANNING 101

List the benefits and features of your retreat 

Frame your retreat in terms of the benefits your clients will receive as well as the features in the pricing breakdown and promotion. You want to give as much information as possible to highlight all of the awesome perks provided through descriptive language and captivating photography. Use inviting language and imagery that’s clear and specifies what to expect to attract the guests that are suited for the experience you’re shaping.  For example, the features of a retreat could be: yoga everyday, lodging and food, additional activities such as hiking. Whereas the benefits of a retreat could be: escape in nature, make new friends, learn and explore yoga in a workshop. 

Create copy around the benefits of your retreat to give more of an incentive for guests to sign up. You might ask: What will guests leave with? What might they discover? Who and what will they connect with? Retreats are a space to go inwards and create a space for deeper conversations, personal revelations, and intimate connections with others that are not possible in a yoga-studio setting. Communicate these benefits to guests so they understand the value in what this experience offers. 

Manage expectations & be clear in your communication 

Get super clear in what you offer during the time breakdown of your retreat. As soon as your guests sign-up, send an email outlining exactly what to expect day-by-day. Clara provides an itinerary breakdown for guests which includes:

  • Time
    The time of day that you’re together on retreat and the time that you’re apart. Clara gives a lot of space on her retreats for guests to explore the area, pursue activities of interest, and time alone to rest and reflect. 
  • Cost
    What exactly is covered in the cost of the retreat and what is not. For example, state clearly if flights, taxi, shuttle, and other modes of transport are covered. Be really clear and direct up-front about the deposit and whether or not it’s refundable, and include a breakdown of additional costs that may/may not arise.
  • Food
    Depending on the destination some meals are covered and some are not. Communicate where and when guests are responsible for covering their own meals and where they can find food off-site. 
  • Yoga
    You’ll likely include several yoga classes on the retreat in the initial cost. You may want to include bonus classes, workshops, privates, or anything else that you may be certified in (Reiki, Thai massage) at an additional cost for clients to book with you. 
  • Extra activities  
    Depending on the destination you may offer time and resources to events in the area such as snorkeling, guided tours, cooking classes, bike rentals, and so on. 
Pick a location and investigate 

Choose a location that you want to explore and/or you love. Clara chooses her retreat locations based on the areas she wants to visit. Before you host your retreat, be sure to explore the area ahead of time (Clara usually goes to the location a few days beforehand) to get a better understanding of where you are and what’s close-by for guests. Useful resources to share with guests ahead of time may include: a map of the area, potential transit and/or car rental, food/bars, shopping, nature hikes/swimming, as well as local airports and hospitals. 

Plan a year ahead & budget 

Give guests ample time, especially if you’re going out of the country, for people to accommodate for the time off, get child-care, and/or save money. A lot of retreat centres require a deposit well in advance to save the rooms and accommodation which means you’ll be putting quite a bit of your own money down up-front. Clara’s first retreat twelve years ago she paid out of pocket. Some tips in terms of budgeting for your retreat:

  • Accept that you might not fill up all the spots and/or  break even, and that you may take a loss on your first few retreats in terms of making money. 
  • Assume that your first few retreats will have low(er) registration and decide if you have a minimum number of participants to run your retreat. Clara’s rule of thumb is to never cancel your retreat, no matter what! 
  • Anticipate hidden/unknown costs and have the money saved to manage such uncertainties so you’re not surprised or burdened with unwanted debt.

One way to build momentum for your retreat is to host your excursion around the same time each year so your guests can count on the trip year after year. Returning customers is ideal to keep building community and momentum as you learn. 

Co-teach with a fellow teacher 

You’re the host of the party, you have to be ON the entire time and present for questions and conflict should they arise. It may serve to collaborate with a fellow yoga teacher who shares your passion and can assist in holding space for your guests. It may also benefit to buddy up with a co-host who can offset your strength and skills to provide an experience that’s diverse and well-rounded. It supports the teaching community as an entirety when we promote each other and hold each other accountable in all that we do! 

VIRTUAL INVITATIONS: WAYS TO CONNECT

The broad selection of online platforms available has provided many ways to stay connected regardless of physical obstacles. More so than ever before, we’re able to provide value, engage, educate, and entertain through online platforms where content is easy to distribute. Virtual classes, workshops, teacher training, and similar experiences allow individuals to stay connected and consume media at their own pace and time. 

As destination retreats may be on-hold. for the rest of 2020, the #PracticeWithClara Community has gathered in a variety of online spaces to stay connected and learn from each other. Below are some of the ways you can find Clara online, which may also spark some incentive or idea for you to bring value to your online communities. 

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Practice with Clara Online 

There’s a bevy of online spaces to market and share yoga content with platforms like YouTube and Vimeo where you can create a channel for free. Clara’s YouTube Channel shares highlights and yoga content from her platform: Practice With Clara. You can access Clara’s content anywhere, anytime via desktop, android, iPhone, Apple TV, and Roku. One of the perks on the phone apps is the download feature that allows you to watch the videos offline. With yoga styles including Vinyasa, Hatha, Restorative, Prenatal, in addition to videos on mantra and meditationyou can try for 7-days free

NEW CLASS : Spice It Up 

In this short and spicy vinyasa yoga class you’ll get your heart pumping and blood flowing to build heat and burn off any excess energy and tension. Clara guides practitioners through total-body movement as you shake it out from head-to-toe with Alejandro. 

#PractiveWithClara Podcast 

Start a podcast or launch a video-series where you discuss a topic of interest that provides something of value for your community to engage with. You can listen to the #PracticeWithClara Podcast where we discuss yoga and related philosophy, unpack the business of yoga, answer questions, and lead experiential/guided meditations. Watch past discussions.   

 Facebook Group

Facebook Groups are a great way to amass community members and create an archive of content that can be shared and commented on. The #PracticeWithClara Facebook Group is where we share the latest videos, podcast sessions, blog posts, and other resources with our community members. We invite our community to post questions and feedback, and drop journaling prompts to be shared and discussed. Connect with us on Facebook to connect to like-minded peers across the globe. 

Instagram Live 

Instagram Live has quickly become one of the top spaces for individuals to create and share a variety of videos including topics in fitness, cooking ,and beauty. Clara and I host the #PractiveWithClara Podcast on IG Live to engage with listeners before turning it into a video series to share on YouTube and as a Podcast. We’ll be back on Instagram Live with the #PracticeWithClara Podcast on Monday, May 4th @11AM PST! 

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