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Practice with Clara

Ignite (47-min) Vinyasa

Discover your purpose and feed your inner flame in this 3rd chakra-themed class with Clara. In this open-level vinyasa yoga class, you’ll be challenged with a creative sequence that focuses on strengthening the abdominals, glutes, and hamstrings.

When we connect to our inner fire and build strength, we may act with more decisiveness, confidence, and clarity as we move through the world. Our bodies are intrinsically linked to our minds, so by strengthening some of the main muscle-groups we build the tapas (discipline) in our minds to achieve whatever it is we wish to do.

Style: Vinyasa

Duration: 47-mins

Level: Open-level class

Props: none

Focus: Core, Glute & Hamstring Strengthening

Location: Viva la Familia Production Studio, Vancouver, BC

The third chakra, Manipura, is our power source and is literally located at the solar plexus. When we work with the 3rd chakra, we examine themes such as power, purpose, passion, discipline, and transformation. The element for the 3rd chakra is fire. When we imagine the fire, we might think about the multiple layers that create the fire; the hot coals at the bottom, the flames at the middle, and the halo of white-blue light at the top. We may encompass what each layer means as we embrace the essence of the fire: the ability to sustain with the coals, the ability to transform with the flames, and the ability to surrender to what is with the halo of light.

Manipura is the final chakra that grounds us in the qualities of the earth. The first three chakras of the seven relate to more tactile qualities, whereas the final four chakras are expressed as more ethereal.

In this practice, you’ll be asked to move and breathe deeply through a fluid sequence peppered with core strengthening and leg balancing poses. You might ask, what is my purpose and how might I express it to the world? What lights me up? Where do my passions reside?

You’ll begin your practice seated with pranayama and kriyas to stimulate the inner fire and build heat in the body.

Kapalabhati Breath (skull shining breath) is an internal kriya used to cleanse the body. It may clear the nasal passages, relieve congestion, reduce bloating, and increase the lung’s capacity. Kapalabhati is the perfect pranayama to do in the morning if you’re feeling cold, sluggish, congested, bloated, or heavy. This style of breath targets the solar plexus and draws the energy up the Sushumna  (the spine) which is the body’s main energy channel. When we draw the energy upwards we bring the focus of the third-eye center. Pregnant yogis or those with heart conditions should avoid this pranayama.

Add several variations of arm kriyas to the kapalabhati breath to continue to build heat and momentum in the body before you begin to move. The arm kriyas stimulate circulation.

The term Kriya is a Sanskrit term that means completed action. A Kriya is meant to stimulate the flow of prana through the body through specific breathing techniques and exercises. Subtle breath retention, Kumbhaka, after kapalbhati creates a pause to hold the energy at the third-eye. Breath retention has several benefits including the possible regeneration of new tissues in the brain and increased life-span by preserving the health of stem cells. Slowly exhale to release the breath and sit in how you feel.

Once you’ve warmed up and arrived with the breath, get on all fours for cat/cows and/or sufi grinds to warm up the spine and release tension in the side body. Rest for a moment in Balasana (child’s pose) and listen to the sound of your breath. Use this pause before we get moving to connect to your purpose, your body, and your breath. May you receive this class as something that nourishes you.

Opening Sequence

Anjaneyasana (low lunge) at the front and back of your mat takes you on a turn to face the back of your mat.

Keep moving through this creative twist on Surya Namaskar (sun salutations) moving slowly and staying in the current of your breath. Sun Salutations build heat in the body and help you connect each breath to movement.

Standing Poses

To start the standing series you’ll begin balancing poses to build strength in the legs. Start by hugging your knee to chest, extend your leg out in front of you, and step into Virabhadrasana III (warrior 3).

Land in Ashta Chandrasana (high crescent lunge) for a moving variation that targets the outer glutes and strengthens the glutes and thigh of the back leg.

Anjaneyasana (low lunge) with arms up overhead grabbing opposite elbows opens the side waist and the hip flexor of the back leg.

Parivrtta Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana (revolved low lunge) with the back knee lifted off of the ground strengthens the core and glutes.

Prasarita Padottanasana (wide-leg forward fold) releases the gluteal muscles and lengthens the lower back with a slight engagement of the inner thighs.

Virabhadrasana II (warrior 2) and Trikonasana (triangle pose) strengthen the legs and connect you to your core strength.

Chaturanga push-ups with knees on or off the ground connect you to your core and build strength in the arms, pectorals, upper back, and abdominal muscles.

Core Exercises

Come onto your back for yogi-style sit-ups. These sit-ups involve very small, subtle movements to target the deep core stabilizers. As you take your legs to the sky, twist opposite elbow to knee to twist and engage the lower abdomen. Twisting engages the obliques, the core muscles along the side of the abdomen that extend from the lower ribs to the pelvis. The last bit of core from the back, you’ll take eagle arms as you hug the belly in and take the elbows to knees. This exercise targets the rectus abdominis in the midsection of the body.

Cooling Sequence

After the core work, rest on your back with hands at your solar plexus. Take your feet wide for a variation of Supta Matsyendrasana (reclined spinal twist). Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose) follows the gentle twist from your back. In bridge pose, as you did in the sufi grinds, rotate your pelvis in circles and breathe deeply.

Come up to sit for Ardha Matsyendrasana (seated spinal twist). Twisting increases the flexibility of the spine and cleanses the internal organs. Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) releases the low back and the side body. End your practice seated with legs crossed or using any props you prefer for meditation, or close on your back with savasana.