How we feel is directly correlated to our thoughts and modes of self-expression. The words we choose shape our attitude, preserve culture and 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.
Describing how we feel requires patience and practice; it is no easy task to express our vulnerabilities and fears with the world. Sharing our innermost desires requires courage and the ability to be honest, concise, and compassionate in how we speak to others and ourselves. This is a lifelong process of sitting in how we feel, reflecting on the thoughts that arise, and deciding how we wish to transform our ideas into material products through actions or words.
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 targets 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 in addition to 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.
On the #PracticeWithClara podcast this week, Clara and I discussed Vishuddha, the fifth chakra, in how it relates to expression and communication. This article shares highlights from our talk and classes that stimulate the throat chakra.
Yoga Alchemy: Vishuddha 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. Sound, space, and truth influence the fifth chakra.
Voice & Authenticity
The discovery of an inner power and purpose is associated with Vishuddha. 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. The upper chakras relate to the intellectual masculine realm (Shiva) and the ethereal properties to manifest and give birth to ideas. 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 right speech would be speaking only that which you know to be true and beneficial to others. Becoming aware of how gossip, assumption, judgement, prejudice, and fear shades our language and completely shifts the dynamic of the receiver 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. Replacing words we choose that are negative or debasing and replacing them with words that are positive and uplifting influences our mood, reaction to the world, and how we proceed. 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 how we feel 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 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 vibration 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 assist in improving 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 releases 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. New neural pathways of the brain are created through mantra to amplify our ability to bring our truth to the physical world, manifest our desires and acknowledge our prayers.
Each of the chakras are associated with a bija seed sound to bring the focus said area and direct our energy. The bija mantra for the throat is Ham. Chanting this mantra over and over encourages healing and transformation related to the themes associated with Vishuddha, such as expression.
Vishuddha Chakra Playlist
Reveal your inner truth and practice evolving your language so you might effectively communicate how you feel and what you need from your relationships to others (and yourself!). In the 5th Chakra Playlist, anchor your practice and discover your voice as you join Clara and the students of Lila Vinyasa Yoga to chant mantra.
Connect to your voice and an inner vulnerability in this smooth movement and meditation class with Clara. Featuring the students of Lila Vinyasa Yoga, this class targets the throat chakra, Vishuddha. Focus on your breath moving in and out of your throat as you meditate, move, breath, and chant together.
Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of creativity, speech, wisdom, knowledge and learning. We chant to her when we are embarking on a new creative project for inspiration OR when we are studying for an exam OR when we want to find the right words to express how we feel.
Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and the placer of obstacles on our path that we need to examine. He is beloved in the yoga community. Yoga is about removing obstacles both seen and unseen so that we can connect to our inner wisdom/light. Chanting to Ganesha is another kriya (purification) practice to clear our own paths.
New this week:
Create stability and spaciousness in a Prana Flow inspired sequence designed especially for pregnant mama’s. This Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga class create’s length and strength in the side body to keep you moving through your second trimester.
Expression through Intentional Language and Silence
Sitting Vipassana for 10-days and honoring the silence and meditation required introduced me to the power of words and influence of language in the world. This process made me more aware of the power of words, the magic in speaking truth and voicing fears and desires. I became more attune 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.