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Living Yoga: Make Yoga Your Lifestyle

Yoga is more than the practice of asana, or physical postures. Living yoga means integrating the principles of yoga into your thoughts, words and actions; it means taking yoga beyond your mat. Learn more about living yoga and explore a variety of class option such as Tantrik Meditations, Yogic Paths and Injury, Inquiry and Insight to expand your practice.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

The Eight Limbs of Yoga are core principles that serve as a compass for living a meaningful and purposeful life.

1. Yamas

Yamas are ethical considerations to help guide interactions with others. There are five yamas:

  • Nonviolence (Ahimsa)
  • Truthfulness (Satya)
  • Non-stealing (Asteya)
  • Chastity and fidelity (Brahmacharya)
  • Non-coveting (Aparigraha)

 

At first glance, these considerations mirror the basic morals taught in kindergarten, but have depth in their continued practice. Here are a few alternative versions to consider:

  • Ahimsa: practice nonviolence in thought, word and deed; practice self-love
  • Satya: tell the truth; opt for silence if your words may harm others
  • Asteya: do not steal, even in non-material ways, such as withholding information or time
  • Brahmacharya: use your energy wisely and with intention; avoid excess or overindulgence
  • Aparigraha: you are enough and you have everything you need already

 

Please keep in mind that there are many interpretations of the Yamas and Niyamas; find the definitions best suited to your personal practice.

2. Niyamas

The Niyamas are practices that inform self-discipline and worldview. The maxims below generally reflect the essence of each Niyama:

  • Saucha: “Leave a place cleaner than you found it” (cleanliness)
  • Santosha: “Don’t worry, be happy” (contentment)
  • Tapas: “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going” (willpower and self-discipline)
  • Svadhyaya: “Learn from your mistakes” (study of self and sacred scriptures)
  • Ishvara Pranidhana: “Have faith” (surrender to the divine)

 

3. Asana

Asana refers to the physical postures practiced in yoga. Derived from the root word as in Sanskrit, which means seat, asana is designed to prepare the body and mind for seated meditation. The term asana refers to the ancient yogic tradition of taking a seat close to your teacher. Beyond the physical, asana refers to an outlook that life is full of opportunities to learn, even through obstacles: find the teacher in all things.

Introduction to Tantrik Yoga

Learn the basics of Tantrik Yoga, such as how to use breath, mantra, mudra and awareness to unlock and unfold the hidden potentials that lie within every human being.

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4. Pranayama

Breathing is the only bodily function that you perform consciously and unconsciously; it can be voluntary or involuntary. However, breathing patterns, such as a tendency to hold your breath, are indicators of mind and body health. Pranayama is the practice of consciously controlling the breath, of taking your breath back into your own lungs. In Sanskrit, prana is our vital life force, so pranayama is the cultivation and mindful use of life force. Pranayama leads to improved concentration, health, focus, clarity, creativity, purpose and compassion.

5. Pratyahara

Pratyahara is the practice of withdrawing from external stimuli to enhance internal awareness. Mindfully return to quiet through meditation and removal of distractions. Set aside 5-10 minutes each day to sit or lay quietly with your eyes closed. As your practice grows, your heightened sense of awareness leads to an ability to see things are they are, not as you are. Draw inward, not to silence your senses, but to quiet them enough to see beyond yourself.

6. Dharana

Dharana is the practice of intense concentration, usually focusing on one object, such as the flame of a candle or a picture of a deity. This practice trains the mind in stillness and focus. Start with just a few minutes each day and expand your practice as it serves you. If other thoughts or distractions flicker through your experience, recognize them then let them go.

7. Dhyana

Dhyana is the state of being keenly aware, yet without focus. It is awareness without judgment or attachment; it is peaceful, meditative and precedes complete bliss. It is otherwise known to artists and athletes as the flow state. Consider moments in your life where you were so engrossed in the present that you lost track of time or desire (even for food). The practice of yoga offers a return to this state.

8. Samadhi

Samadhi is a state of ecstasy. It is transcendence, connectivity with the divine, a coupling with the universe, and a mind-body integration of the concept that “all things are one.”

Who is Patanjali?

Patanjali, a revered scholar in the yogic tradition, is credited with authoring the Yoga Sutras, a foundational text for classical yoga. In the Yoga Sutras, the eight limbs are referred to as ashtanga, ashta meaning eight and anga meaning limb in Sanskrit. Patanjali is estimated to have lived in India sometime between the 5th century BCE to 4th century CE.

Get your guide to living yoga featuring Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga.

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How to Balance Your Solar Plexus Chakra

article migration image how to balance your solar plexus chakra jpg

The Solar Plexus chakra or Manipura chakra is often referred to as the chakra of personal power. Located two inches above the navel at the base of the rib cage, it is the seat of our ego and where we draw motivation to achieve our goals. It governs our ability to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, moderates our self-esteem, it oversees our raw emotions and we draw on it for our self-discipline.

Call on Your Solar Plexus Chakra to Understand Your Emotional Self

When our Solar Plexus is unbalanced we experience both physical and emotional problems. Because this chakra is located near the abdomen, it affects many internal organs such as the kidneys, intestines and pancreas. Stomach ulcers and possible weight problems can also be attributed to an unbalanced Solar Plexus. In addition, we may suffer from back problems, lethargy and because this chakra is connected to our sense of sight, we may experience blurriness with our vision.

Note that physical ailments have a dramatic effect on our emotional and spiritual state and that if we pay attention to these energies within our bodies, we could, in earnest, take control of illnesses we feel are wreaking havoc on our bodies.

If it is under-active, it can lead to emotional problems, sometimes seriously. We may feel powerless or ineffective which can lead to negative thoughts and despair, we will doubt ourselves and our accomplishments and see mistrust within our friends and family. Anxiety and low self-esteem often accompany an under-active Solar Plexus and if we let these emotions fester, it can and will affect our other chakras, and by extension, our physical and emotional states.

Yet a Solar Plexus that is overactive can be just as harmful. Too much of a good thing, no matter how healthy or helpful it is, never good for us. If we find ourselves judging people too harshly or have become too critical or demanding, then our Solar Plexus could be over-stimulating our system. Anger and aggressiveness is another symptom of this overactive chakra. Anger is one of the more serious effects as it has a noted physical reaction. When we are angry the body re-directs blood away from the abdomen area and to the muscles in preparation for a physical confrontation, therefore, starving the organs of the Solar Plexus of nutrients.

How Anger Affects the Body

When the energy of our Solar Plexus is balanced, our outlook on life improves, criticisms and problems are easier to handle, and you have control over your emotions and your thoughts. The ego is easier to handle. You will understand and accept your inner peace and radiate that acceptance outward, coming to appreciate people and things around you. When balanced, our Solar Plexus gives us confidence in ourselves and our performance. We feel accomplished and proud of our work and achieving our goals. We create an emotional focal point.

The Solar Plexus Chakra is connected to the sense of sight. It is thought that nearsighted people may an over-abundance of fear or insecurity, while those who are far-sighted hold unresolved anger or guilt. We can draw on our personal power to help stimulate the chakra. Exercising our self-discipline not only brings us closer to our goals, but strengthens our chakra and allows us to digest the more unfavorable situations and negativity in our lives.

See the Solar Plexus Light at the End of the Tunnel

Stimulating the Solar Plexus is as easy as taking a walk and observing a sunset or sunrise. Visit a park or just watch the stars. Observing the many colors in our world can stimulate and reinforce more than one Chakra point.

Color is an important part of Chakra therapy. Just like sound vibrations, each color has a corresponding wavelength.

A simple way to fortify or help keep your chakras balanced is to wear clothing or an item of the corresponding chakra color. Try this exercise: as you go about your day, periodically think about the color you’re wearing. Imagine that color infusing into the corresponding chakra point. See it in your mind, blending with your body, soaking into your skin. Take several deep breaths, exhaling all the air out of your lungs. Do this several times a day, or when you happen to remember. It will go a long way in helping you to condition your mind to balance your energies.

You can also try the meditation exercise above with any of the colors below to balance their respective chakras:

  • Red/black for the Root
  • Orange for the Sacral
  • Yellow for the Solar Plexus
  • Green for the Heart
  • Blue for the Throat
  • Indigo for the Third Eye
  • Violet for the Crown

How to Balance Your Solar Plexus

There are as many different ways to balance our chakras as there are people in the world, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some people like to sit and meditate, using sounds and smells to relax and re-energize, while others may chose exercise or participating in other activities that stimulate our points. Whichever way you chose, make sure that it’s right for you. If you feel uncomfortable doing a yoga position, try listening to music and focusing on how your body responds, or if you are more energetic, a good hike or riding a bike might be better suited. This is the important part; listen to your body. It will tell you what works and what doesn’t.

To nourish your spiritual side, try volunteering or taking a class; learn something new. This nourishes our mind and spirit.

Solar Plexus Balancing Tools

Crystals

Stones of yellow hue are best to use. Crystals such as amber, citrine, golden or honey calcite, yellow sapphire are just a few. Wear or place these crystals on your body as you listen to meditative music, or carry them in your pocket.

Sound

Using sound as part of your chakra balancing is a soothing and relaxing way to release the tension and blockage within our bodies. Either by ‘toning’ which is using a specific vowel sound, drawing it out in a tone of voice you feel comfortable using. For the Solar Plexus, the sound of ‘oh’ should be used.

A Bijas mantra is different and can be used as well. The Bijas for the Solar Plexus is RAM.

New Experiences

The Solar Plexus helps with mental clarity as well as learning new things. Try taking up a new hobby or playing games that stimulate and sharpens your mind. These are excellent ways to keep this chakra open and balanced.

While the majority of these suggestions concentrate with feeding our emotional and mental side, we need to think of our body as well. Keeping the body healthy with the right food and good exercise can also keep the chakras balanced and the energy flowing. Consider eating foods that are yellow, such as some squash, yellow bell peppers and lemons. Fruits and vegetables of this color contain antioxidants such as lutein. Research suggests that lutein along with other plant basted antioxidants, may reduce the risk of chronic eye disease.

Yoga Poses to Balance the Solar Plexus

Stimulate and balance your solar plexus with full yoga classes or individual poses, listed below.

Yoga Classes on Gaia

Yoga Poses

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