Five minutes before I begin my yoga class, Sarah walks in. This is unusual, as she usually allows plenty of time to place her mat, center herself and meditate for a few moments. • But on this day she seems agitated and restless. I ask her if everything is okay and she assures me it is.
The next week, Sarah is running late again. She comes in looking frazzled and distracted and I notice her hands moving to her belly more than once.
After class, she confides that she's having a hard time at work with a demanding boss. Since a co-worker was fired, Sarah has been picking up the slack but having trouble meeting deadlines. Her boss is bearing down. Sarah feels helpless to change the situation and she gets nauseated when she thinks about it.
"Are you feeling as if you have no power?" I ask her. She nods.
"Maybe your third chakra is out of balance," I offer.
We are all bundles of vibrating, pulsing energy. Yogic tradition holds that energy centers along the spine govern each part of the body physically, energetically, biologically and emotionally. There are many of these centers throughout the body, connected by pathways called meridians or nadis. But the major seven lie along the spine.
These chakras, or wheels, spin at an optimal turn to keep mind, body and spirit balanced and harmonious. When the spin is disrupted, troubles can occur.
Consider my student Sarah, and how she has been feeling.
The third chakra, located at the navel, is where we cultivate our personal empowerment. If the chakra spins too fast, we may be overbearing, imposing our will on those around us. If it spins too slowly, we may have trouble protecting ourselves, or even feel unworthy.
In Sarah's case, her boss' third chakra may be spinning too fast while hers spins too slow. Her imbalance may leave her feeling nauseated, or as if she has butterflies in the belly. We can only guess at how her boss is feeling.
I advise Sarah to practice twisting yoga postures, eat foods that are naturally yellow (this is the color associated with third chakra), practice empowering affirmations and listen to chakra-based guided meditations. Sarah promises to try these suggestions, though she's skeptical.
Some time goes by before Sarah returns to class. When she does, her mood and demeanor have clearly shifted. She arrives early and eagerly shares her experience: After several days of following my instructions, Sarah began to feel physically better, the nausea passed and she felt more vibrant, even standing taller. She found the inner strength to speak to her boss in clear, measured tones that got his attention. Sarah was heard and acknowledged. Work has settled to a manageable and enjoyable pace.
Now, to someone who looks at the surface, it might seem as if Sarah simply stood her ground and brought about the desired changes by speaking her mind. But these seven chakras are connected, and the third coming back to balance opened the chakra at the heart, so Sarah could recognize her own self-worth, thereby balancing the chakra at the throat. This allowed Sarah to find her voice.
As I become more attuned to the power of the chakras, I see their effect and connections in my own life and that of my students. Quite often, we underestimate the things we can't see or touch. Although these centers of energies are not visible, they are certainly tangible.
Diana Reed is a yoga teacher, writer and co-owner of Gaya Jyoti Yoga in Hernando County. She can be reached at (352) 610-1083 or gayajyotiyoga.com.