Welcome to the 3rd installment of our Minimalist Chakra series! Our chakra this month is Manipura or Core Chakra.
Guiding Question: Do you like yourself?
I know, no easy questions here today. If that question made you uncomfortable and squeamish, there is probably a chance that deep down, you are having some issues with your own personal power and self-esteem. If, on the other hand you shouted “Yes! I love myself! I’m awesome!”, then you probably have no issues with your core. If that’s the case- congrats!
Today’s sequence is designed to help you access your core in a gentle way, to get the blood flowing to your vital organs. When you can access your core, you might find your relationship to the external world becomes a little more clear. Especially given the world events of late, we though it might be a good idea to create a sequence to help access your inner fire.
To warm up, here is a YouTube video of Bhastrika Pranayama, aka, breath of fire, aka bellows breathe to create some inner heat and get your core fiery. If you have never done any sort of yoga breathing exercises before, take your time with this one. You might find you are a little light headed after some bhastrika- this is perfectly normal. When you are done with the belly breath, take a few very deep breaths to settle yourself.
This video has beginner, intermediate, and advanced version of Bhastrika Pranayama- choose the version that feels the most sustainable to you.
Short Version – 20 Minute (ish) Core Awakening Practice
Detailed Cue Version – 20 Minute(ish) Core Awakening Sequence
Step 1: From your seated position, extend your right leg out to straight and bend your left knee, planing your foot on the mat.
Step 2: Twisting from your upper chest, turn your collarbone towards your bent knee.
Step 3: Take a deep breath in and lengthen your spine from your sitting bones to the top of your head. Hook your right elbow onto the outside of your knee, or simply grasp the knee with your hand.
Step 4: Take five to 10 deep breaths here, finding a little more space to deepen the twist with every breath.
Step 5: Slowly untwist, extend your left leg and repeat steps 1-5 on the other side.
Props: Bolster or Pillow
Step 1: Roll yourself down on your back. Hug your knees into your chest.
Step 2: Bring the right knee across your body, coming onto your side. Stack your left hip underneath the right.
Step 3: Place a bolster under your bent knee if the floor seems a little faraway today.
Step 4: Place your left hand on the knee and extend your right arm over your head to deepen the side stretch.
Step 5: Breathe into your right side ribs and stay in the twist for 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 6: When ready, slowly roll back onto your back and hug both your knees into your chest. Roll back and forth on your spine for a few breaths.
Step 7: Repeat Steps 2 to 6 on the other side.
Step 1: From your hugged knees position, extend your feet towards the ceiling, reaching in between your knees to grab the outer edges of your feet.
Step 2: Rock back and forth if you feel balanced. Or stay still and breath deeply into your hip creases.
Step 3: Stay in this position for as long as is comfortable (anywhere from a couple of breaths to a couple of minutes).
Props: Block or wheel
Note: A nosy cat judging your form is totally optional.
Step 1: From Happy Baby, release your feet and extend your legs out in front of you on the ground. Shake them back and forth and roll them out, if that feels good.
Step 2: Plant both of your feet on the mat a comfortable distance from your hips.
Step 3: Press your feet into the mat and lift your hips off the ground. Place your block or wheel under your hips. You should feel no pressure or pinching in your low back. If you do, adjust the height and placement of your block until you find a comfortable position.
Step 4: Extend your left leg and left arm to straight (optional) to deepen your front body stretch.
Step 5: Stay here for 2 minutes.
Step 6: When you are reach to switch sides, extend your right arm and leg out to straight to create a long line stretch. Stay here for 2 minutes.
Step 7: Press your feet into the mat, lift your hips off the block and remove the block. Lower yourself down onto your mat.
Step 8: Hug both your knees into your chest and roll your spine our for a few breaths before coming into your final resting position for 3 to 5 minutes.
Do you feel more connected to your core? If you ever feel unsure of yourself or of a decision you are about to make, come back to this sequence and in particular the Bhastrika Pranayama. I firmly believe that our core always knows the truth and the right thing to do- we just have to be willing to listen.