Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Third Chakra - The Core

So, what’s a chakra?  Chakras (there are seven) are energy centers.  Often described as wheels or vortices, the chakras send energy out from the subtle, energetic body into the physical body in a whirling pattern.  According to various eastern philosophical traditions, when the chakras are spinning as they should, the physical body, the emotions, and all other aspects of life are in balance.  When they are over- or under-active, injuries, illnesses, and emotional disturbances can manifest.  Caroline Myss offers a comprehensive explanation of the chakras (and a fun flash presentation) on her website.

Today, let’s skip to the third chakra.  The manipura chakra.  This one is located in the solar plexus…in the gut.  It’s the seat of our power, self-esteem, personal boundaries and identity, our ethos…  It’s the core.

Here at Vibe, we hear a lot about the core.  There is a “core” section in every class we do, and to be honest, the first few times I practiced here, that really bothered me.  It didn’t feel like yoga to me—it felt like exercise.  Working muscles for the sheer sake of making them stronger or more attractive struck me (and sometimes still strikes me) as narcissistic and ego-driven…not yogic. 

But, there’s a lot to be said for having a strong core, and not just in terms of being able to hold ourselves in arm-balances and standing poses.  The manipura chakra, as the energetic core, also offers strength and balance in other aspects of our lives.  If we have strong cores—knowing who we are, what we believe, how to honor and value ourselves—we’ll be better equipped to weather the challenges that are an inevitable part of being alive. 

Maybe in this way our core-centered yoga and Pilates classes can become points of access for tapping into our intuition, building self-esteem, recognizing and respecting our boundaries as well as building physical strength.  Thoughts, yogis?

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