I recently attended a wonderful restorative workshop with yoga teacher and friend Ingrid Jolley. At some point in the session, while resting in a beautiful heart opening posture she led a guided visualisation of a lake with the group. Inspired by this meditation, I decided to share it in my own yoga classes over the past week and have recorded it to share here as well. I have naturally used my own words and included some pranayama as well. Enjoy!
The throat centre, vishuddhi chakra is the seat of verbal communication. When open and balanced, we give voice to our thoughts and feelings, our deepest hearts desire. We can speak with clarity and truth, expressing our wants and needs to others.
The colour associated with the throat centre is blue; a colour that brings peace and tranquility above everything else, promoting both physical and mental relaxation. It reduces stress, creating a sense of calmness, relaxation and order – we certainly feel a sense of calm if we lie on our backs and look into a bright blue cloudless sky. It helps regulate the metabolism.
Blue in Nature
fruit such as blueberries and blue plums
birds like bluejays, bluebirds, Blue Heron, robin’s egg
jewels like lapis lazuli, blue sapphire, blue topaz
flowers like forget-me-nots, cornflowers
Blue should be used with caution for those feeling sad, lonely or depressed, as it may increase these symptoms.
Here is a recording of a guided relaxation I used in class recently, connecting the colour blue and vishuddhi chakra.
The word pranayama is comprised of the sanskrit words “prana” meaning breath or life force and “ayama” to length or expansion. This practice of controlled breathing helps the energy to flow more easily into the nadis or energy pathways and koshas (layers) of the body. The koshas can be visualised as the rings inside a tree trunk, where the outer layer is the physical body, moving inward to the energy (pranic) body, the thinking mind, inner wisdom and spirit. When we influence the flow of prana in the energy body through pranayama its effects penetrate every cell and fibre of our being.
When practicing pranayama, choose an environment that is clear, clean and free from distractions. Begin by observing your natural, spontaneous breath; breathing through the nostrils. As you connect with your breath cycle, observe the four phases of the breath: the inhalation, retention, exhalation and suspension. Check there is no holding of breath or strain; that the pauses at the top and bottom of the breath are natural. The more you stay with your natural breath, the more the breath will deepen and lengthen without effort or force.
When we work with pranayama we are looking to cultivate two qualities: dirgha and sukshma. Dirgha means long and steady and sukshma means smooth and subtle. As we find the steadiness in breath, we find a steadiness in the mind, calming and quieting, soothing the nervous system. This in turn triggers a cascade of physiological changes: the heart rate slows down, blood pressure decreases and muscular tension is released.
We discover that changes in the prana maya kosha (energy body) affect the physical and mental bodies. When we find the steadiness, quietness and space within these outer layers, we open a doorway to the deeper and subtler aspects of self. Our inner wisdom, intuition,creativity and spirit move into our field of awareness as the ripples of disturbance subside.
This is a meditation I recently used in a workshop on the Anahata chakra, to awaken to energy of Spring.
Sit in sukhasana. Place your hands on your knees in chin mudra , with palms facing up to open your awareness or palms facing down (jnana) to calm the mind.
Bring your awareness to the center of your chest. To draw your mind into meditation, start to repeat the sound Om with each exhalation. You can chant Om silently at your heart centre or out loud, letting the sound emanate from your chest.
Let the sound vibrate like a gong, where the sound of Om ripples in all directions. As you work with the sound, feel that each Om widens your heart like a great lake. As you stay with the sound, feel that your heart is being washed of any unnecessary gripping, tension, or feeling.
If a particular emotion arises and starts to overpower the meditation, allow it to be buoyed by the sea of sound. Look underneath, around, and inside that emotion and discover an insight that may arise from the spaciousness of your inquiry. Gradually, the sound of Om will dissolve into the calm spaciousness of the heart-the great container.
When you are ready, bring your hands together in Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) and complete your meditation with a moment of gratitude and reflection.