Yoga and the Chakras: Focus on the Sacral Chakra
Part of the practice of yoga is recognizing the chakras, which are a fundamental aspect of achieving inner peace and balance. Chakra is the Sanskrit word for ‘wheel’ and there are seven chakras arranged vertically in the body from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Chakras are thought of as spinning vortexes of energy that, when balanced, lead to higher consciousness and peace.
The Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana Chakra)
This chakra is located at the base of the pubic bone, between the genitals in front of the spine. It is associated with emotional identity, personal relationships, creativity, desire, pleasure and self-gratification, and procreation. It is called Svadhisthana in Sanskrit, with sva meaning ‘vital force’ and adisthana meaning ‘seat’. It is also translated as ‘one’s own abode’. The svadhisthana chakra is symbolized by a black or orange lotus flower with six petals. Within the lotus flower is a white crescent moon formed by two circles, one sitting inside the other. The petals represent the human tendencies of: affection, the feeling of destructiveness, pitilessness, delusion, disdain, and suspicion.
Orange is the color most commonly associated with the sacral chakra and it is represented by the element of water. Most yoga and meditative exercises to stimulate, balance, or open the sacral chakra have to do with flowing energy through the sacral region like water, or imagining water during pranayama (breathing exercises).
The sacral chakra is connected with the sense of taste, and therefore associated with the tongue. Its connection with reproduction associates it with the genitals. The svadhisthana chakra governs the sexual organs, stomach, upper intestines, liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, and immune system. When unbalanced or blocked, a person may experience irritability, shyness, guilt, blame, sexual obsession, lack of creativity, or have issues with money, power, control and morality. Physically, a person might experience lower back pain, urinary problems, poor digestion, tiredness, hormonal imbalance, menstrual problems, and low resistance to infection and viruses. Often, women who suffer from particularly severe systems of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) use asana and pranayama specifically tailored to opening the sacral chakra.
If the sacral chakra is balanced however, a person is usually friendly, intuitive, vital, satisfied, prosperous, sexual, and prone to feelings of compassion, a sense of belonging, and a developed sense of humor.
Asana for Svadhisthana
Here are three asana that will help you to open and balance the sacral chakra:
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
This pose requires a lot of concentration, but is very good for your sense of coordination and balance. It strengthens your lower back and upper legs and relieves tension in your upper and lower back, hips, and hamstrings. This pose introduces movement to the hips and lower back, stimulating the sacral chakra and opening it.
How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Exhale and move your left leg one meter behind you. Your right foot should be facing straight forward and your left food should be turned to the outside at 45 degrees. Raise both arms sideways at shoulder level. Your left arm should be reaching forward and your right hand should be reaching back. Both palms should be facing the floor. Bend at your waist and lean forward. Rotate your torso toward your right leg. Reach down to your right ankle with your left arm. Stretch your right arm straight up in the air so it is in line with your left arm. Hold the position for 30 seconds to one minute to ensure energy flows through your sacral chakra. Repeat on the other side.
Child Pose (Balasana)
This pose helps you to be in touch with your own breathing and air through your abdomen. It stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles in a gentle way while relieving any stress or fatigue. The child pose also calms the brain allows energy (prana) to flow through the sacral chakra awakening it and restoring balance.
How to do it: Kneel and sit back on your feet with your heels pointing outward with your knees separated (about the natural width of your hips). Leaning forward, touch your forehead to the floor and bring your arms forward in front of you, exhaling deeply. On the next inhale, bring your arms back parallel to your legs with palms open toward the ceiling. Exhale deeply and repeat.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
This pose decreases lower back stiffness, enlarges the chest, and strengthens the arms and shoulders. It also improved posture and reinforces the spine. This pose increases circulation, which allows more blood to flow into the sacral region, stimulating the chakra.
How to do it: Start by lying on your stomach and resting your head on your arms. Raise your forehead, look upwards, and stretch your hands backwards. Rest your weight on your chest. Move your stomach backward (as if someone is pulling your arms back). Your weight is shifted toward the stomach so your lower back is doing the work. Put your hands and arms next to your chest (without losing the bend). They should be perpendicular on the floor. Relax your lower back and shift your weight to your arms. With every inhale and exhale, push your chest out a little further and tilt your head back. Your buttocks should remain relaxed throughout this pose.