The chakra system originated in India around 1000 or 1500 BC. Chakra means "wheel" in Sanskrit, and refers to the energy points in the body. There are seven main chakras that run the length of the spine and work together when they are balanced..
In yoga, you can address the chakras through asana (physical poses). Considering the different chakras is also a great way to figure out where you might be overexerting in your life, or perhaps to find the things you are avoiding or bad habits you have developed.
In the yoga teacher training I'm completing, our training weekends are organized by the chakras. We learn what each chakra represents, how it communicates with the other chakras, what sense and element are related to it, and what asana can help balance it.
Just before the holidays, we met for training based on the second chakra - "svadisthana" meaning the self dwelling place where our being is established, or the sacral chakra. The element of the second chakra is water, and it's right is the right to feel and enjoy without guilt.
As you might expect, since the element is water, we discussed how water moves, its characteristics, and it's tendencies. Water can flow gently or violently, it can be a drip or a destructive current. It can create and destroy, depending on its intensity.
The other interesting aspect of this for me was the concept of our right to feel and enjoy. How often have you (or I) limited our enjoyment of something because we were distracted by the need to do even better, be even more successful, or have even more of something?
Shortly after that training weekend I took a class with a friend and we spent time together after class discussing my goals for learning about yoga and teaching it, as well as talking through questions and concerns I have about teaching.
I mentioned that I have always struggled with perfectionism. It has always been difficult for me to take the leap into doing something new if I don't feel like it's exactly right or completely ready. I have grappled with a lot of these issues in my music career, but yoga teacher training has brought many of these issues back to the surface.
Participating in this training is the first time in a long time I am learning something completely new and then very quickly translating that new information into action. I'm grateful for the ways it has brought my struggles with perfectionism and my tendency to hesitate to light.
By considering my habits through the lens of yoga , especially using the chakras, Ive also been able to develop new tools for feeling grounded, and for keeping myself moving.
When talking through this with my friend, she suggested a good mantra for me might be to "flow like water," and it was like a light bulb went off.
After a lifetime of restricting myself because I want things to be "just right," and limiting so much creativity that might occur in the moment, I realized that exactly what I need is to be fluid.
To be open to possibility.
So, it seemed that my word of the year is obvious: fluid!