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Uttanasana and Chakra Work



Contents:





Introduction



Standing forwards bends are often thought of primarily as having an effect on Muladhara chakra or Swadhisthana chakra. However, the approach to a posture greatly influences the effect of the posture on the chakra system. So what I offer here is some examples of the sort of approaches to standing forward bends to try for having an effect on a particular chakra. I have also attempted to distinguish between practices and approaches that will tend to stimulate (make more active) the chakra and those that will tend to stabilize (strengthen) the chakra. Inevitably, there is significant overlap in this and you may well find that, for you personally, something that I suggest as stimulating is more stabilizing and vice a versa. In any case what is offered here is very much a personal view (rather than a consensual view of experienced experts). Hence, my strong recommendation is that you play and experiment with these ideas, both to find what works for you and to help you form your own views (as opposed to absorbing and trusting these ideas as they are.) [For information about the chakra system please see the Pranic Anatomy section of this website.]









Muladhara Chakra


Stimulate


Stabilize

Holding trunk in horizontal position with a long spine (or even less forwards than this).

Full forward bend (but with bent knees) allowing trunk, arms and neck to relax completely.

Deliberately and consciously pressing feet down (so leg muscles are activated).

Being aware of one’s feet’s contact with the ground and the subtle shifts of weight that occur.

Use of Mula Bandha and pelvic floor exercises.

Use of “base support” practices (e.g. “core strength” idea in Pilates).



Swadhisthana Chakra


Stimulate


Stabilize

“Rag Doll” like versions where one allows the trunk to curl down, and uncurl up.

Moving in and out with spine long and straight.

From trunk being horizontal (or less far forwards) to sinuous spinal movements with the breath (cf. standing cat breathing).

Moving between full and half (i.e. trunk horizontal) forward bend, perhaps with the spine in a backward bend in the “half forward bend position”.

In full forward bend position, start with knees bent and, exhaling, press one foot down so the leg straightens a little and, inhaling, bend the knee – alternate this from side to side.

In full forward bend position, imagine an elongation traveling down the back of the legs and out through the heels with each exhalation (perhaps with a relaxation traveling up back of legs when inhaling.)



Manipura Chakra


Stimulate


Stabilize

Practising active abdominal breathing (i.e. slowly squeezing abdomen in towards spine on exhalation and allowing inhalation to occur however naturally happens) in either full of “half” standing position.

Moving between standing & full forward bend, or standing and half forward bend, or half and full standing forward bend, with the breath.

Hold (full or “half” standing forward bend) with a breathing pattern that includes Uddiyana bandha.

Hold with an awareness of breath causing movements (if only slight) of the abdomen (especially the upper abdomen).



Anahata Chakra


Stimulate


Stabilize

Versions that include a “back-bending” or “chest-expansion” component, e.g. from full standing forward bend lifting shoulders and back of neck to same level as hips while keeping the pelvic girdle tilted down as much as possible; or practising with fingers interlinked behind back, arms straight and held away from trunk as much as is possible.

Twisting trunk about its axis while in a forward bend (full or half).

Moving arms while in full or half standing forward bend.

Moving whole trunk with arms outstretched (e.g. to sides or overhead) in and out of forward bend with a sense of moving trunk / arms / hands through air.

With hands in prayer position behind back.

Hands in prayer position in front of chest.








Vishuddha Chakra


Stimulate


Stabilize

Incorporating / linking with sound work & / or mantra or saying words.

Incorporating / linking with affirmations and / or thinking sounds / words / mantra.

Taking attentive care to see if one can improve / refine the quality or alignment in the different stages of the posture practice.

Placing hands to another part of body (e.g. feet, thighs, back, abdomen) as though creating a connection / dialogue between hands and other parts of body and / or to aid awareness of that part of the body.

Using breath as a measure of how long in posture or using Ujjayi breath.

Synchronizing and co-coordinating complicated arm / trunk movements with breath.










Ajna Chakra


Stimulate


Stabilize

Analysing some aspect of the posture (e.g. effects, muscle use …).

While practising, observing the experience of practising the posture.

Imagining or visualizing practising the posture or some aspect of the posture.

Practising “meditatively”.

Using “imagery” to aid practising posture – e.g. while with trunk long and horizontal, imagine, while inhaling, that two currents start at the middle of the spine, one going towards crown of head and the other towards tail-bone and, while exhaling, that these currents reverse direction to unite in middle of spine.

Practising with one’s awareness resting on a simple focus e.g. rhythm of breath, “third eye”, heels …..



Sahasrara Chakra


Stimulate


Stabilize

Allowing forward bend to occur “as if” of its own accord.

Practising meditatively.



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