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Namaste Here and Do Yoga

Yoga is a healthy, unique way to exercise and it channels the inner chakras.

Photo by Tessa Hughes, Ella Ban

Photo by Tessa Hughes, Ella Ban

Ella Ban and Kaylee Meier

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When you think of yoga, do you picture a rigorous cycle of stretches completed in a stifling, 100-degree room? Or do you imagine a series of relaxing movements, complimented by chic workout clothing and a serene landscape? The yoga adopted by Western culture favors these two extremes, and as a result can be alienating to those who want to learn more about the practice.

   In reality, yoga has been around for thousands of years. The term “yoga” was written in sacred pieces of literature like the Rig Veda, ancient religious texts compiled of mantras, rituals, or songs to be used by the priests. As yoga practices developed, many began to apply the skills they learned through yoga to many different aspects of life, using it for stress relief, strengthening the core, or even for the various activities we do every day.

   The components of yoga can be broken down into three basic components: breathing, physical movements, and mediation. Many people who do not practice religion are turned away from yoga because of the spiritual aspect associated with the activity, but it is possible to enjoy it without incorporating it. After a stressful day at work or school, playing calming music and solely focusing on the yoga positions can offer a sense of tranquility to regain energy for the next day. Junior Chris Joaquim explains why his baseball coach recommended yoga to his players.

   “It’s common for players, especially pitchers, to be really tight because we don’t stretch much and we just play. I’ve liked it so far and I’ve definitely seen benefits,” said Joaquim.     

   Yoga is perhaps most well-known for building core strength and flexibility. Sophomore Kara Terry has also noticed the benefits first-hand.

   “It’s really good mentally, and it also helps with balance because I paddleboard, so I just love doing it and it makes you feel really flexible. I have seen benefits, and my mom has too with my overall balance and posture because they teach you to lean back and I slouch over,” said Terry.

    Not every yoga session has to be done in sweltering heat to see the benefits; in a more mild setting, it appears in many physical therapy and rehabilitation programs. It improves posture, increases body awareness, and focuses on isometric strength training and flexibility.

   Yoga in schools is a small but steadily growing phenomenon. In an environment that cultivates stress over standardized testing — which affects not only the students’ futures but also the teachers’ evaluations and job security — yoga is a way to relax both the mind and body.     

   In her article “Yoga in Schools Isn’t Just For Kids,” author Jane Rosen writes, “yoga is one path to a classroom where teachers and students can relax in the face of stress and love themselves, each other, and their job a little more.”

 

Chakras are seven glowing energy centers that align along the spine. They are associated with psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being.

Top of the head: The seventh chakra, Sahasrara, symbolizes the soul’s breakthrough the murky area of human instinct. As the lotus blooms in muddy water, people with an opened Sahasrara stand above human urges. This chakra rests on the top of your head and connects you to a source of enlightenment. The color of Sahasrara is commonly violet, but it is sometimes depicted as a bright white light.

Beneficial poses: headstand (Salamba Sirsasana) and down dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

 

Between the eyes: The Ajna chakra, the sixth chakra, is referred to as your third eye. While your two normal eyes see the present, the third eye, is believed to see the future and incorporate what you see into the making of wise decisions in the present. Every sense has to work properly in order for this chakra to work effectively because the senses show the truth.

Beneficial pose: child’s pose (Balasana)

 

Throat: The fifth chakra which centers around the jaw, neck, mouth, and tongue is named Vishuddha. A key part of this chakra is perfect communication: speaking your opinion, speaking words of hate, and speaking in a socially acceptable way.. The understanding of others is also tied to the throat chakra. Speaking and listening are woven together in Vishuddha because doing one without the other yields imperfect communication. When this chakra is unbalanced, you may not be able to convey your ideas, thoughts, and emotions correctly.  

Beneficial poses: camel pose, bridge pose, shoulderstand, and plow

 

Heart: Anahata, the fourth chakra, is the uniting chakra of the lower and upper chakras. The heart chakra provides a link to your body, mind, emotions, and spirits and is the origin for your love and human connection. With a balanced Anahata, your heart is open; you are filled with love and compassion, and you are forgiving and accepting. If this chakra is unbalanced, you can be full of anger, grief, jealousy, and hate.

Beneficial Poses: Camel, Standing Bow, Sphinx Puppy, and Cow Face  

 

Solar Plexus (Navel Center): Manipura, the third chakra, is the source of your personal power, self esteem, control, and your competitive side. Your chakra is healthy if you have a powerful sense of motivation and sense of purpose. Manipura can be kept strong by drinking room temperature beverages, eating only two handfuls of food, taking small sips of water while eating, and letting your stomach rest in between meals.

Beneficial Poses: Exalted Warrior Pose or any pose that provides heat for your solar plexus

 

The Spleen: Svadhisthana, the second chakra, is the creative, sexual, intimacy, and desire center. This chakra revolves around creativity, pleasure, and joy. To awaken your creative energy, you are recommended to “play like a child” or partake in activities such as painting, drawing, or cooking.

Beneficial Poses: Cobbler, Butterfly, Seated Pelvic Circle (sitting cross legged, with your hands on your knees, making circles with your torso), Cobra Pose (lie with your stomach on the floor and slowly lift your head, chest, and abdomen)

 

The end of your spine: Muladhara, the first chakra, is the base or root chakra and represents stability, lust, security, obsession, passion, excitement, and your basic human needs. This chakra contains eight cells that involve the process of creation and never change. The energy of this chakra is red and revolves around the first three vertebrae, the bladder; colon and when the energy is open, you feel fearless and safe.

Beneficial Poses: Knee to chest pose, Head to knee pose, Lotus flexion, and Squatting pose)

 

Chakra Information by Tessa Hughes.

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Namaste Here and Do Yoga